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Boys you know now if I were you, you know I'd quit gamblin, do like I do... let it go... follow up on me... gamblin, it will ruin you, now good boys, let's all be the same way, like I am - Peetie Wheatstraw Numbers Blues

Author Topic: Lucious Curtis Lyrics  (Read 3184 times)

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Offline Pan

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Lucious Curtis Lyrics
« on: September 01, 2008, 04:25:37 PM »
Hi all.

I wonder if you could help me with this song, since I'm having trouble to figure it out.

I really like the way Curtis sings, and the guitar playing is very nice too, with Willie Ford on the 2nd guitar. I believe that one of the guitars is in dropped D. There are some very nice fills, and each chorus seem to end in a DMaj7 chord, which is a little odd in a blues song...

Anyway any help is much appreciated. There seems to be very little discussion about Curtis on the Internet, so any knowledge is also heartily welcomed.

The song can be heard at "Mississippi Blues, Library of Congress recordings 1940-1942, Travelin' Man TM CD 07"

Cheers

Pan

Edited to remove a set of lyrics full of mistakes and omissions. For the definitive version, see dj:s post below, provided by him and uncle bud.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008, 12:58:00 PM by Pan »

Online dj

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2008, 04:39:41 AM »
Hi, Pan

Here's what I hear.  there were a lot of differences, so I'll copy my entire set of lyrics.

Babe I went and I stood up on some high old lonesome hill
Babe I went and I stood up on some high old lonesome hill
And looked down on the house where I used to live

I wakes up every morning, babe, with leaving on my mind
I wakes up every morning, babe, with leaving on my mind
Well, the woman that I'm lovin' treat me so unkind

I have a brownskin woman, boys her front tooth crowned with gold
I have a brownskin woman, boys her front tooth crowned with gold
Well I wouldn't mistreat her just to save nobody's soul

Well my Mama she told me, boys, when I was leaving home
Now my mama she told me when  when I was leaving home
Said "Son you may go, but you're gon' be treated wrong"

Spoken:  Yeas, man

Instrumental

I said bye, bye babe, I'm gon' to leave your bad luck town
Now bye, bye baby, I'm gon' to leave your bad luck town
You's a dirty mistreater, don't mean no good nohow

Now listen sweet mama, I ain't gonna be here so long
Now listen sweet mama, I ain?t gonna be here long
You?s a dirty mistreater, down the road I?m gone.

I wake up every  morning, babe, with leaving on my mind
I wake up every  morning, babe, with leaving on my mind
Well the woman that I'm lovin' treat me so unkind

I got woman in the bottom, I got two out on the hill
I got woman in the bottom boys, two out on the hill
Now when I get sick they pay my doctor bill.

Instrumental

I'm gon' leave you walking, babe the chance is I'll catch a ride
I'm gonna leave you walking, babe, chance is I'll catch a ride
If I never no more see you, you'll be satisfied

It certainly is a great song.  I'm glad you mentioned it, as it made me realize that I'd missed that CD when I ripped all my prewar blues to iTunes!

Edited to pick up corrections from uncle bud.

 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008, 12:18:38 PM by dj »

Offline Pan

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2008, 05:44:31 AM »
dj, I can't thank you enough!!! :)

Cheers

Pan

Edit: I believe, at least the U.S. Weenies can listen to the song on this site: http://www.rhapsody.com/luciouscurtis , should you not have the recording.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008, 06:34:07 AM by Pan »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2008, 07:19:51 AM »
A great tune, been on my to-learn list for ages. According to Amazon, the Travelin' Man CD has been discontinued. Don't know if that's the case. However, several of the Lucious Curtis and Willie Ford tracks can be found on the Deep River of Song/Alan Lomax Collection from Rounder. Specifically the "Mississippi - The Blues Lineage" disc (Rounder11661-1825-2), which has "High Lonesome Hill" in better sound quality than TM, and "Mississippi - Saints and Sinners" (Rounder 11661-1824-2), which has two tracks, including a tantalizing 1 minute 45 second version of "Stagolee." If the TM CD is indeed out of print, that's a shame, as most of the tracks are not to be found on Document, and the Deep River of Song discs leaves several tracks out (perhaps they're on other volumes?). Lucious Curtis is worth hearing in his entirety, IMO. I agree, Pan, I really like his singing, and his playing is very upbeat, very dance-oriented, great time.

He seems to be another mystery, for the most part. Here's what the notes from The Blues Lineage CD have to say about him (Recorded in Natchez, Miss., Oct 19 1940):
Quote
Little is known about Lucious Curtis. What he told John A. Lomax about himself is somewhat dubious -- and virtually nothing is known of his partner, Willie Ford. Lomax described Curtis as "a honky-tonk, guitar-picking Negro, living on a precarious income from pick-ups at dance halls." Ford was said to hold "a regular job at a big sawmill."

Curtis may not have been from Natchez at all, since later resident musicians do not recall his name; his music has stylistic resemblances to the blues of artists from Jackson and the Delta. He had formerly worked in a logging camp, a typically itinerant occupation, but had injured his back, which probably caused him to concentrate full time on music. He was hesitant to record, because he claimed he had gone to New York to make records with Bo Carter and had been "gypped" out of a song by another singer, perhaps also Carter, but he was still hoping to sell one of his songs "to NBC." No discographic trace of these experiences can be found, however, and it appears almost certain that this 1940 field session was his only recording.

The melody of "High Lonesome Hill" resembles that of Tommy Johnson's 1928 recording of "Canned Heat Blues." Curtis plays some guitar figures associated with Johnson in the key of D in standard tuning. Willie Ford probably also plays in D position but his dominant seventh-chord "turnaround" clashes with Curtis's D chord. In 1951, the brothers Luther and Percy Huff recorded in Jackson a somewhat similar-sounding duet, "1951 Blues". The Huffs had known Tommy Johnson, who for many years was also based in Jackson. Bo Carter, who at that time was living in the Delta, had known him as well.

I'm not sure it's Ford's turnaround that's clashing here. I think Curtis is the better musician, and is likely playing the lead parts and singing, as many of the riffs come as smoothly integrated responses to the vocal, with Ford simply strumming chordal accompaniment. Anyone know otherwise? There's a great solo in there, too. And while this song does somewhat resemble Tommy Johnson, it's Johnson revved up for juke joint dancing. Has anyone heard the Luther and Percy Huff song 1951 Blues referred to above?

I'll just add an excerpt from the notes to the "Mississippi - Saints and Sinners" CD, which discusses Curtis's "Times Is Getting Hard":

Quote
In 1928, Bo Carter, another Mississippi guitarist with whom Lucious Curtis had once been associated, recorded a version of a song related to this one, "Good Old Turnip Greens," but with more emphasis on minstrel-style humor and racial stereotypes. White southern singers also performed versions of this tune during the Depression.

And re. his version of Stagolee:

Quote
Curtis at least gives evidence of having traveled somewhat in other parts of Mississippi and perhaps farther afield. His melody and two-line stanza structure for the traditional folk ballad "Stagolee" link his version to several others later recorded by New Orleans pianists.

A shame it only goes on for 1:45, as it's a very catchy version.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008, 07:55:56 AM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2008, 07:52:41 AM »
Dealing with the lyrics in a separate post for clarity. The lyrics are actually transcribed in the Deep River of Song disc (the series has great booklets).

1.1:  BABE, I went and I stood UP on some high OLD lonesome hill
1.2   BABE, I went and I stood UP on some high OLD lonesome hill

Curtis is another "r" inserter, like Bo Carter with whom he's alleged to have hung out. He sings "high old" as "high'r old" ("high r'old"?). He does it again in verse 8 when he sings "two'r out on the hill".

2.1  I wakes up every morning, babe, WITH leaving on my mind
2.2  I wakes up every morning, babe, WITH leaving on my mind
2.3  Well the WOMAN that I'm lovin', treat me so unkind

3.1 I have a BROWNSKIN woman, boys, HER front tooth crowned with gold
3.2 I have a BROWNSKIN woman, boys, HER front tooth crowned with gold

After verse 4: Spoken: YES, MAN...

5.1 I said bye bye, BABE...

6.3 You's a dirty mistreater, down the road I'm GONE

7.1 I wake up every morning, BABE...
7.2 ditto
7.3 Well the WOMAN that I'm lovin'...

8.3 Now when I get sick, THEY-EE pay my doctor bill (CD transcription has this as THEY EVEN pay but I don't hear it)

9.1 I'm gon' leave HERE walking, BABE, the CHANCE IS I'LL CATCH A RIDE
9.2 I'm gon' leave you walking, BABE, CHANCE IS I'LL CATCH A RIDE
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008, 07:58:19 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Pan

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2008, 11:18:10 AM »
Thanks for the additional information, uncle bud (you're uncle bud again? :)).

Regarding the tuning, I believe that some of the bass runs go down to the low D, giving away the dropped D-tuning instead of standard, on the main guitar.

I also believe that the main guitar strums the Dmaj7 chord on the end of each chorus (x-x-0-2-2-2). Or could it be an A6 (x-0-2-2-2-2) ?
I suppose you could substitute this with an A13 (x-0-2-0-2-2) which also has the F# as the top note, if you want a more V7-dominant-chord type sound to it. I'll have to see if I can get accustomed to Dmaj7, which sure is original. :)

Thanks again guys.

Pan

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2008, 11:43:47 AM »
Has anyone heard the Luther and Percy Huff song 1951 Blues referred to above?
Yep, I've got it on a 70s Mamlish LP Home Again Blues (check out Stefan's Mamlish disco) and from memory the sleeve notes made the same connection with Tommy J as well as the Curtis LoC recording. Will unearth and give a listen.

FWIW the first Flyright release of their LoC deal were the Lucious Curtis/Willie Ford/George Boldwin recordings (Mississippi River Blues SDM 230, 1973 - this time see Stefan's Flyright discography). There's an interesting sleeve note by John Cowley based upon the Lomax field notes he photocopied whilst there. If I get time I'll scan them as JPEGs and see if Stefan can put them up for folk to read.

Online dj

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2008, 12:19:49 PM »
Thanks for checking my checking of pan's lyrics, uncle bud.  I think your suggestions are correct and I've made the changes in my copy of the lyrics.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2008, 05:50:39 PM »
I forgot to mention the Rounder disc has about 30 seconds of conversation after the song between Lomax and Curtis, basically talking about his not recording in New York.

Offline Pan

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Re: Lucious Curtis, High Lonesome Hill -help needed
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2013, 05:13:03 PM »
I thought it might be of interest to add a YouTube link to "High Lonesome Hill":



And to Luther and Percy Huff's "1951 Blues", also discussed in this thread.



Cheers

Pan

Offline Johnm

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Stagolee-Lucious Curtis and Willie Ford
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2013, 08:47:27 PM »
Hi all,
Lucious Curtis and Willie Ford were recorded by Alan Lomax doing their version of "Stagolee".  Like Hogman Maxey's version, it is of the 8-bar variety, without a refrain, though it has an altogether different melody and rhythmic feel than Maxey's version.  It's remarkable how different these versions of "Stagolee" have been from each other.  It's a shame that a train wreck in the second solo may have made the duo give up on the rendition sooner than they might otherwise have done.  Here is the performance, with an exceedingly strange accompanying video.



It was late last night, I heard my bulldog bark
Stagolee and Billy De Lyons, they was arguin' in the dark

Stagolee, he told the devil, "Come on, let's have some fun.
You get your pitchfork, I'm gonna get my .41."

Stagolee, he was a bad man, now boys, if you don't know
Stagolee, he would get you wherever you may go

Now I looked last night, at Stagolee when he comes
He told his girls, "Come on, let's have some fun."

Stagolee went runnin' to his mother, holding up his right hand
Said, "Look-a-here, Mother, I got to kill me another man."

SOLO

Stagolee, he was a bad man, and he did not live in town
Stagolee had a good woman, didn't allow nobody around

SOLO

Come on, now people, let's go down to Stagolee's home
If he's startin' his thing I sure ain't gonna be there long

All best,
Johnm


« Last Edit: March 06, 2022, 01:57:10 PM by Johnm »

 


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