Country Blues > SOTM - Song Of The Month

Jack of Diamonds/Drunken Hiccups--Song of When the Spirit Moves You

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Johnm:
Hi all,
I've been thinking about this song a lot lately, since being asked to transcribe and do a lesson on John Lee Hooker's version of the song. The song is one that has flourished in both the black and white traditions, with a great deal of crossover in lyrics and melodic ideas. That having been said, it may be worth noting that the versions recorded by black blues musicians are usually in four, and the versions recorded by white old-time or country musicians seem most often to be in waltz time, and to combine "Jack of Diamonds" lyrics with those of songs known variously as "Rye Whiskey", "Drunken Hiccups" or "Drunkard's Hiccups". I'll post a few versions and hope others of you will post versions you like or have dug up, too.

One of the earliest recorded versions is from Blind Lemon Jefferson, and it has the distinction of being his only slide guitar recording.



This early version by Jules Allen, "The Singing Cowboy" whom I know nothing about, came up in my youtube feed yesterday or the day before. His version combines elements of "Jack of Diamonds", "Rye Whiskey", and "Wagoner's Lad".



Henry Townsend's version, "Jack of Diamonds/Georgia Rub", played in cross-note tuning, gets in lines from "Mama Don't Allow", too.



Here's a version by the great old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell. At other times, he would call the same song "Drunken Hiccups".



Here's an uptown version by Jesse Thomas, recorded in 1951.



And here is John Lee Hooker's version from 1949, played in Spanish tuning and capoed up.



INTRO CHORUS AND VERSE, INSTRUMENTAL

CHORUS: Jack of diamonds, Jack o' diamonds
Jack o' diamonds is a hard card to play

Put your jack against the queen, it will turn your money green
Jack o' diamonds is a hard card to play

SOLO

CHORUS: Jack of diamonds, Jack of diamonds
Jack o' diamonds is a hard card to play

Jack of diamonds make you moan, jack of diamonds make you cry
Jack of diamonds is a hard card to play

GUITAR INTERLUDE

CHORUS: Jack of diamonds, Jack o' diamonds
Jack o' diamonds is a hard card to play

Yes, it caused my dear old father just to lose his happy home
Jack of diamonds is a hard card to play

CHORUS: Jack of diamonds
Jack o' diamonds is a hard card to play

Jack of diamonds made a-many, yes, they lose thei' happy home
Jack of diamonds is a hard card to play

CODA

Here is a version by Thomas Shaw.



Any favorites I missed? Post them here.
All best,
Johnm

   

Norfolk Slim:
This is a great version, in the mould of the old time fiddler stuff rather than the BLJ branch of the tune.


Old Man Ned:
Adding Mance Lipscomb version


Johnm:
Here's a present-day version by Bruce Molsky:



All best,
Johnm

Johnm:
Hi all,
A couple more "Jack of Diamonds" versions. First, Jim Bunkley, an East Coast player from the George Mitchell collection playing it without a slide in Spanish tuning:



And Texan Pete Harris, recorded for the Library of Congress, playing it in Vestapol with a slide:



All best,
Johnm

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