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When I was comin' up, of course I had no idea as to playin' music for a livin', I just sing the blues 'cause I _had_ to - it was just somethin' I had to do - Muddy Waters

Author Topic: Down Home Boys Lyrics  (Read 7826 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Down Home Boys Lyrics
« on: December 29, 2007, 02:55:59 PM »
Hi all,
The Down Home Boys recorded "Two Little Tommie Blues" at a session in Chicago on April 8, 1927.  The group consisted of Papa Harvey Hull on vocals, Long "Cleve" Reed on vocals and guitar, and Sunny Wilson on guitar.  As has been posted in the "Mystery Titles" thread, I believe this song would have been more accurately titled, "Two Little Toneys Blues", as that matches much better with what Papa Harvey Hull was singing on the record.  Both guitarists are playing out of E position in standard tuning, and their sound is very well worked out.  The vocal phrasing on the song is what I would describe as variably long.  Every measure that contains vocal pick-up notes accommodates them via a two-beat addition to the measure.  Moreover, as a result of held harmony notes, or "dwells", many of the vocal phrases are long in the middle.  The vocal qualities in the singing, turns of phrase and treatment of time would seem to suggest older musicians.  They also sound like an experienced working unit, with no real surprises except the end of the song, which sounds like it caught them a little unprepared.  "Carry", as used in the next-to-last verse means to take someone with you.  Jackson is in central Mississippi and McComb, pronounced "MacComb" by Hull, is in southern Mississippi.



   Got two little toneys, can't hardly tell 'em apart
   Got two little toneys, can't hardly tell 'em apart
   One is my lover, the other 'un is my heart

   Got two little toneys, they is black and brown
   Got two little toneys, they is black and brown
   One lives in the country, the other 'un lives in town

   When you see me comin', put your man outdoors
   When you see me comin', put your man outdoors
   Well, I ain't no stranger, I been here before

   When you see me comin', bake your biscuits brown
   When you see me comin', bake your biscuits brown
   Put your meat in the cupboard, turn your damper down

   When you see me leaving, hang your head and cry
   When you see me leavin', hang your head and cry
   When you see me leaving, hang your head and cry

   Got a mind to ramble, ain't gon settle down
   Got a mind to ramble, ain't gon settle down
   Gonna move to the city, carry these girls on down

   Can you tell me how far, Jackson to McComb?
   Can you tell me how far, Jackson to McComb?

All best,
Johnm

 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 10:08:57 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 03:17:05 PM »
Hi all,
The Down Home Boys recorded "Don't You Leave Me Here" at the same session and with the same personnel as "Two Little Tommie Blues".  The duet sound on "Don't You Leave Me Here" is especially pretty and is discussed in the Country Blues Guitar Duets thread.  Melodically and lyrically, the song is in the same family as Charlie Patton's "Elder Green Blues" and Leadbelly's "Alabama Bound".  The phrasing employed by the Down Home Boys is unusual and perfectly consistent throughout the course of their rendition.  It works out as follows, working out of cut time, 2/2, with two big beats per measure unless otherwise indicated, or 3/2 for the three-beat measures.

   |      I      |       I        |       IV (3 beats) |

   |      I      |      I (3 beats) |        I          |          I          |

So it is that the Down Home Boys wind up with a seven-bar form in which the third and fifth bars have three beats.  Described in this way, one would think that the effect is jarring or clumsy-sounding, but the flow of the song is perfectly natural, and you wouldn't want it any other way.  In such an instance, altering the song to make it metrically consistent would have made it less natural.  Metrical consistency really doesn't count for all that much in the music of this era.  This is a beautiful performance.



   SPOKEN:  All right, boy, let's go back home!

   Alabama bound, Alabama bound,
   If the boat don't sink and the stack don't drown, Alabama bound

   Boats up the river, runnin' side by side
   Well, you got my lovin', kind sweet babe, guess you're satisfied

   Don't you leave me here, don't you leave me here
   Well, I don't mind you goin', sweet lovin' babe, leave a dollar for beer

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  Hey, hey!  Let's go, boys!

   How long, how long, has this train been gone?
   How long, how long, sweet lovin' babe, has this train been gone?

   Kate Adams got ways, just like a man
   Well, she steals a woman, sweet lovin' babe, everywhere she land

   Alabama bound, Alabama bound
   If the boat don't sink and the stack don't drown, Alabama bound

   Can you tell me how long, Jackson to McComb?
   Well, it's fifteen miles, sweet lovin' babe, maybe, to my home

   Don't you leave me here, don't you leave me here
   Well, I don't mind you goin', sweet lovin, babe, leave a dime for beer

   Alabama bound, Alabama bound
   If the boat don't sink and the stack don't drown, Alabama bound

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  Oh, do it, boys!

   Alabama bound, baby, turned around
   If the boat don't sink and the stack don't drown, Alabama bound

All best,
Johnm
         
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 10:09:41 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2007, 12:17:00 PM »
Hi all,
The Down Home Boys recorded "Gang of Brownskin Women" on April 8, 1927, at the same session that yielded "Two Little Tommie Blues" and "Don't You Leave Me Here".  "Gang of Brownskin Women" is an 8-bar blues, and is sometimes long at the back end with a little perseverating signature lick.  I believe both guitarists are playing out of E in standard tuning, but it is possible that the second guitarist is playing out of F in standard tuning.  This song was later covered by Cripple Clarence Lofton and probably other musicians.  The lyrics are interesting here, but the biggest surprise is probably the Jazz Age scat-singing, which really seems to come out of left field.  I'd appreciate any help with the bent bracketed word; I'm not at all sure I have it right.



   SPOKEN:  Gang around, boys, I want to tell you about my brownskin gals!

   Got a gang of brownskin sweet women, got a gang of high yellas, too
   I got so many womens I don't know what to do

   Got a Monday, Monday girl, she works it on Broad and Main
   Got a Tuesday one, says, she issue my spendin' change

   Got a Wednesday, Wednesday girl, she works it on Broadway Square
   Got a Thursday one, take me each and everywhere

   Got a Friday, Friday girl, she brings me a bottle of beer
   Got a Saturday one, well, she better not catch me here

   Now, gang around, girls and boys, explain my Sunday to you
   Wear those patent leather slippers, mama, those navy blue

   Well, I love my sweet baby, I'll tell this world I do
   And I hope some day she'll learn to love Daddy, too

   Huh, huh, huh-huh, huh, huh, huh
   Huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh

   Keedala, keedala, kudala, keedala, kah, kah-kah, kah, keedala, kah, kah
   Kah-kah, kahdala, kuh-kuh, kudala, kow

   Got a gang of brownskin sweet women, got a gang of high yellas, too
   And I hope some day she'll learn to love Daddy, too

   Keedala, keedala, kudala, keedala, ku, kaah, keedala, kah, kah
   Kah-kah, keedala, kuh-kuh, kudala, kee

   Huh, huh, huh-huh, huh, huh, huh
   Huh-huh, huh-huh, huh, huh-huh, huh

Edited, 12/30 to pick up correction from Andrew.
Edited 12/31 to pick up correction from banjo chris.

All best,
Johnm
 
       
 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 10:10:26 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2007, 12:33:13 PM »
Thanks for working these out, John. These guys are a lot of fun, with a nice variety of tunes that have a really distinct sound to my ears. Too bad they didn't record more. I don't know that I'd be able to place them in any "school" or "region" just by listening. It really is a pre-blues kind of sound. Original Stack 'O Lee Blues is one of my favourite takes on the Stacker Lee legend. And Don't You Leave Me Here is just a wonderful example from the Alabama Bound family of songs.

It's hard to hear that word in Gang of Brownskin Women clearly, but I'm hearing "sun" more than "sum". What I am actually hearing so far is "sonnet", pronounced sort of like "sunnet", but that doesn't make sense to me.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2007, 03:24:43 PM »
Thanks for the help, Andrew.  I will get back to the tune and try out "sonnet".  I don't think that it is necessarily implausible in the context, could be a kind of grandiloquent way for Papa Harvey to refer to his spiel.  I agree that the Down Home Boys didn't have any obvious sort of regional sound, and that their sound seems pre-Blues all the way.
Edited to add:  I re-listened, and "sonnet" sounds right on to me, Andrew.  I will make the change.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 30, 2007, 05:26:05 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2007, 03:48:08 PM »
Hi all,
The second song that the Down Home boys recorded on April 8, 1927 was "Hey! Lawdy Mama--France Blues", a kind of unwieldy title.  Like two of the other songs recorded that day, this one features a lead guitarist playing out of E in standard tuning, with a second guitarist working out of E or F in standard tuning.  The song features a rhythmically snappy little interior refrain that falls over the IV chord, which causes the second four-bar phrase of the 12-bar form to go long, to five bars.  The fifth verse lacks the refrain, and judging from the seamless way the ensemble plays through it, it sounds as though it was always done that way.  This song is really fun to sing, and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band did a very lively version on their first album, many years ago.



   Have you ever took a trip, babe, on the Mobile line?
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, hollerin' 'bout the Mobile line
   That's the road to ride, baby, ease your trouble in mind

   Well, I got a letter, babe, this the way it read
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, hollerin' 'bout the way it read
   "Come home, come home, baby girl you love is dead."

   Well I packed my suitcase, bundled up my clothes
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, hollerin' 'bout bundle up his clothes
   When I got there she was layin' on the coolin' board

   Well, they took my baby, honey, to the buryin' ground
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, hollerin' 'bout the buryin' ground
   You oughta heard me hollerin' when they let her down

   Well, there's two black horses standin' on the buryin' ground
   Well, I turned around to see if they'd run on down

   When you go to Heaven, gonna, babe, gonna stop by France
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, holler 'bout stop by France
   Gonna stop by there just to give these girls a chance

   Baby, when I die, don't bury Daddy at all
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, holler 'bout bury Daddy at all
   Just pickle Daddy's bones, baby, in alkyhol

   Well, the boat's up the river, babe, and she won't come down
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, holler 'bout she won't come down
   Well, I b'lieve to my soul they be four days waterbound

   Baby, when I die put Daddy's picture in a frame
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, holler 'bout-a in a frame
   So when Daddy's gone you can see him just the same

   Hello, Heaven, Daddy want to use your telephone
   Hey, Lordy mama-mama, hey, Lordy papa-papa, hollerin' 'bout the telephone
   So he can talk to his Daddy anytime away he's gone.

All best,
Johnm

   
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 10:13:41 AM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2007, 05:36:52 PM »
   Now, gang around, girls and boys, explain my [summons] to you
   Wear those patent leather slippers, mama, those navy blue

For what it's worth, I've always heard the bracketed word as "sonnet," like Andrew.

There's a lot to like about the Down Home Boys - one of my favorite moments from them is in this song...  at the top of the riff, the guitarist playing in E plays the E chord as a "D" shape moved up two frets, with the open 4th string in the bass, sounding at D.  Weird!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2007, 05:40:34 PM »
Hi all,
The Down Home Boys were back in the studio in May of 1927, and recorded "Mama You Don't Know How" at that session.  The song is a re-working of Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan", and is a good example of a cover completely re-casting a song into an ensemble's own style. Both guitarists are working out of E in standard tuning here.  Once again, there are many interesting lines that I've not heard before; the tag line on the first verse is kind of a shocker.



   SPOKEN:  Play it, boys, while I'm singin'!

   Oooh, ain't got no mama now
   Oooh, ain't got no mama now
   Gonna be another war, don't need no mama nohow

   Lord, out late last night, mama, everything was still
   Lord, out late last night, baby, everything was still
   H'it were me and my sweet baby, easin' 'round the hill

   Lord, I'd rather be dead, mama, moldered in the clay
   Lord, I'd rather be dead, baby, moldered in the clay
   See my sweet baby, treated this-a-way

   Oooh, mama, you don't know how
   Oooh, baby, you don't know how
   Got another sweet baby, Lord, she's shakin' it now

   Gonna sing this verse, mama, ain't gon' sing no more
   Gonna sing this verse, baby, ain't gon' sing no more
   'Cause the landlady's liquor, Lord, it's comin' too slow

All best,
Johnm
   

   

   
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 10:14:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2007, 05:57:22 PM »
Hi all,
The Down Home Boys recorded "Original Stack O'Lee Blues" in May of 1927.  Part of the performance's notoriety derives from something that has nothing to do with its musical qualities:  it is considered by many people who would know such a thing to be the rarest Country Blues record that has been found.  It is the only one of the Down Home Boys recordings to be played in D position in standard tuning, and hits a surprising III chord (F#) in the fifth and sixth bars.  It is in the rarely encountered "Ballad Blues with refrain" category, like John Hurt's Frankie" and Mance Lipscomb's "Freddie".  It is notable for having Stack O'Lee kill Billy with a knife rather than shooting him, and the unusual reversal of who is begging for his life in the third verse, which I believe to have been done in error.  The harmonizing on the refrain has a real Hillbilly sound to me.



   Stack O'Lee was a bully, he bullied all his life
   Well, he bullied through Chicago town with a ten cent pocket knife
   REFRAIN:  Let it go, Stack O'Lee

   Stack says to Billy, "How can it be?
   You arrest a man just as bad as me, but you won't 'rest Stack O'Lee"
   REFRAIN

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  A bad man!

   Stack says to Billy, "Don't you take my life.
   Well, I ain't got nothin' but two little chirrens and a darlin' lovin' wife."
   REFRAIN

   "One is a boy and the other 'un is a girl."
   "Well, you may see your children again but it'll be in another world."
   REFRAIN

   Standing on the corner, well, I didn't mean no harm
   Well, a policeman caught me, well, he grabbed me by my arm
   REFRAIN

   Stack O'Lee and Billy had a noble fight
   Well, Stack O'Lee killed Billy Lyon one cold dark stormy night
   REFRAIN

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  Oh, play it, boys!

   Standin' on the hilltop, his dog began to bark
   Well, it wasn't nothin' but Stack O'Lee come creeping in the dark
   REFRAIN

All best,
Johnm
   


   
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 10:15:21 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2007, 06:00:12 PM »
I agree with you, Frank.  That flat VII note in the bass is kind of a shocker, and as regular as clockwork--definitely not something hit unintentionally.  I think these guys were aces.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2007, 06:59:39 PM »
I'm pretty sure that word isn't sonnet -- it's Sunday, which makes a lot more sense in the context of the song.
Chris

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2007, 07:37:14 PM »
Chris, Sunday sure makes a lot of sense - I think you're right. I had just been about to post that I wondered whether he sang "explain my Sunny to you", as in Sunny Wilson, the guitar player. But this makes much more sense and seems obvious now as you say in the context of the song.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2007, 12:16:35 AM »
It is notable for having Stack O'Lee kill Billy with a knife rather than shooting him, and the unusual reversal of who is begging for his life in the third verse, which I believe to have been done in error. 
John, if I may interject for a moment, Cecil Brown in his discussions of this particular version (Stagolee Shot Billy, Harvard UP 2003) puts forward the following hypothesis. Make of it what you will: ;D

Hull's Stagolee is a "bad" bully in the sense of "good." Even a bully who fights a policeman?even a black policeman?is a hero.

Hull changes the traditional version both by having Stagolee talk about his two children and by making Billy Lyons a policeman and Stagolee his potential victim. This is an excellent example of how a performer can turn a traditional motif to his own use in a particular situation. Billy is the policeman who tells Stagolee that if Stagolee sees his children again it will be in the other world?that is, after Billy has killed them. This switch in roles makes Billy the cold-hearted killer.

Although it was recorded in a studio (as a race record) in I927, Hull's version is close to one that was probably sung by wandering hoboes along the Mississippi levee. It makes concrete what life was like for blacks under Jim Crow. Stack O' Lee's strength lies in his ability to do the nearly impossible: he can take a pocket knife and keep three policemen away. He is a hero for many of the people who would like to do the same thing. Consequently, the stock phrase "cruel Stack O'Lee" (the apparent meaning) begins to take on a more implicit meaning: "courageous Stack O' Lee." People belonging to the culture of the black levee workers would have understood the intended and implicit meanings of this ballad.

Offline dj

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2007, 03:27:40 AM »
Quote
I'm pretty sure that word isn't sonnet -- it's Sunday, which makes a lot more sense in the context of the song

I agree with Chris.

 For what it's worth, Cripple Clarence Lofton clearly sings "Sunday" in his version of the song.

Offline frankie

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Re: Down Home Boys Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2007, 05:23:22 AM »
I'm pretty sure that word isn't sonnet -- it's Sunday, which makes a lot more sense in the context of the song.

It does make a lot more sense - I never realized until now that the way I heard it left their Sunday wholly unexplained...  duh.

Thinking about their "Gang of Brownskin Women" again - another thing that's totally unique, or at least idiosyncratic, is the "scat" singing.  Seems like wordless singing in most recorded music of the time is expressed as humming or uses syllables like bo-de-do or beedle-bum...  b's and d's - instead, Hull and Reed use these kinda hard h and k sounds...  Maybe I'm the only one who finds that strange, but it seems totally outside the norm for a recording professional of the time.

 


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