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Thread: Blues lingo

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    Default Blues lingo

    Hi!
    Can anybody tell me the meaning of the term "get-back" as in the following sentence:

    "I’m just a Delta blues singer that plays for get-backs, Saturday night balls and street-corner pennies." I couldn't find anything for the term "get-backs".

    My idea would be that it might be another word for "donations/tips"

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.

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    A "get back" is a juke joint

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    Thanks, JL. Very interesting; I love the rich language of the Blues, southeastern African American dialects, and slang in general. Can you give us the reference? How'd you lean this? Know the etymology?

    Doug

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    I have been in a bunch of juke joints in my younger days and may of the patrons called them "get-backs".

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    That's cool.
    Anybody have an idea where "juke" comes from?
    I stumbled across something many years ago that gave me a clue.

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    Thank you very much!

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    Default Etymology of Juke

    Originally Posted by JLHooker

    I have been in a bunch of juke joints in my younger days and may of the patrons called them "get-backs".

    From the Etymology of American Slang:

    jukebox. A juke house or juke is a house of ill repute, a whorehouse,
    taking its name from the black dialect called Gullah
    spoken on the islands off the coast of South Carolina, Georgia,
    and Florida. The Gullah word juke, or jook, in turn, apparently
    derives from the Wolof West African word dzug or dzog, meaning
    “to misconduct oneself, to lead a disorderly life.” Juke naturally
    came to be associated with anything connected with a juke
    house, even the early jook or juke organs, coin- operated music
    boxes that sounded like hurdy- gurdies and were oft en found in
    juke houses. When coin- operated phonographs became very
    pop u lar in the early 1940s they were called jukeboxes aft er their
    early counterparts, so the name of this ubiquitous electrically
    operated machine can be ascribed to a West African tribe.
    Jukes and Kallikaks. Th eir names happen to be fi ctitious, but
    the Jukes and the Kallikaks are real families whose histories
    showed early 20th- century sociologists that heredity, rather than
    environment, was the cause of feeblemindedness as well as the
    poverty and crime oft en resulting from it. Th e Jukes were a New
    York family given their pseudonym by Richard L. Dugsdale, a
    prison sociologist who traced the clan back several generations
    aft er fi nding its members in various state prisons. Tracing the
    family to a backwoodsman named Max, who had married two of
    his own sisters, Dugsdale uncovered a fantastic record of criminal
    activity, disease, and poverty. Of the 709 descendants on
    whom he obtained precise information, he established that 140
    Jukes had been in prison, 280 had been paupers, and that the
    Jukes family in 75 years had cost New York State $1,308,000. Th e
    Kallikaks, another real though pseudonymous family, were studied
    in New Jersey and revealed the same pattern of a high incidence
    of crime, disease, and delinquency, the two names soon
    linked together by writers on the subject

    Where Did the Name "Jukebox" Come From?
    By Matthew Williams ; Updated September 15, 2017
    The word "jukebox" found its way into the American lexicon in the late 1930s, and nearly every American alive has likely heard at least one song from a jukebox in a diner or a bar. Despite the popularity of the term, however, there is some debate as to where it came from. While most scholars will point to African American establishments known as jukehouses as the origin of the term jukebox, the meaning and origin of the term "juke" are up for debate. Possible origins include West Africa, Europe and the Caribbean Isles, but we will likely never know with 100 percent certainty where the term came from.

    The Jook House
    While scholars may not know the exact etymology of the term "juke," what is known is that the term "jukebox" comes directly from the early 1900s establishments known as jukehouses or jookhouses. A jukehouse was simply a place where people listened to music and drank the night away, dancing with friends, and the term jukebox is in reference to the record player that would have been a staple in these places.

    The West Africa Theory
    The Gullah dialect refers to that spoken by African Americans and Creoles that inhabit the area from South Carolina, through Georgia, and into the northern areas of Florida. The Gullah word "juk" has a number of possible meanings, and derivatives of the word mean everything from disorderly to wicked and violent. It is clear to see how this term could be applied to jukehouses, as they were usually not considered to be the most reputable of establishments, and wild parties and drinking were common.

    The European Hypothesis
    There are a few possible places the term juke could have originated from within Europe. The French term meaning "to play" is jouer, and that could easily fit with jukebox meaning "play box"; however, there are no other iterations of jouer being turned into something similar to juke. Scotland has a few possible words. The most notable is "jouk," which means a place to take shelter. This also is plausible in reference to the jukehouses. However, the jukehouses were primarily African American establishments, which makes a Scottish connection seem almost impossible.

    Other Ideas
    Some scholars will also argue for a Caribbean connection, especially to Haiti and Jamaica. Haiti was initially colonized by the French, which brings the term jouer back to the table and accounts for the African American uses, but the link between jouer and juke is still a loose association. Jamaica also has a term "juk" that means to poke, which could be a reference to the needle on a record player. While the connotation makes sense, there is little supporting evidence to link the Jamaicans to the Gullah Creoles, who likely coined the term jukebox.

    The Scholarly Consensus
    While most of the ideas are still being debated, the Gullah origins seem to be the most commonly accepted of the given etymologies for jukebox. Many dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster, immediately reference the Gullah jukehouses and refer to them as brothels. Likely the term jukebox then has a less savory origin than the happier thoughts it brings up today. Though we will likely never know with certainty, the Western African roots seem to have the most support amongst scholars and in the evidence.

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    I don't think a "get back" HAS to be a Juke Joint. I've heard it used for house parties and parties or gatherings at other locations... It's basically a party where people are gathering to have some fun "getting back" way out in the woods and maybe
    drink some CB (creek bank) - moonshine is made along a creek bank out in the woods ya know and is called CB by the old folks in these parts of Alabama.

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    Quote Originally Posted by McRocken View Post
    I don't think a "get back" HAS to be a Juke Joint. I've heard it used for house parties and parties or gatherings at other locations... It's basically a party where people are gathering to have some fun "getting back" way out in the woods and maybe
    drink some CB (creek bank) - moonshine is made along a creek bank out in the woods ya know and is called CB by the old folks in these parts of Alabama.
    Hi McRocken...are you possibly Mike with Kokomo, and Johnny S.'s friend?

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    Whoa what an enlightenment

 

 

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