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After years of studying folklore, I've decided that it doesn't exist - John Fahey

Author Topic: Bill Monroe Lyrics  (Read 760 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Bill Monroe Lyrics
« on: May 30, 2012, 01:30:17 PM »
Hi all,
Bill Monroe did an especially strong version of "John Henry" with several verses I'd not heard elsewhere.  Here's a link to the live performance I transcribed these lyrics from:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=2101.msg69028#msg69028.



John Henry was a little colored boy
Hold him on the palm of your hand
And his Papa cried out this lonesome farewell,
"Son gonna be a steel-drivin' man, Lord, Lord,
Son gonna be a steel-drivin' man."

John Henry went up on the mountain
Looked down on the other side
Lord, the mountain was so tall, John Henry was so small
He laid down his hammer and he cried, Lord, Lord,
Laid down his hammer and he cried

John Henry walked through the tunnel
Had his captain by his side
The last words that John Henry said,
"Bring me a cool drink of water 'fore I die, Lord, Lord,
Cool drink of water 'fore I die."

John Henry hammered on the right hand side
The steam drill hammered on the left
"Before I would see that stranger beat me down,
I'd hammer my fool self to death, Lord, Lord,
 Hammer my fool self to death."

When the women in Chicago heard John Henry's dead
They got all dressed in red
When people asked them where they was a-goin',
"Goin' where John Henry fell dead, Lord, Lord,
Goin' where John Henry fell dead."

Talk about John Henry as much as you please
Say and do all that you can
There never was born in the United States
Another such a steel-drivin' man, Lord, Lord,
Another such a steel-drivin' man

John Henry told his captain,
"Lord, I want to go to bed.
Give me a pallet, I want to lay down
Got mighty roarin' in my head, Lord, Lord,
Mighty roarin' in my head."

John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Polly Ann
When John Henry took sick and he could not work
Polly drove the steel like a man, Lord, Lord,
Polly drove the steel like a man

John Henry told his captain,
"Lord, I want to go to bed.
Give me a pallet, I want to lay down
Got mighty roarin' in my head, Lord, Lord,
Mighty roarin' in my head."

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 09:49:39 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Bill Monroe Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2014, 11:16:01 AM »
Hi all,
Bill Monroe did versions of "In The Pines" for about as long as he had the Bluegrass Boys performing.  The early version I've transcribed here was done in D, to accommodate the vocal range of his lead singer at the time, whom I believe was Clyde Moody.  In later recorded performances on youtube, it seems like it was just about always done in E, which I think suited Bill's vocal range better.
There are a lot of versions of this song recorded in both the Blues and Old-Time/Bluegrass traditions, including J.E. Mainer's "The Longest Train", Peg Leg Howell's "Rolling Mill Blues", Charley Lincoln's "Chain Gang Troubles" and Leadbelly's "Black Girl/My Girl".  The song is an 8-bar blues, most often done in 3/4 but not always, as in the case of "Rolling Mill Blues" and "The Longest Train", which is mostly in 3/2.  Bill Monroe's version, which featured the falsetto harmony refrain imitating the wind, was amazing to hear in person.  Later versions that bill did included the following verse after the third verse:
   A long steel rail and a short cross tie
   I'm on my way back home



The longest train I ever saw went down the Georgia line
The engine passed at six o'clock, and the cab passed by at nine

In the pines in the pines, where the sun never shines
And shivered when the cold winds blow

Whoo-hoo, whoo-hoo-hoo
Whoo-oo, hoo-hoo

FIDDLE SOLO

I asked my captain for the time of day
He said he throwed his watch away

In the pines in the pines, where the sun never shines
And shivered when the cold winds blow

MANDOLIN SOLO

Little girl, little girl, what have I done
That makes you treat me so?

You caused me to weep, you caused me to moan
You caused me to leave my home

In the pines in the pines, where the sun never shines
And shivered when the cold winds blow

Whoo-hoo, whoo-hoo-hoo
Whoo-oo, hoo-hoo

All best,
Johnm

 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 09:50:33 AM by Johnm »

Offline frailer24

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Re: Bill Monroe Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 07:50:38 PM »
Regarding the transcribed version, I believe the lead singer was Cousin Wilbur. Sounds like the lead vocal on "The Coupon Song" from the same session to my ear.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline unezrider

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Re: Bill Monroe Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 11:20:55 PM »
Yep. According to the Bear Family discography o their early Monroe box, it was indeed Bill "Cousin Wilbur" Westbrooks on lead vocals for those two songs. Good ear frailer!
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline Johnm

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Re: Bill Monroe Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 11:39:27 PM »
Yup, good catch, Larry!

Offline frailer24

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Re: Bill Monroe Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2014, 12:22:03 PM »
When it comes to Big Mon, I am a walking encyclopedia of trivial information.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

 


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