collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
I love my girl like a schoolboy loves his pie, like a Kentucky white man loves his rock & rye. I love my girl until the day I die - Jim Jackson, St Louis Blues, 1930

Author Topic: Helen Humes Lyrics  (Read 877 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2828
Helen Humes Lyrics
« on: November 29, 2006, 11:38:07 AM »
That man sure had a way with words as well as a great wit. I don't want to preempt or hijack any future transcriptions but the three stanza Sore Feet Blues is an absolute hoot.

As for Race Horse Blues, w-e-l-l, anybody who can come up with the form of the last line in this stanza:

Never seen a racehorse, like the one that broke my heart,
Just a rippling has-been, he made my dough from me depart

should be giving lessons in poetic structure!  Songs like this never leave the psyche...not mine anyway. ;D
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:17:05 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2006, 11:57:58 AM »
Thanks for your points, Bunker Hill, and thanks as well for suggesting that it was Weaver who came up with the lyrics to the songs he recorded on which Helen Humes and Walter Beasley handled the vocals.  I agree with you that the songs sung by Humes, in particular, have the ring of Weaver's lyrical voice, and based on that supposition, will be starting in on them as soon as I'm done transcribing the ones Weaver himself sang.  Weaver really had a lot to offer.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:34:11 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2006, 12:33:07 AM »
Hi all,
Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley backed the singer Helen Humes on "Cross-Eyed Blues", recorded in New York City on November 26, 1927.  Weaver is playing out of a C position in standard tuning, and Beasley plays slide in Vestapol.  Their accompaniment of Miss Humes is really exciting and varied.  Behind the first two verses, Weaver keeps a boogie bass going underneath his chordal accompaniment, and at the end of the tag-line of the third verse he hits the bend of his lifetime--God, it's good, just mean and nasty!
Helen Humes sounds very young on the session.  There is an excellent profile on her in the book "American Singers--27 Portraits in Song", Oxford University Press, written by the former Jazz critic for the New Yorker Magazine, Whitney Balliett.  Miss Humes says in the profile,
   
"When I was fourteen, Sylvester Weaver heard me sing.  He was a blues singer who had recorded on the Okeh label.  He told Mr. Rockwell at Okeh about me, and Mama took me to St. Louis and I recorded "Black Cat Moan" and "A Worried Woman's Blues".  I believe J. C. Johnson was on the piano.  A while later, I made some records in New York, including "If Papa Has Outside Loving" and "Do What You Did Last Night", both of which I'd like to hear now so I could sing them again.  But I never kept any of my records, because I never thought they was as good as they could have been.  That was all the recording I did then, but the Okeh people asked me would I like to go on tour.  But Mama said no."

Helen Humes had a great voice, with a bright bell-like tone, and she sounds like a million bucks here.  I have to admit, as good as the accompaniment is, when she starts singing these wild lyrics, it's very hard to focus on anything else.  I guess you can write a song about almost anything.

 

   Got one superstition, that's the one I really prize (2)
   I don't like nobody who's got a pair of mean crossed eyes

   Had a cross-eyed man, hateful as a man could be (2)
   Slept with his eyes open, always looking 'cross at me

   Gee, but he was ugly, eyed me every way I turn (2)
   I could feel him lookin', Lordy, how his eyes did burn

   Crossed eyes make me shiver, 'cause they're evil, low and mean (2)
   Hateful as the Devil, queerest eyes I've ever seen

   Folks who's got them cross-eyes, says they see in vain
   Folks who's got them cross-eyes, things they see is always wrong
   That's why me and cross-eyes, never gonna get along

   If I see a cross-eyed person I was about to meet (2)
   I'd just cross my fingers, then I'd walk across the street.

All best,
Johnm



   
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:34:32 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2006, 12:46:24 AM »
Hi all,
Helen Humes was back in the studio with Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley the day after recording "Cross-Eyed Blues", and the trio recorded "Alligator Blues", another fanciful number.  Where in the world did they come up with this stuff?  Weaver is playing out E position in standard tuning and Beasley plays slide in Vestapol.  The accompanists achieve a nice chordal touch by going from A in the fifth bar up to C, the flat VI chord in the sixth bar.  The change gives the piece a fresh sound.  These lyrics have prime entertainment value, and I'd appreciate any help with the bent bracketed word.



   Sleepin' in the swamps last night, down in the Everglades (2)
   Woke and found the alligators 'bout to make a raid

   Heard 'em talkin' softly, said, "We're gonna have dark meat." (2)
   Gee, their mouths did water, thought that they was gonna eat

   My flesh commenced to crawlin', my skin began to itch (2)
   It was time for travelin', but the swamp was dark as sin

   Soon the moon was shinin' softly through the old cane brake (2)
   Got myself together for a dash I tried to make

   The sweat it was a-popping, hair was standing on my head (2)
   I said, "Lord, have mercy, or that woman's gonna be dead

Edited to pick up correction from banjochris, 12/8

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:34:52 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2566
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2006, 01:08:29 AM »
John --
I think it's possible she's saying her skin began to itch, and the "w" sound is coming from holding the vowel sound of "to" out.
Chris
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:35:15 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2006, 08:49:29 AM »
Hi Chris,
"Itch" makes sense, all right.  Thanks very much for the help.  I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:35:36 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2006, 02:00:30 PM »
Hi all,
Another song on which Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley accompanied Helen Humes is "Race Horse Blues", recorded on November 27, 1927, in New York City.  Weaver and Beasley are playing out of C position in standard tuning and slide Vestapol, respectively, and Weaver, in particular, gets off some fancy triplets runs with alacrity on this song.  Bunker Hill alluded earlier in the thread to the song's great (and funny) lyrics, and he's right--Weaver (assuming he wrote the lyrics) was in fine form here.  Any help with the bent bracketed phrases would be appreciated.



   Went down to the race track, with my money in my hand (2)
   Bet on Chocolate Puddin', but he just an also-ran

   On old Fleetfoot Suzy, I done and went and bet the most
   On old Fleetfoot Suzy, I done went and bet the most
   She never did get started, the ponies left her at the post

   Never seen a race horse like the one that broke my heart (2)
   Just a rippling has-been, he made my dough from me depart

   SOLO

   Darn that lazy jockey, wouldn't do what he was told (2)
   Now I'm in the bath, sweet papa's left in the cold

   Bet on old Speed Meter, sure thing and he couldn't lose (2)
   Now I'm broke and busted and cryin' with the race horse blues

All best,
Johnm
   
   
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:35:56 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2006, 02:14:42 PM »
Hi all,
Another song that Helen Humes recorded with the backing of Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley was "Garlic Blues", recorded at a session in New York City on November 26, 1927.  Weaver is playing out of A position in standard tuning here and Beasley plays slide in Spanish tuning. 
It makes one sad to hear of the overpoweringly bad experience Helen Humes had with garlic, but as she recounts the intensely personal tale of her garlic trauma, one can feel the catharsis she achieves via her smelly recovered memory.  Helen Humes pronounces "vow" in the first verse with a long "o" sound, as in "note".



   My man, he eats garlic, says it's too good for his sore throat (2)
   Smells just like a Dago, ordering him a brush, I'd vow

   Breath as strong as Samson, tell the World it sure is loud (2)
   I can find my Daddy in 'most any big crowd

   Went out in the forest, met a polecat in the lane (2)
   Grinned upon that kitten, poor old thing, it went insane

   Tells me it brings good luck, not with me, in any case (2)
   To me it's a disaster when he's snorin' in my face

   When he goes around me, I've got a real gas mask
   When he comes around me, I've got a real gas mask
   If he starts to breathin', it's deadly as the German's gas

   Garlic soup he loves it, mixed up with some Roquefort cheese (2)
   When he goes to slumber, in his dreams he has to sneeze

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:36:20 PM by Johnm »

Offline blueshome

  • Member
  • Posts: 1468
  • Step on it!
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2006, 02:55:32 PM »
John, that's left me tickled. If you were any drier there'd be a drought in Seattle.

Phil
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:36:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2828
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2006, 09:38:34 AM »
   Darn that lazy jockey, wouldn't do what he was told (2)
   Now I'm in the [barrel], sweet papa's left in the cold
It's rather garbled but could it be

Now I'm in to debt, sweet papa's left in the cold

Dunno.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:37:06 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2006, 11:22:13 AM »
Thanks for the suggestion, Bunker Hill.  The sense of it is good.  I am currently away from the disc, but will give it a lesson when I get back to it in a day or two.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:37:25 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2012, 08:35:15 AM »
Hi all,
Another song that Helen Humes sang with Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley accompanying her was "Nappy Headed Blues".  For the song, Weaver worked out of C position in standard tuning and Beasley played slide in Vestapol, tuned down.  The session at which the song was recorded was in New York City on November 27, 1927, when Helen Humes was fourteen years old!  She does sound very young here, but she always had a very young-sounding voice.  Weaver and Beasley really pull out all the stops backing her, and their interplay is spectacular.  Weaver, I believe, is generally given credit for the songs he backed Helen Humes and Sara Martin on, and his lyrics here have a lot of exoticisms.  The first verse is especially clever, the way Helen Humes interrupts herself to say, "Back off!".  Chris Rock made a movie on this topic just a couple of years ago.



My hair is 'clined to, don't you, you can't comb it, don't you try
My hair is 'clined to, don't you, you can't comb it, don't you try
Just like cockleburras, nappy, that's the reason why

Bought myself some hot irons, gonna start to fryin' hair
Bought myself some hot irons, gonna start to fryin' hair
Straighten it or burn it, makes no difference, I don't care

Spends most all my money, buying up that Conk-o-leen
Spends most all my money, buying up that Conk-o-leen
Got to smooth these knots out, got to be an Indian queen

SOLO

Run to Madame Walker, send a fifty dollar bill
Run to Madame Walker, send a fifty dollar bill
Then send me some pomade, help a poor girl if you will

Edited to pick up corrections from dj, 12/14

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:37:44 PM by Johnm »

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2833
  • Howdy!
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2012, 11:53:38 AM »
Hi, John,

A couple of suggestions:

Quote
Just like kookaburras, nappy, that's the reason why

A kookaburra is an Australian kingfisher (a kind of bird, for you non-ornithologists).  They're not nappy at all.  I think the line is "Just like COCKLE BURR OH, nappy, that's the reason why".  Though she could just be adding a syllable to the end of cockle burr to fit the rhythm: "Just like COCKLE BURR-AHS...."

Quote
Run to Minnewonka, send a fifty dollar bill
   

This should be "Run to MADAME WALKER, send a fifty dollar bill", i.e. Madame C. J. Walker, the hair care entrepreneur.
 
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:38:05 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2012, 01:21:33 PM »
Those are some great catches, dj, thanks very much for the help.  I've made the changes.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:38:24 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 13143
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Helen Humes Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2018, 07:20:37 PM »
Hi all,
Operating on the idea that if Sara Martin's songs should be broken out of the Sylvester Weaver Lyrics thread, Helen Humes' songs should be as well, I've given Helen Humes her own lyric thread.  I'll look for youtube versions of her songs to add to the original posts.
All best,
Johnm

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2024, SimplePortal