WeenieCampbell.com

Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 02:32:37 PM

Title: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 02:32:37 PM
Hi all,
"Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home" is a song that has had a very wide circulation among Country Blues musicians, much as has "Railroad Bill".  I thought to do a thread collecting different versions of the song.  Just for the sake of clarity, simple inclusion of the phrase "poor boy" in a title or lyric does not place it in this song family.  For example, neither Booker White's version of "Poor Boy" or Willie Lofton's "Poor Boy" belong in this family, since they're altogether different songs.  In order to fall in the family, the phrase "poor boy, long ways from home" needs to featured prominently in the lyric.

Carl Hodges' "Poor Boy Blues" was recorded in Saluda, Virginia in 1979 by Kip Lornell.  Hodges accompanied himself out of E position in standard tuning.  The song is most often played out of Vestapol with a slide, but is played in other tunings/positions, too.  I like the roughness of Carl Hodges sound; it's not one I would normally associate with a Virginia player at all.  The way he just whacks the strings with his right thumb sounds really good to me.

Carl Hodges - Poor Boy Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mReoy_KWx8c#)

Poor old boy, stood on the road and cried
Poor old boy, stood on the road and cried
Poor old boy, got nowhere to --

Poor old boy, long ways from home
Poor old boy, long ways from home
Poor old boy, stood on the road and cried

Poor old boy, don't know which-a-way to go
Poor old boy, don't know which-a-way to go
Poor old boy, stood on the road and cried

SOLO X 2

Poor old boy, long ways from home
Poor old boy, long ways from home
Poor old boy, got nowhere to go

Poor old boy, stood on the road and cried
Poor old boy, stood on the road and cried
Poor old boy, got nowhere to go

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 02:35:26 PM
Hi all,
John Hurt played his version of "Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home" out of C position in standard tuning.  It has a raggy, danceable feel quite different from other versions of that song that I've heard.  John Hurt either didn't have many verses for the song or could only recall two when he recorded it.  His version of the song is unfamiliar to me, and I didn't know he played it.

Mississippi John Hurt - Poor Boy, Long Ways from Home.wmv (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dOcvQdv9fM#)

I'm a poor old boy and a long ways from home
Feel like I ain't got no friend
(guitar finishes verse)

SOLO

I'm a poor old boy and a long ways from home
I feel like I ain't got no friend
I'm a poor old boy and a long ways from home
I feel like I ain't got no friend

Oh please, please, let me stay all night
I'm a poor old boy and a long ways from home
Oh please, please, let me stay all night
I'm a poor old boy and a long way from home

SOLO

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 02:36:49 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.

Cat-Iron - Poor Boy A Long, Long Way From Home (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xIGuoXetDk#ws)

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
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Kokomo O on May 13, 2014, 03:24:59 PM
John, I agree you've got three great and disparate examples of the song there.

There are a couple of strange things about the Cat Iron version. First, in the second verse, while I agree that you've probably correctly transcribed the word "feel," it doesn't really make sense. As I listened, I thought he was going to sing "feed," and that you had it wrong, but I hear "feel" also.

Second, the stock line "Vicksburg on a high hill, N'awleans just below" is rendered just a little different than normal--it's usually Natchez down below. A little odd, because Natchez is pretty close to Vicksburg, but New Orleans is pretty far, and I don't think I've ever heard the line sung this way.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 06:32:00 PM
Hi Kokomo,
Yes, Cat Iron is singing "feel and care".  The more common complaint in lyrics is that the singer has no one to "feel my care".  Robert Johnson, Skip James and a host of other singers used that line.  I think Cat Iron was working off of that.
What's especially strange about Cat Iron not citing Natchez as being "just below" Vicksburg is that he was a resident of Natchez and recorded there.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 07:59:12 PM
Hi all,
Unlike most of the songs that Herman E. Johnson recorded, "Po' Boy" was what might be called a Blues Standard rather than an original number, though Johnson gave it plenty of individual touches.  He played it in Spanish with a slide, with the slide closely tracking the sung melody.  As he gets near the end of the song, from verse three on, he reiterates the last line of the form, messing with it and sometimes concluding phrases with the slide (indicated by a dash).  This vocal device of repeating the last line of a verse was often employed by Texas Alexander, whose voice bore some similarity to Herman Johnson's, though Johnson's voice is deeper than Alexander's.

herman e. johnson - po' boy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6w-ATVoFdU#)

   I'm the poor boy and a long ways from home
   I'm a poor boy and a long ways from home
   I'm a poor boy here and I ain't got nowhere to go

   I ain't got nowhere to lay my weary head (2)
   Rather than fer (sic) you to leave I would rather see you dead

   When I left her house, she followed me to her door (2)
   "You ain't got no money, man, I'd rather see you go,
   Man, I'd rather see you -----, and I'd rather see you go

   SOLO

   I am talking on that long distance phone (2)
   Tryin' to call my little gal but I think she been gone too long,
   I think she have been gone too -------

   Now, tell me, gal, what you want me to do (2)
   I tried so hard and I can't get along with you
   I just can't get along with ----, get along with ----, I can't get along with ---

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 08:02:39 PM
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Poor Boy Blues" at the same November of 1928 session as "Ramblin' Man", and like "Ramblin' Man", "Poor Boy Blues" was played lap-style slide in Vestapol.  "Poor Boy Blues" is probably the earliest exposure a lot of folks had to Ramblin' Thomas' music, for Harry Smith included it on his Anthology of American Folk Music.  The song has a distinct Pre-Blues quality, and employs two-line stanzas much like Texas Alexander's "Levee Camp Moan" and "Section Gang Blues", both of which sound as though they had work song origins.  The third and fourth verses are a bit baffling, as are other blues lyrics about being on the sea or water.  Thomas phrases his vocal right on top of the guitar playing the melody, and the match of voice and instrument is terrific.

PoorBoy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRZUT-Tt3KU#)

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   I was down in Lou'siana, doin' as I please
   Now I'm in Texas, I've got to work or leave

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   "If your home in Lou'siana, what you doin' over here"
   Say, "My home ain't in Texas, and I sure don't care."

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   I don't care if the boat don't never land
   'Cause I can stay on water as long as any man

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   SOLO

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   And my boat come a-rockin' just like a drunken man
   And my home's on the water and I sure don't like land

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boys a long ways from home

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 08:05:46 PM
Hi all,
Barbecue Bob backed himself with a slide in Spanish tuning for "Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home".  For many or most of his slide songs in Spanish, Barbecue Bob actually used the slide sparingly, but on this performance he plays slide pretty much from beginning to end, shadowing the voice and the melody.  This is a song that is most often played in Vestapol, I think, though Booker White had a very different version in Spanish tuning.  Barbecue Bob phrases some verses in twelve bars and others in sixteen bars; that kind of fluid changing of forms within a song didn't survive in any big way much beyond the 1920s.

'Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home' BARBECUE BOB, Georgia Blues Guitar Legend (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdsJqkcAQ58#)

I'm a poor boy, I'm a long ways from home
I'm a poor boy, I'm a long ways from home
I'm a poor boy, ain't got nowhere to go

Ain't got nowhere, lay my worried head
Honey, I ain't got nowhere, t' lay my worried head
I ain't got nowhere, lay my worried head
Sometime, I'd soon to be dead

Honey, tell me, what you gonna do
Please tell me, what you gonna do
Please tell me, what you gonna do

I done left my brown, standin' in the door
Left my brown, standin' in the door
I left my brown, standin' in the door
"Why'n't you ring?", she said, "You're not 'bliged to go."

I'm the poor old boy, stood on the road and cried
I'm the poor old boy, stood on the road and cried
I didn't have no blues, just couldn't be satisfied

Honey, give me long long distance phone
Now, give me long distance phone
Honey, give me long distance phone
I wanta hear from my sweet mama back home

Uh, Central, ring six-oh-nine
Central, ring six-oh-nine
I wanta hear from that bob-haired gal of mine

Edited 1/22 to pick up correction from dj

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: waxwing on May 13, 2014, 09:46:19 PM
Then there's Gus Cannon's famous slide banjo version, backed by Blind Blake on guitar. I'm assuming Gus was in a banjo tuning similar to Vastapol. I play it on a guitjo in Vastapol and get some bass licks in there kinda like Blake's, but I haven't really sussed what position he's playing in.

Having not been recorded before or since playing slide, Gus seems pretty adept at finishing the phrase with the slide. Gus certainly exhibits his fine vocal capabilities.

Wax

http://youtu.be/jtjJLGc1JUE (http://youtu.be/jtjJLGc1JUE)

Been a poor boy an? a long way from home
Long way from home
Been a poor ol? boy an? a long way from home

I got ?rested, no money to buy my fine
Money to buy my fine
I got ?rested, no money to buy my fine

Said I guess I'll have to catch the Frisco out in this land
Catch the Frisco out
Lord I guess I have to catch that Frisco out

Man if that don't do I'm gwine ? woods a while
Try the woods a while
Yeah

I cried hello Central gi? me?
Your long-distance phone
I cried hello Central gi? me your long-distance phone
(She ask me what number did I want)

I cried, ?Please ma'am gi? me 1349?
?1349?
I cried, ?Please ma'am gi? me 1349?

Tried to phone it to my?
Tried to phone it to my?
Tried to phone it to my?

Tell her send me little?
Tell her send me little money
Tell her send me little money
Oh to buy my fine   

She cried the buckets got a?
She cried the bucket got a?
She cried the bucket got a?
Lord ?twon?t hold no beer

Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 10:22:15 PM
Thanks for adding the Gus Cannon/Blind Blake version, Wax.  It's a cool one and one of the earliest recorded versions, I would think.  Fishing around on Youtube I found this version by Eugene Powell, amazingly closely modeled on Gus's version.  I wouldn't have figured Eugene Powell to be influenced by Gus Cannon--it was kind of a shock.

Eugene Powell - Poor Boy Blues (Take 1) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9VLe5GUW3Q#ws)

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 13, 2014, 10:26:36 PM
Hi all,
Bo Weavil Jackson/Sam Butler recorded "Poor Boy Blues" backing himself with a slide in Spanish tuning.  Like most of his slide blues, it is pretty frenetic and exciting.  The more you listen to him, though, the more you realize just how controlled his playing actually was.  He has some nice variations on common verses here.

BO WEAVIL JACKSON - Poor Boy Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lhLLf8cg9I#)

   I woke up this mornin', blues all 'round my bed
   I woke up this morning, mama, blues all around my bed
   Thinkin' about the words that my brown had said

   'Cause I'm poor boy here, long ways from home
   Poor boy here, long ways from my home
   Ain't got nowhere, Lord, to lay my head

   Cold frosty ground was my bed last night
   Cold frosty ground was my bed last night
   Thinkin' 'bout the kind words that my Mama had said

   What my Mama told me, honey, done come to pass
   Mama told me, it's done come to pass
   Whiskey and women, poor boy, be your ruin at last

   Now, my Mama's dead, so is my Daddy, too
   My Mama's dead, so is my Daddy, too
   Reason I tried so hard, honey, get along with you

   So many days, I stoled away and cried
   So many days, I stoled away and cried
   Poor boy's been mistreated, can't be satisfied

   Gonna write a letter, mail it in the air
   Gonna write a letter, gonna mail it in the air
   When that wind blows, blow news everywhere

   SOLO

   Lord, Lord, ain't gonna moan no more
   Lord, Lord (guitar finishes line)

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: waxwing on May 13, 2014, 11:01:53 PM
That is a pretty interesting connection between Powell and Gus, Johnm. I suppose there could have been a common antecedent to both? Could have been a common medicine show song. But they are certainly closely related.

I really love this song, this is my favorite of the song family threads you've started, John.

Wax
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: frankie on May 14, 2014, 02:56:04 AM
Then there's Gus Cannon's famous slide banjo version, backed by Blind Blake on guitar. I'm assuming Gus was in a banjo tuning similar to Vastapol. I play it on a guitjo in Vastapol and get some bass licks in there kinda like Blake's, but I haven't really sussed what position he's playing in.


Cannon is playing in the banjo equivalent of spanish, tuned to about F. Blake is playing in G, tuned down a whole step to match Gus's pitch.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: btasoundsradio on May 14, 2014, 08:35:55 AM
johnie lewis Hobo Blues
http://youtu.be/lz68PUwMBMY?t=20s (http://youtu.be/lz68PUwMBMY?t=20s)
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: waxwing on May 14, 2014, 12:25:07 PM
Thanks for the correct info, Frank. Makes total sense, since I never seem to touch the top string and Vastapol at E was only a half step down (using Transcribe!) from Spanish at F.

Wax
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 14, 2014, 02:16:21 PM
Hi all,
Thanks for the Johnie Lewis version, powerlinehorizon, I had never heard that before, and it is sure enough the tune.
Here is an R. L. Burnside version.  It's a real shame about his grooving isn't it?  Whoo!  Burnside identifies the title as "Poor Boy And I'm A Long Ways From Home".  It's interesting that he says he got it "behind Howlin' Wolf".  The version that I've heard by Wolf was a shuffle and didn't groove nearly as intensely as this version.

R.L. Burnside: Poor Boy A Long Way From Home (1978) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meC4pmw5u84#)

Poor boy and I'm a long way from home
Poor boy and I'm a long ways from home
Poor boy and I'm a long way from home
World can't do me no --

SOLO

Babe, I can't stay here long
No, Lord, Lord, Lord
World can't do me no harm
Poor boy and I'm a long way from home
World can't do me no --

SOLO

My baby, she's dead and gone
My baby, she's dead and gone
World can't do me no --

SOLO

All best,
Johnm

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 16, 2014, 11:10:34 PM
Hi all,
Buell Kazee's version of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" is very different from the other versions we've heard thus far, but still is clearly related in the way it is phrased.  Buell is playing here in the "Reuben's Train" tuning, f#DF#AD.  I sure like the way he could hold a tone vocally.

Buell Kazee - Poor Boy Long Ways From Home (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk9VP8IBPfU#ws)

Poor boy, long ways from home
Poor boy, long ways from home
Long ways from, poor man, his Mama's house
And he can't bum a freight back home

Nine hundred miles from home
Nine hundred miles from home
Not got no money, ain't got no friends
Ain't got nowhere to go

Oh darling, side-track your man
Oh darling, side-track your man
Side-track your man and go with me
Oh darling, I'll treat you right

Oh darling, you don't love me
Oh darling, you don't love me
You love some old rounder, but you don't love me
Poor boy that works so hard

Oh darling, you told me a lie
Oh darling, you told me a lie
You told me more lies than the diamonds in the skies
Oh darling, I'll never marry you

Oh darling, count the days I'm gone
Oh darling, you count the days I'm gone
Count the days I'm gone for it may be long
Oh darling, count the days I'm gone

All best,
Johnm
 
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: uncle bud on May 17, 2014, 06:24:33 AM
Always loved this version. The song sure seems to encourage all sorts of different arrangements when you start teasing them out in a thread like this. Great choice, Johnm!
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 18, 2014, 01:33:03 PM
Hi all,
Brownie McGhee recorded his version of the song, "Poor Boy" on his 1959 Folkways album, "Brownie McGhee Sings The Blues".  He accompanied himself out of E position in standard tuning for his rendition, which mostly treats the song as a 16-bar blues.  Brownie occasionally uses a neat voicing for his B7 chord in the course of the song:  X-6-4-4-4-5.  I was unable to find a video of the performance but will attach an .mp3 of it for interested parties.

Poor old boy, long ways from home
Poor old boy, long way from home
Poor old boy, long ways from home
Please don't mistreat me, please don't do me wrong

Broke and hungry, ragged and dirty, too
Broke and hungry, ragged and dirty, too
Broke and hungry, ragged and dirty, too
Just want to know, can I go home with you?

SOLO

Good old boy, just been treated wrong, Lord,
Good old boy, just been treated wrong
Good old boy, ain't been treated right
Freezing ground was my bed last night

Big bell ringin', little bells fairly tone
Well, big bell ringin', little bells fairly tone
Big bell ringin', little bells fairly tone
I'm a lonely, lonely, long long ways from home

They say the graveyard is a mighty lonely place
They say a graveyard is a mighty lonely place
They say a graveyard is a mighty lonely place
Six feet in the ground, throw dirt in your face

SOLO

Dig my grave with a silver spade, Lord
Dig my grave with a silver spade
Baby, see that my grave is dug with a silver spade
And let me down with a golden chain

SOLO

Well, I ain't good-lookin', got no curly hair
Well, I ain't good-lookin', got no curly hair
Ain't good-lookin', I ain't got no curly hair
Well, I mean my God will take me anywhere

What makes you, baby, hold your head so high?
Tell me, baby, what makes you hold your head so high?
Tell me, baby, why do you hold your head so high?
Well, the way you hold it, that's the way you die

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 19, 2014, 04:01:39 PM
Hi all,
Willie Trice does a really strong version of the song as "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" on the recently released "Legendary Country Blues Guitarists" DVD put out by Stefan Grossman in his Vestapol series, Vestapol 13129.  Willie Trice played his version out of E position in standard tuning, and his rendition showcases his distinctive phrasing.  He works the song as a 16-bar form for the most part, but changes it quite a lot with regard to details as he works his way through the song.  His playing is yet another reminder that a strong rhythmic pulse and letting phrase lengths call the shots count for much more in this music than does metric consistency.  Among the Country Blues players, at least, players who play the same form from the beginning to the end of a rendition, maintaining a perfectly consistent meter throughout are very rare indeed.  You may be able to find a clip of Willie Trice's performance at YouTube, but the DVD is worth owning in any event, with terrific performances from Bill Broonzy, Skip James, Son House, Booker White, Mance Lipscomb, Rev. Gary Davis, Connie Williams (!!!!!), Sam Chatmon, Henry Johnson (!!!), Willie Trice(!!!), Will Shade and Charlie Burse and others.

Poor boy ain't got nowhere to go
Poor boy ain't got nowhere to go
Poor boy ain't got nowhere to go
Oh baby, meet me in your door

Make me a pallet on your floor
Make me a pallet on your floor
Make me a pallet on your floor
Make it by, baby, by your door

Oh baby, let me hold you in my arms
Baby, let me hold you in my arms
Baby, let me hold you in my arms
Honey, I sure can't treat you wrong

SOLO

Come by, your lovin' hand in mine
Come by, your lovin' hand in mine
Come by, your lovin' hand in mine
Oh baby, babe, I'll change your mind

Poor boy ain't got nowhere to go
Poor boy ain't got nowhere to go
Poor boy ain't got nowhere to go
Oh baby, I'm sleeping in the cold

Make me a pallet on your floor
Make me a pallet on your floor
Make me a pallet on your floor
Make it down, honey, by your door

SOLO

Know you're gwonna miss me when I'm gone
I know you're gwonna miss me when I'm gone
I know you're gwonna miss me when I'm gone
Gonna miss me, baby, to hold you in my arms

SOLO

All best,
Johnm
 

Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 23, 2014, 04:56:32 PM
Hi all,
John Jackson recorded a version of this song as "Poor Boy", on his very first album, on the Arhoolie label, "John Jackson-Blues and Country Dance Tunes From Virginia", Arhoolie F 1025.  The version has not been included on any of the Arhoolie CDs of John's music that transitioned into the post-LP era.  John accompanied himself out of "high Spanish" tuning with a slide, with his guitar tuned AC#EAC#E.  John always used this version of Spanish when he played in that tuning and never used the more commonly encountered EAEAC#E tuning for playing in Spanish at A.  I remember sitting next to John in one of his classes at Port Townsend when he went from standard tuning to this tuning, viewing with some trepidation as he cranked his sixth string from E up to A and his fifth string from A to C#.  No problem!  John's early Arhoolie version concludes with a fade, something I always view as unfortunate.

Says I'm a poor boy, sit on the road and cry
Says I'm a poor boy, sit on the road and cry
Ain't got nobody to tell my troubles by

SOLO

Says, "Hey, hey Central, give me six-oh-nine."
Says, "Hey, hey Central, give me six-oh-nine.
Ain't heard from that black-haired woman of mine."

SOLO

Says I'm a poor boy, stood on the road and cry
Says I'm a poor boy, stood on the road and cry
Ain't got nobody to tell my troubles by

SOLO

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 27, 2014, 10:11:55 PM
Hi all,
Here's a really nice version, "Poor Boy", by Peg Leg Sam and Louisiana Red.  Sam sings it and plays harmonica and Red accompanies him with a slide in Vestapol in E.

PEG LEG SAM LOUISIANA RED POOR BOY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayTtRoCOi1M#)

I'm a poor boy, stood on the road and cried
I'm a poor boy, stood on the road and cried

That's your woman, pin her to your side
That's your woman, pin her to your side
'Cause she flag my train I'm sure gon' let her ride

I'm a poor boy, don't know right from wrong
I'm a poor boy, don't know right from wrong
Turn your head, I have your woman and gone

My Mama told me, when I was quite a child
My Mama told me, when I was quite a child
"Have a good time now, son, but trouble after awhile."

Can't you hear that lonesome whistle blow?
Can't you hear the lonesome whistle blow?
It blow just like it ain't gonna blow no more

(Spoken: Oh yes!)

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Prof Scratchy on May 28, 2014, 06:14:01 AM
Booker White - Poor Boy Long Way from Home (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0jRX69mxcE#)
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Shovel on May 28, 2014, 07:57:01 AM
That is a pretty interesting connection between Powell and Gus, Johnm. I suppose there could have been a common antecedent to both? Could have been a common medicine show song. But they are certainly closely related.

Could Powell have heard Gus' version on record?
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 28, 2014, 11:46:45 AM
Yup, that's certainly a possibility, Shovel.  People started copping things from each other's records as soon as records started to be put out.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on May 30, 2014, 08:45:10 PM
Hi all,
Here's a really exciting version by John Dudley, recorded in 1959 at Parchman Farms.

Po' Boy Blues - John Dudley (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmjgT2cgeWA#)

Dudley had a wonderful tone with a slide, and adds some new verses we've not encountered thus far.

I'm a poor boy and I'm great long way from home
I'm a poor boy and I'm great long ways from home
I'm a poor boy and a great long ways from home

Telephoned to my baby, "Please send me my fare."
Telephoned to my baby, "Please send me my train --."
I'm a poor boy and I ain't got nowhere to stay

SOLO

Run here, baby, sit down on my knee
Run here, baby, sit down on my knee
Have any troubles, speak it all to me

SOLO

I'm gonna sing this verse and I ain't gon' sing no more
Sing this verse and I ain't gon' sing no more
She's down in trouble, boys, and I better go

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Zoharbareket on June 12, 2014, 02:50:17 AM
Great thread!
thank you for all the info.

I've made a YouTube playlist of the vidoes posted in this thread  (for my personal blues education, but its its there for all) check it out if you wanna...

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvFuNFbeD_0MCUgnEL5uRzsJp-2FA4-Np (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvFuNFbeD_0MCUgnEL5uRzsJp-2FA4-Np)

I might just make a habit of it.....

Z
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on June 14, 2014, 09:42:48 AM
Hi all,
I found this version of "Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home" played by Gabriel Brown.  Despite the attribution on the link, the performance is a solo one by Gabriel Brown.  He does it primarily as a slide instrumental in Vestapol with occasional spoken or sung passages.  All passages not indicated as spoken are sung.

Gabriel Brown, John & Rochelle French- Po' Boy, Long Ways From Home (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjvqLZl9jCM#ws)

Spoken:  Yes, you know I'm a poor boy, I'm a long ways from home!  I'm going to cut some wood.

Says, I'm a poor boy, mama, and I'm drivin' at your door

I'm a poor boy and I'm a long ways from home
Will you give me something, baby, to help me 'long

Spoken:  Carry it on, boy. Got to tell you something right here in a few minutes.  A boy met me, done said he was a poor boy and I wasn't, so I didn't have nothin' to gain, I's just a poor boy, long ways from home.

Poor boy, and I'm a long ways from home

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on June 15, 2014, 06:15:47 PM
Hi all,
Sonny Chestain's "Po' Boy, Long Way From Home" was recorded at the Fort Valley Folk Festival, in 1942.  I believe it was the only tune he ever recorded under his own name.  Like the Gabriel Brown version, it is played with a slide in Vestapol, and also like the Gabriel Brown version it focuses on the instrumental side of the tune (though Chestain does sing more verses than did Gabriel Brown).  Sonny Chestain delivers a very strong and original version of the song.  His singing is pretty diffident, and is hard to hear.

Sonny Chestain, Po' boy, long way from home (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4yQFPdOMks#ws)

You call me dog, baby, when I'm gone
You call me dog, baby, when I'm gone
But I'll be your baby, honey, when I'm gone

Hey, hey, hey, gettin' out of here

Well, the blues from Texas, lopin' like a mule
--From Texas, lopin' like a mule
Blues from Texas, lopin' like a mule
Don't start talkin', stop brayin' like a doggone mule

Easy rider, don't deny your name
Easy rider, don't deny your name
See here, don't you 'ny your name

Well, mama, you don't know my mind
Hey-oh, sure don't know my mind
See me laughin', laughin' to keep from cryin'

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: waxwing on August 06, 2014, 08:01:28 PM
I've worked on Henry Thomas's Red River Blues on and off over the years and decided recently to really make a go of playing the quills off a rack and put this piece together. I sat down tonight to transcribe the lyrics and realized this is really his version of Poor Boy. Found it on YT:

Henry Thomas- Red River Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wE4mX1CKm4#ws)

Little tough to hear the first word of the 1st and 2nd lines of verse 3. Any help appreciated.

Red River Blues
Henry Thomas

Quills intro

V1 -    Look where the sun done gone
   Look where the sun done gone
   Look where the sun done gone, poor girl
   Look where the sun done gone

Quills solo

V2 -   Yes, it?s gone God knows where
   It?s gone God knows where
   Look where the sun done gone, darlin?
   Look where the sun done gone

Quills solo

V3 -   Lov'n' babe, I?m all out and down
   Lovin' baby, I?m all out and down
   I?m all out and down, I?m laid to the ground
   Look where the sun done gone

Quills solo

V4 -   I?m a poor boy an? a long way from home
   Poor boy an? a long way from home
   I?m a poor boy a long way from home, darlin?
   Look where the sun done gone

Quills solo

V5 -   Which way do the Red River run
   Which way do the Red River run
   Which a way do the Red River run, poor boy
   Which way do the Red River run

Quills solo

V6 -   Yes, it run north and south
   It run north and south
   Which a way do the Red River run, boy
   Well, it run north and south

Quills outro


And a beautiful version it is. I think this is one of his nicest quills parts, particularly the lilting descent to the last phrase.

Wax

[Edited to pick up my own correction]
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Prof Scratchy on August 07, 2014, 12:30:27 AM
What you've got is what I hear, Wax...

Sent from my HUAWEI MT1-U06 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: waxwing on August 20, 2014, 04:31:54 PM
Actually Scratch, I was just listening to some other Henry Thomas, songs, particularly Lovin' Babe, and realized that's what he is singing at the start of the 3rd verse, so I made the change.

Wax
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on March 17, 2015, 01:33:08 PM
Hi all,
I just found this version of "Poor Boy, Long Way From Home" by the recently-deceased Robert Belfour.

Robert Belfour "Poor boy long way from home" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JyapY3Boa8#ws)

I'm a poor boy, I'm a long way from home
Said, I'm a poor boy, 'way from home
Oh no, no, no, world can't do me no harm

The world can't do me no harm
Say, the world can't do me no (guitar)
Oh no, no, no, world can't do me no harm
Poor boy, a long way from home

SOLO

Say, my babe, she left me now
Say, she left me all alone
I say, my world can't, left me 'lone
Poor boy, a long way from home

The world can't do me no harm
(Guitar)
Oh no, no, no, world can't do me no harm
(Guitar)

SOLO

The world can't do me no harm
The world can't do me no harm
No, no, no, no the world can't do me no harm
Poor boy, I'm a long way from home

The world (guitar)

Oh no, no, no, the world can't do me no harm
Poor boy, I'm a long way from home
Said, I'm a poor boy, I'm a long way from home
Said, I'm a poor boy, I'm a long way from home
Oh no, no, no, world can't do me no harm
Poor boy, I'm a long way from home
The world can't do me no harm

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: EddieD on March 20, 2015, 01:34:44 PM
I have a Blind Willie McTell LP from Yazoo Records. In the notes for the song Mama T'aint Long For Day it says it's McTell's take on Poor Boy Long Way From Home. I can certainly hear the similarities in the guitar work. McTell's song Love Changing Blues is pretty much the same guitar work as Mama T'aint Long For Day. Different songs but I thought it was worth mentioning on the topic of Poor Boy.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: alyoung on April 01, 2015, 03:19:17 AM
Robert Belfour's Poor Boy is fairly much based on Howlin' Wolf's version; both are unusual as they are non-slide versions of the song.

Howlin' Wolf - Poor Boy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njd0MAlqYms#ws)
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Lyndvs on April 01, 2015, 08:30:59 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFAw_lQe4WE#ws (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFAw_lQe4WE#ws)

Nice one from Leadbelly.Nice guitar work out of E position.Mostly a showcase for his guitarwork but he deos sing the "poor boy" line.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Lastfirstface on May 11, 2015, 09:46:57 AM
Not sure if this qualifies, but it follows the structure and melody of some versions of Poor Boy:

https://youtu.be/ZYG-kog8JQc
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: frankie on May 11, 2015, 02:47:04 PM
Not sure if this qualifies, but it follows the structure and melody of some versions of Poor Boy:

https://youtu.be/ZYG-kog8JQc (https://youtu.be/ZYG-kog8JQc)

Lum Guffin!!!

Carl Hodges' "Poor Boy Blues" was recorded in Saluda, Virginia in 1979 by Kip Lornell.  Hodges accompanied himself out of E position in standard tuning.  The song is most often played out of Vestapol with a slide, but is played in other tunings/positions, too.  I like the roughness of Carl Hodges sound; it's not one I would normally associate with a Virginia player at all.  The way he just whacks the strings with his right thumb sounds really good to me.

Carl Hodges - Poor Boy Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mReoy_KWx8c#)

Harry Oster recorded Carl Hodge's performing it in 1959 first to appear on a Tradition compilation of Angola inmate recordings.

Is it too far-fetched to wonder if these are the same Carl Hodges?
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on September 05, 2015, 09:34:20 AM
Hi all,
I found this version of "Poor Boy Long Way From Home" by the St. Louis musician Arthur Weston.  He played the song out of Spanish tuning with a slide.  His melody for the song is not one I've heard elsewhere.  He uses the slide to finish many of his lines.  Here is his version:

http://youtu.be/JmzqMH2ers4 (http://youtu.be/JmzqMH2ers4)

I'm a poor boy, long way from home
I'm a poor boy, got nowhere to
Ain't got nowhere to lay my weary

Sometime, my soul to be dead
Lord, it's sometime, my soul to be

I left my brown, standing in the door
Lord, I left my brown, standing in the
What you reckon she said?  "You done passed your     ."

Honey, give me long-distance phone
I said, give me long-distance phone
I wanta hear from my sweet mama back home

Baby, it's tell me, what you gonna do?
Baby, tell me, what you gonna do?
Baby, tell me, what you gonna  ?

I left my brown, standing in the door
What you reckon she said?  "You done passed your door."
What you reckon she said?  "You done passed your       ."

All best,
Johnm

Lord, it's sometime, my soul to be
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: alyoung on September 07, 2015, 06:15:03 AM
Well whaddya know ... that video is "not available". I've got the record so it's no biggie ... but it still pisses me off.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Kokomo O on September 12, 2015, 08:19:43 PM
Frankie, your question about Carl Hodge or Hodges is interesting. It is pretty far-fetched to imagine a former Angola inmate moving north and winding up in Saluda, VA--that's truly in the middle of nowhere. Most black Louisianans who moved north went to Chicago, and if not there other midwestern cities. And most black migrants north went to cities.

Also, Google Maps tells us it's about a 16 1/2 hour drive, which sounds about right to me, having done Charlottesville, VA to New Orleans back in '83. That's a long way to go to end up in such a small place.

Then again, we  have an idea of what we'd expect a guitar player from Saluda to sound like, and as John points out, Hodges doesn't sound like that: Saluda's only about 30 miles from Tappahannock, where William Moore was from, and Moore and Hodges don't sound at all similar. His sound is definitely more Louisiana/Mississippi than East Coast.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: MartyW on May 25, 2016, 06:25:50 AM
Hi All, 

Here's Fred McDowell version in Vestapol


https://youtu.be/soNg_hxOrg0

SOLO

I'm a poor boy, long way from home
Poor boy and a long way from home

I'm worried, baby, and I won't be worried long

Well, it's train time here, tracks all out of line

Keep me worried, bothered all the time

I'm gwine somewhere, doin't know where I'm gwine

SOLOS
 


Cheerio,

Marty


Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on June 09, 2016, 05:43:29 PM
Hi all,
Here is another version of the song, by Robert Pete Williams, who called it "Poor Boy, Long Way From Home".  It is on his double album, "Robert Pete Williams-Poor Bob's Blues", Arhoolie 511.  He played it in Spanish tuning with a slide.  Here is the track:

https://youtu.be/K2-_2H2WdlE

INTRO

I'm a poor boy here, I'm a poor boy here
I'm a poor boy --, I'm a long way from my home
I'm a poor boy here, a long, long way from home

SOLO

Well, I'm down now, baby, I'm down now, ba'
Yes, I'm down now, baby, but I won't be down alway
Well, I'm down now, baby, but I won't be down alway

I'm a stranger here, I'm a stranger here
I'm a stranger here, I'm a long way from my home
I'm a stranger, I'm a long way from my home

SOLO

Well, I'm down now, baby, well, I'm down now, ba'
I'm down now, but I won't be down al-alway
Well, I'm down now, but I won't be down alway

SOLO

Make your bed up, ba', make your bed up, ba'
And turn your lamp way low
Make your bed up, and turn your lamp way low

All best,
Johnm


Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Chezztone on June 11, 2016, 12:21:03 PM
I would say Eugene Powell learned that song from the Gus Cannon record. He's the right age to have heard it when it came out. Anyone know how to buy a copy of that Powell Bluea at Home 3 CD? I see it offered on CDBaby as download only. Thanks! Ch.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: jpeters609 on June 13, 2016, 06:41:26 AM
Sadly (for those of us who like to own the physical recording), those Mbirafon "Blues At Home" releases stopped being issued on CD after volume 2 (the Sam Chatmon record). All the others are only available as downloads. I, too, had been waiting for somebody to issue that Eugene Powell album on CD, but alas...
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Buzz on July 04, 2016, 08:07:58 AM
Johnm:
Lloyd on Hawaiian National steel guitar lap style, myself on mandolin, in G.
We play Gus Cannon's version. I sing.  Every time we play it, month to month, we smile at each other and say how much we love that tune. There is something about the slide, the words, the emotional moment that can be haunting.
 Thanks for the posts about this tune and myriad versions, John.Wax, thanks for bringing up Gus version.
Miller
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on July 05, 2016, 09:58:24 AM
Hi Miller,
It's great that you and your friend enjoy playing the tune so much--that's one of the best reasons for playing music together.  I wish you joy in it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: blueshome on July 06, 2016, 10:31:38 AM
Joe Callicot includes the Poor Boy verse in his Fare You Well Blues.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on July 26, 2017, 03:10:59 PM
Hi all,
I just discovered a version by John Lee Ziegler that he called "Poor Boy", and played in Vestapol with a slide, as he did most of his repertoire.  I really think he had one of the prettiest voices in the blues, right up there with Sam Collins and Lemon Jefferson.  He accords most of the space in his version to his guitar and sings single-line stanzas.  Here is his rendition of "Poor Boy":

https://youtu.be/TlyZ15fmcOY

INTRO

Poor boy, I ain't got nowhere to go

I'm worried, I'm worried from my home

How long since that evening train been gone?

Take a rider, you sure can't keep her long

Edited 7/27 to pick up corrections from alyoung

All best,
Johnm

 
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: alyoung on July 27, 2017, 05:21:04 AM
A lovely piece, John. I hear the first line as "Poor boy, I ain't got nowhere to go", and the last as "Take a rider, you sure can't keep her long". I'm quite confident on the first line, not so sure on the last.
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on July 27, 2017, 06:10:55 AM
Thanks for the catches, Al.  You're certainly right about the first one, and I think you've got the later one, too.  I will make the changes.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on November 23, 2017, 02:12:31 PM
Hi all,
I just found this version of "Poor Boy Long Way From Home", performed by James Henry Diggs and recorded by Ken Davidson and Bill Hale in Roanoke, Virginia on November 22, 1962.  James Henry Diggs' version is a little unusual in that he does not use an open tuning to play the song, opting instead to play it in E position, standard tuning.  If you watch the video, near the end is a photo of Diggs entertaining two detectives after having been acquitted of charges of burglary in 1955.  Life is really odd sometimes.  Here is the performance, and I sure like James Henry Digg's singing:

https://youtu.be/2zyyiQ_GhVg

INTRO SOLO

Poor boy, long way from home
Oh Lord, and I'm a poor child, long way from home
Lord, I'm a poor child, long way from home
Have no place to stay, no place to roam

I'm goin', I'm goin', cryin' won't make me stay
Oh Lord, I'm a-goin', I'm goin', cryin' won't make me stay
I'm goin', I'm goin' your cryin' won't make me stay
For the more you cry, further you drive me 'way

SOLO

I said, take me, baby, try me one more time
Oh Lord, take me, mama, try me one more time
I said, take me, baby, try me one more time
And if I don't suit you, bust my backbone, tryin'

I got a ship on the ocean, goin' 'round and 'round
Lord, I got a ship on the ocean, goin' 'round and 'round
I got a ship on the ocean, going 'round and 'round
Before the gal of mine leave me, I'd jump overboard and drown

SOLO

I said, take me, baby, put me in your big brass bed
Oh Lord, take me, mama, put me in your big brass bed
I said, take me, baby, put me in your big brass bed
Let me lay there, baby, 'til my face turn cherry red

All best,
Johnm




Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Prof Scratchy on November 24, 2017, 02:24:15 AM
Lovely singing voice and great performance!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: harriet on November 24, 2017, 05:02:31 AM
Love the James Hemry Diggs as well
Title: Re: Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home
Post by: Johnm on November 24, 2017, 09:20:34 AM
I'm glad you enjoy the James Henry Diggs version, Prof and Harriet.  He sings it with such relish, he just sounds like he loves to sing it.  If you like different versions of "Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home", as I do, if you go to Weeniepedia, in the Song Families category, you will find twenty-three versions of the song transcribed, almost all of which you can find on youtube.
All best,
Johnm
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal