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Now why don't you do something from your neck of the woods? - Carl Rutherford, to Mick Knight, Port Townsend 98

Author Topic: Willie Reed Lyrics  (Read 7032 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Willie Reed Lyrics
« on: June 06, 2008, 07:38:25 PM »
Hi all,
Texas bluesman Willie Reed had a two-song recording session in Dallas on December 8, 1928.  The first song he recorded was "Dreaming Blues", a spectacular blues played in A, standard tuning.  Willie Reed had enough ideas in his rendition of "Dreaming Blues" for three or four normal songs; he tosses off terrific original riffs as though he had an inexhaustible supply of them.  Maybe he did.  After the next-to-last verse he goes into some free-form syncopated one-chord riffing in A that is just about as cool as it gets in this music, a prime example of "thriving on a riff", playing an idea for its own sake and perseverating outside of the form as it is normally played and sung, until the impulse is satisfied.  (For more discussion of thriving on a riff, go to the thread on it at http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=2764.0.)
I think I have most of these lyrics right, but I think the opening of the second verse's tagline, the portion in bent brackets, is weak, and I'm sure somebody here can hear the line as plain as day, so I'd appreciate any help.

   I'm going to leave you, but I'll be back some old day
   I'm going to leave you, but I'll be back some old day
   I will make you remember how you drove me 'way

   Girl, I lay down dreamin', girl, and I woke up cryin'
   I lay down dreamin', woman, then I woke up cryin'
   Sayin' my babe's down Sou', well, poor girl is on my mind

   Have you ever been 'cused, mama, ain't done nothin' wrong?
   Have you ever been 'cused, mama, ain't done nothin' wrong?
   That's the cause of today, many people leave their home

   Sometime I think my babe too sweet to die
   Sometime I think my babe too sweet to die
   Then again I think, Lord, she ought to be buried alive

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  Eh, it's all night long!

   Excuse me, mama, for knockin' at your room
   Excuse me, mama, for knockin' at your room
   If I can't be your sweeper, let me be your broom

   SOLO

   I followed Corinna, long as I could see
   I followed Corinna, long as I could see
   And the mens had my woman, Lord, and the blues had me

Edited, 6/6, to pick up correction from banjo chris
Edited, 6/7, to pick up correction from dingwall
Edited, 6/13, to pick up corrections from dingwall


All best,
Johnm
   

   
   
   
« Last Edit: June 17, 2008, 01:24:54 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2008, 07:54:34 PM »
Hi all,
The second song Willie Reed recorded at his Dallas recording session on December 8, 1928 was "Texas Blues".  He plays it out of E position in standard tuning, and it is every bit as strong and original a musical statement in that position as "Dreaming Blues" was in A position, standard tuning.  Once again, the sheer abundance of great musical ideas is staggering.  This is a far cry from coming up with one nifty pass and playing it over and over again.  Willie Reed's lick that he plays over the V chord at the tail end of the form in the first couple of verses, where he is doing syncopated hammers to bends in the bass, sets a standard for coolness of invention and execution that has seldom been equalled. 
Once again, I could use some help with the lyric.  I am not sure about the word "and" in the opening line of the fourth verse, and any help would be appreciated.

   I'm going out in West Texas, where I can hear the wild ox moan
   I'm going out in West Texas, where I can hear the wild ox moan
   Says it moaned so bad, 'til it made me leave my home

   Lord, pretty mama, what's the matter now?
   Lord, pretty mama, what's the matter now?
   You know if you didn't want me, why'd you leave me back in town?

   I'm going way out in West Texas, just to learn the cowboy style
   Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, learn the cowboy style
   Then I'm comin' back to Dallas, gonna run these women wild

   You can read your schoolbook, hymnbook on down
   You can read your schoolbook, hymnbook on down
   You can read my letter but you sure can't read my mind

   You can't never tell when your woman's gonna put you down
   Well, you can't never tell when your woman's gonna put you down
   Got a smile on her face and a heart that's full of frown

   Take me, pretty mama, try me one more time
   Oh Lord and, try me one more time
   If I don't treat you better, I'll break my neck a-tryin'

   Said, I lay down last night, my mind was ramblin' 'round
   I lay down last night, my mind was ramblin' 'round
   Thinkin' about my lover, she had done put me down

Edited 6/7, to pick up correction from dingwall
Edited, 6/13, to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: June 13, 2008, 12:49:33 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2008, 09:49:25 PM »

   Said my [bed's down sideways], poor girl is on my mind

John -- it sounds to me like "Said my berries done soured..."
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2008, 11:38:35 PM »
Wow, Chris, I don't feel too bad about not having gotten that one!  The sound is exactly right, but the idiom is certainly not one you hear every day.  That is great hearing, thanks!  I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2008, 01:14:15 AM »
My last name's Berry, so that probably helped.  ;)
Chris

dingwall

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2008, 04:30:03 AM »
John M, the two doubtful bits you were asking about are, I think, "Sayin', my babe's down South and------" and "hymn book on down".   I would differ on other bits, but these are largely trivial.

Offline dj

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2008, 05:29:18 AM »
One minor comment on "Dreaming Blues":  It sounds like there's another syllable after "done", making the line "Said my berries done ha' soured...", where "ha'" is an elision of "have". 

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2008, 07:18:23 AM »
On what records do these songs appear?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2008, 07:23:13 AM »
Hi O'Muck,
I meant to say in the posts that they can be found on the JSP "Texas Blues" set, which has the complete Willie Reed recordings, along with the complete Ramblin' Thomas, Henry Thomas, Little Hat Jones, and good bits of Smith Casey and Pete Harris.  I first heard them on two old Yazoo anthologies, "Tex-Arkana-Louisiana Country, 1929-1933" and "Buddy Boy Hawkins and his Buddies", but I don't think either of these survived into the CD era (maybe the first one did).  The JSP set is well worth getting.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 08:25:07 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 07:34:06 AM »
Hi dingwall,
Thanks very much for "hymnbook" in "Texas Blues", that is certainly right and I will make the change.  The fragment from from "Dreaming Blues" is sounding right to me, too, at present, but I need to listen to it some more.  I'll report any changes.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2008, 09:36:33 PM »
Hi all,
After listening to "Dreaming Blues" many times, I can hear dingwall's "babe's down south" clearly, (especially the two bs in "babe's) with the "th" on "south" elided, though it sounds to me like Willie Reed follows that phrase with the word "well".  Thanks, everyone, for the help, and I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 09:39:39 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2008, 12:51:36 PM »
Hi all,
Thanks to dingwall for additional suggestions to the lyrics of "Dreaming Blues" and "Texas Blues", most of which I have incorporated into the transcriptions at the start of this thread. 
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 13, 2008, 04:52:08 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2008, 05:09:57 PM »
Hi all,
Willie Reed's next solo session was almost exactly one year after his first, on December 5, 1929, in Dallas, and it yielded two tracks, "Leavin' Home" and "Goin' Back To My Baby".  Willie Reed's instrumental sound from this second session is drastically different from that of his first session.  Rather than focusing on the highly rhythmic finger-picking of his 1928 session, Reed switched to a flat pick for his 1929 session, working a musical territory that seems to combine elements of the playing of Lonnie Johnson, Ramblin' Thomas (as in "So Lonesome" or "Saw Mill Moan"), and possibly Gene Campbell.  When you're talking about musicians so long dead, it is very difficult to unravel strands of influence, for the first player to record with a particular sound or approach may have gotten his ideas from someone who didn't get an opportunity to record until some time later.  In any event, "Leavin' Home", which Willie Reed played in C, in standard tuning, seems closest to Ramblin' Thomas, with metrically irregular phrasing and the singing and playing right on top of each other.  It's a style that would be very difficult to recreate for a present-day player, I think, without sounding like some kind of musical parrot.
Willie Reed's lyrics are sometimes really hard to hear, so I would particularly appreciate any help with the bent bracketed phrase in the tagline of verse two.  I feel like I'm pretty close phonetically, but would be happier with something that was both phonetically strong and made more sense.

   I'm going to leave you, I'll be back some old day
   I'm going to leave you, I'll be back some old day
   Don't you worry, mama, because I was carried away

   4-BAR SOLO

   Don't never take no woman for to be your friend
   Don't never take no woman for to be your friend
   It will be death, all in destruction, graveyard'll be your end

   I was just sitting here a-wond'ring, mama, about my used-to-be
   I was sitting here a-wond'ring, worried about my used-to-be
   I can see my lover, Lord, but she can't see me

   How can I love you when you gone both night and day?
   How can I love you, you're gone both night and day?
   Say, that's the very reason I'm bound in jail today

   SOLO

Edited, 6/14, to pick up correction from Andrew

All best,
Johnm
   
   

 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2008, 01:40:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2008, 09:22:32 AM »
Hi John,

Re. the line in question in 2.3. Hard to make out Willie Reed's marblemouthed vocal here but I am wondering whether it is something like "They will be deaf followin' instruction..." or "they will be just followin' instruction...". The second half of the line I hear as you do, though am not sure of the sense.

I agree that Ramblin' Thomas seems to be the main influence here, though that means one can hear Lemon Jefferson in there too. I was less familiar with this song than other Willie Reed material like Dreaming Blues, and now I want to play it! Having played some irregular Lemon material, this song sounds totally normal to me.  ;D


Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Reed Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2008, 09:43:13 AM »
Thanks for the help, Andrew.  Both of your suggestions make more sense than what I had, and I will re-listen.  I hope you do figure this one out!  I didn't mean to suggest it was impossible, though it would certainly be a challenge to make it sound fully inhabited and natural.  I'll hope to hear it at Port Townsend.
All best,
Johnm

 


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