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There's nothing magical about guitar playing. Being a good guitar player requires more finesse than factory work. It does not require as much finesse as being a good plumber - Andy Cohen (roughly), Port Townsend 2016

Author Topic: Curtis Jones Lyrics  (Read 3281 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« on: November 16, 2006, 04:35:59 PM »
Hi all,
I thought I would post the lyrics to the Curtis Jones song, "War Broke Out In Hell", to contrast it with Sylvester Weaver's "Devil Blues", and while I'm at it, I thought a lot of you would enjoy Jones's "Reefer Hound Blues", originally the other side of "War Broke Out In Hell".  I know next to nothing about Curtis Jones.  I know he was a singing pianist who emigrated to Europe and died there, I believe in the late '60s.  He recorded one album for Prestige Bluesville.  If there are two sides of the same record with more entertaining lyrics, I have yet to hear them.  Jones was a great, excitable-sounding singer, who placed his voice right at the top of his throat with a heavy, covered glottal sound.  His piano is excellent, too.  He had great time, and supported his vocals beautifully, as well as playing nifty fills.  These songs came my way via a third-hand burned CD so I'm sorry not to be able to supply more information on the artists.  "Reefer Hound Blues" has a really nice solo that might be lap steel; it's electrified slide in any event.  "Gage" is a slang for marijuana that you don't hear that much any more; it's what Louis Armstrong referred to the weed as.  Here is Curtis Jones' performance of "War Broke Out In Hell":



   "War Broke Out In Hell"

   Devil, don't start duckin' and dodgin' and turnin' out the lights (2)
   Some trouble might start and I've got to defend my rights

   The Devil hollered out "Breakfast!" and the big chef, he rung the bell (2)
   But when they put cornbread on my plate, that's when war broke out in Hell

   The Devil hollered out, "What in the hell can be going wrong?"
   The Devil, he hollered out, "What in the hell can be going wrong?"
   I had kicked over a table one mile-and-one half long

   "Now big Devil, keep still--little devil don't you even mumble or buzz
   Big Devil, you keep still--little devil don't y'all even mumble or buzz
   Darn, I will be a bigger devil than the Devil ever was!"

   I out with my pistol, and I covered the whole durned lousy crew
   I out with my pistol, I covered the whole durned lousy crew
   "I'll kill you big Devil, and all your young ones, too!"

   "Now, the deed to this palace is the only thing I want to see
   The deed to this palace is the only thing I want to see
   I'm going to make Mr. Devil sign over this Hell to me."

Here is "Reefer Hound Blues":



   "Reefer Hound Blues"

   I'm high off of my reefer, I'm nothing but a reefer hound (2)
   My gage has just 'bout got me, I believe I'll lay my body down

   My whole body's sent, and I feel like I'm a millionaire
   My whole body's sent, Lord, I feel like I'm a millionaire
   If I'm broke I still got money, if I'm hungry I don't even care

   I really like my gage, the weed you call the reefer tea (2)
   It's done sent my very body and it SURE feels good to me

   SOLO:

   The weed I been smokin', it has sent my very soul
   The weed I been smokin', it's done sent my very soul
   And nobody couldn't imagine, unless it was another cat who blows

   I'm high off of my reefer, I'm as high as I can be (2)
   I'm so doggoned high until the skies look low to me!

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: June 24, 2018, 09:24:13 AM by Johnm »


Offline Bunker Hill

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2006, 12:28:45 AM »
Well done John M.

For me Curtis Jones is a most underrated lyricist but for most blues fans of my generation the sameness of delivery has accorded him the tag of "boring". When I tell folk that I have everything he ever recorded and listen to it regularly, they just think I'm mad! During the 40s he lapsed into obscurity in Chicago and when Jacques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard went to see him in October 1959 this is what they reported in Jazz Hot:

"Leaving St. Louis Jimmy we headed out in search of Curtis Jones, a very fine blues pianist whose records have been virtually forgotten, even by his peers. His address at 3953 South Michigan Avenue proved to be an abandoned hotel. A group of black men were standing in the lobby and we asked them if they knew where we could find Curtis Jones. One of them nodded and took us through a maze of dark and gloomy corridors. At last he knocked on a door and a thin, gaunt man showed us into a tiny room.

?I'm Curtis Jones, I've been waiting for you.

?How did you know we were coming?

?Someone told me that there were two Europeans in town looking for blues singers. I'll be glad to help.

Jones readily told us the story of his life, then went and sat at an upright piano which stood in a corner. << You will see that I'm not finished. Listen carefully >>, he said, burning with pride.

Curtis gave us a small concert, lost in a world of his own. His fingers delicately caressed the keys, playing the piano with the velvety tone that characterizes his style. From his long, fine fingers came the whole history of Chicago blues and boogiewoogie. He sang his sadly appropriate Lonesome bedroom in an acid voice which recalled the late Leroy Carr. His was traditional blues of the best kind, and we were moved by the deep humanity and eternal beauty of his music.

At the end, he was crying. << Don't leave me, he said. I need someone to help me. I'm ready to come and play in Europe. Don't let me die in this awful hole. >> Even though we were completely upset, we told him we had to leave, and promised to write regularly and keep in touch with him."

Jones came to Britain in November 1963 and the following year Neil Slaven embarked upon a lengthy correspondence with Jones which was serialised over several issues of R&B Monthly the following year. I might try to find something appropriate to post in the main forum.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2006, 03:35:14 AM »
As a sidelight, Curtis Jones's prewar recordings were very ill served by reissues. In 1966 RCA issued an EP, and five years later two tracks appeared on a Kokomo Texas compilation. In 1980 the Dutch Oldie Blues released an entire LP but another decade had to pass before RST issued a further compilation. Finally in 1994 Document put out his "complete recordings" with booklets written by Victor Pearlin who rightly concentrated on Jones's lyricism. The magazines which bothered to review the set had little to say with the exception of the late Keith Briggs in Blues & Rhythm who nonetheless finished the appraisal, "A good solid set that will, unfortunately, appeal only to a limited group of collectors".

Offline Johnm

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2006, 08:40:52 AM »
Thanks very much for the additional information on Curtis Jones, Bunker Hill.  I am surprised that the quality of his lyrics and his very fine singing and playing have not resulted in more recognition of his work.  There is a great deal of excitement in his vocal delivery and his treatment of time.  Some musicians have these qualities, but most do not.  I'm certainly going to seek out more of his recordings.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2006, 09:40:37 AM »
Jones, like Walter Davis, recordings were extremely popular with the culture for whom they were made up until the Petrillo ban effectively stopped his popularity. Unfortunately for Jones the white enthusiasts of the 50s/60s just found his recordings "boring".

About a decade ago there was an Italian named Claudio Caponi who was religiously transcribing all his recordings and at any given opportunity tried to pursuade various blues discussion boards about the value of Jones's work. I think it all fell on deaf ears and I don't know what became of Claudio and his "mission".

Offline Johnm

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2006, 10:25:56 AM »
Hi all,
Another Curtis Jones song with interesting lyrics is his "Schoolmate Blues".  I have no discographical information on it, but based purely on the sound of it, he may be joined by Bill Broonzy, flat-picking out of C position in standard tuning.  Bunker Hill's comparison of Curtis Jones to Walter Davis in the last post is very apt when listening to this number, for it has much of Davis's distinctive harmonic feel.  It is essentially a one-chord piece with a sound that is more or less minor or modal.  Jones's time, phrasing and attack are exciting, and all his own.  His vocal delivery is much more intense than a reading of the lyrics without hearing his rendition might lead you to believe.  Here is "Schoolmate Blues":



   I wonder why my schoolmate packed up and went away? (2)
   I must go and find her on this very day

   I think about the days we used to have at school
   I think about the good times that we used to have at school
   I'd even think about the days that we broke our teacher's rule

   Lord, I've got schooldays on my mind
   Hey, everybody, I've got schooldays on my mind
   My schoolmate left me this mornin' and I cannot keep from cryin'

   When I was a schoolboy, they made me throw my books away (2)
   I told my teacher I'd be there tomorrow, but I've got to go today

   We played hide-and-seek together down in the piney woods
   We played hide-and-seeks together, down in the piney woods
   But now she's gone and hid from me, I believe this time for good

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 07:40:05 AM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2006, 11:52:01 AM »
Hi all,
Another Curtis Jones song with interesting lyrics is his "Schoolmate Blues".  I have no discographical information on it, but based purely on the sound of it, he may be joined by Bill Broonzy, flat-picking out of C position in standard tuning.  Bunker Hill's comparison of Curtis Jones to Walter Davis in the last post is very apt when listening to this number, for it has much of Davis's distinctive harmonic feel.  It is essentially a one-chord piece with a sound that is more or less minor or modal.  Jones's time, phrasing and attack are exciting, and all his own.  His vocal delivery is much more intense than a reading of the lyrics without hearing his rendition might lead you to believe.
B&GR4 gives Willie Bee (James) [sic] as guitarist and recorded at his second session which was for Bluebird Monday 11 October 1937.

Ironically for Jones the previous month the first song he cut (for Vocalion) was Decoration Day Blues which remained unissued until the 1980s whenTraveling Man issued it on a compilation. It's basically the same song as that which John Lee Williamson recorded five months later. Chicken and egg situation? Dunno but it certainly rankled with Jones in later years. But I digress...

Offline Johnm

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Re: Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 11:41:17 AM »
Hi all,
Finding that Curtis Jones cut, "Tin Pan Alley", on YouTube has revived my interest in his music, and I thought I'd transcribe that lyric.  The song certainly re-affirms my very high esteem for Curtis Jones' singing and playing, and most especially his lyric-writing, which is among the very strongest in the Blues.  For "Tin Pan Alley", Curtis Jones starts out with what looks as though it is going to be a chorus blues, with singing right across the first four bars and stops in the accompaniment.  When Jones gets to the fifth bar, where you'd expect the chorus to arrive along with the IV chord, he instead changes what he's singing for the remainder of the form with every pass through the form.  As a result, the content of the lyric is much denser than what one is accustomed to encountering in a 12-bar blues form.  Jones was a great groover, both as a pianist and as a singer, and would no more make miscues of scansion or rhythmic flow than would Chuck Berry.  Curtis Jones really was an ace musician, both in terms of execution and imagination.  Here is "Tin Pan Alley":



   Tin Pan Alley is a dirty place
   The very place my baby love to stay, Lord,
   Tin Pan Alley Blues is killin' me
   And it's the woman down there, that I really want to see

   She's little and cute, she's young and wild
   I just wanta hold her in my arms a little while, so that these
   Tin Pan Alley Blues can let me be
   'Cause life would be so sweet, baby, if you only would agree

   You see I love you for yourself
   You just the kind of woman that don't seem to care, Lord, and,
   Tin Pan Alley, baby, must be your home
   When it ain't nothin' down there, honey, but blood and bones

   SOLO (Spoken during solo: Yes, play it 'til 1972!)

   Tin Pan Alley, it's way across town
   Where the people kick the dog when the sun go down, mmm,
   Hurry up, baby, and please make up your mind (spoken:  Yes, yes)
   'Cause a woman like you, baby, is so durn hard to find

All best,
Johnm
 
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 07:41:28 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2012, 01:34:57 PM »
Hi all,
For "My Baby's Getting Buggish", Curtis Jones was joined by Willie B. James on guitar.  Curtis Jones turns in his normal strong performance.



I've got to do something, and do it fast
B'lieve I've got to move my yas-yas-yas, 'cause
REFRAIN: My baby's gettin' buggish, my baby's gettin' buggish
My baby's gettin' buggish, and I don't know what it's all about

I can't see, Lord, I can't tell
Why my baby keeps on raisin' hell
REFRAIN: My baby's gettin' buggish, my baby's gettin' buggish
My baby's gettin' buggish, and I don't know what it's all about

I try to do things to make her shout
But, still here she comes with her mouth poked out
REFRAIN: My baby's gettin' buggish, my baby's gettin' buggish
My baby's gettin' buggish, and I don't know what it's all about

SOLO

I can't see no peace at home
Somebody must be carrying my business on, because
REFRAIN: My baby's gettin' buggish, my baby's gettin' buggish
My baby's gettin' buggish, and I don't know what it's all about

I asked her, "How 'bout it?", but she won't explain
But she keeps doin' that same durn thing, you know
REFRAIN: My baby's gettin' buggish, my baby's gettin' buggish
My baby's gettin' buggish, and I don't know what it's all about

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2015, 01:24:26 PM »
Hi all,
I just found Curtis Jones doing "Stackolee" on youtube.  He had such a distinctive style.  This is evidently from a post-rediscovery recording of his on the Delmark label.  Did Jones mix up Stackolee and Billy in his next-to-last verse?  It seems likely.  I'm not at all sure I have the tail end of the opening line to verse three correct, and I'd appreciate correction corroboration from people giving it a close listen.  Here is his rendition:



INTRO SOLO

It was late, late one night, I heard my bulldog bark
He was barking at two catmen was gambling in the dark

It was Stackolee and Billy, two cats who gambled late
Stackolee, he threw seven, Billy swore he threw eight

Stackolee told Billy, "I'll let you go at that.
You done win all my money, now, brand new Stetson hat."

Stackolee went home and grabbed his .44
Says, "I'm going down to the barroom to pay this debt I owe."

Stackolee went to the barroom and stood in the barfront door
Said, "Don't nobody move." and pulled his .44

SOLO

Stackolee told Billy, "Please, don't you take my life.
I've got three little children and a very poor sickly wife."

Stackolee shot Billy, and he shot that boy so bad
When the bullet went through Billy, jump on out of the path

All best,
Johnm





« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 07:42:41 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Curtis Jones Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2015, 04:34:53 PM »
Hi all,
I discovered that youtube now has videos available of "War Broke Out In Hell" and "Reefer Hound Blues", so I added those videos to the first post in this thread, where the lyrics to those songs were transcribed.  They are pretty wild songs and very entertaining--check them out!
All best,
Johnm

 


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