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Author Topic: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics  (Read 6050 times)

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Offline Johnm

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William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« on: April 25, 2005, 05:28:22 PM »
Hi all,
"Jimmy Bell" is a great, spooky one-chord number, recorded by "Cat Iron" (William Carradine) for the folklorist Frederick Ramsey, Jr. in the 1950s.  You can find out more about "Cat Iron" on the "Looking for Music" thread in the Jam Session.  I taught "Jimmy Bell" at Port Townsend and the EBA Bluesweek camps two summers ago, and just found lyrics I had transcribed in my guitar case.  Here goes:



   
   Jimmy Bell's in town
   Oh Lord, he's walkin' around
   He's got greenbacks enough, sweet babe,
   To make a man a suit
   Make a man a suit, make a man a suit,
   He's got greenbacks, enough, sweet babe,
   Make a man a suit.

   Jimmy Bell told the sisters,
   "Oh, you need not shout
   If you don't pay your monthly fees
   I'm gonna turn you out
   Gonna turn you out, gonna turn you out
   If you don't pay your monthly fee
   Gonna turn you out.

   Jimmy Bell in the pulpit
   The Bible in his hand
   Oh them sisters sitting back in the corner cryin',
   "Jimmy Bell my man.
   Jimmy Bell my man, Jimmy Bell my man."
   Oh them sisters sitting back in the corner cryin'
   "Jimmy Bell my man."

   Jimmy Bell told the sexton,
   "Go and tone the bell,
   'Cause some of these old members here
   Sure is going to hell.
   Sure is going to hell, sure is going to hell,
   'Cause some of these old members here
   Sure is going to hell."

   Jimmy Bell told his wife
   Told his wife that night,
   "If the times don't get no better here
   Up the road I'm goin'.
   Up the road I'm goin', up the road I'm going,
   If the times don't get no better here
   Up the road I'm goin'."

This one is on the Juke, I know, and it is an especially strong trance tune, a little bit similar to Robert Wilkins's "Rolling Stone".  And as John D. observed on the Great Singers thread, Cat Iron was an outstanding singer.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 20, 2014, 01:44:17 PM by Johnm »

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Lyrics for "Jimmy Bell"--William "Cat Iron" Carradine
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 06:23:52 PM »
Yeah I know that one, it's on one of the Smisthonian Folkways recordings albums.

Offline Johnm

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William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 04:04:17 PM »
Hi all,
William "Cat Iron" Carradine was recorded by Frederick Ramsey, Jr. in 1957 in Natchez, and a Folkways album was put out of tunes from that session.  Cat Iron was a wonderful singer and really effective guitarist.  "Tell Me, You Didn't Mean Me No Good" shows how an accompaniment that makes effective use of space and works well with singing can do the job so beautifully.  The LP that this performance came from is no longer available, but Smithsonian Folkways will burn custom CDs of items from the old Folkways catalog, and Cat Iron's album would certainly be worth taking that trouble to get.  I'll attach a video of the performance and add a video of his performance of "Jimmy Bell" to the post two back in this thread, where that song's lyrics are transcribed.



Tell me, you didn't mean me no good
Tell me, you didn't mean me no good
Tell me, little woman, you didn't mean me no good

Don't your house look lonesome, your biscuit roller done gone
Don't your house look lonesome, your biscuit roller done gone
Don't your house look lonesome, you find your baby done gone

Got a little old mama, long tall mama, too
Got a little old mama, long tall mama, too
Tell my little old mama what my long tall mama can do

Got something to tell you, make the hair rise on your head
Got something to tell you, woman, make the hair rise on your head
I got something to tell you, make the springs cry on your bed

All best,
Johnm


« Last Edit: April 20, 2014, 01:32:11 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2014, 03:46:27 PM »
Hi all,
Cat Iron recorded "Got a Girl in Ferriday, One in Greenwood Town" backing himself out of E position in standard tuning.  I remember reading in the notes to the old LP that prior to being recorded, William Carradine had been saved and was playing and singing religious songs only.  With a little prodding at the recording session, though, be brought out some of the blues he had sung in the past, and almost without exception, they were really tough.  I felt, hearing him, that he may have been a person who felt a very strong tug in both directions, the Devil's Music and the Lord's Music.  That sort of internal conflict usually results in a fraught sort of performance, whichever of the two types of music is being played, much as you see in the music of Son House.  Here is a video of Cat Iron's performance of the song:



Got a girl in Ferriday, one in Greenwood town
Got a woman in Ferriday, one in Greenwood town
Got a favorite, down Natchez-on-the-hill

I'm-a tell you women, just how to keep your man at home
I'm-a tell you women, just how to keep your man at home
You got to Eagle Rock him whilst he Sally Long

Tell me 'way down in Lou'siana, hoodoos over there
Tell me 'way down in Lou'siana, hoodoos over there
Says, I'm goin' to Helena an' have my fortune told

Says, I went to the gypsy, had my fortune told
Says, I went to the gypsy, had my fortune told
"You got a tailor-made woman, she ain't no hand-me-down."

I don't want no black woman, fry no meat for me
I don't want no black woman, fry no meat for me
Boy, she studies evil, she's liable to poison me

I'm-a tell you something, what a Lou'siana woman will do
I'm gon' tell you something, what a Lou'siana woman will do
She'll steal your man and she don't care what she'll do

You can always tell when your woman got another man
You can always tell when your woman got another man
Tell, your meals aren't regular, your house ain't never clean

Edited 5/2 to pick up correction from Waxwing
Edited 5/3 to pick up correction from uncle bud

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 10:17:15 AM by Johnm »

Offline waxwing

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2014, 04:21:00 PM »
Boy, you're right Johnm, that sure is rough. Thanks for posting the YT vid.

I think you might put brackets around the word "heaven" in the 3rd verse. It sounds to me like it could be the name of a town, like Havelin or Hamlin, or something. Not being familiar with the territory I don't have any solid suggestions, but it does sound like there's an "l" in there.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2014, 04:24:35 PM »
Thanks for the tip, Wax.  I had thought he might be speaking of an actual place, that is to say, one in Mississippi or Louisiana.  I didn't hear the "l" but I'll re-listen.
EDITED TO ADD:  Checked Louisiana, and I'm going with Hammond for the correction.  Good catch, Wax.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 04:44:06 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2014, 05:18:33 PM »
I've heard and sung this line as "Says, I'm goin' up to Helena an' have my fortune told", all jammed together with swallowing of syllables etc.

(Hey Waxy!)


Offline Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2014, 06:17:11 PM »
I'm going to stick with Hammond, uncle bud, because I think it sounds closer to what he sings, because it is in Louisiana, unlike Helena, and because it is comparatively closer to Natchez, where Cat Iron was from, than Helena, which is way north from there.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2014, 07:02:12 PM »
I do hear an L most times, like Wax, though could not say for certain. Just some more food for thought. Ferriday was originally Helena Plantation and the town name was intended to be that but was deemed too confusing. Some more info on the Town of Ferriday website: http://www.townofferriday.com/custom/webpage.cfm?content=content&id=73


Quote
By 1827, the plantation was being operated by J.C. Ferriday, who had come South after his first wife died and in 1868 had married his second wife, Annie Hyde Pendleton of Natchez. They had five children.

Originally Helena Plantation
Mr. Ferriday died in 1894, and Mrs. Ferriday moved to Natchez. Helena Plantation, as it had come to be known, was sold to the Farm Land Company.

A year later, in 1895, the plantation was sold to the Southern Land company, and by 1903 it was in the hands of still a third company -- the Realty Investment Company.

For a number of years, Helena had been a flag stop for the shipment of cotton and other native products. The post office, however, was located at Hulda, two miles away.

The Texas and Pacific Railroad and the Memphis, Helena and Louisiana Railroad (later Missouri Pacific) set up their workshops in 1903 and 1904. They asked the Realty Investment Company to survey the land for a town, and this survey was begun in 1903.

Robert Calhoun, in his History of Concordia Parish, says the town was laid out on parts of Sections 27, 28, 29 and 57 in Township 8N, R. 9E. He says Section 57 had been a Spanish grant confirmed to Jonathan Tompson, and the other sections had been public lands.

Named Ferriday
The town was to have been named Helena after the plantation, but this was too confusing because there was already a railroad town -- Helena, AR -- so a new name was selected -- Ferriday.

Finally on Oct. 24, 1906, Governor Newton Crain Blanchard proclaimed Ferriday an incorporated village.


Offline Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2014, 10:16:18 AM »
Hi uncle bud,
Re-listening some more this morning I heard the "l" in there and finally heard the "Helena-an'" you described in your first post.  I will make the change.  Thanks for the historical background, too. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2014, 02:16:43 PM »
Hi all,
Cat Iron recorded "Poor Boy, A Long, Long Way From Home" accompanying himself in Vestapol with a slide, as many or most versions of that song have been played.  He spends a lot of time playing time in between his verses, just vamping.  What a tremendous singer he was.



I'm a poor old boy, I'm a long, long ways from home
I'm a poor old boy, I'm a long ways from home
I'm a poor old boy, I'm long way from home

Ain't got nobody to feel and care for me
Ain't got nobody to feel and care for me
Says, all I had done caught the train and gone

Says, I went to the depot, I looked up at the sign
Said, I went to the depot, I looked up at the sign
Said, nothing I see would bring my baby back

Vicksburg on a high hill, N'awleans just below
Vicksburg on a high hill, N'awleans just below
If she don't come tomorrow, next day be my boat

Tell, if you don't want me, whyn't you tell me so?
Woman, if you don't want me, whyn't you tell me so?
If you don't want me, whyn't you tell me so?

All best,
Johnm

Offline cru423

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2014, 05:04:29 PM »
"If she don?t come tomorrow, next day will be my boat".

I?ve heard this lyric one other time in a very different song by none other than Sleepy John Estes. It?s a very unusual lyric and SJE only ever used it once, I think. It was on the Delmark recording of "City Hall Blues". A very hard recording to get a swift copy. It?s not on itunes, Youtube or Spotify. I haven?t heard this recording in a long long time, but I always interpreted the line to be,

"If she don?t come tomorrow, the next day will be my (go)"--"Go" here being a signal to move on from one place and move on to another meeting place. Johnm, can you trace this line to any other song? I can?t make out what Cat Iron is saying here, it could be "boat" or it could be "go" or maybe "goal". Idk.

Offline Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2014, 05:21:19 PM »
Hi cru423,
I've not heard the line in any other song and had not heard it before.  It really does sound like "boat" to me, especially at the front end of the word, though he may elide the "t" at the end.  I took the meaning of the line to be that the "she" in the tagline preceding the word in question refers not to his departed lover, but the boat he is waiting on to catch a ride to New Orleans, which sounds like it will get there when it gets there, if not tomorrow then the day after. 
All best,
Johnm

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2014, 08:17:59 AM »
Hi all,
William Carradine accompanied himself with a slide in Vestapol for the hymn, "Well I'm In Your Hand".  As is so often the case with hymns accompanied with a slide, the slide is often used to finish vocal phrases.  The one album Cat Iron recorded was just about equally divided between sacred and secular songs.



Well, I'm in your hand, I'm in your hand, I'm in your ---
Well, I'm in your hand, I'm in your hand, I'm in your hand
A-throw your loving arms around me ---
Oh Lord, I'm in your hand

Well, I died, I died, I'm in your ---
Well, I died, I died, I'm in your hand
A-hrow your loving arms around me ---
Oh Lord, I'm in your hand

Well, I've got the Word, I've got the Word, I'm in your ---
Well, I've got the Word, I've got the Word, I'm in your hand
A-throw your loving arms around me ---
Oh Lord, ---

Well, I'm in your hand, I'm in your hand, my Father cares
Oh, I'm in your hand, I'm in your hand, my Father cares
Well, throw your loving arms around me ---
Oh Lord, I'm in your ---

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 08:21:11 AM by Johnm »

Offline cru423

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Re: William "Cat Iron" Carradine lyrics
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2014, 05:41:42 PM »
Johnm, after looking it up a little more closely, I?ve found the John Estes reference. It is from "Married Woman Blues", some of which happens to be sung in the middle of "City Hall Blues" on the recording I was remembering. Someone transcribed the lyrics of the original recording in the Estes thread a while ago: http://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Married_Woman_Blues

"if she don?t come tomorrow, the next day will be my goal"--both songs are talking about a train, Cat-Iron singing about the Vicksburg train recorded in the '50s, "Got a Girl in Ferriday one in Greenwood" was melodically similar to the Vicksburg blues theme, so it?s cool that the Vicksburg train turns up in "Poor Boy". Estes was singing that in the '30s, who knows if in relation to the Vicksburg train.   

 


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