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Yeah man I was born March 15, you know the year was nineteen hundred and twelve, yes you know every since that day Po' Lightnin' ain't been doing so well - Lightnin' Hopkins, Goin' Back Home And Talk To Mama, Gold Star

Author Topic: Gene Campbell Lyrics  (Read 10813 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Gene Campbell Lyrics
« on: February 27, 2008, 10:50:07 PM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell's first solo recording session took place in Dallas in November of 1929 (or so) and yielded two tunes.  Campbell, as MTJ3 has pointed out elsewhere on this site, is one of the rare utter biographical ciphers of country blues artists who recorded more than a couple of tunes.  He was a very polished musician, both as a player and singer.  His playing sounds to me like very adroit flat-picking, though it is possible that he played with a thumb pick and fingers. 
"Mama, You Don't Mean Me No Good No How" was played by Campbell out of C position in standard tuning.  In the course of the tune, he employs a pretty sophisticated chordal vocabulary, including a IV minor chord (F minor) and a flat VI chord (Aflat).  This song is available on the Document CD "Gene Campbell, 1929-1931", DOCD-5151.  Here is "Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good Nohow":



   Mama, you don't mean me no good nohow
   Mama, mama, you don't mean me no good nohow
   But I'm gonna let you go, I don't need no woman now

   I'm makin' my own money, I don't need you 'round
   I'm makin' my money, mama, I don't need you 'round
   'Cause when I didn't have nothing, that's the time that you turned me down

   But, you know, that's all right, that's all right for you
   That's all right, mama, that's all right for you
   You are low-down and dirty and I know the way you do

   Lord, I b'lieve I'll leave this town
   Lord, I believe I'll leave this town
   I've got a funny feeling that my baby's gonna turn me down

   I've been as good to you as I intend to be
   I've been as good to you ras (sic) I intend to be
   But the more I do for you, baby, that's the less you cares for me

   Oh, there's something wrong with me
   Oh, pretty mama, there's something wrong with me
   I ain't worried 'bout my regular, but it's my old-time used-to-be
   
   Goodbye, baby, if you call that gone
   Goodbye, baby, if you call that gone
   I've got another woman to carry your business on

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
     
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:56:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2008, 11:00:32 PM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell's second tune from his November, 1928 session was "Bended Knee Blues".  Like "Mama, You Don't Mean Me No Good No How", it was played out of C position in standard tuning and substantially shares the same accompaniment.  The way Gene Campbell sang the first line of the fifth verse was really beautiful.  Here is "Bended Knee Blues":


   
   Lord, my home ain't here, down in Tennessee
   My home ain't here, it's down in Tennessee
   If I mistreated you, mama, and been bad, I did not intend to be

   I'm goin' to the Good Lord and get down on my bended knee
   I'm goin' to the Good Lord and get down on my bended knees
   I ain't askin' for religion, but give me my woman, please

   If you'll give me my woman, Lord, I won't worry you no more
   If you'll give me my woman, I won't worry you no more
   Don't put her in my house, if you only leave her at my door

   I've been as good to you, mama, ras (sic) I intend to be
   I been as good as I intend to be
   But the more I do for you, baby, that's the less you cares for me

   Sometimes I just can't keep from cryin'
   Sometimes I just can't keep from cryin'
   I ain't worried 'bout my regular, but I'm worried 'bout that gal of mine

   Oh, mama, there's something wrong with me
   Lord, pretty mama, there's something wrong with me
   I can't get my regular and I can't get my used-to-be

   I wonder why, baby, you don't write to me
   I wonder why that you don't write to me
   If I've been bad, baby, I did not intend to be

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

all best,
Johnm
   
 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:50:01 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2008, 09:06:49 AM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell was back in the studio, this time in Chicago, around May of 1930.  The first tune he recorded there was "Wandering Blues", played out of C position in standard tuning, sounding at F#, so assuming he was tuned at standard pitch, capoed to the 6th fret.  Campbell's accompaniment here shows a strong Lonnie Johnson influence; the time stroke he plays in the seventh and eighth bars is the very one Lonnie used in so many of his recordings, though transposed to the C position, of course.  Cambell employs a nifty rocking motion between notes fretted on his sixth and fourth strings.  In the first four bars he rocks between a C chord with a G in the bass, a la:  3-X-2 and an implied C dim7 chord:  2-X-1.  Sylvester Weaver used the same move in one of the songs on which he accompanied Sara Martin.  In the fifth bar, Campbell outlines the IV chord (F) by playing 1-X-3, and in the sixth bar goes to a flat VI chord, Aflat (relative to capo placement), with a little run from the open fourth string to the first fret of the fourth string, which he barres across to the second string.  His turn-around in the ninth and tenth bars is especially nifty.  He goes from G7, played as a rocking between 3-X-3, then goes to a D7 over A, via a slide on the sixth string up to 5-X-4, then returning to the G7.  He intersperses all of this movement in the bass with chordal fills and treble runs.  I have never heard anyone play any of his material, but it would be a natural for any of you who are comfortable with a pick.  He really was a very nice player.
Campbell's singing reminds me a bit of both Lonnie Johnson and Texas Alexander, in his tone production, though he doesn't have Alexander's scary intensity.  In the fourth verse, I think he meant "I never love but one woman".  Here is "Wandering Blues":



   Every night I wander, all by myself
   Every night I wander, all by myself
   Thinkin' about the woman I love, loving someone else

   Boohoo, I just can't keep from cryin'
   Boohoo, I just can't keep from cryin'
   I'm worried about my baby, she's on my mind

   Sometimes I wonder, "Do she think of me?"
   Sometimes I wonder, "Do she think of me?"
   And again I wonder if I will ever be free

   I'm telling all you women what's on my mind
   I'm telling all you women what's on my mind
   I never love one woman, no more at the time

   Boohoo, I wring my hands and cry
   Boohoo, I wring my hands and cry
   I'm thinking about the loving that I let go by

   Since you've been gone, baby, I haven't been a bit of good
   Since you've been gone, baby, I haven't been a bit of good
   Because I never gets the loving that I really should

All best,
Johnm

 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:51:04 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2008, 09:19:54 AM »
Hi all,
The next song Gene Campbell recorded at his May, 1930 session in Chicago was "Somebody's Been Playin' Papa".  Like "Wandering Blues", it was played out of C position in standard tuning, sounding at F#.  The song starts out as an unusual chorus blues, with the refrain serving as the tagline to the first four verses, after which it reverts to a conventional twelve-bar lyric scheme.  The melody is a pretty variant of "Corrina, Corrina", and this song would really shine in a string band setting.
I find these lyrics really surprising, and can't think of any others that I have heard like them.  Henry Townsend, in his later years, would occasionally do songs in which the lyrics had a plot or story, but I can't think of many other examples of blues lyrics like this.  Here is "Somebody's Been Playin' Papa":



   Tell me, honey, who is that in your arms?
   Oh, tell me, honey, who is that in your arms?
   REFRAIN:  Somebody's been playin' papa 'round here, since I've been gone

   I went away, honey, and I stayed too long
   I went away, honey, and I stayed too long
   REFRAIN

   It's my fault, honey, I went and stayed too long
   It's my fault, honey, I went and stayed too long
   REFRAIN

   I've been gone twenty-one months, twelve months too long
   I've been gone twenty-one months, twelve months too long
   REFRAIN

   Take twelve from twenty-one, only leaves nine
   Take twelve from twenty-one, only leaves nine
   You know doggone well I can count, and it sure ain't mine

   Well, it sure is pretty, Lord, fat and fine
   Oh, it sure is pretty, oh, fat and fine
   But you know doggone well that kid ain't mine

   Come to me, honey, get in my arms
   Come to me, honey, get in my arms
   Because I'm going to play papa 'round here, and I won't never be gone

All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:40:55 PM by Johnm »

Offline Michael Kuehn

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2008, 12:11:18 PM »
Thanks, John, for this foray into Gene Campbell. Great stuff!

I've enjoyed his Document 1929-1931 disc for quite some time, though never tried to work out any of his songs.

Mike

Offline dj

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2008, 01:10:10 PM »
That's a great lyric device in "Somebody's Been Playin' Papa".  Campbell springs the punch line of the song at the end of the fifth verse, and underscores its surprise by adding the surprise of changing from the "chorus" that ended the previous verses.  Just beautiful!  You hear things like this and wonder why more people didn't use the same device.  It's so good it should have become a cliche, but for some reason it never did.

Thanks for pointing out this stuff, John. 

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2008, 04:46:24 PM »
Thanks for the good words, Mike and dj!  I've been enjoying getting into Gene Campbell's playing and singing more, and I think his skill in both areas, as well as wordcraft was pretty impressive.  I think I'll keep going for a while.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2008, 04:54:46 PM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell recorded "Wash and Iron Woman Blues" at the same May, 1930 session in Chicago as the last two songs discussed, and played it, like them, out of C position in standard tuning, capoed up, using substantially the same accompaniment. 
Gene evidently had a grudge against laundry women.  He comes across pretty urbanely here, as well as not overly interested in hard work.  The tagline of verse four is a hoot.  Here is "Wash And Iron Woman Blues":



   I've got something that stays on my mind
   I've got something that stays on my mind
   A woman ain't nothin' but a fool, will wash and iron all the time

   I want to tell all you women, I want you all to know
   I wanta tell all you women, I want you all to know
   What's the use of washing and ironing when there's a better way to go?

   If your woman's washing and ironing, that's the only way she makes her change
   If your woman's washing and ironing, that's the only way she make her change
   Man, if you don't go hungry, I'll be in account of a dirty name

   I wouldn't have a washwoman, I tell you a reason why
   I wouldn't have a washwoman, I tell you the reason why
   All the money she can make washing won't buy me a decent tie

   I'm sorry for you women, I know just how you feel
   I'm sorry for you women, I know just how you feel
   Before I'd have a washwoman, I'd hijack, rob and steal

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:39:53 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2008, 10:35:27 PM »
Hi all,
"Robbin' and Stealin' Blues" is yet another Gene Campbell tune recorded in May of 1930 with essentially the same accompaniment in C position, standard tuning.  This is the first of Gene Campbell's songs to feature a guitar solo, and it certainly sounds like it is flat-picked.  His recycling of accompaniments raises an interesting question that would also apply to the work of Lonnie Johnson, the Stanley Brothers, and a host of other performers:  As a listener, do you consider two pieces of music with the same accompaniment and melody, but with different lyrics, to be two different songs, or the same song with different sets of lyrics?  I have a hunch many musicians would select the latter interpretation, but I think most of the listening public would select the former.  In any case, I think Gene Campbell's song here, in the final verse, perhaps provided the inspiration for T-Bone Walker's "Too Lazy to Work, Too Nervous to Steal".  Here is "Robbin' and "Stealin' Blues":



   My baby ain't good-lookin', and she don't dress fine
   My baby ain't good-lookin', and she don't dress fine
   But she gives me money all of the time

   She goes out at night, just like she's on wheels
   She goes out at night, just like she's on wheels
   And then I know, she's going out to rob and steal

   I lay in bed, my baby brings me my meal
   I lay in bed, my baby brings me my meal
   What good is a woman if she don't rob and steal?

   SOLO

   I used to live with a woman, they called her Tildy Peele
   I used to live with a woman, they called her Tildy Peele
   I soon got rid of her, she couldn't rob and steal

   I know howr (sic) you hungry hustlers feel
   I know how you hungry hustlers feel
   Your woman don't know how to rob, still is too doggone scared to steal

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm


   
   
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 09:42:40 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2008, 09:41:33 AM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell's May, 1930 Chicago sessions continued with "I Wish I Could Die", on which Campbell continues to mine the possibilities of his C position accompaniment.  Considering how much solo space was generally given to the guitar on country blues recordings and Gene Campbell's instrumental expertise, it's surprising how few of his songs include even a brief solo.  Then again, one doesn't get the impression from his playing and lyrics that he was particularly "country".
"I Wish I Could Die", while not exactly employing a refrain, nonetheless uses a recurring lyric motif in the tag lines of verses one, four and six that is a strong mood setter for the song.  Here is "I Wish I Could Die":



   I woke up this morning, wished that I could die
   I woke up this morning, wished that I could die
   The woman I love left me, and didn't even say goodbye

   Every time I think of her I can't hardly keep from cryin'
   Every time I think of her I can't hardly keep from cryin'
   I love that woman, she's forever on my mind

   If you ain't got but one woman, you'd better get you two
   If you ain't got but one woman, you'd better get you two
   So if one go and leave you, you know just what to do

   I b'lieve she was a good woman, I'll believe it 'til I die
   I b'lieve she was a good woman, I believe it 'til I die
   But she went away and left me and she didn't even say goodbye

   When I had you, baby, I would not treat you right
   When I had you, baby, I would not treat you right
   Now I got to get another woman, or sleep by myself tonight

   When I find a good woman, I'll treat her right 'til I die
   When I find a good woman, I'll treat her right 'til I die
   I don't want her to go and leave me, and don't even say goodbye

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm

   
   
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 09:41:11 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2008, 06:16:10 PM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell continued his May, 1930 session with "Lazy Woman Blues".  You can really sense his impatience with his indolent lover in verse three, and his mounting frustration.  The opening verse lands with a bang, much like, "Found a stranger in my house, I busted his head with a club."  Here is "Lazy Woman Blues":



   Look-a-here, baby, I want you to get a job
   Look-a-here, baby, I want you to get a job
   Stop settin' 'round tellin' me 'bout times bein' hard

   You don't want to work, you think work's a disgrace
   You don't want to work, you think work's a disgrace
   I got a woman that's working, she wants to take your place

   Look-a-here, woman, can't you plainly see?
   Look-a-here, woman, can't you plainly see?
   I don't want no woman if she can't work for me

   Now, I have told you, do just as you please
   I have told you, do just as you please
   You must get a job, or else you must leave

   You get up in the mornin', walk all over town
   Get up in the mornin', walk all over town
   I want you to find a job before the sun goes down

   But I'm going to tell you, just before you go
   I'm going to tell you, just before you go
   If you don't find a job, don't come back here no more

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:46:00 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2008, 09:56:36 AM »
Hi all,
The May 1930 Gene Campbell sessions continued with "Levee Camp Man Blues", still employing the same accompaniment in C position, standard tuning.  I particularly like this song and performance.  It's a great set of lyrics.  Here is "Levee Camp Man Blues":



   These contractors, they are getting so slack
   These contractors, they are getting so slack
   They'll pay you half of your money, and hold the other half back

   There ain't but two men that gets paid off
   There ain't but two men that gets paid off
   That's the commissary clerk and the walkin' boss
   
   I see somebody comin' down to the water trough
   I see somebody comin' down to the water trough
   I know it ain't the contractor, it's that doggone walkin' boss

   A levee camp mule, and a levee camp man
   A levee camp mule, and a levee camp man
   They work side by side, and it sure is man for man

   A levee camp man ain't got but two legs, you know
   A levee camp man ain't got but two legs, you know
   But he puts in the same hours that a mule do on four

   I wouldn't drive no four-mule team
   I wouldn't drive no four-mule team
   For no doggone contractor I ever seen

   Men on the levee, holl'in', "Whoa" and "Gee"
   Men on the levee, holl'in', "Whoa" and "Gee"
   And them women on the levee camp holl'in', "Who wants me?"

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 09:37:08 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2008, 11:42:14 AM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell continued at his May, 1930 session with "Western Plain Blues", once again with the same accompaniment.  I'm beginning to wonder whether he was self-accompanied.  There is an eerie consistency to the execution of the accompaniments on these songs that might bespeak a player not involved in singing at the same time, in addition to which, very, very few singing players in my experience could stand, or be able to execute the very same accompaniment so many times consecutively.  It's something to think about, especially since we know absolutely nothing about Gene Campbell or the circumstances in which the records were made.
I really like the opening line of the last verse on "Western Plain Blues".  Since the technique for hopping a train was once described to me, by someone who had done it many times, as hooking your arm through a ladder rung up to the elbow, rather than grabbing with your hand for a rung, the expression "armful of train" seems particularly apt.  The place name dropping in verse three is reminiscent of Willie Blackwell.  Campbell's singing of the opening line of verse two is beautiful, in a class with Texas Alexander.  Here is "Western Plain Blues":



   I was borned in Texas, raised in Texas, too
   I was borned in Texas, raised in Texas, too
   Someday I'm goin' to leave here, I mean I will be through

   Because, ah, ah, ah, Lord,
   I'm in so much trouble I don't know what to do
   I'm going to start walkin', sorry, but I can't take you

   I'm going to sail from Maine to the Golden Gate
   I'm going to sail from Maine to the Golden Gate
   From New York City, back to the Lone Star State

   And I don't know when I'll stop my wandering way
   I don't know when I'll stop my wandering way
   But I may change my mind, and wander back here someday

   Oh, I can't go there no more
   Oh, I can't go there no more
   She told me to my face, had another man knockin' at my door

   I'm going to the station, catch me a armful of train
   I'm going to the station, catch me a armful of train
   I'm goin' to wake up Monday mornin', out on the Western plain

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm


   

   

   
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:34:39 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2008, 12:06:45 AM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell's next recording session was back in Dallas in November of 1930.  He opened the session with "Don't Leave Me Blue Blues", introducing for the first time on his recordings an accompaniment position other than C position in standard tuning.  "Don't Leave Me Blue Blues" and the other three songs the session yielded are all played in F position, standard tuning, with substantially the same accompaniment.  Gene Campbell used a swingy-sounding F6 voicing for his home base, like so:  1-X-3-2-3-X.  Likewise when he goes to the IV chord, Bflat, in the fifth bar of the song, he voices it as a sixth, X-1-3-3-3-3, emphasizing the top four strings.  Where the melody calls for a Bflat7 in the accompaniment, instead of simply fretting the fourth fret of the first string over the Bflat chord he is already fingering, Campbell raises the entire barre of the top four strings one fret, X-X-4-4-4-4, fingering a pretty hairy-sounding B6 just to get that fourth fret of the first string.  In the seventh and eight bars, he does a nifty walk-down from an F7 up the neck, 8-X-7-8-6-X, to a D7, moving the position down the neck chromatically, giving each chord two beats as he goes.  In his turn-arounds in the twelfth bar of the form, he goes from the flat VI chord, Dflat7 (4-X-3-4-2-X) down one fret to a V7 chord, C7.  He always voices the movable C7 shape he uses with the sixth string in the bass (the fifth of the chord) rather than the root on the fifth string.  The chord sounds much more Jazzy the way he voices it.  He sure sounds like he flat-picks these songs. Here is "Don't Leave Me Blue Blues":



   Come back to me, sweet mama, please don't leave me blue
   Come back, sweet mama, please don't leave me blue
   Because the way you're doing, it's all coming home to you

   I can stand for you to leave me, but, you know you're doin' me wrong
   I can stand for you to leave me, baby, but you know you're doin' me wrong
   You will cause me to wander and leave my happy home

   But you are three times seven, you know just what you want to do
   You are three times seven and you know just what you wanta do
   But I'm getting doggone tired of runnin' 'round after you

   Riding these freight trains is getting mighty old
   Riding these freight trains, baby, is getting mighty old
   But when I hear about you, baby, I will get back on the road

   I'm gonna rest up a while 'til I find out where you stay
   Gonna rest up a while 'til I find out where you stay
   Then I'm coming and get you, if you are a million miles away

   She ain't so far 'cause she don't know where to go
   She ain't so far 'cause she don't know where to go
   She's in Wichita or Dallas, Ft. Worth or San Antonio

Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:54:18 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gene Campbell Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2008, 02:26:26 PM »
Hi all,
Gene Campbell's November, 1930 session in Dallas continued with "Doggone Mean Blues", played out of F position in standard tuning, as was the tune that preceded it, "Don't Leave Me Blue Blues".  Campbell, as was his wont, re-used the accompaniment of the previous tune with a few interesting wrinkles.  Like Texas Alexander, Gene Campbell dipped into the common pool of blues lyrics a fair amount, but also had lots of lyrics I've never encountered elsewhere.  I'm not certain I have the bent bracketed portion of the final verse correct, though the sense of it is right.  Any help would be appreciated.  Here is "Doggone Mean Blues":



   Oh, I don't know what's on my baby's mind
   I don't know what's on my baby's mind
   I've tried so hard to teach her, she got worser all the time

   Oh, I don't know what could be going on wrong
   I don't know what could be going on wrong
   Unless somebody, tryin' to do me harm

   But someday you'll be sorry, you ever done me wrong
   Someday you'll be sorry, baby, you ever done me wrong
   But it will be too late then, mama, I may be out and gone

   Oh, baby, you just wait and see
   Baby, baby, Lord, you just wait and see
   Some of these days you are going to wish for me

   But as sure as the leaves grows out on the tree
   Just as sure as the leaves grows out on a tree
   I'm gonna treat these doggone women just like they treats poor me

   You're towards me, baby, like somebody that you never seen
   You treats me, baby, like somebody that you never seen
   I could learn to love you more, but you treats me so doggone mean

Edited to pick up correction from dj, 3/6
Edited 3/10 to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm

 
   
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:33:33 PM by Johnm »

 


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