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Alley Special--Wright Holmes


Hi all,
This track by Wright Holmes, "Alley Special", was just put up on youtube. Wow, is it exciting! He's one of the players, like Arthur Crudup or Jimmy Lee Williams, who makes me glad for an electric guitar in the Country Blues. It was recorded in 1947 in Houston, evidently, and most of the lyrics come from Texas Alexander, either his "Justice Blues" or "Polo Blues", and probably some others, too. There is such excitement in Wright Holmes' vocal, he reminds me a bit of Dan Pickett or Tommy McClennan. I love the looseness of his structure and phrasing, too--this is kind of an "anti-set piece". Here is "Alley Special":


You know now, mama, take me out, alley, now mama, before the high water rise, y'all know I ain't no Christian, 'cause I once have been baptize'
Lord, I went to church this morning, yes, and they called on me to pray
Well, I fell down on my knee, on my knee, gee, I forgot just what to say

You know and I cried, "Lord, my Father, my Jesus,", I didn't know what I done, I said "that would be the Kingdom Come". I said, "if you got any brownskin women in Heaven, will you please to send Wright Holme one."
Listen, Matthew know I ain't never been to Heaven, oh this black boy, I have been told
You know, they tell me got women up there, women up there, gee, with their mouth all lined with gold

I betcha I get my cream from a creamer, you get your'n from a Jersey cow, all right! I betcha I get my meat from a pig, I bet you get your bacon from a no-good sow, tell the truth!
Lord, because the woman I'm goin' on lovin', she's a holy woman, and she beats that tambourine
And every time me and that sister go to lovin' each other, hoo-well boy, she talk that only one tone to me

You know I decide to get me nine little heifer, and I'm gonna get one little Jersey bull, Lord, don't you hear me now, mama, keep on a-talkin'
Yeah, I decide to get me nine little heifers, yes, I'm gonna get me one little Jersey bull
I'm gon' keep on a-churnin', churnin', yeah! 'til my churner done got full (Spoken: Well, I b'lieve I'll churn a little bit! Yeah!)


Now, some of these here days, I'm gonna have me a Heaven of my own, Lord, don't you hear, mama, keep on a-pleadin' to you
Baby, I said some of these here days, I'm gonna have me a Heaven of my own
Have a gang of these brownskin women, yeah, they're gon' be gathered all 'round my throne

All best,


What a great performance.  Alley Special, in it's loose structure and humorous stream of consciousness lyrics reminds me of Guitar Shorty - John Henry Fortesque - who Peter Lowry recorded for Trix in Elm City, North Carolina, in 1973.

That's a great connection to make, dj! Yes, Wright Holmes shares that characteristic with Guitar Shorty of commenting on what he's singing as it unfolds, exhorting himself. It sure draws me in as a listener.
All best,


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