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If it ain't been in a pawn shop, it can't play the blues - Frank Edwards, holding a Silvertone guitar (two pickups) and harmonica on a neckrack

Author Topic: Garfield Akers Lyrics  (Read 2450 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Garfield Akers Lyrics
« on: March 23, 2011, 10:56:02 PM »
Hi all,
Garfield Akers recorded "Cottonfield Blues Part One" and "Cottonfield Blues Part Two" in Memphis on September 23, 1929, and was seconded by Joe Callicott on both tracks.  Both players were from North Mississippi, near Hernando, very close to Memphis.  For the two songs, both guitarists were playing out of A position in standard tuning, and the tightness with which their guitar parts were integrated and the degree of exactitude with which they linked up their time-keeping was truly miraculous. 
If anything, Akers' singing was even stronger than his playing.  On Part Two, in particular, the way that he held his notes and worried them makes the performance inimitable.  In a way, these two tracks remind me of Charlie Patton's "High Water Everywhere, Parts One and Two"; not that they are similar musically, but rather that in each instance, Part One is superlatively strong, but Part Two is otherworldly.  I have most of the lyrics, I think, but as usual, I always miss something or am not sure, so help with the bent bracketed passages or anywhere else I got it wrong is appreciated.

Here is "Cottonfield Blues, Part One":



   "Cottonfield Blues, Part One"

   I said, "Look-a-here, mama, what in the world are you tryin' to do?"
   I said, "Look-a-here, Mama, what in the world are you tryin' to do?"
   You gonna make me love you, you gonna break my heart in two?"

   I said, "You don't want me, what made you want to lie?"
   I said, "If you didn't want me, mama, what made you want to lie?
   Now the day you quit me, fair brown, sugar, that's the day you die."

   I'd rather see you dead, buried in some cypress grove
   I'd rather see you dead, mama, buried in some cypress grove
   Then to hear of some gobbler, mama, snatchin' up your clothes

   It was early one mornin', just about the break of day
   It was early one mornin', just about the break of day
   Mama, a long brownskin come, man, drove me 'way

   Lord, my baby quit me, she done set my trunk outdoors
   My baby quit me, she done set my trunk outdoors
   Ah, put the poor boy wonderin', Lord, they walkin' the road

   Ah, it's trouble here, mama, it's troubles everywhere you go
   I say it's trouble here, mama, it's troubles everywhere you go
   Now that trouble here, mama, baby, good gal, I don't know

Edited 3/24 to pick up corrections from dj
Edited 3/26 to pick up corrections/corroboration from dj and banjo chris

Here is "Cottonfield Blues, Part 2":



   "Cottonfield Blues, Part Two"

   I got somethin' to tell you, mama, keep it all to yourself
   Don't you tell your mama, don't you tell nobody else

   Mama, writin' you a letter, I'm gonna mail it in the air
   I'm gonna write me a letter, I'm gonna mail it in the air

   Said, I know you will catch it, babe, in this world somewhere
   Said, I know you catch it, mama, in the world somewhere

   I'm gonna write me a letter, I'm gonna mail it in the sky
   Mama, I know you'll catch it, when the wind blows on its bye

   SOLO

   Ooooooooooooooooh, mama, I don't know what to do
   I said, oh baby, gal, I don't know what to do

   I know, sugar, it's the on the account of you, Lord

   Ooooooooooooooooh, that's the last word she said
   And I just can't remember, baby, the last old word you said

Edited 3/24, to pick up corrections from dj

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 11, 2020, 06:35:47 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 04:03:48 AM »
Hi, John,

If I may suggest:

I'm gonna write me a letter, I'm gonna mail it in THE SKY
Mama, I know you'll catch it, when the wind goes [BLOWS?] on its [IT?] BY

I'm fairly sure about SKY and BY, not sure at all about the words I have in brackets.  And a nit:

Ah, it's trouble here, mama, it's TROUBLES everywhere you go
I say it's trouble here, mama, it's TROUBLES everywhere you go

I think LIE is correct at the end of the first two lines of the second verse of Part One.  And finally,

Then to hear of some [gobbler], mama, SNATCHIN' up your clothes

I don't think gobbler is correct there, but I'm darned if I can figure out what Akers is singing there.  It sounds almost like "cowboy", but I don't think that's it.

Man, that is one nice performance, isn't it?  Garfield Akers is definitely a guy who should have recorded more than four songs!



Offline Johnm

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 08:21:09 AM »
Thanks for the help, dj.  I'm going to listen some more before making the changes, and I'm hopeful of getting the remaining questionable parts of these lyrics soon.
All best,
Johnm
Edited to add:  I have made most of the changes you suggested, dj.  These two cuts really are terrific.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 08:34:42 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 11:52:45 AM »
I agree, it sounds like "gobbler", which at first seems improbable. However, Johnny Shines did a tune called Mean Black Gobbler. I don't know it but perhaps someone who does can chime in. There are two versions. One previewed on Amazon had a line about stealin' my perches and grindin' the bone. So similar infidelity territory.

I checked Chasin' That Devil Music which has a chapter on Akers, but no lyrics. And Michael Taft has "than to hear some gossip mama that she had done you so", which I don't hear at all, but figured I'd throw it out there in case it jiggled anything loose for anyone.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 02:10:05 PM »
Hi all,
Thanks for the input, uncle bud.  I'll hold off on taking the bent brackets from around "gobbler" just yet, but that is what it sounds like the most to me.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 02:27:26 PM »
Hi all,
Garfield Akers recorded "Jumpin' And Shoutin' Blues" as a solo number, with an accompaniment that sounds very similar to what he must have played on "Cottonfield Blues, Part One", still working out of A position in standard tuning.  It's interesting comparing the sound of "Jumpin' And Shoutin' Blues" with that of the two "Cottonfield Blues"; Joe Callicott is clearly missed, yet it would really be tricky trying to figure out the nature of the void his absence caused, i.e., what exactly it was that he played on the duo cuts that is missing from "Jumpin' And Shoutin'".  It sounds to me like what is missing is the little interior melodic work and bends on the G and D strings, but it would take a deal of studying to state that with any kind of certainty.
Once again Garfield Akers' singing is stellar.  I think in the second verse, in the opening line, he is saying, "Tell me what is the need of . . . .", but he closes up on "is" and it sounds like, "what in the need of".  I'd appreciate corroboration/correction from folks who want to give it the big listen.  Here is "Jumpin' And Shoutin' Blues":



   Lord, I know my baby sure gonna jump and shout
   Lord, I know my baby sure gonna jump and shout
   When the train get here, I come on rollin' out

   Lordy, tell me what is the need of, mama, tryin' to be so kind
   Ah, tell me what is the need of, mama, tryin' to be so kind
   I didn't know, you don't love me, you ain't got me on your mind

   Mmmmmmmm, you ain't got me on your mind
   Oooooooooooo, you ain't got me on your mind
   And it's what is the need of, baby, tryin' to be so kind

   Oooooooooooo, tried to treat her right
   Mmmmmmmm, tried to treat her right
   But you's got with another man and stayed out every day and night

   Says, I ain't goin' down this big road by myself
   Says, I ain't goin' down this big road by myself
   If I can't get you, mama, I'm gon' get somebody else

   Mmmmmmmmmm, what you want your babe to do?
   Mmmmmmmm, what you want your babe to do?
   Says, I know it'll be somethin', gal, it ain't no use

Edited, 3/24 to pick up corrections from dj

All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: June 11, 2020, 06:32:11 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 02:54:47 PM »
Hi, John,

I think you're pretty much correct on the lyrics with this one, except in the second line of the second verse I hear:

Ah, tell me what is the need of MY tryin' to be so kind

I just don't hear a second syllable on the word you transcribe as "mama".

By the way, I think you've got two typos in the transcription:

When the train get here, I com[e] on rollin' out

and

Says, I [k]now it'll be somethin', says, it ain't no use

Offline Johnm

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2011, 03:16:07 PM »
Thanks for the quick turn-around, dj!  You're dead on with the mis-spellings I had done, thanks for catching them.  I do hear "mama" clearly in the repetition of the opening line of the second verse, so I'll leave that as is.  Re-listening, I heard a couple of other things slightly differently.
tagline of verse four:  But YOU'S got
tagline of verse five:  I'm GON' get somebody else
tagline of verse six:  GAL, it ain't no use
I've made those changes and corrected my earlier spelling errors.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2011, 12:29:54 PM »
I think "gobbler" is right in "Cottonfield" 1 -- looking up "gobbler slang" on Google brought me to Wikipedia, which lists one of the meanings as a male turkey, which fits the context perfectly.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2011, 08:44:33 PM »
Thanks for the listen, Chris.  I am going to go with "gobbler" in "Cottonfield Blues Part 1", and also "snatchin'", which you had suggested earlier, dj.  Thanks for the help, guys.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Garfield Akers Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2011, 09:06:40 PM »
Hi all,
Garfield Akers recorded "Dough Roller Blues" at the same Memphis session on February 21, 1930 at which he also recorded "Jumpin' And Shoutin' Blues".  They are both superb tracks, but "Dough Roller Blues" is really special, arguably the funkiest early Country Blues track, just brutally funky and rhythmic.  Akers' accompaniment carries the moving lines on the G and D strings that I had surmised earlier might have been Joe Callicott's contribution to their duo sound.  The fact that Akers handles the lick with such aplomb on the solo number, "Dough Roller Blues", makes Callicott's role in the duet all the more mysterious.

Garfeld Akers' singing on this number is so intense and so controlled at the same time, qualities that more often work in opposition than in tandem, because intensity tends to sweep control away.  And it is Akers' control, the sense you get of there always being something held in reserve that makes this such an exciting vocal track.  I believe Garfield Akers had the vocal equipment and sensibility to have been a star in Pop music at any point in the twentieth century.

Garfield Akers had only four titles recorded.  Was he under-recorded?  It's a good question, because in a certain way, there's not a lot of range and variety in the four numbers he did record.  That having been said, if someone is capable of sounding the way Garfield Akers sounded on these four numbers, do you really want them to sound some other way? You can only answer that kind of question for yourself, but for me, especially right now, I'd be perfectly satisfied and happy if every song he did varied no more from these four recorded numbers than they do from each other.  He's one of the best examples of a Country Blues musician, who based on the recorded evidence, didn't have a wide range of expression, but man, was it deep.  Here is "Dough Roller Blues":



   Yes, I rolled and I tumbled and I cried the whole night long
   Yes, I rolled and I tumbled and I cried the whole night long
   Yes, I rolled this mornin', and I didn't know right from wrong

   Have you ever woke up then, and found your dough roller gone?
   Have you ever woke up then, found your dough roller gone?
   Then you wring your hand and you cried "oooo" whole day long

   Yes, I told my woman just before I left the town
   Yes, I told my woman just before I left the town
   Don't you let nobody tear that old barrelhouse down

   Yes, I fold my arm, and I begin to walk away
   Says, I fold my arm, then I begin to walk away
   I said, "That's all right, sweet mama, your trouble's gonna come some day."

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 11, 2020, 06:33:30 AM by Johnm »

 


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