I can't eat, I can't talk - Been drinkin' mean jake, Lord, now can't walk - Ain't got nothin' now to lose - Cause I'm a jake walkin' papa with the 'Jake Walk Blues' - The Allen Brothers
October 30, 2007 5:33 AM   Subscribe

This is a stellar post, y2karl. I've only glanced at the links, but I can already tell it's a stellar post. Music as messenger, music as diagnosis... utterly fascinating, and something I'd never heard of until now. Thanks so much for this.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 AM on October 30, 2007

I am extremely excited by this post not only for it's cultural and musical information, but for it's colorful additions to my everyday vernacular. Now when I go to the soda machine on a break I can tell people I'm 'off to grab some Jake', and I can blame my embarrassing lack of dancing ability on 'Jake Leg'.

Thanks for the post!
posted by Pecinpah at 5:58 AM on October 30, 2007

No time to look, but wondering if this has anything to do with other Jake allusions. Everything's Jake with me, that sort of thing. Anyone have light to shed?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:18 AM on October 30, 2007

Jakers! The Adventures of Piggly Winks

I know, I know. Welcome to my hell.
posted by mds35 at 6:21 AM on October 30, 2007

Jake Leg shows up in Water for Elephants, which is a novel about a guy who ran away to join the circus in the 30s. Well worth reading.

I'd never heard of Jake Leg before that, and so I'm pleased to see this post today! Apparently the author did a mountain of research on her book, and it shows.
posted by canine epigram at 6:56 AM on October 30, 2007

Damn it, y2Karl! I was going to do a post about this, as the Mississippi Sheiks' song is a favorite of mine. My frustration however, is mitigated by the fact that this post is WAY better than the one that I had planned.
posted by horsemuth at 7:07 AM on October 30, 2007

I recall that being a fascinating article in the New Yorker, and I'd been trying to track down some jake-leg blues (but not too hard)...now you've done all the work for me! Many thanks, this is such an awesome topic.
posted by wowbobwow at 7:12 AM on October 30, 2007

Has this guy got Jake Leg?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:26 AM on October 30, 2007

I remember that NYer piece too. Cool post.

Here's a sample of Jake Legs Blues by Byrd Moore from emusic.

also Jake Bottle Blues - Lemuel Turner

Jake Head Boogie - Lightnin Hopkins

Lots more at emusic. I'm out of downloads for the month or I'd get them now.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:39 AM on October 30, 2007

[Chief wiggum]That's some fine posting work there Karl.[/wiggum]
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:05 AM on October 30, 2007

The first time I heard the term was when I was looking for someone to tear down a shed in my yard and haul it away. Someone sent me down to the local bar early in the day: "There's an old jake leg feller who'll do it for fifty bucks." And sure enough, as soon as I walked into the dark bar at 10 a.m. and said, "Would anyone be interested in tearing down a shed for $50?", one of the patrons limped right over to discuss the terms.
posted by tizzie at 8:17 AM on October 30, 2007

This reminds me of the equally awful (but far less musical) story behind MPTP.

It seems that in the early 1980s, MPPP, a synthetic opiod with effects similar to morphine, gained some popularity amongst junkies in northern California. Unfortunately, if you're not careful when synthesizing MPPP, you wind up with MPTP, which causes more-or-less-instant Parkinson's Disease. For life.

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

- Abraham Lincoln: Speech in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dec 18, 1840.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:45 AM on October 30, 2007

Brilliant, y2karl. This meaty multimedia morsel is one I'll be savoring for a while yet. Thanks, and well played sir.
posted by mumkin at 11:34 AM on October 30, 2007

Fascinating post -- I'm also a big fan of the Sheiks' "Jake Leg Blues" but knew next to nothing about jake leg. This could be a great topic for the blues section of my American folk culture class next time around.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:56 PM on October 30, 2007

Cool post karl. I read the history of the term jake-leg in the NYer when it came out and immediately gave it to my dad who is from the south and uses the term "jack-leg" all the time. (usually to refer to shoddy wormanship) He had no idea of the origin.
posted by vronsky at 3:37 PM on October 30, 2007

When I was a kid, my father used to bring home old New Yorker magazines from the law school, so I grew up on the epidemiological essays of Berton Roueche'. I see that the New Yorker has maintained the same tradition, though the author of this article was not Roueche'.

Good stuff, thanks Karl!

I figured by now someone would have alluded to the Jake Brake.
posted by Tube at 5:58 PM on October 30, 2007

For some reason, seeing "Tommy Johnson" as the artist shot me right back to O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Tommy was the guitarist for the Soggy Bottom Boys). Then I smiled because that movie is just too good :)
posted by inkedmn at 9:47 PM on October 30, 2007

I first heard about jake leg listening to the Uncensored History of the Blues podcast. It was the "Drinking Canned Heat and Jake" episode, which is unfortunately no longer available for download. Canned Heat was a fuel that was diluted and drunk in a similar way to Jake. It is mentioned briefly in the New Yorker article.
posted by robcorr at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2007

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