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Bet you don't hear that when they get divorced - Skip James, on seeing a married couple drive down the road with empty cans dragging behind their car

Author Topic: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics  (Read 10961 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« on: September 16, 2009, 10:20:16 AM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims' "Frankie's Blues" has a striking melody.  Frankie Lee accompanied himself out of E position in standard tuning for the song, and that position makes the melody readily accessible, right under the hand.  The opening line of the melody, which he plays right under his singing, sits so in the scale:
   VI-V-IV-III-I-VI-V-IV-I-III
The song's emphasis on the VI note is unusual and really pretty.  (Another melody that particularly emphasizes the VI note, just living on it, is "Mack The Knife".) 
Frankie Lee's phrasing and phrase lengths are fluid and varied in ways that seem perfectly natural and work so well.  He keeps a funky little time lick going between the vocal phrases.  Most often he sings the verses as two-line stanzas, but for two of them he switches to the more conventional three-line form.  Occasionally he hints at a IV7 chord under the opening line, but the over-all feel of the song emphasizes the melody much more than the accompanying chords, which works out much to the good.  This is a great track.

   I used to have a little woman, man, she sure was swell
   You know, what was her name, I declared it was poor Verdell

   I heard she was in Big Sandy but I'll be there 'fore long
   Why don't you stop your foolishness and bring your clothes on home?

   Goodbye everybody, little man, it's fare you well
   Goodbye everybody, little man, it's fare you well
   And eve'y time I see you, woman, I think about poor Verdell

   B'lieve I love you, babe, and I just can't help myself
   I can't get Verdell I don't want nobody else

   I got two little children, they don't favor me
   I got two little children, they don't favor me
   One looks like a Chinaman, the other 'un like a Japanese

All best,
Johnm     

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 04:30:13 PM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Lucy Mae Blues" at a session in Dallas on March 5, 1953, on which he was joined by Herbert Washington on drums and an unknown bass player.  Frankie Lee played the song out of dropped D tuning in D, and it surely must rank as one of the finest performances ever recorded in that tuning.  In terms of its phrasing, the song is a one-off that I will discuss in more detail in the "Vocal Phrasing--The Long and the Short of It" thread. 
Lyrically, the song combines elements of "Saturday Blues" and "Every Day of the Week".  I agree with Lindy's interpretation of the conclusion of the refrain in the Cecil Barfield Lyrics thread, that it is saying, "ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do" as opposed to, "ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy may do", though at this point, there is no way of being certain.  This is another stellar performance from Frankie Lee Sims.

   My Sunday woman brings the daily news, that Monday woman buys me stockin's and shoes
   REFRAIN:  Better not let my good gal catch you here
   Ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do

   My Tuesday woman totes that pocket change, that Wednesday woman wants to do the same
   REFRAIN:  Better not let my good gal catch you here
   Ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do

   My Thursday woman knocks upon my door, that Friday woman, boy, is gotta go
   REFRAIN:  Better not let my good gal catch you here
   Ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do

   My Saturday woman totes a Gatling gun, cut you if you stand, shoot you if you run
   REFRAIN:  Better not let my good gal catch you here
   Ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do

   SOLO

   She left one Christmas comin' back that afternoon, next time I see her, boy, it was the nineteen of June
   REFRAIN:  Better not let my good gal catch you here
   Ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do

   Goodbye little woman, babe, you call that gone, you may leave Frankie, baby, don't think you won't stay long
   REFRAIN:  Better not let my good gal catch you here
   Ain't no tellin' what poor little Lucy Mae do

All best,
Johnm

     

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 02:03:18 PM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Married Woman" at the March 5, 1953 session in Dallas that also yielded "Lucy Mae Blues".  He played the song, a rocking one-chorder, out of A position in standard tuning.  It's actually a bit of an over-simplification to describe the song as a one-chorder, for it starts that way, but before he arrives at the end of the rendition Frankie Lee inserts some IV7 and V7 chords in various passing functions, all of which work just fine.  For his first solo, Frankie Lee hits a number of notes that call to mind Garfield Akers' and Joe Callicot's playing on "Cottonfields, parts 1 & 2".  I think it's very unlikely Frankie Lee ever heard that record, more a case of the same cool possibilities of a position being remarked upon and utilized by different players.  I think there is a consciousness here of the instrumental portion of the song operating on an equal footing with the singing, for the verses alternate with solos from the beginning to the end of the rendition.
Frankie Lee utilizes two-line verses here, much as on "Frankie's Blues", though he sticks to that phrasing model more strictly on "Married Woman"

   Don't take a married woman, a-honey babe, to ever be your friend
   She will spend all your money, take the same man back again

   SOLO

   You know I started to write a letter but a telegram will make it near
   I don't get no answer, this black boy is goin' himself

   SOLO

   I give you all of my money, a-little girl, and all my time
   You messed up another man, don't want to pay poor me no mind

   SOLO

   I don't care to where you go, I don't care how long you stay
   You know good kind treatment will bring you home someday

   OUTRO

All best,
Johnm
      
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 01:35:59 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2009, 08:47:44 PM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Cryin' Won't Help You" at his Dallas session on February 5, 1954, immediately after "Frankie's Blues".  He played "Cryin' Won't Help You" out of A position in standard tuning, and it is a funky medium tempo groover with a very catchy signature lick.  This performance would be relatively easy to figure out by ear.
He was such a great singer.  He is absolutely not stagey or dramatic in his singing, and perhaps because of that is utterly believable; it wouldn't occur to you to question what he's saying.  That believability makes verses like the next-to-last one all the more sobering.

   SOLO

   Tell me, little woman, who been tellin' you?
   Tell me, little woman, who been tellin' you?
   Tellin' you, baby, ev'y little thing I do

   SOLO

   Don't need to be jealous, it ain't no need of that
   Don't need to be jealous, it ain't no need of that
   'Cause if your woman love you she comin' where you're at

   You know, cryin' won't help you and cryin' ain't gonna help you none
   Says, your cryin' ain't gonna help you, it ain't gonna help you none
   When I find you, little woman, and shoot you with my .41

   SOLO

   So, listen now, baby, I've stood all in the world I could
   Says, so listen, little baby, I stood all in the world I could
   You know it's all your fault, you're not doin' the little things you should

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm 

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2009, 10:05:53 AM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Don't Take It Out On Me" at his March 5, 1953 session in Dallas that also yielded "Lucy Mae Blues" and "Married Woman".  Played out of A position in standard tuning, "Don't Take It Out On Me" is a medium tempo shuffle, a little more uptown-sounding than most of Frankie Lee's material at first listening.  Closer listening to the solo sections and Frankie's singing of the last two verses places the sound more squarely in the Country Blues camp, for Frankie Lee's solos are essentially one-chord vamps rather than playing the form and his vocal phrasing is irregular and short, though perfectly natural sounding.  I'm not sure I have the bent bracketed portion of the lyric in the final verse right.  I take it to mean, "The times when I wasn't having to call you on your misbehavior, I declare you sure was swell.".  I'd welcome fresh sets of ears and other interpretations.

   Every good-bye ain't gone, every shut-eye sure ain't sleep
   Every good-bye ain't gone, every shut-eye sure ain't sleep
   If you're mad at someone else, baby, don't take it out on me

   I'm your boyfriend, baby, and not your mother dear
   I'm your boyfriend, baby, and not your mother dear
   I'm talkin' about the woman, baby, that really brought you here

   SOLO

   So listen, little woman, baby, here is my right hand
   So listen, little woman, baby, here is my right hand
   I can go ahead on now, baby, make out a life the best I can

   SOLO

   So listen, little woman, good-bye and it's fare you well
   So listen, little woman, good-bye and it's fare you well
   The time I [wasn't on] you, baby, I declare you sure was swell

All best,
Johnm

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2009, 10:17:49 AM »
John, I also hear "wasn't on" in the last phrase.

Dave

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2009, 11:23:53 AM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Married Woman" at the March 5, 1953 session in Dallas that also yielded "Lucy Mae Blues". 
A quick rewind here. I'm sure that the booklet notes must mention this but "Married Woman" along with a further 11 titles were never released at the time. In fact FLS only enjoyed three 78 releases (459, 478 and 487) so it makes one wonder just what Specialty/the record buying public were hoping from him. It apparently wasn't what he was producing since most were eventually released on LP in the mid 70s and missing items in the 90s on a CD.

Apologies for waffling on at a tangent and hijacking your transcription thread.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2009, 12:16:00 PM »
Hi all,
Thanks for the listen, Dave.  I wasn't sure if it was "wasn't on" or "wasn't knowing", but leaned towards the first choice.  I'm glad you hear it the same way.
No apology is necessary, Bunker Hill. that kind of information is always welcome, and Neil Slaven's notes to the JSP set corroborate your information, for he says, "One single was issued from each session. . . .", speaking of Frankie Lee's March '53 and February '54 sessions.  Good catch!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2009, 09:30:29 AM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "I Done Talked and I Done Talked" at his great session in Dallas on February 5, 1954.  He accompanies the song out of E in standard tuning, and it begins with a very swampy, low-down groove, only grudgingly moving forward.  His vocal here is perfectly amazing, some of the greatest blues singing I have ever heard.  He does a complex swooping melodic line on the words that are written out in an elongated fashion that I'm sure would resist any attempts at notation.  The front end of the rendition is particularly interesting, because it is virtually formless.  It sounds very ruminative, as though you are hearing an interior monologue as it moves around, free-associating. Kudos to the bass and drummer for keeping the song going.  As is most often the case with Country Blues, the song accelerates over the course of the rendition and the form becomes more regular.  Even when you know it is coming, the next-to-last verse is a shocker.  Like some of Skip James' songs, this rendition flies in the face of the idea of Blues as necessarily an entertaining dance music.  This is DOWN.

   I done talked and I done talked, seem like my talk d--o--n--'--t do no good
   Let her go, may God bless her, she don't even know, no need of me carin',
   Oh yes, you'll need m---y help someday
   Well, it could be tomorrow, baby, I could be s----o far away

   Don't try to jive me, woman, you know, you didn't m--e--a--n me no good
   Don't try to jive me, woman, you know, you d--o--n--'--t mean me no good
   'Cause I'll cut your head, baby, just like it w--a--s a stick of wood

   But if I lose my life, little girl, o--n account of you
   If I lose my life, little girl, o--n account of you
   Send my soul on to the devil, you know my love was true

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 29, 2010, 11:28:27 AM by Johnm »

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2009, 03:24:49 AM »
The swooping vocals on this song certainly defy any kind of written description, don't they? Vocal risk taking par excellence - and one of my favourite FLS songs.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2009, 05:26:57 AM »
Well I had to hear this so I checked out my CDs. I only have two songs by Frankie Lee Sims from the JSP set Jook Joint Blues - That's What They Want. Must get the JSP Texas Blues set.

I guess Frankie Lee deserves a mention in the 1950s electric blues topic also.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 05:34:42 AM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2009, 04:54:45 PM »
You are right, Prof. Scratchy, that singing defies description.  The best you can hope is that you'll convince people who have not heard it to seek it out and give it a listen. 
Your point is well taken, Rivers--Frankie Lee definitely belongs in the '50s electric blues thread.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2009, 05:20:51 PM »
Quote
The best you can hope is that you'll convince people who have not heard it to seek it out and give it a listen. 

Or that you'll make people who have heard the song go back, listen closely, and really appreciate it.  I have all the songs you've mentioned so far on the Specialty CD, and have counted myself a Frankie Lee Sims fan, but the current thread has made me appreciate Sims and what he does much more than before.  Thanks, John.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2009, 05:51:57 PM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Well Goodbye Baby" at the last session represented on the JSP set, from Jackson, Mississippi in 1957.  He was working with a bigger band here, consisting of piano, bass, drums and tenor sax in addition to Frankie Lee's electric guitar and vocals, and it was a really strong-sounding ensemble.
This is a tremendously exciting track which has an additional bonus of being a one-off in the formal sense, employing different forms for the solos and verses.  Frankie Lee plays it out of G in standard tuning, with a recurring signature lick that the saxophone joins him for in unison.  The solos almost conform to a regular 12--bar structure, like so, with each measure in 4/4:

   |    I    |    I    |    I    |    I    |

   |   IV   |   IV   |    I    |

   |   V7   |   IV   |    I    |  I/V7   |

The pianist always sounds surprised by the early move to the V7 chord at the end of the second phrase.
The sung verses employ an altogether different form and use it consistently throughout the course of the rendition.  It works beautifully, and you might not notice how unusual it is without careful listening and counting, it sounds so natural.  It works like so, with all measures of 4 beats except where indicated:

   |    I    |    I    |    I    |

   |  IV (6 beat measure)|    I    |    I    |

   |   V7   |   IV   |    I    |  I/V7  |

So it is that you end up with a 10-bar structure which includes a bar of 6/4 over the IV chord, opening the second phrase.  The ensemble sound, Frankie Lee's singing and playing all sound super-exciting.  Frankie Lee's vocal is terrific, as usual.  I love the tag line on the fourth verse.  I'd be much more inclined to listen to modern amplified blues if it sounded more like this.  The song ends with a fade, something not encountered all that much in songs of the era in which it was recorded.

   SOLO

   I'm down now, baby, I'm down now, baby, won't be down always
   Then I won't have to put up with your evil ways
   But someday, baby, you ain't gonna worry my life anymore

   So goodbye, baby, so goodbye, baby, goodbye, baby
   I'm leavin' you and my troubles behind
   Well I'm tired of bein' worried, little girl, bothered all the time

   I ain't got nobody, I ain't got nobody, I ain't got nobody
   Got nobody, little girl, to teach me right from wrong
   Well, I know you don't want me, little girl, you just go ahead on

   SOLO

   I'm leavin' you baby, I'm leavin' you, baby, I'm leavin' you, baby
   Leavin' you, baby, ain't comin' back here no more
   How can you fly so high, little girl, and live so low?

   So goodbye, baby, goodbye, baby, goodbye, baby
   Goodbye, baby, I'm leavin' by myself
   Well, I know you don't want me, I guess I'll get me someone else

   SOLO

   I told you, baby, I told you, baby, I told you, baby
   Told you, baby, great long time ago
   Well, you a no-good little woman, babe, and I have to let you go

   SOLO, fade

All best,
Johnm


   

Offline Johnm

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Re: Frankie Lee Sims Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2009, 10:18:21 PM »
Hi all,
Frankie Lee Sims recorded "Long Gone" at a session in Dallas on May 14, 1953, accompanied by bass and drums.  He plays the song out of E position in standard tuning.  It's a lively, up-tempo song with a pronounced pre-blues feel, and this despite the fairly modern instrumental sound.  I could easily hear this song appearing on the George Mitchell Collection sung unaccompanied, or by a chain gang group, or by an Old-Time banjo player.  The verses are all floating verses and there is not any narrative flow, a quality that also would seem to emphasize it's folk roots.  I believe the lyrics to the refrain refer to the singer having made a prison break at night.  This is a tremendously infectious number that would work well in a variety of treatments.

   REFRAIN:  But now, you know I'm long, long gone
   A-like a turkey through the corn
   A-with my long drawers on

   Oh Rattler, Rattler is a water dog
   He can swim Big Brazos and walk it foot log

   REFRAIN:  But now you know I'm long gone (guitar finishes refrain)

   I ain't got nobody, no worrisome kin
   Nobody but myself to be bothered with

   REFRAIN:  But now, you know I'm long (guitar finishes refrain)

   SOLO

   If you knowed you couldn't make it, you oughta stayed at home
   Picked up chips for your grandma down on your grandpa's farm

   REFRAIN:  But now, you know I'm long, long gone
   A-like a turkey through the corn
   A-with my long drawers on

   SOLO

   Boy, look-a look-a yonder, what do I see?
   Lord, good kind captain, you know he comin' up to me

   REFRAIN:  But now, you know I'm long, long gone
   A-like a turkey through the corn
   A-with my long drawers on

   OUTRO

All best,
Johnm