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 Origine de "Honky Tonk"

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James Schmitt
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James Schmitt

Nombre de messages : 6063
Age : 103
Localisation : St Beat - Pyrenées
Date d'inscription : 04/07/2005

Origine de "Honky Tonk" Empty
MessageSujet: Origine de "Honky Tonk"   Origine de "Honky Tonk" EmptyMer 3 Jan - 15:45

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) states that the origin of the word honky
tonk is unknown. However, the earliest source explaining the derivation of the
term (spelled honkatonk) was an article published by the New York Sun in 1900
and widely reprinted in other newspapers[1]. It states uncategorically that the
term came from the sound of geese which led an unsuspecting group of cowboys to
the flock instead of to the variety show they expected. Also, the OED states
that the first use in print was in 1894[2] in the Daily Ardmorite (Oklahoma)
newspaper where it was honk-a-tonk. However, honkatonk has been cited from at
least 1892 in the Galveston Daily News (Texas)[3] where it referred to an adult
establishment in Ft. Worth.

Other sources speculate that the "tonk"
portion of the name may well have come from a brand name of piano. One American
manufacturer of large upright pianos was the firm of William Tonk & Bros.
(established 1889[4]), which made a piano with the decal "Ernest A. Tonk". These
upright grand pianos were made in Chicago and New York and were called Tonk
pianos. Some found their way to Tin Pan Alley and may have given rise to the
expression of "honky tonk bars". It is unlikely, however, that a Tin Pan Alley
piano manufactured in 1889 would influence the vocabulary in either Texas or
Oklahoma Territory by 1892 or 1894.

There are no reliable sources
stating that "Tonks" were originally specifically African American institutions;
similar establishments that catered to Whites acquired the name Honky Tonk, from
the slang honky, referring to a white person. Although there may be multiple
examples of oral history and writings by African Americans born in the 19th
century referring to African American establishments as "honkey tonks" or
"honk-a-tonks", none were written contemporary to the events.

Honky tonks

[edit] Origins of the honky tonk establishment

Although the derivation of the term is unknown, honky tonk originally
referred to bawdy variety shows in the West (Oklahoma and Indian Territories and
Texas) and to the theaters housing them. In fact, the earliest mention of them
in print refers to them as variety theaters[5] and describe the entertainment as
variety shows[6]. The theaters often had an attached gambling house and always a
bar. For an additional charge, the patrons (always men) could obtain a private
box where the female performers, while not on stage, would visit them for
private entertainment.

In recollections long after the frontiers closed,
writers such as Wyatt Earp and E.C. Abbott referred often to honky tonks in the
cowtowns of Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, etc. of the 1870s and 80s[7]. Their
recollections contain lurid accounts of the women and violence accompanying the
shows. However, in contemporary accounts these were nearly always called hurdy
gurdy shows, although they mention the associated prostitution, lawlessness, and

As late as 1913, Col. Edwin Emerson, a former Rough Rider
commander, hosted a honky-tonk party in New York ("COL. EMERSON'S NOVEL PARTY;
Rough Rider Veteran Gives 'Old Forty-niners’ Honky-Tonk Fandango'." New York
Times, New York, N.Y., February 23, 1913. pg. C7). The Rough Riders were
recruited from the ranches of Texas and New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indian
Territories, so the term was still in popular use during the Spanish American

[edit] Bars

The distinction between honky tonks, saloons,
and dancehalls was often blurred, especially in cowtowns, mining districts,
military forts, and oilfields of the West. Eventually, as variety theaters and
dancehalls disappeared, honky tonk became associated mainly with lower class
bars catering to men. Synonymous with beer joint and like terms, honky tonks
usually serve beer or hard liquor and may or may not have a bandstand and dance
floor. Many furnish only a juke box. In the Southeastern US, honky tonk
gradually replaced the term juke joint for bars primarily oriented toward blues
and jazz. As Western swing slowly became accepted in Nashville, Southeastern
bars playing Western swing and Western swing influenced country music, were also
called honky tonks.

[edit] Other information

Honky tonks were
rough establishments, mostly in the Deep South and Southwest, that served
alcoholic beverages to working class clientele. Honky tonks sometimes also
offered dancing to piano players or small bands, and sometimes were also centers
of prostitution. In some rougher tonks the prostitutes and their customers would
have sex standing up clothed on the dance floor while the music played. Honky
tonk bars were also prone to bar brawls due to the nature of most of its
customers who were usually bikers and truckers passing by. Such establishments
flourished in less reputable neighborhoods, often outside of the law. As Chris
Smith and Charles McCarron noted in their 1916 hit song "Down in Honky Tonk
Town", "It's underneath the ground, where all the fun is found."

Honky tonk music

The first genre of music to be commonly known as honky
tonk music was a style of piano playing related to ragtime, but emphasizing
rhythm more than melody or harmony, since the style evolved in response to an
environment where the pianos were often poorly cared for, tending to be out of
tune and having some nonfunctioning keys. (Hence an out-of-tune upright piano is
sometimes called a honky-tonk piano, e.g. in the General MIDI set of standard
electronic music sounds.)

Such honky tonk music was an important
influence on the formation of the boogie woogie piano style, as indicated by
Jelly Roll Morton's 1938 record "Honky Tonk Music" (recalling the music of his
youth, see quotation below), and Meade "Lux" Lewis's big hit "Honky Tonk Train
Blues" which Lewis recorded many times from 1927 into the 1950s and was covered
by many other musicians from the 1930s on, including Oscar Peterson and Keith

The 12-bar blues instrumental "Honky Tonk" by the Bill Doggett
Combo with a sinuous saxophone line and driving, slow beat, was an early rock
and roll hit. New Orleans native Antoine "Fats" Domino was another legendary
honky tonk piano man, whose "Blueberry Hill" (originally recorded by singing
cowboy Gene Autry) and "Walkin' to New Orleans" became hits on the popular music

During the pre-World War II years, the music industry began to
refer to the Honky Tonk music being played from Texas and Oklahoma to the West
Coast as Hillbilly music. More recently it has come to refer primarily to the
primary sound in country music, which developed in Nashville as Western Swing
became accepted there. Originally, it featured the guitar, fiddle, string bass
and steel guitar (an importation from Hawaiian folk music). The vocals were
originally rough and nasal, like Hank Williams, but later developed a clear and
sharp sound with singers like George Jones. Lyrics tended to focus on rural
life, with frequently tragic themes of lost love, adultery, loneliness and

During World War II, honky tonk country was popularized by
Ernest Tubb. In the 1950s, though, honky tonk entered its golden age with the
massive popularity of Hank Locklin, Lefty Frizzell, George Jones and Hank
Williams. In the mid to late 1950s, rockabilly, which melded honky tonk country
to rock and roll, and the slick country music of the Nashville sound ended honky
tonk's initial period of dominance.

In the 1970s, outlaw country music
was the most popular genre, and its brand of rough honky tonk gradually
influenced the rock-influenced alternative country in the 1990s. During the
1980s, a revival of slicker honky tonk took over the charts. Beginning with
Dwight Yoakam and George Strait in the middle of the decade, a more pop-oriented
version of honky tonk became massively popular. It crossed over into the
mainstream in the early 1990s with singers like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and
Clint Black. Later in the 90s, the sound of honky tonk became even farther
removed from its rough roots with the mainstream success of slickly produced
female singers like Shania Twain and Faith Hill.
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