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My songs ain't writ on papuh... them words, they just come to me while I sing. That's a true God-given talent I was borned with. Only real blues singers like me can make songs on the spot. No mutha's gonna teach you that - Guitar Gabriel, PTCBW 1995 in a semisober moment responding to a naïve student who asked "where ideas for his songs come from?"

Author Topic: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics  (Read 21994 times)

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Offline mr mando

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Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« on: January 09, 2009, 01:05:09 PM »
Hi all,
I was listening a lot to the RST (document) CD "Banjo" Ikey Robinson In Chronological Order (1929-1937) (JPCD-1508-2) recently and noticed that some of the lyrics were hard to decipher, so I thought I might find some help around here. Here are the first two sung titles from the CD, recorded on Feb. 1st, 1929 in Chicago, with Jimmy Flowers on piano and Count Turner on banjo, while Ikey is singing and playing what sounds like a National tricone tenor guitar. The title of the first song is probably a misspelling of the word "poison", which Ikey pronounces like "pizen" in the last line of the last verse.
"Pizen Tea Blues" is a standard 12 bar blues in C with a funny ending, while "Rock Pile Blues" has an 8 bar form (I-I7-IV-iv-I-V7-I-V7) in F with a futuristic sounding intro over chromatically descending diminished chords and a I-V7-vamp, which occurs after the intro, between the piano and tenor guitar solos and for the ending.
Any help with the lyrics will be much appreciated, especially with the missing bit in verse two of "Pizen Tea Blues" and with the second spoken bit in "Rock Pile Blues".

Pizen Tea Blues

Listen kind people what the blues have done to me
Listen kind people what the blues have done to me
Made me lose my money twenty five year guarantee

Now the blues jumped the rabbit and they?re running for a solid mile
Blues jumped the rabbit running for a solid mile
And the rabbit laid down tired (died) like an ???

Dee dab dee diddee booboobooby booby baby all night long
Dee dab dee deedee booby dee booby baby all night long
I?ll have no dee boobooby baby since you been gone

Oh Lord Lord

I don?t want no sugar baby stirred up in my lovin? tea
I don?t want no sugar baby stirred up in my lovin? tea
Cause my woman?s kind of evil she might poison me


Rock Pile Blues

Take me back pretty baby try me just one more time
I?ll do all I can to change your ramblin? mind

I love you pretty baby six feet deep down in the ground
I?ll tell the good Lord couldn?t love you no farther down

If it wasn?t for my baby the only girl I love
I?ll give my soul to the devil, heart to the Lord above

Oh big rock, big rock, big rock baby all your daddy can see
If I don?t make this time they?ll be pilin? rocks on me

?Play that thing in your own way, Jimmy! Hit that thing!?

?When they hear that straight thing pull that cottons off my arm, boy!?

They took me to the rock pile gave me a ball and chain
Gave me a cell, a number and took away my name

But baby if I can pull this time I?ll see you soon again
Get off this rock pile lose my ball and chain

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2009, 10:36:43 PM »
Hi Mr. Mando - I don't have the CD or song in question, so I'm just taking a guess that the line in Pizen Tea Blues may be some variation on "cried like a natural child" that ends a similar line in Blind Lemon's Rabbit Foot Blues.

Offline mr mando

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2009, 03:44:01 AM »
uncle bud,
that was my first thought also, although I couldn't remember the line was from Blind Lemon. But the phonetics don't quite match. Phonetically, the phrase after "like" sounds like "an-at-ver-tie". Maybe the CD wasn't one of the top sellers in Document's catalogue, so I'll add mp3s of the tunes.

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Offline mr mando

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 03:45:00 AM »
Here's the second one:

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2009, 12:06:04 PM »
Hi mr. mando - thanks for the audio. I think the line is indeed "cried like a natural child". Some comments in CAPS below.

Pizen Tea Blues

Listen kind people what the blues have done to me
Listen kind people what the blues have done to me
Made me lose my money twenty five year guarantee

Now the blues jumped the rabbit and they?re running for a solid mile
Blues jumped the rabbit running for a solid mile
And the rabbit laid down tired (died) like an ??

Now the blues jumped the rabbit and THEY RUN HIM for a solid mile
Blues jumped the rabbit RUN HIM for a solid mile
And the rabbit laid down, CRIED LIKE A NATURAL CHILD

Quote
Dee dab dee diddee booboobooby booby baby all night long
Dee dab dee deedee booby dee booby baby all night long
I?ll have no dee boobooby baby since you been gone

Oh Lord Lord

Nice scat transcription.  :D I think he ends with OH GONE GONE, not Lord, Lord.

Quote
I don?t want no sugar baby stirred up in my lovin? tea
I don?t want no sugar baby stirred up in my lovin? tea
Cause my woman?s kind of evil she might poison me

Yes.

Quote
Rock Pile Blues

Take me back pretty baby try me just one more time
I?ll do all I can to change your ramblin? mind

I love you pretty baby six feet deep down in the ground
I?ll tell the good Lord couldn?t love you no farther down

GO AND tell the good Lord couldn?t love you no farther down

Quote
If it wasn?t for my baby the only girl I love
I?ll give my soul to the devil, heart to the Lord above

Oh big rock, big rock, big rock baby all your daddy can see
If I don?t make this time they?ll be pilin? rocks on me

?Play that thing in your own way, Jimmy! Hit that thing!?

?When they hear that straight thing pull that cottons off my arm, boy!?

The above line is tricky but I am hearing something like:

When YOU hear that FREIGHT TRAIN pull that cottons OUT OF?? my arm, boy
 
Quote
They took me to the rock pile gave me a ball and chain
Gave me a cell, a number and took away my name

Gave me a SET OF NUMBERS and took away my name (I like your line better, but this is what I hear)

Quote
But baby if I can pull this time I?ll see you soon again
Get off this rock pile lose my ball and chain

What a strangely happy sounding prison song.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2009, 06:03:50 PM »
That freight train line is:
"Let me hear that freight train pullin' that Cotton Top Mountain, boy."

Offline mr mando

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2009, 06:17:43 AM »
Thanks uncle bud and banjochris for your valuable help! I agree with all your suggestions (except for the GO AND in 2.2 of Rock Pile Blues, but it's better than what I had). I wouldn't have thought that we'd arrive at a transcription for the second spoken line in Rock Pile Blues so fast! Incredible! So here are the revised lyrics complete with allt he changes:

Pizen Tea Blues

Listen kind people what the blues have done to me
Listen kind people what the blues have done to me
Made me lose my money twenty five year guarantee

Now the blues jumped the rabbit and they run him for a solid mile
Blues jumped the rabbit run him for a solid mile
And the rabbit laid down cried like a natural child 

Dee dab dee diddee booboobooby   booby baby all night long
Dee dab dee deedee booby   dee booby baby all night long
I?ll have no dee boobooby baby since you been gone

Oh gone gone

I don?t want no sugar baby stirred up in my lovin? tea
I don?t want no sugar baby stirred up in my lovin? tea
Cause my woman?s kind of evil she might poison me


Rock Pile Blues

Take me back pretty baby try me just one more time
I?ll do all I can to change your ramblin? mind

I love you pretty baby six feet deep down in the ground
Go and tell the good Lord couldn?t love you no farther down

If it wasn?t for my baby the only girl I love
I?ll give my soul to the devil, heart to the Lord above

Oh big rock, big rock, big rock baby all your daddy can see
If I don?t make this time they?ll be pilin? rocks on me

?Play that thing in your own way, Jimmy! Hit that thing!?

"Let me hear that freight train pullin' that Cotton Top Mountain, boy!"

They took me to the rock pile gave me a ball and chain
Gave me a set of numbers and took away my name

But baby if I can pull this time I?ll see you soon again
Get off this rock pile lose my ball and chain



Offline mr mando

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2009, 12:58:33 PM »
Hi all,
chronologically, the next session that Banjo Ikey Robinson (BIR) recorded under his own name was eight days later as Ikey Robinson's Bull Fiddle Band. Two sides were recorded, "My Four Reasons" and "Rock Me Mama", which featured, besides BIR on tenor banjo, Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon on vocals, William Barbee on piano, an unknown percussionist and the obnoxious violin of a certain R. Waugh. The double bass (bull fiddle) player in the band was the very audible Bill Johnson. Both songs are available on DOCD5258.

"My Four Reasons" became something like Ikey's signature tune, he recorded it also with Herman Chittison in NY in 1933, with german old-time jazz band "The Jazz Lips" in 1975 in Hamburg and in the 80s for Terry Zwigoff's Louie Bluie movie. The song is a 32 bar AABA form in F major, which seems to be Ikey's home key on tenor guitar/banjo (he also played piano and clarinet). The A-part uses a I-III7-VI7-VI7-II7-V7-I-I(V7) progression, while the B-part is the same as the B-part for I got rhythm (III7-VI7-II7-V7, 2 bars each). As I tried to transcribe all the spoken asides, I thought I might also make the effort and write out the scat singing. I think especially the spoken asides might need some checking by a better set of ears than my own, which I'd really appreciate.

"Rock Me Mama" is usually cited as one of the song titles that the expression "rock'n'roll" was derived. This time I didn't make the effort to transcribe the scat.

I'll add mp3s of both songs, in case the Frankie Jaxon documents aren't more common than the BIR one.




My Four Reasons

?Get together!?
?Four Reasons!?
?Whip it now!?
?Everybody gets filled!?
?Everybody!?
?Oh come on Ike you know?
?Ooooh?
?Oh saw it Mister Fleech and Herbert!?
?Do it!?
?Woooo ha ha haaaaa haa!?

You know I hate a gal who?s full of ?Nos?, hits the jug and uses joe
Why that?s one of my four reasons

Who rolls her arm below her knees, and flirts with those who she please
Why that?s two of my four reasons

And when she uses garlic, eats Limburger cheese
Why I get a weakness down below my knees

Now folks I told you this, my mind?s at ease
Why that?s all of my four reasons

?Play it Bill!?
?Oh good, Bill!?
?Yeah!?
?Four years in Birmingham!?
?Haaa!?
?Woooo-ay!?
?If you steppin? on it, it ain?t my fault!?
?Let?s go to town, men!?

Tweet hot hot, thweet hot hot hot, tweet father twy twah twah
Twah twee twah, thwada, thwa thaw, twee-eed twee

?Four Reasons!?

Rock Me Mama



Rock me pretty mama if it?s all night long
Rock me baby till the cows come home
Rock me in the morning, rock me at night
Rock me baby rock me out of sight

Tell me baby what?s on your worried mind
You don?t rock you?re just a rubbin? kind
Rock me baby rock me now
Oh mama you?re rockin? me

?Rock me!?

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 05:35:42 PM by Johnm »

Offline mr mando

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 01:00:38 PM »
Here's "Rock Me Mama":

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline banjochris

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2009, 03:22:48 PM »
One of my favorite songs!

instead of
?Everybody gets filled!?
?Everybody!?
?Oh come on Ike you know?

I hear:
"Everybody get filthy"
"In that alley"
"Oh come on Ikey now"

Instead of
"Who rolls her arm below her knees"
I hear:
"Who rolls her own below her knees"

instead of
?Play it Bill!?
?Oh good, Bill!?
?Yeah!?
?Four years in Birmingham!?

I hear:
"Gut it, bass"
"Oh, gut it, bass"
"Yeah!"
"Oh, you ain't in Birmingham!"

In the "Louie Bluie" recording, the words are a little different -- IIRC, Ikey sings "flirts with those and flirts with these."
Chris

Offline mr mando

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2009, 06:51:53 AM »
Chris,
thanks for the help! I agree with all your changes. I'm not yet sure about the "Fleech and" in the ?Oh saw it Mister Fleech and Herbert!? line. Isn't it somehow strange, that Frankie Jaxon addresses BIR by name when he solos, but uses the strange "Mister Fleech and Herbert" (or whatever he's really saying, though I'm pretty confident about Herbert) to address R. Waugh?

As for the content of the lyrics, I guess that "joe" is a drug reference, but don't know which drug? What's your opinion. And what does the line "Who rolls her own below her knees" mean? (She rolls her own joints, but why below her knees?)

The line you mentioned from the Louie Bluie soundtrack was already used in the 1933 version with Ivory (Herman) Chittison. I'll probably post that version when it'll fit in chronologically anyway, so we can analyze the differences later on.

Do you have any idea about the "You don?t rock you?re just a rubbin? kind" line in "Rock Me Mama"?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2009, 07:38:16 AM »
Just a slight diversion. In the mid-late 70s British jazz critic Peter Carr spent much time with Robinson with view to publishing a biography with a working title of "The American Family Robinson". Unfortunately a stroke prevented Peter finishing manuscript. However, in 2003 a vast chunk of his draft was published by Laurie Wright in the Storyville compendium of 2002-2003. One chapter was devoted to Ikey commenting on his recordings. What follows is the little he had to say about the titles under discusion here:

Pizen Tea Blues   
Rock Pile Blues

These were made at the Merchandise Mart. Count Turner is the banjo behind me on 'Pizen' and it's my vocal on both sides. Jimmy Flowers was a good piano player. Count Turner was just a rhythm man, not a soloist, but he played a nice rhythm banjo. Mayo Williams only wanted strings on this.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2009, 09:47:17 AM »
Tell me baby what?s on your worried mind
You don?t rock you?re just a rubbin? kind
Rock me baby rock me now
Oh mama you?re rockin? me

The 2nd line in this 2nd verse begins "You don't wanna rock...", but the ending is tricky. I don't hear "rubbin' kind".


Offline Johnm

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2009, 02:21:31 PM »
Hi Mr. Mando,
I believe "rolls her own below her knees" refers to her stockings and not rolling a joint.
all best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Banjo Ikey Robinson lyrics
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2009, 06:20:09 PM »
I can't make out the end of that Rock Me Mama line, either, unfortunately. I always thought that the "rolls her own" line in Four Reasons referred to cigarettes, not stockings or joints, since the phrase "roll your own" usually refers to that. I guess I thought it means that she's a low-class woman too cheap to buy regular cigarettes, and rolls her own surreptitiously under the table, as it were.
Chris

 


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