(Sorry this is late, but I just read the Jimmy Crack Corn article on
Unca Cece posited a couple of theories on the meaning of “cracks corn” in the “Jimmy Cracks Corn” minstrel song, both of which were off the mark. The straight dope is that
one who “cracks corn” is doing just that-- cracking corn. You see, that fine southern staple known as grits (yum!) is made by cracking dried corn. (Oh the mere thought of that tasty delicacy is making my mouth
water!) So it seems to me that Jimmy is simply making grits as he sings
to us his tale of woe.
I’ve always thought this was a sly murder song. Maybe Jimmy didn’t like
his Massa. That’s why he’s so happy his Massa is “gone away”. One of the
verses says of the Massa, “He die, the jury they wonder why; the verdict
was the blue-tail fly!”
Why was a jury involved unless murder was suspected? Maybe when Jimmy
was following his Massa’s pony with a hickory broom, he took a notion to
swat that pony with it! And now he is singing joyfully about getting
away with murder!