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I had so much chicken 'till I heard a cluckin' in my sleep - Blind Joe Reynolds, Third Street Woman

Author Topic: Charley Jordan Lyrics  (Read 29914 times)

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Offline Janmarie

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Charley Jordan Lyrics
« on: January 15, 2004, 08:27:43 PM »
I've always liked the song keep it clean but was only familiar with the Dave Van Ronk version that I have somewhere on vinyl.  I think it starts out:

You want to get frisky, don't want to pay the price
Give me shot of whisky and fill it up with ice
Coca Cola, Lemon soda and a dish of ice cream
Take soap and water, baby for to keep it clean

I may have some of these lyrics wrong but think I'm close.
Eddie, a.k.a. Mr. Natural, did a version of this at PT Blues camp a few years back - almost a techno version which I thought was great.

I discovered by accident a couple of weeks ago that Charley Jordon wrote this (and I'm betting most of you already knew this).  I came across the music in a couple of books I have: Grossman's 'Legends of Country Blues Guitar' and another of his books, 'The Country Blues Guitar'.  This piqued my interest enough to check the Document Records site for anything on Charley Jordon and I ended up purchasing, " Charley Jordon the essential", which includes 2 versions of Keep It Clean. (I had previously purchased 2 other essential recordings from Document  - one on Ida Cox and the other on Victoria Spivey and am very pleased with the remastering on these sets).

OK - I'm finally getting around to my question.  The following 3 lines are how most of the verses for Charley Jordon's 'Keep It Clean' end:

Got her over, give him Coca Cola,
Lemon soda, sauce of ice cream,
Takes soap and water, for to keep it clean.

What's Charley saying here?  Is he alluding to something euphemistically that I'm missing (OK - I admit I can be rather naive)?  Or are these lyrics simply whimsical?  In 'Legends of Country Blues Guitar' Grossman says "The often whimsical songs Jordan himself recorded belie the violent world in which he apparently lived." 

Do any of you have any further insight?

Thanks.................Jan




Offline Slack

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2004, 12:39:16 PM »
Hi Jan,

Ain't it great when you discover the original -? for a song you've enjoyed for years?

I don't really have any insights for you on 'keep it clean' - I do remember discussing it, I think, in the old weenie list (I'll email Mark and try to get a copy to search) - but I think we just ended up scratching our heads as you are doing.? Maybe someone will rememer the discussion better than I.

You really do want to find some double entendre in this song with the Yas, Yas, Yas lines? - but I have to think the lyrics are just whimsy.

cheers,
JohnD
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 09:44:52 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2004, 09:39:46 AM »
Hi Janmarie,
I agree with John D., whimsy is a good word for this song's lyrics.  It has always struck me as a slightly naughty kid's song, sort of like Bo Carter's "Pussy Cat" or John Hurt's "I'm Satisfied".  I heard the lyric of the chorus as:
   Rode him over, give him a Coca Cola,
   Lemon soda, saucer of ice cream
   Take soap and water
   For to keep it clean
It is really a catchy tune, and kind of easy to get stuck on.
All best,
John

Offline Janmarie

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2004, 09:56:10 PM »
I really get caught up in the evolution of songs and I've loved this song for years.  Has been great to learn more about it.

I'm going to have to check out Bo Carter's "Pussy Cat" - I'm not familiar with it.  I've always loved "I'm Satisfied".

Thanks to both of you...........Jan Marie

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2004, 06:54:09 PM »
Jan,

I'd have to give the song another listen but I have played it (in what seems like a past life lately - geez I gotta play some guitar) and have always taken my cue from Dave van Ronk in the chorus and sung "Roll him over," "roll her over" or rolled. Will have to check more carefully.

edited to add "rode" actually makes more sense.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2004, 06:23:23 PM by uncle bud »

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2004, 02:21:25 PM »
Hi all:

Stefan Grossman published a partial transcription of Keep It Clean along with the lyrics in his first Counrty Blues Guitar instruction book (out of print?). I'll see if I can dig it out.

Alex

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2006, 01:18:42 PM »
Hi all:

I've been transcribing some Charley Jordan lyrics lately for some '31 songs and I thought I'd share

The first is Cheating Blues. This is a 12-bar piano-guitar duet with and unknown (to me!) pianist.

The song is played in standard tuning, key of E, capo IV. It has many of Charley's "signature licks"; the ending is identical to "Keep It Clean"



Cheating Blues
1931

Standard tuning, Key of E
Capo IV

1) Instrumental verse

2) I had a dream last night baby, that you were cheating on me (x2)
Because when you came home, the clock was striking three

3) So watch my dream baby and don't let it come true (x2)
Because if you do I will go ta cheating too.

4) Now cheating is a game that you women all love to play (x2)
But if you ain't very careful, cheating will carry you to your grave.

5) Instrumental break

6) Honey (Well it's), baby, baby please stop cheating on me (x2)
Because you've been cheating on me ever since we left Tennessee

7) You cheats on me baby, from morning until night (x2)
And then I hear you say baby, that you ain't treated right

8 ) Now I'm gonna tell you one thing baby, just what I am going to do (x2)
If I ever catch you cheating on me, things will be too tight for you.

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« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 09:52:21 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2006, 01:28:32 PM »
Quote
This is a 12-bar piano-guitar duet with and unknown (to me!) pianist.

The pianist on Cheating Blues is Peetie Wheatstraw.  With a few possible exceptions, the pianist on all of Jordan's songs where one is present, is Wheatstraw.

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2006, 02:11:54 PM »
Howdy:

Greyhound Blues is similar in accompanyment (piano-guitar) to Cheating Blues. The guitar is less prominent, taking a more rythum role.

The song is in E, Capo III (maybe the piano player didn't want to play in G# anymore!).

A good Canadian like myself enjoys the snow references in two verses.



Greyhound Blues
1931

Standard tuning, Key of E
Capo III

Intro

1) The Greyhound is comin', cain't you hear that motor run (x2)
I can hear the wheels rollin' like they never did rumblin' before

2) Well it's baby, baby, won't you please stop your cryin' (x2)
Because your daddy will be home if the Greyhound pulls off in time.

3) Now the snow from the sky will be fallin' down before long (x2)
But your dady's comin' home just to keep your little feet warm.

4) Now the wind is blowin' and blowin' snow in my face (x2)
Now when I get back to St. Louis, please don't have nobody in my place.

5) I went to the telephone and I pulled the reciever down (x2)
And I said lookout baby, or you daddy will soon be back in town.

6) When I hit St. Louis baby I know that I can't hardly take my time. (x2)
For tryin' to make it on back to that sweet gal I left behind.

Alex

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« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 09:53:16 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2006, 02:23:41 PM »

6) Honey, baby, baby please stop cheating on me (x2)
Because you've been cheating on me ever since we left Tennessee

I hear "Well it's baby, baby..." Especially the second time. First time could be Honey...

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2006, 03:01:35 PM »
Hey:

Keep It Clean #2 follows (as I remember) a virtually identical solo guitar accompaniment to Keep It Clean (why mess with a good thing I guess).

Keep It Clean #2
1931

Standard tuning, Key of E
Capo



1) Intro verse

2) I rode him to the river, rode him so fast
Ya couldn't see nothin' but his yas, yas, yas now
Chorus:
Roll him over, give him a Coca-Cola
Lemon soda, saucer of ice cream
Takes soap and water for to keep it clean.

3) If you want to hear an elephant grunt
You can take him down to the river then wash his trunk now.
Chorus

4) Up he jumped, down he fell
His chops flew open like a mussel shell now
Chorus

5) If you keep it dirty and I keep it clean
You don't know what keepin' it dirty means now
Chorus

6) I will tell you one thing that I mean
It sure takes soap and water for to keep it clean now
Chorus

7) Instrumental verse

8 ) The terriblest sight that I ever seen
Was a cook cookin' biscuits and his hands wasn't clean now
Chorus

9) You got a head like a lion, mouth like a goat
Every time you see's 'em 'e's lookin' for some soap now
Chorus

Outro

In the choruses, Jordan substitutes "Got" for "Roll" in Verses 3 and 4 and "You go" for "Roll him" in Verses5,6,8 and 9.

Alex

Note: edited to reflect correction/additions by dj and LeftyStrat below.

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« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 09:54:24 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2006, 04:24:43 PM »
Alex,

I think you inadvertently left out a verse between 7) and 8):

The terriblist sight that I ever seen
Was a cook cookin' business and his hands wasn't clean

I think your verse 8 is:

He got a mouth like a lion, mouth like a goat
Every time you see's 'im 'e's lookin' for some soap now

"Lion" is pronounced with the initial L kind of mumbled so it's halfway to am M, and the second syllable sounds almost like "own", with the o sounding as in "ouch", but I think it really adds up to "lion".

Thanks for the posts, I'm enjoying them!

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2006, 09:09:28 AM »
DJ and Unkie Bud:

Thanks for the help. I agree with all of your suggestions, although it sounds like Charley was passing a kidney stone while he was pronouncing "lion".
« Last Edit: February 15, 2006, 09:12:15 AM by Pyrochlore »

Offline LeftyStrat

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2007, 05:54:47 PM »
Alex,

I think you inadvertently left out a verse between 7) and 8):

The terriblist sight that I ever seen
Was a cook cookin' business and his hands wasn't clean


Hello,
If I may add something to the discussion, I've been listening to this tune quite a bit lately and I've been hearing "Biscuits" in place of Business in that line. Anyone else *maybe* get that?
Stop by and give a listen! :)

http://www.facebook.com/leftystratblues

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Charley Jordan Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2007, 08:51:48 AM »
Hello,
If I may add something to the discussion, I've been listening to this tune quite a bit lately and I've been hearing "Biscuits" in place of Business in that line. Anyone else *maybe* get that?

Hey Lefty:

I think your suggestion of "biscuits" for "business" is certianly correct, as well as making much more sense. Thanks for taking a look at this old thread. I wish more folks would do this. I'll make the change.

Thanks again,
Alex

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