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Author Topic: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????  (Read 2992 times)

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Offline Blue in VT

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His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« on: October 24, 2008, 10:12:00 AM »
Howdy all,

So on my drive into work today I was listening to Mance Lipscomb's Version of Bumblebee (one of my favorites!) which set me to thinking that it was intersting...and not that uncommon in the Blues genere for a male singer to sing a tune from a female Point of view...the other that jumps to mind is MJH's Richland Woman Blues.  Considering the stereotypical view of bluesmen as hard drinking womanizing masogonistic types I find this fact very intertesting.  I've heard in the past people say that Rap music is todays version of the blues...but can you imagine an self respecting rap artist sing a song about how they got "stuck" by a "stinger as long as my right arm" or wearing "bright purple rouge" and pants with a "rumble seat"

Anyhoo...I'm intersted to hear other folks thoughts on this topic and maybe other songs that fall into this "catagory"

Cheers,

Blue...He stung me this morning...I've been restless all day long!
Blue in VT

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2008, 12:27:26 PM »
Johnny Shines did the same as Mance when he sang "Bumblebee."
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Offline doctorpep

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2008, 03:45:33 PM »
100% correct! When Mr. Shines sang "Bumble Bee Blues", he sang it from a woman (Minnie's) point of view. Interesting, right? This might be a bit off topic, but on the "Desperate Man Blues" dvd, there is an extra of Son House doing "Death Letter", in which he switches from, I believe, 2nd person to first person, in terms of the lyrics/narrative.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2008, 03:46:37 PM by doctorpep »
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Offline frankie

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2008, 07:25:55 AM »
Sam Chatmon's cover of "Bumblebee" (I think this is on youtube)
"Ramrod Blues" by The Mississippi Sheiks

both sung from a female's point of view, entirely in 1st person.

Offline Johnm

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2008, 05:48:49 PM »
Hi all,
This is a really interesting question Blue in VT raises, I believe, and as the title of the thread implies, it can work both ways.  On the George Mitchell Collection, Rosa Lee Hill sings on "Pork and Beans",
   "Let me marry your daughter, be your son-in-law."
Elsewhere on the set, Othar Turner sings "Bumble Bee" as noted above, as per Mance Lipscomb's rendition of the same song.
I think whether the sex of the narrative voice is changed in the lyric to accomodate the sex of the person singing the song has something to do with how much the singer perceives the song as being an established piece of music that goes a certain way.  I used to sing Elvie Thomas's "Motherless Chile", and when I came to the second verse, I always sang it as,
   "She said, "Daughter, daughter, please don't be like me, that is fall in love with every man you see."
I just felt that was the way the song goes, but I also feel that if you start jimmying around with pronouns in lyrics and feel like a simple reversal of the sexes will communicate the same sentiment as the original, only inverted, it's not that simple.  I have heard a young woman sing Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman" as "Devil Got My Man", and I think it would have been so much stronger left as is.  Skip had big control issues vis a vis women, as in "Cypress Grove", and it just isn't the same to switch it around.  It's probably something you have to come to terms with for yourself, like so much of what is involved in making interpretive choices.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Blue in VT

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2008, 06:09:40 AM »
Excellent points Johm...Artistic license is one thing thing doing a rendidtion of a well established song is another.  I do find it funny that this type of thing would never happen today!

Blue
Blue in VT

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2008, 11:34:08 AM »
Rev. Gary Davis's "Candy Man"?  M. John Hurt's "I'm Satisfied"?  LeadBelly's "Backwater Blues"?  Dylan's "House of the Rising Sun"?

Offline Johnm

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 10:09:49 AM »
Hi all,
Two performances which would fall into this category are Papa Charlie Jackson's recordings of "I've Got What It Takes, But It Breaks My Heart To Give It Away" and the much-discussed "Airy Man Blues", both of which are sung from a woman's point of view by a man.  It would be interesting to know if "Airy Man Blues", in particular, was recorded by any of the Classic blues singers before Papa Charlie, or maybe by one of the mainstays of the Black Vaudeville stage.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 10:54:02 AM »
Quote
It would be interesting to know if "Airy Man Blues", in particular, was recorded by any of the Classic blues singers before Papa Charlie, or maybe by one of the mainstays of the Black Vaudeville stage.

For what it's worth, Bob MacLeod's composer list gives the composer credit on the Airy Man Blues label as Charlie Jackson.  Of course, this might just mean that Paramount had no idea who the real composer was. 

Offline Shovel

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 06:17:27 AM »
Definitely intriguing.  Dates to a time when musicians were closer to jukeboxes than most would prefer to think of themselves these days.   Someone request a song?  You play the song best you can.  Maybe some things never change..

I think it would be a sign of a good artist to tweak the lyrics to a well known standard (which Bumble Bee seemed to be in the 30s) and changes the Point of View.  Like "I stung her this mornin', she been lookin for me all day long".  Any examples of that?  (Not that it's a sign of a bad artist if they sing it how they found it..)

Another similar situation ... in "When the Levee Breaks", Memphis Minnie sings about "her woman" and another few things we might associate with a male point of view.  It even sounds to me like she's singing with an extra deep voice to sing like a man, whether on purpose or not.  I've wondered if I picked that record up with an illegible label, would I hear the lyrics and assume it's a man?  Maybe..

Offline dj

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 06:39:24 AM »
Quote
Another similar situation ... in "When the Levee Breaks", Memphis Minnie sings about "her woman" and another few things we might associate with a male point of view.  It even sounds to me like she's singing with an extra deep voice to sing like a man...

That's actually Kansas Joe McCoy singing the lead on When The Levee Breaks.  One problem with the internet age: the song usually appears on Memphis Minnie compilations, so the mp3 for the song gets tagged as by Memphis Minnie, and Joe McCoy gets forgotten.

Offline Shovel

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 11:23:36 AM »
Quote
Another similar situation ... in "When the Levee Breaks", Memphis Minnie sings about "her woman" and another few things we might associate with a male point of view.  It even sounds to me like she's singing with an extra deep voice to sing like a man...

That's actually Kansas Joe McCoy singing the lead on When The Levee Breaks.  One problem with the internet age: the song usually appears on Memphis Minnie compilations, so the mp3 for the song gets tagged as by Memphis Minnie, and Joe McCoy gets forgotten.


CD Age ( 'Primo Collection 2 CD Set 40 Delta Blues Gems' from Half Price Books) but yeah, that would certainly provide a simpler explanation than Minnie's perceived role playing.  Thanks for the clarification. 

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2013, 07:30:11 PM »
There are some songs where switching the gender to that of the singer works, and others where it doesn't. I think, in general, the blues singers of the past have made pretty good decisions about how to present the song. One case where switching would work fine, but is awaiting for a female singer to perform it: "You got your mojo working, but it just don't work on me."

Lyle

Offline cih

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 11:34:41 PM »
Another one from Mance Lipscomb - though I can't remember the title .. "My man studyin' evil, you'd be evil too, yes I'm evil you'd be evil too.."  as sung originally by Victoria Spivey

also "In the Pines" - Leadbelly?
« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 11:36:04 PM by cih »

Offline Slack

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Re: His Blues from her point of view...or visa versa????
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2013, 07:19:09 AM »
Quote
One case where switching would work fine, but is awaiting for a female singer to perform it: "You got your mojo working, but it just don't work on me."

Lyle, check out Ann Cole with The Suburbans and Orchestra - best version, IMO, ever!  Great sax solo too.


 


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