Die Ballade von Nigger Jim
The Ballad of Nigger Jim

Modern Times CD

Weber David

When Nigger Jim came out of the jungle
And bought a ticket for the tram
Between Haarlem and Manhattan,
The men yelled, Off with you!
What, dirty nigger, are you doing here
Among our smart white shirt cuffs?
And they grabbed him by the collar
And threw him off the tram
Down onto the sidewalk.
For the gentlemen with the lighter skin
Had, they said, built the town
And they’d also built the lovely tram.

That’s why there is a section for white gentlemen
That’s why there is a section for black gentlemen
That is why there is a section in the tram car, young man, you take note.

When Nigger Jim was in a jazz band,
His bar was the most beautiful bar
Between Frisco and Manhattan,
There they drank mightily, the powerful gentlemen,
And loved to hear the sad songs
And threw up all over their smart white shirt cuffs.
They were all as if spell-bound by songs and whisky
And didn’t listen to the new text
Jim had composed for them.

Why is there a section for white gentlemen?
Why is there a section for black gentlemen?
In the tram, gentlemen, tell me.

War came and prohibition,
And many drew their last wage.
Jim moved south, there they screamed:
He has kissed a Lady, the beast!
And they threw him into three lots of chains.
But before they hanged him
To the sound of biblical hymns,
Jim asked the priest
Whether the gentlemen with lighter skin
Finally had also built Heaven?
For, oh that would be bad.

Surely there’s a section there for white gentlemen,
Surely there’s a section there for black gentlemen
In the tramway that goes to Paradise!