collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

"That ain't the goddam blues," says Bussard, disgusted. "You ever hear of Charlie Patton?" - Joe Bussard, story by Eddie Dean, washingtoncitypaper.com

Author Topic: Bessie Smith Lyrics  (Read 5579 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline GhostRider

  • Member
  • Posts: 1285
  • That'll never happen no more!
Bessie Smith Lyrics
« on: November 10, 2004, 09:33:44 PM »
Hi all:

As part of Ramblin' Frank's Covers++ here are the lyrics and .mp3 for Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.

Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out

Bessie Smith
Written by Jimmy Cox
1929
Key of C



Introduction

(1) Once I lived a life of a millionaire
Spendin' my money I didn't care
I carried my friends out for a good time
Buyin' bootleg liquor, champagne and wine

(2) When I began to fall so low
I didn't have a friend and no place to go
But if I ever get my hands on a dollar agin
I'm gonna hold on to it 'till them eagles grin

(Refrain) Nobody knows you, when you down and out
In my pocket not one penny
And my friends I haven't any
But if I ever get on my feet again
Then I'll meet my long-lost friends
It's mighty strange, without a doubt
Nobody knows you when you down and out
I mean when you down and out.

(3) trumpet solo

(Refrain) Ummmmmmmm, when you down and out
Ummmmmmm, not one penny
And my friends I haven't any
Ummmmmmm, and I fell so low
Nobody wants me 'round their door
Ummmmmmm, without a doubt
No man can use you when you down and out
I mean when you down and out.

Check out the trumpet solo by a young Louis Armstrong!

Alex
« Last Edit: July 11, 2020, 01:38:53 PM by Johnm »

Offline Jimmy J

  • Member
  • Posts: 21
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2011, 09:38:53 PM »
Hey Gang,

I'd like to find a copy of the original sheet music of Jimmy Cox's 1923 composition, Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out.

I am not interested in copies that start with the lyric, "Once I lived the life of a millionaire..." That is likely an abridged version that was recorded and made famous by Bessie Smith.

There must be an earlier version, because Dave Van Ronk sang an obscure introductory verse that started, "Standing on the corner, singing the blues..."

Can anyone assist me?

Cheers, jj
I ukulele, daily.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2828
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 09:50:19 PM »
Can't help with the sheet music but back in January 2006 there was a lengthy debate about Cox and the writing/copyrighting of the song, see http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=1968.0
« Last Edit: September 30, 2011, 09:52:18 PM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Jimmy J

  • Member
  • Posts: 21
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 10:25:18 PM »
Thanks Bunker, that was an interesting read.

As it was written in 1923, this song should be in the public domain, wouldn't you think? I figure one of those university digital sheet music collections should have it. I just know where to look.
I ukulele, daily.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2828
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 11:41:03 PM »
Good luck. Let us know how you get on.

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1907
  • Howdy!
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2011, 04:10:23 AM »
As it was written in 1923, this song should be in the public domain, wouldn't you think?

I happen to know, that at least in Europe it is. Don't know about the U.S.A. though.

By the way, I believe the date of writing has nothing to do about a song being in pd, it's the time of the death of the songwriters that counts. In Europe that is 70 years after, but I think they raised that in the U.S.A. recently, if I'm not mistaken?

Cheers

Pan

Offline Jimmy J

  • Member
  • Posts: 21
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2011, 08:59:09 AM »
Dave Van Ronk sang the introductory verses that interest me in his concert, Dave Van Ronk at The Bottom Line in 2001, available from Stephan Grossman's Guitar Workshop Vestapol Series.

In his separate introduction to the song, Dave states he thought the song dates from about 1907-1910, and that it was written by 'a song and dance guy' named Joe Cox. Now, he was speaking from memory, so maybe he was mistaken as to the year and the name, as Jimmy (Jimmie) Cox and 1923 are the information on the Bessie Smith chart. The controversy over copyright, however, may have added to this confusion.

Here is the introductory verse from Dave's performance, in case it jogs anyone's memory of having ever seen it on an old songsheet:

Standing on the corner, singin the blues, pockets full of empty, holes in my shoes.

Chompin? on the butt of a cheap cigar, choppin? out the changes on a beat-up guitar.

I?ve sung this song before, singin? it again; those dear, dim days, of way back when.

For the good-time-Charleys left me flat. If you like the music, drop a dime in my hat.
I ukulele, daily.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8306
  • Rank amateur
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2011, 09:12:38 AM »
Copyright in the US isn't as cut and dry as one might hope and depends on what entity claimed copyright in the first place, which renewed it and when, how much money is in it for the corporations etc etc. to the point where some music that was recorded in the 20s is not likely to come into public domain for decades to come (shocking that the law would be manipulated that way, I know). It would not surprise me at all that some big corp like EMI claim copyright on a song like Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, since it gets used so much.

As for the sheet music, there have been past discussions here that have included some links to online sheet music archives so you might want to search the forum for "sheet music". I thought we had gathered them together in Weeniepedia, but it does not seem to be the case. A project for someone.   8)

That intro verse you quote sure reads like it has been Van Ronk-ized. Chopping out the changes? Hmmm.

One guy who knows a lot of intro verses to old songs that tend to get dropped when performed is Lightnin' Wells. Perhaps he'll chime in.

Abbott and Seroff in Ragged But Right state that Jimmie Cox's composition came out in 1916 (note their spelling of Jimmie). They also point out that textually, it was based on "All In, Down and Out" by Chris Smith and RC "Cecil Mack" McPherson which was published in 1906. Some of the lyrics they quote from the earlier song include lines like "But if I ever get my hands on a dollar again/I'm going to hold on to it, it's your only friend". Bert Williams recorded the Smith and McPherson song in 1906.

« Last Edit: October 01, 2011, 09:43:00 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Jimmy J

  • Member
  • Posts: 21
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2011, 10:25:19 AM »
Thanks Uncle,

It's all Dave's references to busking that piqued my interest in this down-and-out old chestnut, and makes me wonder if that's what Jimmie was up to, in his day.

I always keep an ear, and an eye, out for lost and forgotten introductory verses. There's a lot of songs in my repertoire I never would have touched with a barge pole, if I hadn't somehow found verses that rarely get to see the light of today. Tip Toe Through The Tulips is a good case in point. If I hadn't found some Romeo & Juliet verses that set up the whole 'come hither', midnight frolic, I would have been quite content to let Tiny take it to his grave. I just love achieving a moment of audience epiphany (the 'Aha!' breath), when I finally arrive at the more familiar strains of a song.  

And, I must forgive Dave for Van Ronk-izing his lyrics, because I always strive to do commit the same damn, resuscitative, sin...
« Last Edit: October 01, 2011, 10:31:21 AM by Jimmy J »
I ukulele, daily.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8306
  • Rank amateur
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2011, 10:46:08 AM »
I don't know any biographical details about Jimmy/Jimmie Cox myself, but I suspect that as the composer of this song, and the fact that he based part of it on a Chris Smith song, that he was, like quite a number of African American musicians at the time, trying to make it in the music publishing business as a composer. It was a Tin Pan Alley scenario more than a street musician scene, as far as I know.

Nothing wrong with DVR Van Ronk-izing his versions of songs, no forgiveness necessary! I was just saying that it wasn't beyond him to add stuff, like the WWII hand grenade that appears in his version of Bert Williams' 1919 composition Somebody Else Not Me.

Offline Bill Roggensack

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 551
  • Not dead yet!
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2011, 07:11:42 PM »
The late Jackie Washington knew a lot of obscure intro verses. I know he recorded "Nobody Knows . . " on one of the albums he did with Ken Whitely and Mose Scarlett. I'll have a listen next chance I get and report back.
Cheers,
FrontPage

Offline Jimmy J

  • Member
  • Posts: 21
Re: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2011, 05:30:48 AM »
Thanks guys!

With effort and a bit of luck, I sussed the tune by watching Dave's performance. It took a while to determine that Dave played it in G, but he was in drop D tuning! I'd never heard of that before! (He's capoed at two, so he's actually in A in drop E tuning!) You know, this song is falling out of the sky on me! It's a great old song, and these obscure verses from Dave are tailor made for busking...

I just had a reply to an email I sent Fred Sokolow. He states these lyrics aren't on his copy of the old sheet music. He figures Dave may have written them his own use. Fred mentioned he listened to Dave's version on YouTube. I checked, and, sure enough, here it is, but it's audio only:

« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 08:18:44 PM by Jimmy J »
I ukulele, daily.

Offline Gumbo

  • Member
  • Posts: 870
  • So Papa climbed up on top of the house
Bessie Smith--Good Old Wagon
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2014, 09:16:42 AM »
Bessie Smith's Good Old Wagon was recorded with Louis Armstrong (cornet) and Fred Longshaw (piano) in January 1925. It's a fun song to play and sing but I could do with some help  on the third verse.



E Look-a-here daddy, I want to tell you
please get out of my sight
I'm A playing quits now right from this very E night
Ab you've had your C#m day Ab don't sit around and C#m frown B7
you've been a E good old Db7(or C#m) wagon, F#m daddy but you done B broke E down

Here you'd better go to the blacksmith's shop
and get yourself overhauled
there's nothing about you to make a good woman fall
nobody wants a baby when a real man can be found
you've been a good old wagon, daddy but you done broke down

When the sun is shining it's time to make hay
Automobiles operate
you can't make that wagon pay
when you were in your prime you loved to run around
you've been a good old wagon, daddy but you done broke down

there's no need to cry and make a big show
this man has taught me more about loving
than you will ever know
he is the king of lovin' just minus of a crown
he's a good old wagon, daddy and he ain't broke down



edited to add corrections/suggestions from ScottN and bnemerov below
« Last Edit: July 11, 2020, 01:40:04 PM by Johnm »

Offline ScottN

  • Member
  • Posts: 309
Re: Good Old Wagon
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2014, 10:50:55 AM »
Hi Gumbo,

I think 3.2 is something like:
Au-ti-mo-biles operate / automobiles operate

Thanks,
           Scott

Offline bnemerov

  • Member
  • Posts: 239
Re: Good Old Wagon
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2014, 11:25:46 AM »
E Look-a-here daddy, I want to tell you
please get out of my sight
I'm A playing quits now right from this very E night
Ab you've had your C#m day Ab don't sit around and C#m frown B7
you've been a E good old C#m wagon, F#m daddy but you B7done  broke E down

Hi Gumbo,
Suggested key of E chord revisions in bold. She's singing in the key of F and the changes are much "friendlier" in that key.
best,
bruce

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2023, SimplePortal