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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Johnm on January 07, 2007, 10:45:44 PM

Title: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on January 07, 2007, 10:45:44 PM
Hi all,
One of the song topics that, like the Titanic, has generated many versions in both the African American and White Folk Song traditions is the boll weevil.  According to the notes accompanying the Arhoolie CD, "Country Negro Jam Session", by Harry Oster,

   "Coming from Mexico in 1862, the boll weevil crossed the Rio Grande at Brownsville, Texas.  By 1903, leaving a grim trail of ruined cotton farmers in its wake, it had reached west Louisiana.  Some time around the turn of the century, probably in Texas, the most durable boll weevil song made its appearance.  "The Ballad of the Boll Wevil, the entral plot of which has the weevil moving onto a farm, looking for a home; no matter what the poor farmer does to destroy the insect, the weevil cheerfully makes himself at home and ruins everything."

Here are some of the versions of "The Boll Weevil" I have found so far.  They all have different melodies, but for the most part share a grudging admiration for the boll weevil's ability to survive all the attempts to exterminate it, and a sort of sour humor at the farmers' helplessness in the face of the boll weevil's depradations.

On "Country Negro Jam Session", Otis Webster performs "Boll Wevil Blues", accompanying himself on guitar played out of E in standard tuning.  Webster was an inmate at Angola Penitentiary at the time Dr. Oster recorded him, and he is both a strong singer and player.  In his version, at least, the song doesn't have the jolly melody you find in some treatments.

Probably the most famous version of the song, at least to Country Blues fans, is Charlie Patton's "Mississippi Boweavil Blues".  Charlie plays the song in high-tuned Spanish with a slide, very probably played lap style, and the power of his rhythm and huge sound have never been surpassed.  He sings the lyric in couplets, each line of which is followed by an instrumental response line.  His slide playing is very exciting; on this song and on "When Your Way Gets Dark", the notes he plays with his slide seem constantly on the verge of going into harmonics.

Rivaling Patton's version for excitement is Jaybird Coleman's "Boll Weevil", recently re-issued on the Yazoo release "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of".  The integration of Coleman's vocal with his solo harmonica is tremendous, and achieves the unusual effect of being simultaneously very "on the edge" sounding and very controlled.  He is just singing and playing his guts out.  Coleman's lyrics are hard to hear, for the surviving copy of the record is pretty darn whupped, but in one very strange verse, he sings
  Boll weevil's got moustache, boll weevil's got hands
  Sometimes he's walkin' in the tall canes, just like a natch'l man
This is one of the most exciting country Blues cuts you are likely to hear.

Pink Anderson's "Boweevil", from his "The Blues of Pink Anderson--Ballad and Folksinger, vol. 3" CD, sounds urbane after Jaybird Coleman's version.  As with many of the songs Pink performs on this CD, "Boweevil" is sung at length, three minutes and fifty-eight seconds long, and has lot of verses you are unlikely to encounter elsewhere.  Pink accompanies himself very snappily out of C in standard tuning, and sings the song to the melody of "Blues In The Bottle"

Mance Lipscomb's version, from his recently reissued "Trouble In Mind" CD, a Rhino special release, is likewise played out of C in standard tuning, though with a different, and exceptionally pretty melody.  Mance's version seems to treat the farmer's plight with a bit more sympathy than do most versions of the song.

I know there is a version of "The Boll Weevil" by Willie McTell, recorded at his Library of Congress sessions, but I have never heard it.  Does anyone know of other versions of "The Boll Weevil" that have been recorded?
All best,
Johnm   
   
[edit, removed the quotes out of the title so it sorts better in the tag results]
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on January 07, 2007, 11:47:50 PM
I know there is a version of "The Boll Weevil" by Willie McTell, recorded at his Library of Congress sessions, but I have never heard it.  Does anyone know of other versions of "The Boll Weevil" that have been recorded?

Here are those listed in B&GR4's song title index (with page numbers)

Boll Weevil [The] Richard Amerson, 15; Black Bottom McPhail, 588; Jaybird Coleman, 170; Buster "Buz" Ezell, 251,252; Vera Hall, 338; Blind Jesse Harris, 356; Sid Hemphill, 377; Willie George Albertine King, 510; Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), 518,522,525,527, 530,532; Irvin (Gar Mouth) Lowry, 555; Blind Willie McTell And Kate McTell, 593; Finious (Flat Foot) Rockmore, 766; Asa Ware, 982

And variations:

Boll Weevil Been Here Willie Williams, 1043
Boll Weevil Blues Vera Hall, 339; Oscar Woods, 1061
Boll Weevil Rag Charles Griffin, 329
Boll Weevil Song Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), 524, Alf (Dad)Valentine, 971

Interesting to note that the majority are Lomax recordings and, as we know, the song was one of those he especially wanted to document the occurence of and hence asked them if them to sing so he could record their versions.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Stefan Wirz on January 08, 2007, 02:44:30 AM
American expatriates Gordon Heath & Lee Payant did a version of "The Ballad of the Boll Weevil" on their 10 inch LP "Chants Traditionnels Des ?tats-Unis" (Boite A Musique BAM LD 313) (Fr), that my father brought with him from a trip to Paris, France in the mid fifties (1900 that is/was;-); that was the first record I ever heard this strange 'American Music' played ...

... more at http://www.wirz.de/music/heathpay.htm (http://www.wirz.de/music/heathpay.htm)

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wirz.de%2Fmusic%2Fheathpay%2Fgrafik%2Fchants1.jpg&hash=19e8eb8f16d4d8e82549650af2aa8b4b3fe46fe9) (http://www.wirz.de/music/heathpay/grafik/argob4.jpg) click picture to read liner notes (in english!)

They later also recorded an EP containing that song:
(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wirz.de%2Fmusic%2Fheathpay%2Fgrafik%2Fargoep1.jpg&hash=40a5e0bfa7acd1c7ea5fef328e97c0e257c61e0b) (http://www.wirz.de/music/heathpay/grafik/argoepb4.jpg) click picture to read liner notes


Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: uncle bud on January 08, 2007, 08:54:30 AM
Bessie Smith recorded Boweavil Blues in 1924.

Also, Joe Callicott recorded "Old Bo Weevil" for the George Mitchell sessions in 1967. This isn't on the Fat Possum release I Ain't Gonna Lie to You, but is available on the deleted Arhoolie disc, Mississippi Delta Blues in the 1960s: Blow My Blues Away Vol 2, if you can find a copy. It's also on the Juke. According to Stefan Wirz's discography, Joe recorded "Mississippi Boll Weevil Blues" on Sept 25, 1929 for Brunswick but it is unissued.

Also, Gus Cannon recorded a toe-tapping "Boll-Weevil" for the 1963 Stax album Walk Right In.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on January 08, 2007, 10:04:02 AM
Bessie Smith recorded Boweavil Blues in 1924.
Ah mistitlings I'd overlooked.  :)

Bessie's I seem to recall was a rework of the Ma Rainey version from December 1923 which goes:

Hey, hey, bo-weevil, don't sing them blues no more, (x2)
Bo-weevil here, bo-weevils everywhere you go.

I'm a lone bo-weevil, been out a great long time, (x2)
I'm gonna sing these blues to ease a bo-weevil lonesome mind.

I don't want no man to put no sugar in my tea, (x2)
Some of them's so evil, I'm afraid they might poison me.

I went downtown and bought me a hat,
I brought it back home, I laid it on the shelf,
And looked at my bed,
I'm getting tired of sleeping by myself.

Bizarre thought processes going on there....  ;D
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: natterjack on January 08, 2007, 10:31:58 AM
Post-war, but still fairly "Country" blues

Baby Face Leroy Foster and Little Walter - "Boll Weevil", recorded for Parkway in January 1950
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on January 08, 2007, 10:50:28 AM
Post-war, but still fairly "Country" blues

Baby Face Leroy Foster and Little Walter - "Boll Weevil", recorded for Parkway in January 1950
An absolutely magic performance. If it ain't on the Juke it oughta be! As "downhome" as anyone could wish...
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on January 08, 2007, 11:19:52 AM
Check out Stefan's Oster discography but another couple are Otis Webster and Roosevelt Charles. There are probably others that I've failed to notice.

And of course Fat's Domino had a major hit with it in 1956 (as Bo Weevil) which reached no.6 in Billboard's R&B chart on 1st Feb that year. It remained in the top 20 for 13 week. I suspect this could've been the "inspiration" for those versions recorded in late 50s.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: banjochris on January 08, 2007, 01:21:31 PM
Blind Willie McTell's version is not far off of the Mance Lipscomb one in melody and feel.

I think Bo Weavil Jackson's "Devil and My Brown" qualifies as at least related.

Tommy Jarrell and Fiddlin' John Carson both recorded versions with vocal and fiddle. Jarrell's is close to the "Blues in the Bottle" melody, IIRC. Carson's version -- "Dixie Boll Weevil" -- has a funny ending verse with a new euphemism for hell, it goes:
Boll weevil says to the farmer, I certainly wish you well,
Farmer says to the boll weevil, I wish you was in Griffin, Georgia.

Chris
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: bobo on January 15, 2007, 06:29:04 PM
Oscar Woods recorded Bol Weevil for Lomax too.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: zoner on January 22, 2007, 10:21:12 AM
John-The Mctell version is awesome...you need to hear it...I'll happily burn you a copy...email me...phil_sottile@hotmail.com



Best,

phil
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: natterjack on February 21, 2007, 02:02:34 PM
Old topic, but I just found this one in the "library"

Cotton Field Blues by Charlie "Dad" Nelson...

Boll weevil, boll weevil, where did you come from?
Boll weevil, boll weevil, where did you come from?
From Beaumont Texas, I'm just over here on the farm (?)

Farmer said to the boll weevil, don't you know you doin' me wrong?
Farmer said to the boll weevil, don't you know you doin' me wrong?
Eat up all my cotton and eat up all my corn

Says I'm going to town to buy a little gasoline
Says I'm going to town to buy a little gasoline
He's the worst boll weevil I believe I ever seen
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on February 24, 2007, 11:08:24 AM
What follows looks pretty odd (and bleak) in print but it's Roosevelt Charles's "The Boll Weevil And The Bale Weevil" from the Vanguard LP Blues, Prayer, Work And Trouble Songs (VRS 9136, 1964). If nothing else it is certainly a departure from the norm. He's accompanied on guitar by Otis Webster

SPOKEN: Man, let me tell you about farmin',
There's too many ifs about farmin',
You got to harrow it off,
Then you got to build it up,
Then you go an' get this cotton seed,
An' you plant them in the ground;
It got to come up, Then you got to raise it,
You got to chop your cotton.
Then 'long come the boll weevil,
He gone knock your square.
Then come the bale weevil, he gone take the bale,
You hear that ole bale weevil hollerin' to that boll weevil
SUNG: "Woh, Mr. Boll Weevil, please don't take it all from me,"
Then you hear the farmer cry,
"Yeah, Mr. Bale Weevil, please don' knock me in the head with the pea."
SPOKEN: Then here come the poor farmer comin' up to settle.
Here come the bossman with his pencil,
"You raise so many bales o' cotton this year,
But you still owe me a little bit.
Try to raise a little bit more next year."
Then you hear that poor farmer holler,
SUNG: "Woh?oh, Mr. Bale Weevil, I done broke up your land,
I done planted your cotton seed, I done raised up your cotton
I done poisoned the bolls, killed the bale weevil,
Now here you come takin' all from me."
SPOKEN: Oh, too many ifs in raisin' that cotton,
I ain't shuckin' man.
Looka here, I want to tell you, Christmas time hear that ol'
boss man holler, "Woh, Bossman, please what you gonna do 'bout me?"
He say, Well, I got an ole suit in the house, I'm gonna give you,
Say the rats done cut a hole in the rear end, An' I had it patched."
Hear that ol? farmer holler, Woh?oh, that ain't no way to treat me."
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: tenderfoot84 on March 02, 2007, 02:52:09 AM
ma favourite version of this tune is phineas 'flatfoot' rockmore's, mentioned in this topic but with a different spelling.

it's on the deep river of song black texicans disc and is really amazing. he puts a lot of humour into it and there are a lot of fun folk verses that i recognise from other songs such as

'i ain't gonna tell no story, i ain't gonna tell you no lies,
farmer you can't kill the boll weavil, there ain't no need in trying,
he's got him a home. a boll weavil home.'

the first part of which i associate with frankie and albert.

i really recommend people seek it out. he also does a superlative version of 'travelling coon' which happens to be ma favourite version of that song too. he just has such an easy, chilled out voice, and his guitar playing is understated but complements it perfectly.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: uncle bud on March 02, 2007, 05:22:27 PM
Thanks Tenderfoot. Another CD to buy.  :P  How's the rest of the disc?
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Johnm on March 03, 2007, 09:13:40 AM
Hi all,
I just heard the "Boll Weevil Blues" by Oscar Woods and "Boll Weevil Holler" by Vera Hall that Bunker Hill alluded to earlier in this thread.  They are both included on the Lomax "Sounds Of The South" multi-disc set, and are equally outstanding, though quite different from each other.  The Vera Hall rendition has just a couple of verses, but, God, could she sing!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: tenderfoot84 on March 05, 2007, 02:03:11 PM
hi uncle bud,

the black texicans cd is one of the stronger ones in the deep river of song series i think.

my other favourites on the disk are 'old king buzzard' by arthur armstrong, which is really funny and guitarifically nice to play. it's like a strum in the key of c picking out some melody on the bass strings with one of the best stumble-bass runs i've ever heard.

another cracker is leadbelly's 'western cowboy' which is still one of my favourite tracks of his.

i hope you get as much out of the set as i did.

the only annoying thing is trying to get the complete recorded works of some of the artists in this series. it rips my knitting.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Johnm on March 12, 2008, 11:47:44 AM
Hi all,
I just found another version of the "Boll Weevil" on Smoky Babe's "Hottest Brand Going" CD, where he calls it "Insect Blues".
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 12, 2008, 01:19:35 PM
Hi all,
I just found another version of the "Boll Weevil" on Smoky Babe's "Hottest Brand Going" CD, where he calls it "Insect Blues".
It's such a departure from the norm that I thought I'd supply the lyrics

Boll weevil knocked down all my cotton, whoa peoples, I didn't make no corn, (x2)
Lord, I say my family an' my little wife jus' could not get alon'.

I say the worms cut my greens, we had all in search right away,
I say the worms cut down my greens, we had trouble that year,
When I say me and my wife, family, you know we's all here.

Well, we gotta do better, do better, peoples, I know,
We gotta do better, we gotta do things better, people, I know,
Well, I don't want my wife an' family goin' from do' to do'.

Well, I say now that's all right, things be better after a while,
I say, it's all right, people, things be better after a while,
Say, my wife she's in good health, but I got one pore little afflicted chil'.

I didn't raise me no cotton, I didn't raise no corn, (x2)
It must have been one o' them ole bad crop years, 'cause the boll weevil did come along.

You know I'm talkin' about work now, woh people, that sho' is hard,
I'm talkin' about work now, peoples, you know that sho' is hard,
I'm tryin' to raise my little family, woh man, somethin' got me barred.

My LP is rather the worse for wear so any amendments gleaned from digital media gratefully accepted.
 :)
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: uncle bud on March 12, 2008, 05:47:23 PM
While I'm not about to transcribe them, for those who are interested in Boll Weevil songs, in a completist way, the Document CD "Boll Weevil Here, Boll Weevil Everywhere - Field Recordings Volume 16" has 7 versions of "Boll Weevil", all but one unaccompanied vocal performances. The CD is not very good, of academic interest mostly, but if you get it in one of Document's sales, there's some worthwhile material. The Wilson Jones/Stavin' Chain material is interesting, if rough. The one accompanied Boll Weevil performance, in poor sound, is by Charles Griffin, and is a fairly nifty guitar part, though hard to hear.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Johnm on March 12, 2008, 07:00:00 PM
Thanks for the tip, Andrew, and thanks for the lyrics to Smoky Babe's version, Bunker Hill.  I hadn't listened carefully enough to his version to realize that it's about a particular as opposed to semi-mythic infestation.  It doesn't have any of the schadenfreude you sometimes encounter in versions of the song.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 12, 2008, 07:18:18 PM
The McTell version is truly spectacular, imho. That and the Patton have got this bug covered!
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Rivers on March 12, 2008, 07:27:34 PM
Our squash patch was going total gangbusters last year until the frickin' stem cutter worms got in there and wiped us out. So I know how it feels, but squash are cheap at HEB these days. Back then it would have really hurt.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: dj on June 25, 2008, 12:29:10 PM
In a slightly different vein, Lee Brown recorded "Let Me Be Your Bo Weevil" for Decca on March 24th 1939.  It's not a boll weevil ballad, rather it uses the boll weevil as a not entirely successful sexual metaphor.  It would seem that it's the fact that the weevil "roots" in the cotton boll that's the idea behind the metaphor.   
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: waxwing on June 25, 2008, 08:29:04 PM
And his long proboscis, no doubt? -G-

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: dj on June 26, 2008, 01:37:28 PM
I woke up this morning with boll weevils on my mind, and without too much looking I found one.  Big Bill Broonzy's "Oh Yes", an uptempo 8 bar blues also recorded in 1939, has a pair of verses (on either side of an instrumental break) that use the boll weevil's ability to eat up all Bill's crop as an analogy to his girlfriend's/wife's ability to spend all his money.

Sorry for hijacking this thread away from boll weevil ballads and towards the use of the boll weevil for more symbolic purposes.  I hope at least some readers will find the subject as interesting as I do.   
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: quentin on May 01, 2009, 05:26:05 AM
a bit late in the day after the last post, but there's an interesting version of Boll Weevil Holler on Davey Graham and Shirley Collins 1964 album Folk Routes New Routes (Decca LP 4652, reissued on CD by Fledgling). Hearing Shirley Collins sing in her very English accent "doggone the boll weevil..." is a bit odd, but lovely.   
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Slack on May 01, 2009, 09:33:49 AM
Welcome to WeenieCampbell Quentin.

I'll hijack a bit further only to point out this fabulous photo Rivers found for a WeeniePedia boll weevil page:

http://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Boll_Weevil

Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Rivers on May 01, 2009, 05:13:40 PM
Credit goes to Johnm for that find. We are all hoping it fills out a bit with material from this topic. Someone needs to start it off.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Mr.OMuck on May 01, 2009, 09:50:59 PM
Oh what the hell......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uivguXs6wY
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 02, 2009, 12:44:05 AM
There's been no attempt at a transcription of Kokomo Arnold's 1935 rendition "Bo Weavil (sic) Blues". What follows was transcribed from a 1970s French MCA Arnold compilation so please jump in and amend.

Boll Weevil, Boll Weevil come out of my flour barrel, (x2)
Says there's the boll weevil here mama, boll weevil everywhere.

Says I went to my captain, and I asked him for a peck of meal (x2)
He said, "Leave here Kokomo, you got boll weevils in your field'."

Now Mister Weevil, how come your bill's so long? (x2)
Done eat up all my cotton, started on my youngest corn.

Says the merchant to the doctor, "Don't sell no more C.C. Pills (x2)
Cos the boll-weevil down here in Georgia done stopped all these cotton mills."

Now Mister Boll-Weevil, if you can talk why don't you tell? (x2)
Say, you got poor Kokomo down here in Georgia catchin' a lot of hell.

Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Rivers on May 02, 2009, 09:09:56 AM
I converted the boll weevil page on weeniepedia to a category so we can index other pages / categories to it. Needs some blurb at the top probably.

http://www.weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Category:Boll_weevil
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Mr.OMuck on May 02, 2009, 12:52:11 PM
It would be a blast if  everyone on weenie recorded and posted a version of Boll Weevil. It would be a communal digital, paralleling realities, asynchronous jam of sorts. To add extra interest the song could include one original verse. Any Takers?
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: blueshome on May 03, 2009, 01:53:54 AM
I'll divert from my BB Hawkins project to have a go. Give me a few days to work something up. What the! I've posted, an hour's practice only though!.
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: RaggedandDirty on May 05, 2009, 04:23:34 AM
Talk about serendipitous timing.  The Guardian have a "readers recommend" article each week.  Guess who came top last Friday?  (see below)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/may/01/readers-recommend-songs-about-insects

cheers

Mark
Title: Re: "The Boll Weevil"
Post by: Bricktown Bob on May 19, 2009, 09:21:22 PM
Says I went to my captain, and I asked him for a peck of meal (x2)
He said, "Leave here Kokomo, you got boll weevils in your field'."

Ah, so would this be where the Boll Weavil family hooks up with the Red Cross Store family?  (I'm thinking Fred McDowell; can't think of anyone else off-hand who uses this verse in Red Cross (or Welfare) Store.)
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 14, 2013, 12:11:42 PM
Hi all,
This performance was alluded to earlier in this thread, but the lyrics were never posted.  Here are the lyrics to Vera Hall's "Boll Weevil Holler".  If there ever was a singer who was well-equipped to sing a capella, it was Vera Hall!  Everything she sang was just beautiful, and "Boll Weevil Holler" is no exception.  I'll attach a video of her performance, too.  The mispronunciation/misapprehension of the word "native" occurs elsewhere, too, but I can not think of where I heard that word sung that way before.

Boll Weevil Holler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S7CASW39L4#)

Hey, hey, boll weevil, where's your nated [sic] home?
"'Way down in the bottom, among the cotton and corn."

Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Doggone the boll weevil, they's sittin' on the square

First time I seen a boll weevil, he's sittin' on the square
Next time I seed him, he had his family there

Hey, the farmer asked the merchant, 'bout some meat and meal
"'T'ain't nothin' doin', old man, boll weevil's in your field."

"Boll weevil's in your field, boll weevil's in your field
Ain't nothin' doin', man, boll weevil's in your field."

Hey, hey, boll weevil, where's your nated [sic] home?
"'Way down in the bottom, among the cotton and corn
Among the cotton and corn."

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 15, 2013, 10:38:15 AM
Hi all,
Jaybird Coleman's version of "Boll Weevil" was mentioned earlier in this thread, but the lyrics were not transcribed.  Like Vera Hall, Jaybird Coleman was an Alabaman, and I didn't notice until yesterday that they sing the song with the same melody; I think Vera Hall's euphonious tone compared with Jaybird Coleman's raw sound masked the similarities in their respective versions of the song.  Jaybird's version was re-issued a few years back on the first "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of", and the copy of the record used was pretty whupped.  I wonder if it is one of those songs of which there is only one copy in the hands of collectors.  Jaybird, understandably, put a harmonica solo between each verse; I've never heard harmonica playing that I prefer to his here, it's just amazing playing.  I could use some help with these lyrics in one place in particular, and would very much appreciate it.  Here is a video of the performance (the opening solo is truncated):

Boll Weavil Blues - Jaybird Coleman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsO5vQpXCZw#)

Boll weevil, boll weevil, you think you treat me wrong
Eat up all of my cotton, you done started on my corn

Done stomped down my cotton, Lawd, found my new-ground corn
If you don't let me have it, down the road I'm goin'

Boll weevils got mustache, boll weevils got hands
Sometimes they're walkin's in the tall canes, just lie a natch'l man

Boll weevil told the farmer, "Needn't push so hard.
I'm gonna eat your cotton, you can't plant it in your yard."

Boll weevil want to stay here, didna wear no clothes
At the end of your cotton patch, take it row by row

Boll weevil went away, Lawd, and left this stand
"Now, I'll pay you back, farmer, soon as you break your land."

Edited 12/16 to pick up addition from Gumbo

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 15, 2013, 12:45:31 PM
Hi all,
Blind Willie McTell recorded "Boll Weevil" for the Library of Congress, accompanying himself out of G position in standard tuning, sounding in C, as per banjochris's "Willie McTell Playing Positions/Tunings" in Weeniepedia.  Willie McTell sounds very urbane in his singing on this one.

Boll weevil, boll weevil,
Where you get your grand long bill?
"I got it from Texas, I got it from the western hills
I've got it from Texas, I got it from the western hills"

Boll weevil, he told the farmer, says,
"Don't you buy no more pills.
Ain't gonna make enough money to pay your drug store bills
Ain't going to make enough money to even pay your drug store bills"

Boll weevil, he told the farmer,
"Don't you plow no more.
Ain't gonna make enough flour, in your back door
You ain't gonna make enough flour to even put in your back door"

Boll weevil, he told the farmer,
"Don't buy no Ford machine.
You ain't going to make enough money to even buy gasoline
Ain't going to make enough money, even buy gasoline"

Boll weevil said to the farmer,
"Don't buy no more pills.
Ain't going to make enough money to even buy your meals
Won't make enough money to even buy your meals"

Well now, boll weevil, boll weevil,
Where you say you get your great long bill?
"I got it from Texas, out in the western hills
Way out in the Panhandle, out in the western hills"

All best,
Johnm

 
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: banjochris on December 15, 2013, 11:37:06 PM


Hey, hey, boll weevil, where's your nated [sic] home?
"'Way down in the bottom, among the cotton and corn
Among the cotton and corn."


Mance Lipscomb uses "nated" a lot in "I Say Me for a Parable" and I think the author even talks about the word a bit.
Chris
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 16, 2013, 07:01:38 AM
Thanks for that information, Chris.  I know the word "nated", as a substitute for "native" was used in a lyric I transcribed, but I'm darned if I can remember which one. 
Do you have any ideas for that missing space in Jaybird Coleman's "Boll Weevil", in verse five?  I'm having a tough time with that place.  Thanks for your help.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Gumbo on December 16, 2013, 08:14:38 AM
Nated is in the Vera Ward Hall a few posts above ;)

is it "didna wear no clothes" in the Jaybird Coleman version?
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 16, 2013, 09:44:18 AM
Thanks, Gumbo, I believe you've got it!  I think that particular verse must win some kind of prize for the opening line and the tagline being unrelated to each other.  Quite a rendition by Jaybird, huh?  I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: banjochris on December 16, 2013, 10:09:32 AM
Thanks for that information, Chris.  I know the word "nated", as a substitute for "native" was used in a lyric I transcribed, but I'm darned if I can remember which one. 
Do you have any ideas for that missing space in Jaybird Coleman's "Boll Weevil", in verse five?  I'm having a tough time with that place.  Thanks for your help.

I'm glad Gumbo got that bit in the Jaybird Coleman, it was eluding me. As for "nated," it sounds like Kid Bailey says it in the first verse of "Mississippi Bottom Blues," and I know we were all discussing that one lately.
Chris
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 16, 2013, 10:47:56 AM
Yup, that's the place I was thinking of, Chris.  I can just hear him singing that in my head.  Thanks.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 16, 2013, 06:17:53 PM
Hi all,
One of the funkiest versions of "Boll Weevil" is certainly Tommy Jarrell's.  He sounds like he fiddled it out of DDAD tuning, and his fiddling shows the benefits of a stringed instrument not having frets, with his microtonal control of pitch.  I like how the phrase "his farmer" instantly establishes the pecking order.  That final verse is a beauty.

Tommy Jarrell - Boll Weevil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e56j2jDGHw#)

Boll weevil told his farmer, "You'd better treat me right.
I'll eat up all of your cotton, sleep in your grain nest tonight."

Boll weevil told his farmer, "You need no Ford machine.
I'll eat up all of your cotton, can't buy no gasoline."

I seen a spider runnin' up and down the wall
He musta been a-goin' to get his ashes hauled

I don't see no water, but I'm about to drown
I don't see no fire, but I'm a-burnin' down

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: TallahatchieTrot on December 18, 2013, 04:17:18 AM
John. Yes there is only one copy of Coleman's BoWeevil" and it was on Black Patti and found in the Memphis area around 1972. Vera Hall was from Livingston, Alabama where I worked at the college there for 5 years in thee early 1970s as a PR specialist. Jaybird Coleman grew up in Gainesville, Alabama, which is about 30 to 40 miles east of Livingston and is either on or very close to the Tombigbee River. Coleman moved to Bessemer,Alabama right after or just before WW One.
 I would suspect this accounts for the similarities in their melodies This is prime cotton country and is called the Black Belt of Alabama, since it is very rich soil for growing cotton. It has a high density of black sharecroppers like the Delta.gdw
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Pan on December 18, 2013, 05:30:18 AM
Hi all

I just came across Fiddlin' John Carson's "Dixie Boll Weevil. It's too whupped for me to even try to transcribe the lyrics, but here you go anyway:

John Carson - Dixie Boll Weevil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sVcDvH7OpQ#)

While at the topic, I looked up the McTell version, and sure enough, it can now be found on YouTube also. It is every bit as great as everyone said:

Blind Willie McTell-Boll Weevil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNVH5cvFQGw#)

Cheers

Pan

Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: banjochris on December 18, 2013, 09:25:58 AM
Here's Fiddlin' John Carson's "Dixie Boll Weevil." Sounds to me like he's in AEAE tuning, can't check the pitch at the moment. The last line is priceless.


Dixie Boll Weevil

The farmer said to the boll weevil, "I believe you're on the square,"
The boll weevil said to the farmer, "My whole dang family's there,
"Come to get your home,
"Gonna get your home."

The boll weevil said to the doctor, "You can cut out your little pills,
"But when I get through with the farmer, he can't pay no doctor bills,
"I'm gonna get his home,
"Gonna get his home."

The boll weevil said to the farmer, "I'll swing right on your gate,
"And when I get through with your cotton, you're going to sell that Cadillac 8.
"Gonna get your home,
"I come to get your home."

Farmer said to the merchant, "I want some meat and meal,"
"Get away from here you son of a gun, you got boll weevils in your field,
"Gonna get your home,
"He come to get your home."

The boll weevil said to the farmer, "You can ride in that Ford machine,
"But when I get through with your cotton, you can't buy gasoline,
"I'm gonna get your home,
"I come to get your home."

The boll weevil said to the farmer, "I certainly wish you well,"
The farmer said to the boll weevil, "I wish you was in Griffin, Georgia."

Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Pan on December 18, 2013, 10:10:18 AM
Here's Fiddlin' John Carson's "Dixie Boll Weevil." Sounds to me like he's in AEAE tuning, can't check the pitch at the moment. The last line is priceless.

Wow.

That's some impressive listening! Thanks Banjochris!

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 18, 2013, 01:09:14 PM
Thanks, Gayle Dean, for the information on the Jaybird Coleman track and for the geographical information indicating that Coleman and Vera Hall were from close to each other in Alabama. 
Thanks also, Pan, for posting the John Carson and Willie McTell versions and Chris for providing the transcription to the John Carson version.  Like Pan said, good listening!  Fiddling John uses a different melody than I've heard used for "The Boll Weevil", very close to Charlie Poole's "White House Blues" or "If I Lose", or Red Patterson and the Piedmont Log Rollers' "Battleship of Maine".  It's a great melody, whatever lyrics are set to it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 18, 2013, 10:46:00 PM
Hi all,
Yet another version of the Boll Weevil is Mance Lipscomb's "Ballad of the Boll Weevil", from his album "Trouble in Mind", on the Reprise label.  Mance accompanied himself out of C position in standard tuning for his version, and as was so often the case for him, he chose to play the melody on the guitar right under his singing.  In this respect, his accompaniment approach is much like that of Dock Boggs, who also liked to phrase the melody instrumentally right underneath his singing. 
Mance's lyrics have a lot of nice touches we've not seen elsewhere yet, especially in his last verse.  His version is surprisingly sympathetic to the boll weevil, considering the fact that he was a farmer for much of his adult life and most likely had to contend with the boll weevil at some point or other.

First saw old boll weevil, he was in the air
Next time I saw that boll weevil, he was stickin' on a cotton square
He found him a home, had to have a home

Farmer said to the boll weevil, "What you doin' on my farm?"
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I ain't gon' do you much harm,
I'm a-lookin' for a home, I'm got to have a home."

Farmers all got together, said, "Let's poison our crops.
We don't stop that boll weevil, he'll eat up everything we got.
He's lookin' for a home, done found him a home."

Then they decided to take him, stick him in some ice
Stayed in the ice twenty-four hours, come out lookin' very nice
He had him a home, had a cool home

Then they decided to catch him, stick him in the sand
Stayed there thirty long hours, he stood it like a natch'l man
He had a home, he had a hot home

Farmers all decided, wonderin' what to do
"You done et up all our cotton crop, goin' in the corn patch, too,
Done found a home, done found him a home."

Now the boll weevil said to the farmer, "I'm your bosom friend.
I caused you to get four cents on every bale of cotton that you take to the gin,
I got a home, I done found me a home."

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 19, 2013, 10:41:32 PM
Hi all,
Oscar "Buddy" Woods' "Boll Weevil Blues" is so far from the norm in renditions of the Boll Weevil that it barely passes muster as a version of the song.  Woods accompanies himself, lap-style slide in GBDGBD tuning, and his solo sound here is notably rougher than in his work with rhythm guitarist Ed Schaffer as the Shreveport Home Wreckers.  Woods loved to play a flat VI chord in the sixth bar of a twelve-bar blues; it has something of the sound of a IV minor chord, but is a bit more exotic sounding.
Oscar Woods' lyrics here don't reference the boll weevil's effect on agriculture and the ability of farmers to make a living.  His take on the song is a really odd romantic plaint.  Read the lyrics and you'll see what I mean.  This one rates a big "Huh?"   I'd appreciate help with the bent bracketed sections.

Boll weevil, boll weevil, don't sing those blues no more
Boll weevil, boll weevil, don't sing those blues no more
Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere that I go

Boll weevil, boll weevil, ain't been away no time
Boll weevil, boll weevil, ain't been away no time
But since boll weevil left me, I b'lieve that I'm going to lose my mind

Says I went downtown, I bought me a bag of  scat
I brought it back home and I laid it on the shelf
I'm getting tired, sleeping by myself
I'm getting so lonely and tired, sleeping by myself

Now come here, boll weevil, tell me what you gonna do
Now you going to quit me, babe, and mistreat me too
Boll weevil, boll weevil, baby, tell me what you going to do
I hear it said that you gonna mistreat me, and then you're going to quit me, too

Edited 12/20 to pick up corrections from dj

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: dj on December 20, 2013, 06:20:29 AM
That third verse of Oscar Woods' Boll Weevil is really interesting.  The last line is certainly "I'm gettin' SO LONELY 'N' TIRED, sleepin' by myself".

The first line line is something like "Says I went downtown, I bought me A BAG [o' scat?]". 

In that first line, Woods might be talking about a mojo bag, a charm to bring his lost lover back.  You'd buy the bag with the appropriate charms in it, put it on your shelf, and your lover would come back.  According to Catherine Yrwonde's Lucky Mojo website, the charm for bringing back a lost lover would be the bone of a black cat.  On the other hand, I've found several places online that mention scat as a slang term for whisky, so he might have gone downtown and bought a bottle of booze.

I can't help thinking that the title "Boll Weevil" is a mishearing of some woman's name, but I'll be darned if I can think what the name would be.   
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 20, 2013, 06:45:03 AM
Thanks very much for the help, dj.  "Scat" it is--I had that written down as one of the phonetic possibilities, and it is much the best in that regard, perfect, in fact, but I couldn't see any sense in it.
I think Oscar Woods meant "boll weevil", sure enough.  He references the line found in many of the versions in his first verse, "Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere".  It's hard to imagine "boll weevil" as a pet name or love monicker, though.  It sounds like she was here and everywhere in his thoughts.
I will make the changes.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: dj on December 20, 2013, 07:03:07 AM
Quote
He references the line found in many of the versions in his first verse, "Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere".

You're right, John.  I guess if Oscar Woods was singing this song to a room full of cotton farmers, it would be thought pretty funny to be pining for the boll weevil.
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on December 31, 2013, 01:37:24 PM
Hi all,
Charlie Patton's "Mississippi Boweavil Blues" is certainly one of the most striking versions of the Boll Weevil.  He played it out of Spanish tuning with a slide.  The song is felt in 2, and is in cut-time, with a seven bar form, the last bar of which has an extra "breath catcher" beat.  With his very unusual one-line verses, Charlie Patton was able to fit in a hell of a lot of verses over the course of his rendition.  I'd very much appreciate help with the couple of bent bracketed passages.  I know this song's lyrics have been transcribed elsewhere, but I'd like to get our own transcription of the lyrics.  In the first verse, Charlie plays the word "air" with his slide.  Each sung line is responded to by the slide, the wordless voice.

Charlie Patton-Mississippi Boweavil Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0bdLlGLTqM#)

It's a little boll weevil, see him movinin' a-in the -------, Lordy

"You can plant your cotton and you won't get a half a cent, Lordy."

Boll weevil, boll weevil, where's your native home, Lordy?

"A-Lou'siana raised in Texas is a-where I's bred and born, Lordy"

Well, I saw the boll weevil, Lord, a circle, Lordy, in the air, Lordy

A-next time I seed him, Lord, he had his family there, Lordy

Boll weevil left Texas, Lord, he bid me fare-you-well, Lordy (Spoken:  Where he goin' now?")

"I'm goin' down in Mississippi, gonna give you 'n' Lou'siana hell, Lordy"

Boll weevil said the farmer, "Think I treat you fair, Lordy" (Spoken: How is that, boy?)

"Suck all the blossom and leave you half your square, Lordy"

A-next time I seen you, you know I had your family there, Lordy

The boll weevil neither wife would sit down on the hay, Lordy

Boll weevil told his wife, "Let's take this forty here, Lordy"

Boll weevil told his wife, said, "I b'lieve I'll linger long, Lordy" (Spoken: Go on, I wanta tell 'em about it.)

He left and leavin' Lou'siana, raised and goin' to Arkansas, Lordy

Well, I saw the boll weevil, Lord, a circle, Lordy, in the air, Lordy

Next time I seed him, Lord, he had his family there, Lordy

Boll weevil told the farmer, "I think I treat you fair, Lordy"

"Sucks all the blossoms and leave you half your square, Lordy"

Boll weevil, boll weevil, where your native home, Lordy?

"'Most anywhere they raise cotton and corn, Lordy"

Boll weevil, boll weevil, call that treatin' me fair, Lordy?

The next time I seed you, you had your family there, Lordy

All best,
Johnm









 
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on January 13, 2014, 01:04:48 PM
Hi all,
Leadbelly is unusual in having recorded two different versions of the Boll Weevil, with different melodies and sets of lyrics (though some of the verses are shared).  I think Leadbelly's earlier recorded version was influenced by Ma Rainey's version, based on melodic similarity, but as you can hear at the end of the attached video, he says of this version that it's they way that the song is sung in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Sure enough, the melody to this version is very close to that done by Alabamans Vera Hall and Jaybird Coleman.  Leadbelly accompanies himself out of A position in standard tuning, tuned very low as per usual, and his pulse is a joy to hear.

Leadbelly - Boll Weevil Song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzYu-INXPDM#)

Farmer asked the boll weevil, "A-where you been so long?"
I been down in the bottom, a-with my long clothes on."

Farmer taken the boll weevil, he put him in the ice
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "You treat me mighty nice."

Farmer taken the boll weevil, he put him in the sand
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "You just like a man."

Man said to the old lady, "What do you think of that?
I got one of them boll weevils out of my Stetson hat."

SOLO X 2 (Spoken: Yeah!)

Farmer told the boll weevil, "Guess I wish you well."
Farmer said to boll weevil, "I hope you burn in hell."

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I'm gonna put 'em right on your gate.
I get through with your cotton field, you'll sell that Cadillac 8."

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I'm gonna treat you mean.
When I get through with your cotton fields, can't buy no gasoline."

SOLO: (Spoken: Yeah!)

Spoken:  That's the way they sing that down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Willie Poor Boy on March 06, 2014, 08:19:59 PM
Here is his other version which he recorded at least 6 times.

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

It is one of the few songs where he includes a verse claiming authorship for the song--as he does in Fannin Street as well. 

The other song below is in a different key and not about insects but every time I listen to it it reminds me of his Boll Weevil song--the repeated verses in Boll Weevil about "looking for a home" come close to matching the verses in Untitled that "it was in that war."

It stands as a fragment about the Spanish American War.  I've been meaning to start a thread about family resemblances among the songs in Lead Belly's recorded output--these two seem to share a few genes.  I'd be tempted to say the Untitled song was the ancestor to the Boll Weevil song given the order of respective historical events they deal with but it would be difficult to substantiate that.  If it were the source that wouldn't necessarily vitiate his claims to authorship for the Boll Weevil song

http://youtu.be/iPmFNZKwP9c (http://youtu.be/iPmFNZKwP9c)

Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: blind zippo on March 07, 2014, 04:28:27 PM
Have you checked the" Boll Weevil" by old time country musicians. W.A. (ADD) Lindsey and Alvin Conder. Conder was a member of the Weems family. The tune is very much like the one used in Leadbelly's  "In that War". They also recorded at the same session (Feb. 1928) the unissued"In That War".  The tune further crops up in Jimmy Yates' Boll Weevils" Blood War" ( Sept.1928) as well as Leonard Rutherford and John D. Foster's Bloody War(Jan.1929), Yates probably influencing Rutherford and Foster.
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Willie Poor Boy on March 08, 2014, 06:41:14 AM
Thanks for those leads--I don't have copies of those songs in full but managed just now to listen to 30 second samples at least for "Boll Weavil" on Yazoo's Hard Times Come Again No More Vol 2 and "Bloody War" on the Tompkins Sq compilation Bloody War: Songs 1924 - 1939.  The other two references I couldn't track down but it sounds like Lindsey and Conder's "In That War" has never seen the light of day.

At any rate, with the linkages you point to it seems indisputable that this version of the Boll Weavil song is derived from an earlier war song. 

The sample on amazon didn't allow for much context but do you know if "That Blood War" relates to the Spanish American War?  Thanks again!
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on May 11, 2014, 05:54:27 PM
Hi all,
Ma Rainey's version of "Boll Weevil Blues" seems to have been the model for the various versions of "Boll Weevil" which relate to the boll weevil as a lover rather than as an agricultural pest, like Oscar Woods' version and Bessie Smith's.  Ma's version here is truncated before the final lyric break is brought to a conclusion.

Ma Rainey - New Bow-Weawil Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE1vFyIQyPg#)

Hey, hey, boll weevil, don't sing them blues no more
Hey, hey, boll weevil, don't sing them blues no more
Boll Weevil's here, boll weevil's everywhere you go

I'm a long boll weevil, been out a great long time
I'm a long boll weevil, been out a great long time
I'm gonna sing these blues, to ease a boll weevil's lonesome mind

I don't want no man to put no sugar in my tea
I don't want no man to put no sugar in my tea
Some of 'em is so evil, I'm 'fraid he might poison me

Lord, I went downtown, and bought me a hat
I bought it back home and laid it on the shelf
Looked at my bed, I'm gettin' tired, sleepin' by myself

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on May 31, 2014, 06:10:44 PM
Hi all,
There have been some different versions of "Boll Weevil" put up at YouTube since I last looked.  Here's one by Guitar Welch, recorded at Angola Penitentiary by Dr. Harry Oster.  Welch accompanied himself out of Spanish, and his version is a real guitar showpiece, with just about as much space devoted to solos as to verses.  Dr. Oster certainly recorded a lot of stellar music.  I get the same feeling listening to the recordings he made as I do listening to those George Mitchell made:  that the people he recorded were comfortable and did their best while the tape was rolling.

Guitar Welch - Boll Weevil Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNbs5knYKQg#ws)

SOLO

Boll weevil's here, baby, boll weevil's everywhere
Boll weevil's here, mama, boll weevil's everywhere
Well, I could go to Arkansas City, Lord, boll weevil's over there

Boll weevils, boll weevil done cut down all of my cotton and corn
Hey, boll weevil done cut down all of my cotton and corn
Well, I'm gonna change my mind, baby, and down the road I'm goin'

SOLO

You know, my baby got ways, Lord, I just can't understand
Yes, my baby got ways, Lord, that I just can't understand
Well, she mistreat me, Lordy, Lord, and found her another man

SOLO

I'm gonna pack my suitcase, baby, and down the road I'm goin'
Hey, I'm gonna pack my suitcase, baby, and down the road I'm goin'
Whoa, mister boll weevil cuttin' down all of my cotton and corn

SOLO

Edited 6/2 to pick up corrections from mr mando

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on May 31, 2014, 06:12:56 PM
Hi all,
And here's one from Gid Tanner.  Evidently it was the first song he ever recorded.  Lyrically, this is an epic version, and one I especially enjoy.  I find Gid Tanner's enunciation really tough to hear in a couple of places and would really appreciate help with the bent bracketed passages.

Gid Tanner - Boll Weevil Blues (Gid's First Recording) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VoDXqGaj4I#)

The farmer said to the boll weevil, "You're right up on this square."
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "My whole family's there.
I have a home, I have a home."

You get out your barrel of poison, scatter it upon the row
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "You scatter your poison, though,
I have a home, I have a home."

Gonna ease you up to my parcel, gonna cover the grubs all up
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I doodle myself right up,
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the lightnin' bug, "Can I get up a trade with you?
If I was  lightnin' bug I'd work the whole night through,
All night long, all night long."

"Yes, don't you see us creatuhs now have done you wrong"
"Boll weevil's got my cotton and the merchant's got my corn,
Shall I do?  I've got the blues."

Boll weevil said to the merchant, "Better drink your cold lemonade.
When I get through with you, gwine drag you out of that shade.
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "You'll fly a Ford machine
When I get through with the farmer, can't buy no gasoline."
"What shall I do?  Boll weevil blues"

Boll weevil said to the doctor, "You gotta pull out all of them pills.
When I get through with the farmer, can't pay no doctor bills,
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the preacher, "You better pull up your tent show.
When I get through with the farmer, can't pay no preacher no more,
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I set you on the gate.
When I get through with the farmer, he sell the Cadillac 8,
To have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to his wife, "You got to stand up on your feet.
Look-a-way down here in Georgy, is the cotton we've got to eat,
All night long, all day, too."

SOLO

The farmer said to the boll weevil, "I wish you all's well."
The farmer said to the boll weevil, "I wish you all ------"
I have a home, I have a home

Edited 6/2 to pick up corrections from Pan
Edited 6/2 to pick up correction from ScottN
Edited 8/21 to pick up lyrics from banjochris
Edited 9/3 to pick up lyric from dj


All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: mr mando on June 02, 2014, 02:43:29 AM
Here's one by Guitar Welch, recorded at Angola Penitentiary by Dr. Harry Oster.

Boll weevil's here, baby, boll weevil's everywhere
Boll weevil's here, mama, boll weevil's everywhere
Well, I could go to Arkansas City, Lord, boll weevil's everywhere

Wow, hadn't heard that before, great recording. Thanks for pointing it out!!

In 1.3, I think I hear: "Well, I would go to Arkansas City, Lord, boll weevil's over there

In 3.3, I'm not sure if I don't hear something between "Well" and "she", maybe a garbled "the way"?
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 02, 2014, 07:12:14 AM
Thanks very much for the catches, mr mando.  I transcribed 1.3 correctly but entered it wrong, something I do way too often.  In 3.3, the first "Lord" should have been "Lordy".  I don't think he put anything between "Well" and "she", I think he just drawls a bit.  I have made the changes.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 02, 2014, 11:39:51 AM
Hi all,
Here are a couple of field recordings of different versions of "Boll Weevil", both sung a capella.  The first, "Boll Weevil Been Here", is sung by Willie Williams.  I'd very much appreciate help with the bent bracketed place in the first line of the third verse:

Willie Williams - Boll Weevil Been Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxBYtyPmzww#ws)

Boll weevil's been here, done bored his hole and gone
Boll weevil's been here, done bored his hole and gone
You can tell by that, boll weevil won't be here long

Boll weevil's been here, he bored his hole and gone
Boll weevil's been here, he done bored his hole and gone
You can tell by that, boll weevil won't be here long

If I could sing like a sea lark in the air
I would be like boll weevil, fly from town to town

Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Looked in my meal bin and boll weevil, he was there

Boll weevil's flew up, he took a circle 'round the moon
Boll weevil's flew up, he took a circle 'round the moon
Said, "Goodbye, farmers, I see you another year."

Edited 6/2 to pick up corrections from Waxwing, dj and Johnm

The second version, called simply "Boll Weevil" is sung by Albertine King.  It's the only version of the song I've encountered that makes mention of New York.

Willie George Albertine King - Boll Weevil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quj8dFHBGAw#ws)

First time I saw boll weevil, I saw him in New York
Next time I saw boll weevil, he were climbin' up a cotton stalk
Tell me how long the bullyin' boll weevil been gone

The farmer went to his merchant
Say, "All I want was meats and meal."
And the merchant said to the farmer,
"Got boll weevils in your field."
Tell me how long the bullyin' boll weevil been gone

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: waxwing on June 02, 2014, 12:24:59 PM
Sounds to me Willie Wilson is singing "sea lark", Johnm. There are two birds common to most of the South, particularly farm fields, that he might be referring to, the horned lark and the eastern meadowlark, neither of which have much connection to the sea, so perhaps he is singing "see" or "seeing" or possibly even "singing lark" and muffing it a bit? The meadowlark is know for its call, and the western meadowlark, which has an even more melodious call, does come as far east as western Mississippi in winter. If we knew which part of the south he was from it might narrow it down. Of course, he could be referring to another bird altogether and "lark" is just a local designation.

Wax
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: waxwing on June 02, 2014, 12:59:27 PM
I think the idea that he may have muffed that line is supported further by the fact that he sings "If I could sing" when he surely meant "If I could FLY" because the answering line is "I would be like boll weevil, FLY from town to town". Having muffed there he may have then stumbled with the modifier of the lark's name and then chose not to repeat the line at all for the AAB form so as not to have to chose between correcting or repeating the error. Just sayin'...

Wax
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: dj on June 02, 2014, 01:01:22 PM
I think it's "singin' lark".

Also, you missed the fourth verse:

Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Looked in my mirror, and boll weevil he was there
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 02, 2014, 02:28:28 PM
Thanks very much for the help, waxwing and dj.  I think you're right with "sea lark", waxwing, that sounds right on to me.  Thanks for catching a missed verse, too, dj.  I transcribed it and missed it when I was entering the song.  I think he sings "meal bin" in that verse.  Thanks guys!
If either of you or anyone else is in the mood for deciphering more lyrics, I got a good start on Gid Tanner's "Boll Weevil Blues" a few posts back, but there are several pretty big blank spots, I could sure use some help with.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Pan on June 02, 2014, 02:54:46 PM
If either of you or anyone else is in the mood for deciphering more lyrics, I got a good start on Gid Tanner's "Boll Weevil Blues" a few posts back, but there are several pretty big blank spots, I could sure use some help with.
All best,
Johnm

Hi John

I can't help you with the blank spots, but I hear some other parts slightly differently. Perhaps they are just typos, or I'm just imagining things?

I think the 5th verse ends up with "I've got the blues", instead of "Boll weevil blues".

On the 8th verse you start with "Boll weevil said to the farmer", as in the previous verse, when you might have meant "Boll weevil said to the doctor"?

Cheers

Pan

Edited to add: And thanks for another great thread!
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 02, 2014, 03:05:22 PM
Thanks for the fixes, Pan, you are correct in both instances.  I think I'm going for a new world record in data entry screw-ups today!  I made the changes you suggested.  I'm glad you're enjoying the thread.  There are a lot of great versions yet to be posted. 
All best,
Johnm 
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: ScottN on June 02, 2014, 04:14:52 PM
Hi John,

Sorry I'm not of more help but in Gid Tanner's version, I think verse 7 includes "Ford machine."

Thanks,
           Scott
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: dj on June 02, 2014, 04:26:47 PM
Quote
I think he sings "meal bin" in that verse.

Yep, that's it.  Dang, looking in the mirror and seeing the boll weevil there sounded so cool!
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 02, 2014, 06:28:10 PM
"Ford machine"  in verse seven of Gid Tanner's version is spot on, Scott.  Thanks!  I've put it in there.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: waxwing on June 02, 2014, 07:03:52 PM
I googled "sea lark" and found it commonly used for various small shore birds, plovers, dunlin, sandpipers, etc. According to B&GR Williams was recorded in the VA state penn in Richmond, so a good chance he was a Virginia tidewater area player (like some other folks we know) and would have known these birds by this name.

Still think he meant to sing "If I could fly like a..."

Wax
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 04, 2014, 03:30:03 PM
Hi all,
Here is a great version from "Baby Face" Leroy Foster featuring Little Walter and Muddy Waters.  I think I have most of the lyrics now, apart from portions of the spoken asides during the solo.

Boll Weevil : Baby Face Leroy Foster (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28PVzShY1bQ#)

Mr. boll weevil, don't sing them blues no more
Mr. boll weevil, don't sing the blues no more
Because the boll weevil here, boll weevil every place I go

Ah, but you know, the next time I seen the boll weevil,
You know, he was a-sailin' through the air (Spoken: Uh-huh!)
The next time I saw the boll weevil, boy,
He had all of his family there

Mr. boll weevil, please don't sing the blues no more
Because the boll weevil here, boll weevil every place I go (Spoken: Lord have mercy!)

(Spoken, during solo: Well, all right, Little Walter, come in, Muddy Waters, let me talk to you, boy!
Oh, but look-a-here!  The boll weevil got so bad now! [                          ] I'm sorry, dear.)

Now, but you know, Muddy,
If anybody happen to aks you, boy,
Who, uh, made up this song (Spoken: Who did then?)
Just tell 'em Walter with a pair of duckins,
Me with a pair of little duckins on

Mister boll weevil, don't sing them blues no more
Because the boll weevil here, boll weevil every place I go

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Mr.OMuck on June 04, 2014, 04:57:21 PM
Pink Anderson

https://youtu.be/mo3AWGypKjA
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 05, 2014, 09:41:33 AM
Hi all,
Here is a version from Mississippian Sid Hemphill, recorded in 1941 or 1942.  Like Gid Tanner's version, it uses the same melody as was used for Charlie Poole's  "White House Blues" and Red Patterson's "Battleship of Maine".  It would be interesting to see how many different recorded songs used that melody.

https://youtu.be/Z3nheqCo_WM

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 05, 2014, 09:44:53 AM
Hi all,
Here is a version of "Boll Weevil" recorded by Phineas Rockmore.  I know nothing about him except that he was a Texan and also was recorded doing a version of "Traveling Man".  He sounds to be backing himself with a flat-pick here out of C position in standard tuning, and appears to have been a seasoned performer, very poised with a droll delivery.  He has lots of verses not encountered in any of the previous versions, too.

https://youtu.be/m6zpXmx9zq8

Have you heard the latest?  Latest of our home
Boll weevil done eat all of my cotton, he done started on my corn
Says, "I got me a home, boll weevil's home."

Well, the farmer taken the boll weevil, buried him down in ice
Boll weevil says to the farmer, "I'm a-livin' me a happy life,
This is my home, boll weevil's home."

Then the farmer taken the boll weevil, buried him down in sand
Boll weevil says to the farmer, "I'm gonna stand it like a natch'l man,
This is my home, boll weevil's home."

Then the farmer taken the boll weevil, he stopped him up in a little flask
Boll weevil says to the farmer, "I'm found my home at last,
This is my home, boll weevil's home."

If you want to kill the boll weevil, farmer, let me tell you how
Just th'ow away your cotton sacks and burn up your plow
And you'll have a home, boll weevil's home

Well, the farmer says to the merchant, "What do you think of that?
I found the boll weevil settin' in my Stetson hat
Makin' that his home, boll weevil home."

Now the first time I seen the boll weevil, he was settin' on a square
And the next time I seen the rascal, he done moved his famiy there
Makin' that his home, boll weevil's home

Well, the farmer says to the wife, "I'm in a terrible distress.
Wintertime's done caught me here and I got one old coat and vest
And It's full of holes, it's full of holes."

Well the her says to the husband, "I'm in the same distress.
Boll weevil done eat all of the cotton, left me one old cotton dress
And it's full of holes, it's full of holes."

Now, I ain't gonna tell you no story, I ain't gonna tell you no lie
Farmer, you can't kill the boll weevil, ain't no need to try
He's got him a home, boll weevil's home

Farmer says to the merchant, "I didn't make but one bale.
And before I carry my last bale to town, I'm gwine-a fight you and go to jail,
And make that my home, only home."

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 13, 2014, 09:39:41 PM
Hi all,
Yet another version of "Boll Weevil" was recorded by Buster "Buzz" Ezell, recorded by Alan Lomax in Georgia between 1926 and 1943.  Because two other of Ezell's titles refer to Roosevelt and Hitler, it seems likely that he was recorded towards the tail end of that period.
Ezell accompanies himself here out of G position in standard tuning with a vigorous boom-chang style.  He sounds to have been a real showman, and listening to a number of versions of this song, one is impressed with the extent to which the song seemed to attract ebullient performers.  Both Buster Ezell and Phineas Rockmore sound like "personality plus" types who really knew how to put a song across.  Neither of the two performers sound particularly rural, for that matter--they sound pretty sophisticated.

https://youtu.be/Swdiq0vWDz0

Well, the first time I saw boll weevil, he was settin' on a cotton square
Next time I saw mister weevil, he had his whole family there
What you reckon he said?  'Bout to kill me dead!

He said to our doctor, "Might well as throw away your pills,
For when I get through with this country, the farmers can't pay their bills,
They won't have no homes, they won't have no homes."

Well, I'm goin' back to Texas, to where I was bred and born
Mama, I'm gwine to leave Georgia, but Georgia ain't none of my home
I'm on my way, I'm on my way

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "Farmer, I wish you well."
Farmer said to the weevil, "Yes, but I wish you's dead --,
Got to leave my home, on account of you."

Well, the weevil says to the farmer, "Why, I'm your bosom friend.
Every since I been in this country, cotton's brought you thirty-five cents,
You ought to praise my name, you ought to praise my name."

Boll weevil says to the farmer, "You might do just as you please.
But if you don't raise no cotton, I'll eat up all of your peas,
You'll have to sell your corn to pay your debts."

Weevil says to the farmer, "You might think I'm tellin' a tale.
But when you come to find out, you'll be arrested and put in jail,
You can't pay your fine, you can't pay your fine."

Boll weevil said to High Sheriff one day, a-riding in his automobile,
He said, "When I get through with these cotton fields, I'm gonna purchase every one of your wheels,
You'll have to ride on the rims, you'll have to ride on the --."

Well, the weevil said to the judge, "You can do just as you please.
But when I get through with this country, you'll be crawling on your knees,
You're going to be insane, you're going to be in--."

Well, the first time I saw the boll weevil, he was settin' on a cotton square,
Next time I saw mister weevil, he had his whole family there,
What you reckon he said?  'Bout to kill me dead!

Said to our doctor, "Might as well throw away your pills,
For when I get through with this country, the farmers can't pay their bills,
They won't have no homes, they won't have no homes."

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: bnemerov on June 14, 2014, 04:54:52 AM
Hi John,
Ezell was recorded at the Fort Valley Folk Festival in spring, 1941 by John Work.
There are photos of him in the college magazine. More at the LoC American Memory website: The Fort Valley collection.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ftvhtml/ftvhome.html (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ftvhtml/ftvhome.html)
Really a wonderful use of our tax dollars.

And the Document CDs serve a purpose, but the sketchy notes and poor sound are really irritating. Listen to Ezell's Boll Weevil on the LoC site for a much better sound.
best,
bruce
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on June 14, 2014, 06:04:17 AM
Thanks very much for that information, Bruce.  I've just been finding these versions on YouTube and have been figuring out where the players were from by working through the Document catalog.  It's pretty inefficient, and you barely wind up with any information, so it is especially good to have a deeper context on where the music came from.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Bunker Hill on June 15, 2014, 01:19:17 AM
FWIW using the link below scroll down to the Flyright-Matchbox series (editor: John Cowley) and at item 250 (1974) one can read Tony Russell's liner notes to the original Fort Valley  LP compilation. http://www.wirz.de/music/flyrifrm.htm (http://www.wirz.de/music/flyrifrm.htm)
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on July 25, 2014, 07:45:55 PM
Hi all,
Here is a version of "Boll Weevil" from Irvin "Gar Mouth" Lowry.

Irvin "Gar Mouth" Lowry - Boll Weevil (1934-40) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5CqnuKqpug#)

Mister farmer went to town, asked for meat and meal
The clerk said, "Go 'way, mister farmer, boll weevil's in your field

Mister farmer went back home, went walkin' 'cross his fields
Says, "A-look at a poor farmer, ever make a pint of meal."

Boll weevil's taken a circle, 'way around the moon
Says, "I be back to see you, mister farmer, the twenty-fifth of June.
The twenty-fifth of June
Says, "I'll be back to see you, mister farmer, on the twenty-fifth of June."

I was standin' on the corner, my baby come riding by
She were drinkin' bottle in bond, bottle in bond
The first thing that I knowed I was jailhouse bound
I was jailhouse bound
Lord, I was jailhouse bound and she wouldn't write to me

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: banjochris on August 20, 2014, 11:58:12 PM


[                                      ], for to cover the grass all up
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I [                   ] right up,
I have a home, I have a home."


I believe Gid is singing here:

Gonna ease up to my parcel, gonna cover the grubs all up,
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I'll doodle myself right up,
I have a home, I have a home."

I assume "doodle" in this instance would mean curl up like a doodle bug.

Chris
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on August 21, 2014, 09:21:54 AM
Thanks so much for the help, Chris!  I particularly like Gid Tanner's version of the song, and despite listening to that verse many times, I was not at all close to getting it.  That is great hearing and figuring out the sense of the lyrics on your part.  "Doodle" as a verb--wow!  And the sense is right on the money, too.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: dj on September 03, 2014, 03:40:29 AM
I think the first line of Gid Tanner's verse 7 might be  "Boll weevil said to the farmer, "YOU'LL fly IN a Ford machine"".  Fly as in flee.
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on September 03, 2014, 05:33:41 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, dj.  I just listened to that passage about six times consecutively, and "You'll", as you have it sounds good.  I can't hear any trace of "in", though.  The meaning could be the same without the "in", so I'll put the "you'll" in there and let it go at that.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on April 02, 2015, 10:33:23 AM
Hi all,
Here are a couple more versions of "Boll Weevil" I've found recently, one by John Henry Barbee and the other by Black Bottom McPhail.

John Henry Barbee-Boll Weevil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAhCqz9zqZo#)


Boll Weavil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdtvlAKiZ4U#ws)

I went to my merchant, I asked him for some meat and meal
Lord, I went to my merchant, I asked him for some meat and meal
And he said, "Go 'way from me farmer, you've got boll weevils in your field."

Boll weevil, boll weevil, you know you didn't treat me right
Boll weevil, boll weevil, you know you didn't treat me right
You at my cotton in the daytime and you at my corn at night

There ain't but the one thing will turn a boll weevil down
There ain't but the one thing will turn a boll weevil down
That's a sweet potato, it's growin' way down in the ground

Boll weevil told the farmer, 'You can ride 'round in your Ford machine."
Boll weevil told the farmer, "You can ride 'round in your Ford machine.
But when I get through with your cotton, you can't buy gasoline."

Boll weevil took a circle, went all the way 'round the moon
Boll weevil took a circle, went all the way 'round the moon
And he told all the farmers, "Now, I won't be back 'til June."


All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on April 02, 2015, 12:58:43 PM
Hi all,
I was wondering if anyone knew the personnel on the Black Bottom McPhail cut.  It sounds like it could have been Bill Broonzy on guitar.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: dj on April 02, 2015, 04:46:44 PM
B&GR has "Possibly Charlie McCoy" on Black Bottom McPhail's version of Boll Weevil.
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on April 02, 2015, 05:24:31 PM
Thanks for the citation, dj.  I think I'll leave it "unknown"; that seems more prudent in such instances.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Mike Billo on April 03, 2015, 07:27:53 AM

     Vera Hall's acapella version always knocks my socks off
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S7CASW39L4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S7CASW39L4)
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on April 03, 2015, 09:38:03 AM
Yes, you're right, Mike, Vera Hall's version of "Boll Weevil" really is a beauty.  It was posted previously in the thread.  I'm realizing in a long thread like this, there is almost bound to be duplication unless a list of the versions that have already been posted to the thread is made available in the thread.  There are other duplications, too, I know.  I'll work on putting together such a list.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on April 03, 2015, 09:52:47 AM
Hi all,
Early in the thread, Bunker Hill posted lyrics to "Bo Weavil Blues", by Kokomo Arnold, and in checking youtube I found it is up there now.  Despite the title, Kokomo Arnold pronounces the title character "boll weevil" through out the song, and pronounces his own name "Kokimo".  Here is his version, played out of Vestapol with a slide as was most of his repertoire:

https://youtu.be/NOFSMUQOsdQ

Boll weevil, come out of my flour barrel
Boll weevil, come out of my flour barrel
Said, there's boll weevils here, mama, boll weevils everywhere

Says, I went to my captain and I asked him for a peck of meal
Says, I went to my captain and I asked him for a peck of meal
He said, "Leave here Kokimo, you've got boll weevils in your field."

Now Mr. Weevil, how come your bill's so long?
Now Mr. Weevil, how come your bill's so long?
You done eat up all my cotton, started on my youngest corn

Says, the merchant told the doctor, "Don't sell no more C. C. pills."
Says, the merchant told the doctor, "Don't sell no more C. C. pills.
'Cause the boll weevils down here in Georgia done stopped these cotton mills."

Now Mr. Boll Weevil, if you can talk, why don't you tell?
Now Mr. Boll Weevil, if you can talk, why don't you tell?
Say, you got poor Kokimo down here in Georgia, catchin' a lotta hell

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on July 30, 2015, 04:16:08 PM
Hi all,
One of the earlier recorded versions of Boll Weevil was that of Charlie "Dad" Nelson, who performed the song as "Cotton Field Blues", in 1926, accompanying himself on a 12-string guitar played out of E position in standard tuning, and adding kazoo.  Nelson was a smooth and sophisticated guitar player with a nice touch and lots of neat ideas.  His kazoo playing is notable for its accurate pitch, too; he really made it sound like a musical instrument.  Here is his version of the song:

http://youtu.be/7cd9UGkkCm4 (http://youtu.be/7cd9UGkkCm4)

KAZOO INTRO

"Boll weevil, boll weevil, where did you come from?
Boll weevil, boll weevil, where did you come from?"
"From Beaumont, Texas, I'm gettin' over here on the bum."

KAZOO SOLO

Farmer says, "Boll weevil, don't you know you're doin' me wrong?"
Farmer said to the boll weevil, "Don't you know you're doin' me wrong?
Eat up all my cotton, and eat up all my corn."

Says, I'm goin' to town, buy a little gasoline
Says, I'm goin' to town, to buy a little gasoline
These the worst boll weevils, babe, that I ever seen

All best,
Johnm
 
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on September 14, 2017, 03:05:06 PM
Hi all,
It has been a while since I found a previously unheard (by me) version of the Boll Weevil.  I discovered one today by Johnny Shines, joined in this rendition by a bass player and a drummer.  Here is his rendition, and it utilizes a different melody and different lyrics than versions I've heard before:

https://youtu.be/tz6xdt-EEqc

INTRO

Hey-ey, Mr. Boweevil, man, don't sing them blues no more
Well, oh-ho, Mr. Boweevil, man, don't sing them blues no more
Well, you're Mr. Boweevil here, and I know you're the man everywhere in the world you go

Well, well, Mr. Boweevil, you ate up all of my cotton and corn
Well, ho, Mr. Boweevil, I know that you ate up all my cotton and corn
Well, you done ate up all of my home, whoa, now you got my little sweet girl and gone

Well, Mr. Boweevil, I recognize you everywhere in the world you go
Whoa-oa, Mr. Boweevil, I recognize you everywhere in the world you go
Well, you done wrecked my family, and you tore down my little happy home

SOLO

Well, goodbye, Mr. Boweevil, I hope we'll never meet again
Oh-oh, goodbye, Mr. Boweevil, whoa, I hope we'll never meet again
Well you can bet I can tell the whole round world, whoa, Mr. Boweevil not no farmer's friend

Edited 9/14 to pick up correction from waxwing
Edited 9/15 to pick up correction from lindy

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: waxwing on September 14, 2017, 08:17:42 PM
Well, it's pretty easy for me to find versions of most any song I've not heard before, but this sure has a strong early electric blues sound. I need to listen to more of Mr Shines earlier work.

I think in the 3rd line of the 1st verse he does include the "in the world" phrase, slurred somewhat, but similar to the 1st two lines in the 3rd verse.

Wax
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on September 14, 2017, 10:35:11 PM
Thanks for the catch, wax, and you are right.  I heard it when I transcribed it, but didn't enter it--doh!  I've made the correction.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: lindy on September 15, 2017, 10:35:37 AM
John,

In the third verse I hear,

Well, Mr. Boweevil, I recognize you everywhere in the world you go
Whoa-oa, Mr. Boweevil, I recognize you everywhere in the world you go

(or "recognize ya")

Give a listen, see what you think.

Lindy
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on September 15, 2017, 11:32:16 AM
Right you are, Lindy, thanks.  I have made the change.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on November 13, 2019, 10:57:26 PM
Hi all,
After searching on youtube for versions of "Boll Weevil" for the first time in a couple of years I found this version, which was alluded to, but not posted earlier in the thread.  I'll transcribe the lyrics later.

https://youtu.be/-CUr9sprpLA

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Johnm on November 14, 2019, 08:52:37 AM
Hi all,
Here's a real oddity, "Boll Weevil Blues" by the Arkansas Trio, which included Vernon Dalhart.  It seems to be an instrumental feature with tenor banjo and a kazoo duet and incidental vocals.  Huh!

https://youtu.be/UrBxmTl0I0c

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Stuart on November 14, 2019, 09:19:35 AM
The folk process meets high culture--It doesn't get much better than this one! Here's the link to the UCSB page:

https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.php/matrix/detail/2000156560/9578-Boll_weevil_blues

It was released both as a cylinder and a 78 record in 1924. The sound is better and it can be downloaded as a WAV file. (Don't everybody do it at once now! We don't want to overload their website!)  ;)

ICYMI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Dalhart

https://countrymusichalloffame.org/artist/vernon-dalhart/
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: eric on November 15, 2019, 12:57:45 PM
Geoff Muldaur came through town a couple weeks ago and put on a wonderful two set solo concert, including his Boll Weevil, based on Vera Ward Hall's.  I picked up his CD Penney's Farm at the concert which includes Boll Weevil;  this time with Jim Kweskin, and Suzy Thompson on fiddle.  The whole CD is excellent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HehvA3fb74
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: Stuart on November 16, 2019, 10:21:47 AM
I agree, Eric. I picked up the CD soon after it was released and it is excellent. I don't think those guys have missed a beat in over 50 years. They always had their fingers on the pulse of Americana, knew the good stuff when they heard it, and played it with their own personal touch.
Title: Re: The Boll Weevil
Post by: ozrkreb on November 23, 2019, 07:27:52 AM
Great stuff!
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