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#74 - Buy a National guitar; learn to play it - Anon., from "The Life List 175 Things a Man Should Do Before He Dies", Esquire Magazine, December 1999

Author Topic: Ed Bell Lyrics  (Read 193 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Ed Bell Lyrics
« on: February 12, 2004, 03:03:28 PM »
Hi all,
All the recent work on lyric transcribing that has been going on here has been kind of inspiring, so I though I might go back and try to get lyrics for the songs I've done on-line lessons on.  Some, like Buddy Moss's "New Lovin", have already been worked through.  Here is a shot at Ed Bell's "Mean Conductor".



   That same train, same engineer
   That same train, same engineer
   Took my woman away, Lord, left me standing here

   My stroller caught a passenger, I caught the mamlish blind
   My stroller caught a passenger, I caught the mamlish blind
   "Hey, you can't quit me, ain't no need of tryin'".

   "Hey Mr. Conductor, let a broke man ride your blind?"
   "Hey, Mr. Conductor, let a broke man ride your bind?"
   "You better buy your ticket, know this train ain't mine."

   "I just want to blind it fur (sic) as Hagerstown
   Say, "I just want to blind it fur as Hagerstown
   When she blows for the crossing, I'm gwon' ease it down."

   I pray to the Lord that Southern train would wreck
   I pray to the Lord that Southern train would wreck
   Pray they kill that fireman, break that engineer's neck.

   I was standin' here looking up at the rising sun
   I was standin' here looking up at the rising sun
   The train don't run, gwon' be some walkin' done.

I think this is pretty accurate, though I'm not sure about the beginning of the tagline on verse 3.  Like Furry Lewis, Ed Bell pronounced "far" as "fur".  I checked to see if there was a Hagerstown in Alabama, where Ed Bell lived.  I couldn't find any, and the only one I know of is in North Central Maryland, south of Gettysburg, which is quite a hike from Alabama.  That's a long way to blind it. . . .

Edited, 1/7/07 to pick up correction from dingwall
Edited 11/9 to pick up corrections from dingwall
Edited 11/12 to pick up correction from dingwall
All best,
John
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 06:35:14 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2004, 02:08:22 PM »
Hi all,
It has been brought to my attention in a nice way (so nice that it took me a while to get it) that the lyrics I posted yesterday for "Mean Conductor" had, in fact,  been arrived at via the Weenie collaborative method, with different people making suggestions and consensus finally being arrived at, on the old Weenie Page, when the lesson on "Hambone" and Mean Conductor" was first posted.  I had completely forgotten this, but it sure explains why it was so easy to figure out the lyrics when I listened to the song the day before yesterday.  I'm a believer in the collaborative process--over and over it has yielded lyrics which I know to be correct and have been stumped by for over thirty years.  I am not interested in taking credit for other people's work or acting as though work which was performed collaboratively was done by me alone.  I apologize to everyone involved in the earlier transcription of "Mean Conductor's" lyrics, and offer thanks, in an ongoing way, for everyone's contributions to the lyric-transcribing that goes on on this page. 
All best,
John 

Offline Slack

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2004, 05:13:58 PM »
Hey John,

No need to apologize, I forgot about it too!... but thanks for the note as I was going to hunt up Mean Conductor this weekend (hopefully I contributed to the effort, but cannot recall that either!) - I even scanned the old weenie list and couldn't find the old effort... do you know where it is?

Anyway, I'm afraid we are going to have to get used to these memory lapses (and hopefully it will be awhile before we need to talk to Peter about wheel chair ramps at PT  :) ).

One thing I have noticed (Alex take note too)... if you can post an mp3 of the tune - your chances of lyric help increases dramatically - as folks only need to click and listen.  (At least I know I keep meaning to get my CD collection organized.)

cheers,
slack

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2004, 07:07:29 PM »
Hi John D.
Thanks for the good words.  It now appears that the Weenie page did not work through the lyrics collectively, but rather, I included them in the lesson itself.  So I guess I fall into the category of not being able to remember either what did happen or what didn't happen!  I don't know what is left, but you are right, seems like we better get used to forgetting stuff.
Bloody but unbowed,
John

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2005, 10:21:49 AM »
Decided to have a stab at this one! Does anyone have the lyrics? And what does 'mamlish' mean? On the accompaniment side of things, my listening tells me there are similarities between this song's "signature lick" in E and the one in Rube Lacy's 'Hamhound Gravy'. Does anyone else hear the similarity? I find Ed Bell's version a bit more tricky to accomplish - but with practice maybe one day soon? The next thing that strikes me is that his backing to the first part of each verse seems to be  a  slurred or bent D shape at the 7th fret, but with A in the bass where you'd expect an E. He then seems to move to A7 before returning to that signature lick again. Any tips on playing this one would be more than gratefully received.
Prof S

Offline frankie

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2005, 11:17:43 AM »
Made a pass through this the other day:



Mamlish Blues
Ed Bell

SPOKEN:  Folks, these are my mamlish blues
I'm gonna tell you just what they mean

You used to be my sugar but you ain't sweet no, mamlish more
Used to be my sugar, you ain't sweet no more
'Cause you mistreated me and you drove me from your door

Mama, must I sell it or keep it for my, mamlish self
Mama, must I sell it, keep it for myself
Mama, I done got tired of sleeping by myself

Well, my mama, she didn't like me, my papa, he give me, mamlish 'way
Mama didn't like me, papa, he give me 'way
That's the very reason that I'm a wandering child today

Talkin' 'bout your stroller but you just ought to see, mamlish mine
Talkin' 'bout your stroller, just ought to see mine
She ain't so good looking but she do dress fine

She was standin' on a corner, between Twenty-fifth and, mamlish Main
She stood on a corner, 'tween Twenty-fifth and Main
And a blind man seed her and a dumb man called her name

And the dumb man asked her, say, "Who's your regular man can be?"
Dumb man asked her, "Who your man can be?"
And the blind man told her, said "You sure look good to me."

* probably garbling "true love", which he says more clearly in the next line.

Haven't tried to work out the guitar in earnest, but the main lick has some similarities to Hamhound Gravy, as you point out.  It does sound like he moves to a genuine A chord after the E figure with the A in the bass.  Cool song.

Of course, he never does tell us what the hell mamlish means.

NOTE:  Edited 11/20 to pick up corrections from dingwall

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2005, 01:01:17 PM »
Thanks, Frankie - what a fine thing it is to have almost instant access to other people's ears! I think you're spot on with the lyrics, and would agree about the stroller/true love bit. I'd listened a hundred times to this and just couldn't make it out!
Prof S

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2005, 12:16:15 PM »
Prof:

Stefan Grossman TAB'ed out a verse of this tune years ago in his book "The Country Blues Guitar".

His arrangement starts out with 2 bars of the E figure. a bar of A position hammers then 3 bars of the 7 fret D against an A bass. Then a bar of A position hammers then 2 bars of the E figure. Finally 2 bars of B riff and 2 bars of E figure.

His words (unchecked by me).

She used to be my sugar but you ain't sweet no mamlish more
Used to be my sugar you ain't sweet no more
'Cause you mistreat me an' you drove me from your door.

Mama, I might try to sell it or keep it for my mamlish self
Mama, gonna try to sell it keep it for myself
Mama, I done got tired of sleepin' by myself.

Well my mama she didn't like me my papa he give me mamlish 'way.
Mama, didn't like me, papa he give me 'way
Thet's the very reason I'm a wanderin' child today

Talkin'about you stole her but you just oughta to be mamlish mine.
Somebody stole her just oughta be mine.
She ain't good lokkin' but she do dress fine.

She was standin' on a corner between 25th and mamlish Main.
She stood on a corner 'tween 25th and Main.
An' a blind man seed her and a dumb man called her name.

An' the dumb man asked her "Sweetie, who's your regular man can be?"
Dumb man asked her "Who your man can be?"
And the blind man told her, says:"You sure look good to me."

I like this one,
Alex

dingwall

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2007, 11:55:06 AM »
Hello again, Johnm.   I've a batch of suggestions, some tentative.

SHOUTING BABY BLUES
2.1/2 rooster, IF he won't crow(ROOSTERIF as one word)
2.3  a hen, WON'T cackle when she lay
3.1/2  a cook, WOULDN'T cook (N'T is very faint)
3.3   AND I wouldn't have a woman
4.1/2  YOU HAVEN'T SEEN HER at the station, AIN'T SEEN HER on the road?

HOUSE TOP BLUES
1.1/2  GONNA CLIMB UP some housetopS,
4.1/2  LEAVIN' YOU if I die
4.3  I BELIEVE I'm leavin', ---good-bye(or YOU'LL CRY??)

FROM NOW ON
1.1  FARO, you used to dog me
1.2  NOW, you used to dog me
1.3  But now, you can't DRIVE, 'cause
5.1/2  mama, THIS WAY you got a-doin'
7.1   I want HER to drive them off so they won't come back no more
7.2   WANT HER to drive them off so they won't come back no more

BIG ROCK JAIL
1.3  I said, left me lonely, SHERIFF, I'm all alone
2.1/2  Oooooh, LISTEN,
2.3  I just want to know HAS she
3.3  And HER CRIME was so evil,
4.1   Now, tell me WHO TOOK YOUR GUN and
4.2   You (mix of WHO/YOU? His error) took your gun,
5.2  I SAID, my babe in jail, and I can't get no news

ONE MORE TIME
1.3  KNOW(??) I wants to see my baby,
2.3  I just OUGHT NOT TO DONE IT, and---not HAVE BEEN gone
3.3  undertaker, "JUST come and bury me, please."
4.1/2  GONNA get a black cat bone,

BAD BOY
4.1/2  Well, I'm so sorry, EVERY day, that I were born

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2007, 03:00:12 PM »
Thanks so much for the help with the lyrics, dingwall.  In almost every instance I have incorporated the changes you suggested.  That is some outstanding hearing you have done!
All best,
Johnm

dingwall

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2007, 11:10:02 AM »
Johnm, some trivial points I hear.

MY CRIME BLUES
2.1  I'm GONNA BE CONDEMNED,
3.1  under, I SAID, stand
5.1  THERE'S no need to cry,
6.1   I think IT'S gwanna---begin to, I SAID, moan,
6.3   SAYIN', I'm a poor boy
7.1   judge SAY, "Listen", I SAY, "here"

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2007, 12:36:54 PM »
Thanks for the additional suggestions, dingwall.  I think they're all good and I have made the changes.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2007, 01:25:16 PM »
Hi all,
Ed Bell recorded "She's A Fool Gal", something of an anomaly in his repertoire, for he played it out of C position in standard tuning.  The song has something of the feeling of a pre-Blues children's song, like Charley Jordan's "Keep It Clean", Robert Wilkins's "Police Sergeant Blues",  or Bo Carter's "Twist It, Gal" (despite Bo's subject matter).  The song follows a variable 8-bar format that is pretty loose at the back end, particularly when Bell solos.  Bell gets a distinctive sound by hitting the upbeats in his alternations of the bass in the C and G chords on the open third string rather than the more commonly played fourth string.  He also plays the lazy man's alternation for his F chord, going from the open fifth string to the third fret of the fourth string, thus avoiding the more difficult thumb wrap needed to fret the first fret of the sixth string.  Bell changes the refrain of the song as he goes along in minor ways to make it fit the individual verses better.  This song would work well in a Jug Band or string band setting.  It seems related, at least lyrically, to Son House's "Was I Right Or Wrong?".



   Now you need not think, 'cause you're black,
   I'm gwon beg you to take me back
   You's a fool, you ain't got no sense

   Now, you need not think, 'cause I look green
   I ain't never been down to New Orleans
   You's a fool, you ain't got no sense

   I've a-went down that smokin' road,
   Like to brought me back on the coolin' board
   Fool, gal, I ain't goin' no more

   SPOKEN:  Ah, play that thing, sweet papa Barefoot Bill!  You know you can do it, boy!

   See that woman all dressed in red
   Callin' for man who'll kill you dead
   She's a fool, she ain't got no sense

   Do you see that woman all dressed in blue?
   You can't put up with the way she do
   She's a fool, she ain't got no sense

   See that woman all dressed in white
   Bet you five dollars she won't treat you right
   She's a fool, she ain't got no sense

SPOKEN:  Now, do it, boy!  Ah, shucks!  Gal I love ain't got a bit of sense!

   Run into town, hurry back
   Buddy got a girl I really like
   You's a fool, you ain't got no sense

   See that woman all dressed in dark
   Thinks she looks better than the Washington Park
   She's a fool, she ain't got no sense

   You need not think 'cause you look sweet
   You can make a fool of me
   You's a fool, gal, you ain't got no sense

   SPOKEN:  Gal I love ain't got a bit of sense!  Biggest fool in town!

   Every time I go to town
   Meet my gal hangin' 'round
   Fool, she ain't got no sense

   Girl I love ain't no fool
   Big as a elephant, strong as a mule
   She's a fool, she ain't got no sense

Edited 11/2 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm





       
« Last Edit: August 24, 2023, 11:25:49 AM by Johnm »

dingwall

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2007, 09:03:58 AM »
Hi, Johnm, more stuff.
 
SHE'S A FOOL GAL
1.1  Now you need NOT think, 'cause YOU'RE black,
2.1  Now, you need NOT think, 'cause I look green
3.1  IF I WENT?? down that smokin' road,
4.2  CAUSED A man TO?? kill you dead
5.2  You can't PUT UP WITH the way she do
9.1  You need NOT think 'cause you look sweet
10.1  Every time I go TO town
10.3  SHE'S(very quiet) a fool,
11.2  Big as a elephant AND strong as a mule

BAREFOOT BILL'S HARD LUCK BLUES
1.3  NOW, I want to go home, ain't got no shoes to wear
2.1/2  THE times so hard, (long drawn out THE both lines)

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2007, 04:30:15 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions, dingwall.  I've incorporated the ones that sound right.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2007, 09:07:21 PM »
Hi all,
Here's another Ed Bell tune, "Frisco Whistle Blues", recorded under his own name, and played in E position in standard tuning.  It's kind of a riff or trance tune, relatively simple in comparison to his songs "My Crime" and "Squabblin' Blues".  This one is very catchy, with a tremendous driving rhythm.  I am missing the end of his second spoken section, so any help would be appreciated.



   SPOKEN:  Lord, I hate to hear that Frisco whistle blow!

   Well, I saw the Frisco, when she left the yard
   I saw the Frisco, when she left the yard
   When that train pulled off it nearly broke my heart

   There's two trains runnin', nary one goin' my way
   Two trains runnin', nary one's goin' my way
   Gonna leave here walkin', on this very day

   SPOKEN:  Oh, whup it, Mr. Whupper, whup it a long time!  Whup it 'til I get this fifty changed

   Well, there's one thing I don't like about the railroad track
   One thing I don't like about that railroad track
   They'll take your rider, never bring her back

   Honey, where were you when the Frisco left the yard?
   Where were you when the Frisco left the yard?
   I was on the corner, police had me barred

Edited 11/4 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm

 
     
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 06:46:57 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2007, 12:19:40 AM »
I think it's "Whup it 'til I get this shift to change."

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2007, 07:10:47 PM »
Hi Chris,
Thanks for the suggestion.  I also had the suggestion "fifty changed" for the same line and after about fifteen listens it sounded ever so slightly more like what Ed Bell said there, mostly for the "f" sound at the front end of the phrase.  This one is really very hard for me to hear.  I don't think the sense of the line obviously tips one way or the other.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 02:10:26 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2007, 11:47:52 PM »
Going back and listening, I agree with the "fifty changed" too.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2007, 05:22:56 PM »
Hi all,
Ed Bell recorded "Ham Bone Blues" under his own name, and I assume it was titled with hambone as two words rather than one, for that is the way it is listed on both the cover and the disc of the Mamlish "Ed Bell" album on which I have the song.  (Note, 11/7:  I have since found out that the song was titled "Hambone Blues".)  Bell played the song out of E position in standard tuning, and it is a modified 8-bar blues, altered by Bell in the following fashion, assuming four beats per measure unless otherwise indicated:

   |   E   |   E   |   B   |   A7   |   A7   |

   |   E   |   B   |   E   |   E + 2 beats |

Bell has a vocal pause or dwell in the opening vocal phrase in which he inserts an extra bar of the I chord.  Normally in an 8-bar blues, you would go to either the V7 or the I7 chord in the second bar.  In addition to this personal touch, Ed Bell adds two "breath-catcher" beats consistently at the conclusion of the last measure in the form, something dj alluded to earlier in this thread, I believe.  I teach this song and Ed Bell's "Mean Conductor Blues" in a free lesson that is offered on this site.
This seems an uncharacteristically sour set of lyrics for Ed Bell.

 
 

   Jelly roll, jelly roll, jelly roll is so hard to find
   Ain't a baker in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine

   I got to go to Cincinnatuh, just to have my hambone boiled
   Womens in Alabama gon' let my hambone spoil

   Well, she mine and she yours, and she's somebody else's, too
   Don't you mention 'bout rollin', though, she'll play all sick on you

   That's the way, that's the way, these bare-footed strollers do
   They will get your money and they'll have a man on you

   You come home at night, she got a towel on her head
   Don't you mention about rollin', though, she'll swear she's nearly dead

   Jelly roll, jelly roll, well, you see what you went and done?
   You done had my grandpa, now you got his youngest son

   I'm gettin' tired of walkin', I b'lieve I'll slide a while
   I'm gettin' tired of women tellin' me their lies

   I wonder what made grandpa, hey, love your grandma so?
   She got the same jelly roll she had forty years ago

Edited 11/7 to pick up correction from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
     
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 06:47:49 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2007, 07:33:50 PM »
Hi all,
I merged an earlier thread in which the lyrics to Ed Bell's "Mean Conductor Blues" were worked out with this thread.  Since that thread was from over three years ago, it appears at the front of this thread now.  I think I will merge two more threads with Ed Bell lyrics, one on "Snigglin' Blues" and one on "Mamlish Blues" with this thread as well, so we have a single source for Ed Bell lyrics.  I will leave the titles of these earlier threads intact, so that it is easier to follow them as they were originally posted.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2007, 03:12:46 PM »
Hi all,
My thanks to dingwall for catching a transcription error of long standing that I had in my understanding of the lyrics to "Mean Conductor" and "Hambone".  I thought Ed Bell was using the term "soulie" in these songs, though I knew he used the term "stroller" in "Mamlish Blues" and "Tooten Out Blues".  Dingwall pointed out that Bell used "stroller" in "Mean Conductor" and "Hambone" too, and when I re-listened, I found that to be the case.  Moreover, he noted that D,G & R have the title to the song as "Hambone Blues", NOT "Ham Bone Blues", so the Mamlish re-issue is in error.
All best,
Johnm   

Offline frankie

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2007, 05:58:05 PM »
he used the term "stroller" in "Mamlish Blues"

I just went back and modified my transcription of "Mamlish Blues," mainly for the third verse.  I'm still not sure I hear stroller in the second line of the fourth verse, though.  Sounds more like "true love," although the first line of the fourth verse does sound pretty clearly like "stroller."

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2007, 02:56:05 PM »
Hi all,
Ed Bell recorded "Carry It Right Back Home" at a session in Atlanta on December 4, 1930.  Musically, the song is a re-working of "She's A Fool Gal" with a new set of lyrics, and Bell's accompaniment is essentially identical to that of "She's a Fool Gal", in C position in standard tuning. 
The lyrical stance of "Carry It Right Back Home" is a bit more hard-nosed, with less of the children's song feel.  Ed Bell changes the refrain slightly as he goes, to suit the different verses better.  I like the second line of the next-to-last verse.  It reminds me of bragging high school tough talk--"I'll hit you so hard I'll kill your whole family."



   Look here, woman, makin' me mad
   Come bringin' me somethin' somebody done had
   REFRAIN:  Carry it right back home, I don't want it no more

   Let me tell you what these women do
   Go out and get somethin', bring it home to you
   You can carry it back home, I don't want it no more

   Now you need not think, 'cause you look cute,
   I tried to put up with the way you do
   Carry it right back home, I don't want it no more

   The woman I love, she's long and tall
   When she grab you and shake you, you're bound to fall
   Got to carry it back home, I don't want it no more

   SPOKEN:  Oh, play that thing, sweet papa Barefoot Bill!

   Now bring this thing down to a test
   A long tall man, you know, is the best
   Now, right home, I don't want it no more

   A short sort of man goes "bump da-bump"
   'Cause he ain't got the movement in his ---
   Carry it right back home, I don't want it no more

   SPOKEN:  Carry it right on back home, mama, 'cause I don't want it chere (sic)

   Know what you been doin' by the whiff of your jaw
   Might hit you so hard, might join your great grandpa
   Carry it right back home, I don't want it no more

   You need not come here, you're not gettin' none of mine
   You left a man on the doorstep, hollerin' and cryin',
   Carry it right back to him, I don't want it no more

Edited, 11/12, to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
   
 
   

   
« Last Edit: August 24, 2023, 11:27:45 AM by Johnm »

Offline Michael Kuehn

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2007, 04:24:54 AM »
Thanks, everyone, for this Ed Bell discussion -- it prompted me to pick up his "Complete Recorded Works," and I'm really enjoying it. That's what I love about Weenie -- you never know where the next thread is going to lead you. I had never given Ed Bell much consideration, a song here or there on a compilation, that's about it.

So thanks, again.

Mike

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2007, 03:20:27 PM »
Hi Mike,
I'm glad the discussion here has led you into a deeper appreciation of Ed Bell's music.  He really was great, an exceptional lyricist and very interesting guitarist.  Hearing his playing really makes me wish that Alabama Country Blues of his era had been better documented on commercial recordings.  It would be interesting to know whether he was simply one of many musicians of his region playing in E standard and Spanish as he did, or whether he was unique among the players in his neighborhood in his musical approach. 

I'd like to express a thanks here to dingwall and banjo chris for assistance in working out the lyrics to Ed Bell's songs.  A lot of them are very hard to hear, and dingwall has done yeoman's work in this area.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2007, 03:21:40 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ed Bell Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2023, 11:29:02 AM »
Hi all,
Here is the unmerged Ed Bell lyrics thread, now including only the songs he recorded under his own name.
All best,
Johnm

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