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It's a bad wind that never change - Blind Lemon Jefferson

Author Topic: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words  (Read 40456 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« on: May 01, 2004, 01:56:09 PM »
Thought I'd transfer this over from the old Yahoo site in case we lose all our hard work in some server upgrade. Feel free to start arguing all over again? :P



Dixon & Godrich entry for session is:

Geeshie Wiley, v; acc. prob. own g.
Grafton, Wis. c.March 1930

L-257-4 Last Kind Words Blues? Paramount 12951
L-261-1 Skinny Leg Blues?Paramount 12951
Matrices L-258 to L-260 inclusive are untraced.

Work in progress, phrases in doubt are *asterisked*.
Possible alternatives at end.

The last kind words I heared my daddy say
Lord, the last kind words I heared my daddy say
?
If I die, if I die in the German war
I want you to send my body, send it to my mother'n law
?
If I get killed, if I get killed, please don't bury my soul
I cry just leave me out, let the buzzards eat me whole
 
When you see me comin' look 'cross the rich man's field
If I don't bring you flour I'll bring you *bolted meal*
 
I went to the depot, I looked up at the sun
Cried, some train don't come, Lord, be some walkin' done
?
My mama told me, just before she died
Lord, *sister*, daughter, don't you be so wild
?
The Mississippi river, you know it's deep and wide
I can stand right here, see my *face* from the other side
?
What you do to me baby it never gets outta me
*I may not see you after* cross' the deep blue sea

Alternative theories:
 
bolted meal: broken dreams; Bolton meal, beaujolais? :)
sister: sit there
face: babe
I may not see you after: Ah, mean iron steamer have to
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 12:10:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline PattonsDaimon

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2004, 01:38:41 AM »
Hi Rivers.  Nice transcription.  A while back I did this for another thread.  Let's see what we think....

http://www.guitarseminars.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/001898.html
"To be is to be the value of a bound variable." -- W.V. Quine

Offline Rivers

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2004, 11:58:48 AM »
Hi PD, and a big welcome to the list. [edite: oh wait, you've been here for a while. Welcome anyway!]

It was a collaborative effort, several of us were listening to it for a couple of weeks? :o The three transcriptions are pretty close. The phrases in question remain:

"I'll bring you (bolted meal?)"
"Lord (sister, daughter?)"
"Looked up at the sun (or sign)"

And that last line is very intriguing, I still like the "mean iron steamer" for poetic imagery but was outvoted.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2005, 03:10:33 PM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2004, 06:38:01 PM »
Quote
And that last line is very intriguing, I still like the "mean iron steamer" for poetic imagery but was outvoted.

You were extremely lucky you were not placed in a straight jacket and carted away.

What could be more poetic than looking across the mississippi and seeing your own face? ... ooooh! gives me goose bumps.

 :P

« Last Edit: May 04, 2004, 06:44:59 PM by Slack »

Offline mr mando

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2004, 01:47:41 AM »
I hear "If I don't bring you flowers I'll bring you beaujolais". I like the guitar arrangement so much!

Offline frankie

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2004, 04:07:12 AM »
I just spent some time digging through the old Yahoo archives (man...? the search utility is useless!) and came up with Dirty Red's post that initially introduced the flour/bolted meal line and put it into context.? A damn fine post:

Quote
I've missed out on any wrangling you all have done with this in the past, so I'm sorry if I'm going over old ground, but if I may.....

The wife and I (this is her main music too) had a listen at this after we got home from work today. We agreed that the very last word more-or-less rhymes with "field" - "meal" being in keeping with the flour imagery. She then said "something like bolton?" and I got very excited because Bolton is a town associated with Ms. blues, being the home of the Chatmon family. A check of the map put it at or just outside the southeast corner of the Delta, between Vicksburg and Jackson. It was entirely feasible that a local mill or mills produced "Bolton meal." But I decided to check the word "bolted" which I'd never heard in this context, and it's real - bolted meal has from its coarse state been passed through a bolt, or kind of sifter. In that context the sentiment is one of love - she's promising her lover that from across the rich man's field - and presumably from his kitchen pantry - she'll bring him the best she can manage to get.

That's kinda poetic too. Anyway, like I said, sorry if I'm late to the game here.

John aka Dirty Red
« Last Edit: April 20, 2005, 03:12:21 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2004, 06:26:12 AM »
I hear "If I don't bring you flowers I'll bring you beaujolais".

LOL. Brilliant.

And welcome to weeniecampbell.com, Mr. Mando.


Offline mr mando

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2004, 04:38:08 AM »
Thanks for the welcome, uncle bud. I was eventually directed over to here from the IGS forum and was lurking for quite some time already.
I think the use of "beaujolais" fits the German War (first world war, with lots of americans fighting the germans in france) quite well. But what do I know?

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2004, 06:56:50 AM »
Well, what do I  know.  ;D  The war angle re. wine hadn't occurred to me. I don't know that there's much chance a country blues singer would be using regional wine appellations but now I'll have to go back and listen.

cheers,
uncle bud
« Last Edit: May 06, 2004, 06:59:17 AM by uncle bud »

Offline frankie

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2004, 02:17:50 PM »
When you see me comin' look 'cross the rich man's field
If I don't bring you flour I'll bring you *bolted meal*

I'm really convinced that Geeshie's singing "bolted meal" here - for comparison, consider this line to a similar line in Luke Jordan's Cocaine Blues:

I got a girl, she works in the white folks yard
She brings me meal, God knows she brings me lard
She brings me meal, honey she brings me lard
Brings me everything, baby, that a girl can steal

Interesting how Geeshie's scene is told from the opposite perspective and builds on the sentiment, demonstrating how much she cares about her lover.? LJ's sentiment seems to me to be basically a boast, but GW is all about the lengths she'll go to to get the best she can for her lover.? Kind of makes a nod to the sentiment in LJ's verse, but also turns it on its head...
« Last Edit: April 20, 2005, 03:14:17 PM by Johnm »

Offline Montgomery

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2004, 03:14:30 PM »
I've always heard it as

Lord, precious daughter, don't you be so wild

Okay, now who can play this song?  Seems to be in standard, E, with an Am chord thrown in there, and I think the b string is a little flat.  But I cannot come even close to getting the sound that Ms. Wiley gets.  Has anyone had better luck than I have?  I've heard theories about alternate tunings, but I'm not convinced.

Offline Cambio

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2004, 05:28:31 PM »
I'd like to put in a vote for beaujelais.  I'm not buying the bolted meal theory, although there is a precedence for it.  For the first part of the song, she is singing from the perspective of her lover.  It's her lover who is going off to fight in the "German War", it's her lover who wants the buzzards to eat him whole.  He's going away and he will hopefully  be returning.  To me, it doesn't make much sense for Geeshie to tell her lover to look for her "across that rich man's field", that doesn't fit with the first part of the song.  She's not coming back to him.   If the guy was coming back alive from a war in Europe, I don't think that he would bring her a bag of "bolted meal", that's just not romantic!  A barrel of bolted meal wouldn't be romantic.  If he survived the war, which he is terrified about, it would be cause for celebration.  Champagne doesn't rhyme with bolted meal, but Beaujelais sort of does.  According to the wife, who knows these sorts of things, beaujelais is a fairly common wine, like burgundy.  It makes sense to me that he would bring her a souveneir from his travels. 
I could be wrong, I have certainly been wrong before.

Offline frankie

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2004, 10:07:49 PM »
Lord, precious daughter, don't you be so wild

That sounds to me like a real possibility.

Okay, now who can play this song?  Seems to be in standard, E, with an Am chord thrown in there, and I think the b string is a little flat.  But I cannot come even close to getting the sound that Ms. Wiley gets.  Has anyone had better luck than I have?  I've heard theories about alternate tunings, but I'm not convinced.

Sounds to me like the key of E, std tuning, tuned down a bit.  The V chord (B7) is really more like a Bm7 since it omits the 1st fret of the D string and instead playes the D string open.  The IV chord is more obviously minor - A minor.

I've never heard anyone really sound quite the way GW does.  In a way, I can't even imagine it happening - it sounds like she was in a real state of grace at the moment it was recorded - maybe she never sounded quite that way again...

Let's face it - even if you could nail the guitar, then you'd be faced with the singing...  a whole 'nuther nut for cracking...

Offline frankie

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2004, 10:20:01 PM »
I'd like to put in a vote for beaujelais.

The problem I have with beaujolais is that it doesn't sound at all like what she sings...  whatever she sings, it clearly incudes a long 'e' sound in the final syllable.

I also think that from this verse to the end of the song, GW is singing from her own perspective, whereas up to this point she's been describing the things her lover told her before leaving.  GW is using the flour/bolted meal to tell her lover how important he is to her, which in my humble opinion, a clever way of using a rather prosaic collection of objects in a very poetic (dare I say romantic?) way...  varying mileage and all that...

Offline Cambio

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Re: Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2004, 07:00:10 AM »
"You say tomato, I say tomato". 
I think she's saying a southern version of beaujalais, sort of like beaujalee.  Anyway, I'll argue my case next week at Clifftop. 

I worked out a version of the song in open D, although I know that's not the way she plays it, it was more suited to my singing voice.  The basic root of my version is the D minor you get from fretting the 2nd and 3rd strings at the first fret.  I alternate the bass and play the melody on the first four strings.  I put it together after I first heard the song, but before I had the recording.  I always liked the way that it worked out so I kept it in my repetoire.

Tags: Geeshie Wiley 
 


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