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Lonesome songs always appealed to me - Dock Boggs

Author Topic: "Goin' to the 'stillery"?  (Read 2147 times)

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Offline doctorpep

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"Goin' to the 'stillery"?
« on: May 21, 2008, 02:54:58 PM »
We've long thought that Robert Johnson sang "Goin' to the 'stillery, stay out there all day" on "Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)". However, on Johnny Shines' "Takin' The Blues Back South", one of the best Country Blues albums I've ever heard, that is, sadly, usually out of print, Johnny sings the following on "Back To The Steel Mill": "Goin' to the steel mill, stay out there all day". Is it possible, given the association the two men had, that these are the same lyrics that Robert Johnson sang, and that all the Blues experts have always gotten it wrong, simply because this Johnny Shines album is usually out of print and is practically impossible to find/buy?
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Offline dj

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Re: "Goin' to the 'stillery"?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2008, 04:40:11 PM »
I've owned King Of The Delta Blues Singers or one of its successors for 40 years now.  For most of those 40 years, I heard Johnson sing "steel mill".  But eventually I realized I'd misheard.  If you listen closely, I think it's pretty clearly "steel-rey" ('still'ry), which makes more sense - a distillery would certainly be a better place to "drive the blues away" than would a steel mill, which would be more apt to give one the blues than to drive them away.  I assume that Johnny Shines just misheard the line, as I did. 

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: "Goin' to the 'stillery"?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2008, 09:58:44 PM »
I haven't heard the Shines tune, but I bet Johnny knew the difference between a 'still and a steel mill.  I'd say with his back-ground in construction and the trades, he sang what he meant to sing.  Which doesn't mean that Johnson didn't say "'stillery."
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Offline dj

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Re: "Goin' to the 'stillery"?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2008, 10:13:38 AM »
I have no doubt that not only Johnny Shines but every native English speaker knows the difference between a steel mill and a distillery.  And I have no doubt that Johnny Shines sang what he wanted to sing.  And it's certainly possible that if Johnny Shines were alive today and we could question him, he'd enlighten us as to why "steel mill" made sense and was necessary in the context of the song.  But I think it much more probable that Shines, like myself, just misheard Johnson's pronunciation and sang "steel mill" without much reflection on what it meant.  We all do that all the time, whether we're performing or just singing in the shower.

 


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