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You know, I want to write a book about my life... I don't want to tell you too much until I've got a chance to have it printed. Apart from my music, my main interests are fishing and making bicycle rides - Tampa Red's excuse to Jacques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard for not wanting to talk to them in any great detail, October 1959

Author Topic: Troubles -Kilby Snow  (Read 4675 times)

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Offline Pan

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Troubles -Kilby Snow
« on: May 31, 2011, 06:34:07 PM »
This is maybe not a cb tune strictly speaking, but I figured your expertise would cover it nevertheless.

I can't figure out what is being singed between the crocheted lines. I've dug out most of the transcription from the internet, but in my mind "balling the Jack", which supposedly refers to a dance movement doesn't make sense in the context. I'm hearing what is transcribed in the YouTube comments, i.e. "barring a jug", but I don't understand it, and wonder if this is correct either. Anyone on the know here?

Troubles -Kilby Snow (?)

Instrumental

Oh Lordy me and oh Lordy my,
See when you haven?t got a dime,
When your trouble is so deep
That you can't eat nor sleep,
Lord see when your trouble's just like mine,
See when your trouble's just like mine.

Instrumental

And I asked the Captain for a job,
?Son what can you do??
?I can line a track,
I can ball the jack (bar a jug? / fire a jack? )
I can pick and shovel, too,
I can pick and shovel, too."


Instrumental

And it's oh Lordy me and oh Lordy my,
See when your trouble's just like mine.
When your trouble is so deep
That you can't eat or sleep,
Lord see when your trouble's just like mine,
See when your trouble's just like mine.


Here's the YouTube video:



Any help would be greatly appreciated.

And if you're looking for a great song with only two chords, seek no further!  :)

Cheers

Pan

p.s. any possible knowledge of the song origins is most welcome too.

Edited as suggested by Johnm, Uncle Bud and Banjochris.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 11:38:17 AM by Pan »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2011, 07:50:24 PM »
Hi Pan,
I can't get the video to play continuously, it keeps winding itself up, but I'm certain Kilby is saying "ball the jack", not "bar a jug".  Virtually the same verse was used in Tom Ashley's recording of "Walking Boss".  I don't know the origin of "Troubles", it may be Kilby's own number, but it seems to combine elements of the song Dock Boggs did as "Sugar Baby", "Red Rocking Chair", and "Walking Boss".  Kilby sure was a soulful singer, and what an amazing autoharp player he was.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 04:47:29 AM »
Thank you Johnm, I edited my post accordingly.

Here's the Dock Boggs tune "Sugar Baby":



Cheers

Pan


Offline uncle bud

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2011, 05:21:25 AM »
Yeah, that's a great performance from Kilby Snow. The first time I saw it I think I watched it at least a half dozen times in a row.

I agree that it's "ball the jack". I would also add one minor correction: "That you can't eat NOR sleep"

Offline Pan

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2011, 06:39:17 AM »
Thanks uncle bud.

Cheers

Pan

Offline Johnm

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2011, 10:40:35 AM »
Hi all,
For some reason, Kilby's performance of "Troubles" played smoothly today, Pan, and now it sounds like he's saying "bar a jack" to me.  He may have mis-spoke, meaning "ball the jack", or he may have meant he can use a bar to jack and move the steel rails in the course of lining track.
Re-listening to "Troubles" I realized that melodically, it's even closer to "Red Rocking Chair" than I thought.  Both tunes employ a pentatonic scale that spans the notes of a major scale as follows, from the low point of the melody, which is the point of resolution at the end of each verse, up to the high point:
   VI-I-II-III-V-VI-I
Most often in "Red Rocking Chair" the portion of the melody that sits over the VI note is harmonized with a VI minor chord, and the portion of the melody that sits over I-II-III-V is harmonized with the relative major, the I chord.  In "Troubles", Kilby harmonizes the portion of the melody that sits on the VI note with a IV chord (the third of which is the VI note) and harmonizes the portion of the melody that sits on I-II-III-V with the I chord, as in "Red Rocking Chair".  Thus, what is almost exactly the same melody is given a really different sound through Kilby's choice to harmonize that very strong VI note in the melody with the IV chord every time he comes to it, so that the song sounds as though it is beginning and ending on a IV chord, kind of unresolved.
If you have a chance to hear Kilby's version of "Shady Grove", he makes a harmonizing choice there, as well, that is very much akin to this one, and it ends up taking away that "lonesome" modal sound you might normally associate with "Shady Grove".  Some Bluegrass bands do "Shady Grove" this way, too.
I don't know if Kilby's solo Folkways album has been re-issued yet on CD by Smithsonian Folkways, but it is a wonderful record.  The original version included an autobiography by Kilby that was written in a sort of free verse ( I don't know the technical designation) that was very beautiful.  The album has tremendous variety, with hymns, blues, old ballads, autoharp showpieces, and terrific singing throughout.  When Kilby was first "discovered", he was living near where I grew up, in Nottingham, Pennsylvania. I was fortunate to see and hear him play quite a lot, and did my very first recording with him, live from the Union Grove Fiddler's Convention, as part of his group, "Kilby Snow and his Hillbilly Buddies", which in addition to Kilby featured Russ Barenberg on guitar and me on fiddle.  That's a long time ago.  I miss him.  He really loved blues, and I'm sure some of you have seen the film from the Newport Folk Festival in the mid-60s, where Kilby is right in the middle of things with Booker White, Son House and many others.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2011, 11:17:22 AM »
Try lip-reading the vid when he sings...well, whatever he's singing! The 'b' word is definitely 'bar'. Then he closes his lips to voice a 'b' or a 'p' at the end of the second word. Now, I know that wouldn't make any sense at all. It's just an observation. Try it! Anyway, he probably means 'ball the jack', whatever his lips say?

Offline banjochris

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2011, 11:30:14 AM »
He's saying "fire a jack."

Offline sustaireblues

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2011, 12:04:43 PM »
That's a great video Pan!
Now I want to see your guitar interpretation of it.
Seems like a one chord song to me, what am I missing?

Joe

Offline Pan

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2011, 05:54:09 PM »
Thanks again for all the replys.

Wonderful memories Johnm, thanks for sharing!

Banjochris, what would "fire a jack" mean then?

Sustaireblues, if you re-read Johnms' post, you'll notice that Kilby uses the I and IV chords for this song. In the key of D major they would be the D major and G major chords.

Cheers

Pan

Offline banjochris

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2011, 07:15:03 PM »
Pan -- I looked it up and one of the slang uses of "jack" in railroading is just to refer to a locomotive or engine, so he's saying he can work as a fireman, stoking the engine, etc.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2011, 07:59:46 PM »
Good for you, Chris!  That's cool.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2011, 10:09:00 PM »
Good for you, Chris!  That's cool.

Not as cool as you getting to play with him! I'm jealous -- I'm going to have to dig out my Folkways LP; haven't listened to it in a long time.
Chris

Offline Pan

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2011, 11:39:20 AM »
Pan -- I looked it up and one of the slang uses of "jack" in railroading is just to refer to a locomotive or engine, so he's saying he can work as a fireman, stoking the engine, etc.
Chris

Thank you Chris.

Cheers

Pan

Offline Johnm

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Re: Troubles -Kilby Snow
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2014, 05:07:51 PM »
Hi all,
I just wanted to add that Kilby's version of "Shady Grove" which is alluded to earlier in this thread is on the newly released "Music From The South" DVD from Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop.  If you admire Kilby's music, it is must-see stuff.
All best,
Johnm

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