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Rosa Lee Hill Lyrics

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Johnm:
Hi all,
It seems (I hope) that Rosa Lee Hill is beginning to get recognition as one of the giants of Mississippi blues, or Country Blues in the larger sense.  Her bending of the next lower string up to a semi-unison or "corrupted unison" with its open string upper neighbor is utterly distinctive and a mainstay of her sound.  It's also very challenging to do with anything like the accuracy and expressive inflection with which she did it.  This is from her recording of "Bullying Well", made by Alan Lomax on September 25, 1959 in the home of Fred McDowell.  Note the unusual structure of the lyrics in verses two and three and their later repetitions:  it is a relative commonplace to elide the end of lines and have the guitar "sing" the missing words, but in these verses it is the front end which is elided.  I'm hard put to think of other places I've heard that done.  Here is her performance: 



Ain't goin' down to your bullying well no more
Bullying well no more

Miss my water, 'til my well went dry
'Til my well went dry

Miss my faro, 'til he say "goodbye"
'Til he say "goodbye"

I had wings like, jaybird in the air
Jaybird in the air

Make my nest, in my rider's hair
In my rider's hair

Ain't goin' down, bullying well no more
Bullying well no --

Miss my water, 'til my well went dry
'Til my well went dry

Miss my faro, 'til he say "goodbye"
'Til he say "goodbye"

Faro, what's the matter now?
What's the matter now?

Treatin' your faro, like you used to do
Like you used to do

Hey-ey-ey, ey-ey-ey-ey
Ey-ey-ey-ey
Ey-ey-ey-ey
Ey-hey-hey-hey

All best,
Johnm

Johnm:
Hi all,
"Count The Days I'm Gone", record August 22 or 23 in 1967 by George Mitchell, finds Rosa Lee Hill playing in cross-note tuning at Bb, which is to say that her sixth string, tuned to E in standard tuning at pitch is dropped a full diminished fifth, half an octave.  People, that is LOW!  It sure makes for a spooky sound.  Her tunes remind me a little bit of those of Thelonius Monk in that they always seem to have exactly the right amount of musical information/content, and when you have a signature lick as cool as hers for this tune you'd be crazy not to play it over and over and over.  She wasn't crazy.  Here is her performance:



Be here walkin', talkin' to my self

Yes, you see my rider, tell 'im to hurry home

Now, I know you gon' miss me, baby, baby, when I'm gone
Hey-ey, know you're gonna miss me, baby, when I'm gone
Babe, I'm leavin', count the days I'm gone

Think I'm sinkin', look what a hole I'm in

All best,
Johnm

Johnm:
Hi all,
Rosa Lee Hill recorded "Roll and Tumble" for Alan Lomax in 1959 and again, for George Mitchell, in 1967.  Here is the version she recorded for George Mitchell--as the rendition goes along she switches from two-line stanzas to single-line stanzas.  Her notion of blues lyrics seems to have pre-dated the AAB lyric convention for 12-bar blues.



INTRO

Rolled and I tumble, cried the whole night long
Rolled and I tumble, cried the whole night long

What you gon' do when your trouble get like mine?
What you gon' do when your trouble get like mine?

Rolled and I tumble, cried the whole night long
I rolled and I tumble, cried the whole night long

Roll and I tumble, cried the whole night long

What you gon' do, your troubles get like mine?

Worried now, won't be worried long

Worried now, won't be worried long

SOLO

All best,
Johnm

Longsands:
Hi John,

This got me thinking that quite a few of the old songs I?ve been digging through for the Fred McDowell Lyrics thread follow a two line lyric format, either AA (Milk Cow Blues, Jim Steam Killed Lula, You Drove Me From Your Door), AB (Big Fat Mama) or a bit of both (Red Cross Store, one version of Dankin?s Farm), sometimes packed out with repetition of part of the A or B line.  Perhaps this form was relatively popular in the Hill Country compared to other areas?  (Or maybe I?m reading too much into a small sample of songs?)

David

Johnm:
Hi David,
I had not remarked upon the 2-line stanza being particularly characteristic of Hill Country Blues, but you might be on to something.  I'll pay more attention to lyrics as sung by folks like R. L. Burnside and Robert Belfour, in addition to Rosa Lee Hill and Fred McDowell.  Good thought!  I do know that Texas Alexander, in his more "work song" mode, on tunes like "Levee Camp Moan" sang two-line stanzas.
All best,
Johnm

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