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I pulled all my songs out of my brain - Bukka White

Author Topic: Dying Crapshooter's Blues  (Read 2535 times)

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LoneWolf

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Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« on: June 30, 2007, 10:24:23 AM »
Did Willie McTell really write it like he said? 'cause I'm pretty sure I heard some classic female singer singing it, I think it was a 20's recording... Or did I imagine?
« Last Edit: June 30, 2007, 10:42:47 AM by LoneWolf »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2007, 10:41:23 AM »
DG&R has the following:
Martha Copeland, w/clarinet an piano, 5 May 1927
Nannie McKinney, w/piano, 24 June 1927
Viola McCoy, w/cl, piano, late August 1927
Rosa Henderson, w/piano, late Sept 1927
Willie McTell, 5 Nov 1940

LoneWolf

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2007, 10:57:54 AM »
Thanks!

Were all the other artists from Georgia?

Offline Rivers

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2007, 11:23:13 AM »
I'd guess no, but there's no biographical info in DG&R. Take Google for a spin, let us know what you find.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2007, 11:24:46 AM by Rivers »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2007, 11:39:29 PM »
Henderson - Kentucky (1968 obituary)
McCoy - Mississippi (Howard Rye, Document booklet)

Remainder elude me.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2007, 01:38:36 AM »
I only have the Rosa Henderson version and, apart from the gambler being Jim Johnson, it is virtually the same song. Very vaudevillian in both approach and style. What's required is somebody who owns 78s to see who is credited as composer.

LATER EDIT: I tell a lie, I have the Martha Copeland version courtesy of the Document complete works. The lyric is the same and John Wilby in his booklet states that the prolific Porter Grainger is given as composer.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2007, 02:11:10 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2007, 05:57:40 AM »
I always had the sense Willie added some content to an earlier song. It would be great to get transcriptions down. Here's one of Willie's, can't remember if I cribbed it from somewhere else or transcribed it myself. If I cribbed it I would have checked it:

The Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues, Blind Willie McTell
from Complete Library of Congress Recordings (1940) (Document BDCD-6001)
& Legendary Library of Congress Session (Elektra 301)

Little Jesse was a gambler, night and day
He used crooked cards and dice
Sinful guy, good hearted but had no soul
Heart was hard and cold like ice

Jesse was a wild reckless gambler, won a gang of change
Although' a many gambler's heart he led in pain
Began to spend a-loose his money
Began to be blue, sad and all alone

His heart had even turned to stone
What broke Jesse's heart while he was blue and all alone
Sweet Lorena packed up and gone
Police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down

Boys I got to die today

He had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers at his bedside
Here are the words he had to say

Guess I ought to know
Exactly how I wants to go

(How you wanna go, Jesse?)

Eight crapshooters to be my pallbearers
Let 'em be veiled down in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard, Bubba
And eight men comin' back

I want a gang of gamblers gathered 'round my coffin-side
Crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters'll never grieve over me
My life been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
High sheriff playin' blackjack, lead the parade

I want the judge and solic'ter who jailed me 14 times
Put a pair of dice in my shoes (then what?)
Let a deck of cards be my tombstone
I got the dyin' crapshooter's blues

Sixteen real good crapshooters
Sixteen bootleggers to sing a song
Sixteen racket men gamblin'
Couple tend bar while I'm rollin' along

He wanted 22 womens outta the Hampton Hotel
26 off-a South Bell
29 women outta North Atlanta
Know little Jesse didn't pass out so swell

His head was achin', heart was thumpin'
Little Jesse went to hell bouncin' and jumpin'
Folks, don't be standin' around ole Jesse cryin'
He wants everybody to do the Charleston whilst he dyin'

One foot up, a toenail dragging
Throw my buddy Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze
The dyin crapshooter's, leavin' the world
The dyin' crapshooter's, goin' down slow
With the dyin' crapshooter's blues
« Last Edit: July 01, 2007, 05:58:46 AM by Rivers »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2007, 09:34:58 AM »
I always had the sense Willie added some content to an earlier song.
Odd serses from the 1880s Dying Cowboy/Streets Of Laredo/St James' Infirmary creep into the latter part of Crapshooter. A.L. Lloyd"s "Background To St.James' Infirmary Blues" (Keynote, Jan 1947 p 10-14) examines those songs.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2007, 09:45:04 AM by Bunker Hill »

bobo

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2007, 01:18:05 PM »
The Rosa Henderson Lyrics are not the same as McTells. Some are the same, McTell changed some of the wording and added many more words.

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2007, 05:02:05 PM »
I think on the "Last Sessions" album McTell explains the song as says something like "I had to steal music from everywhere to make it..."   Hmm, as soon as we figure out the exact quote it can go in our "quote drive" thread.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline fictioneer

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2007, 09:33:48 PM »
I think on the "Last Sessions" album McTell explains the song as says something like "I had to steal music from everywhere to make it..."   Hmm, as soon as we figure out the exact quote it can go in our "quote drive" thread.

"I had to steal music from every which a way to get it ... to get it to fit."  According to him he began the song in 1929 but didn't finish till 1932.  How long it might have taken if Grainger hadn't given him the basic structure is anybody's guess!

On the intro to "Beedle Um Bum," McTell says of his songwriting:  "I'd jump 'em [my songs] from other writers, but I'd 'range 'em up my way." 

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Dying Crapshooter's Blues
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2007, 03:09:34 PM »
Those are both great quotes.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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