Country Blues > Country Blues Lyrics

Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics

(1/9) > >>

Hi all,
It's hard to say how we made it this far without a Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics thread here, but I guess the time has come for it.  Little Brother Montgomery recorded his "No Special Rider Blues" in 1930, accompanying himself on the piano.  The song bears no musical resemblance to Skip James' "Special Rider Blues".  Little Brother's playing on the song is remarkable for his grooving and inexhaustible supply of ideas.  He has been swinging his eighth notes throughout his rendition, but when he gets to his late solo, he switches and starts playing straight eighth notes, and the effect is riveting--so funky.  Lyrically, he employs a stammering archetype over the first four bars of each verse, and gives up the stammering for the remainder of each verse.  I'd very much appreciate help with any of the bent bracketed passages.  Here is his rendition:


Now, rider, rider, rider, mama, where you been so long?
Now, rider, rider, brown, Lord, where you been so long?
I ain't had no lovin', mama, since you been gone

And I hate, hate to hear, hear the little Katy, when she blows
Lord, I hate to hear the little Katy when she blows
Puts me on a wander, mama, makes me want to go

I can't see, see no train, can't hear no whistle blow
Lord, I can't see no train, neither hear no whistle blow
Now it keeps me wandering, from the wander to the door

Now, mama, I ain't got no plumb good rider now
Lord, I ain't got no plumb good rider now
Now, it seem like my rider, tryin' to quit me anyhow

Now, the big bell, the bell is ringin', and the little bell sadly tones
Lord, the big bell's ringin', the little bell, she sadly tones
Mama, and I'm lonely, lonely, lone, a long, long way from home

Goin' to get up, get up in the mornin', mama, and I ain't gon' say a word
Gonna get up in the mornin', Lord, I ain't gon' say a word
Gonna eat my breakfast in sweet old Hattiesburg


Lord, I know you, gonna miss me when I'm gone
Lord, I know you, gonna miss me when I'm gone
Gonna miss your baby, from rollin' in your arms

Edited 3/23 to pick up corrections from banjochris
Edited 4/15/21 to pick up correction from Harry

All best,

I'm a huge fan of Little Brother's, John, such a great musician. I have a couple of his tunes transcribed already, "Good Grinding" and "Must Get Mine In Front," which I'll post when I get home today.

That one passage sounds phonetically to me like "from the wander to the door" and it makes me think he meant to sing "going to wander to the door." Unfortunately he doesn't sing that verse on the later recording that's on YouTube.

Also, I'm pretty certain the little bell "sadly" tones. And I wonder if the "sweet Johannesburg" could be "sweet ol' Hattiesburg."

Thanks for the help, Chris.  I also wondered about Hattiesburg vs. Johannesburg--hard to imagine Little Brother citing a city in South Africa (though there may be a Johannesburg in the U.S., too).  Re the little bell and big bells' sounds, I have Brownie McGhee singing a song in which the "little bell fairy tones".  I'll re-listen. 
All best,

I think it's just his nasal voice that makes it sound somewhat like "fairly," especially in the first line -- for what it's worth, on the more modern recording, he sings "sadly" both times.

I don't think there's a Johannesburg, MS, although there is one in California about 2 hours from me that I've driven through but have no memory of doing so!

After re-listening, I think you're right about both "from the wander to the door" and "the little bell sadly tones", and have made those changes, Chris.  Thanks!  Oddly, I think he does sing "Johannesburg", the "j" sound at the front end is pretty clear, I think.  Maybe Little Brother was fascinated by geography, like Robert Johnson or Willie Blackwell.
All best,


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version