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Country Blues => Country Blues Lyrics => Topic started by: CF on September 24, 2007, 06:53:15 AM

Title: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: CF on September 24, 2007, 06:53:15 AM
I've never believed that Patton was singing 'I'm going away to a world unknown' in his 'Down The Dirt Road Blues' . . . just sounded too metaphysical or philosophical for a delta blues musician from the  early 20th century (for me) . . . but I came across this song on the Wolf Folklore Collection page [check out the Bukka White stuff here too] & now I don't know . . .

https://youtu.be/kxO2752Zt7A

http://www.lyon.edu/wolfcollection/unknownworld1289.html (http://www.lyon.edu/wolfcollection/unknownworld1289.html)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on September 24, 2007, 07:51:47 AM
I've never believed Charley sang "to a world unknown" because it sounds like "to Illino-o-o" especially in the Nevins remastering on Yazoo. But I guess you could say that, since he does sing "down the dark road" that he is talking about death and he's either gonna kill his rider or, someone else's, to take with him. Now that's down right Egyptsheen.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: CF on September 24, 2007, 08:37:06 AM
Yeah, I'm still an 'Illinois' man myself, ha . . . plus there's precedence in other blues/folk tunes . . . Doesn't Skip James say something similar in 'Illinois Blues'?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 24, 2007, 08:41:06 AM
The three theories I've heard are "world unknown", which I never thought he sang -- I agree, CF, seems too affected, poetic etc -- and "Illinois", which I never thought he sang, and "to where I don' know", which is right.  :P Sung something like "whe'-I don'ohh-hohhh."

The Wolf Folklore Collection recording you point to is from 1961, so it is hard to use as a reference point unless the texts date back to before the 20s, which I'm sure many do, but Sacred Harp is sure not my expertise. (That recording, BTW, is scary. There's some community religious music that's just spooky to me in a OK-so-who-do-we-sacrifice-now kind of way.  :P) Thanks for that page, I hadn't come across it before.

I agree though, that if Patton used the phrase "I'm going away to a world unknown" (which I still don't think he did), that it sounds like a phrase lifted from a hymn or sacred song of some kind.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: CF on September 24, 2007, 08:58:06 AM
OK, Skip doesn't say it in 'Illinois Blues' . . . thought I heard that line somewhere, hmm . . . . Anyone know any songs with 'going away to Illinois' lyric? It may have been a bluegrass tune i'm thinking of . . .
It does sound like 'dark road' Waxwing, never noticed that before . . .
Yeah UB I knew it was a 60s recording but figured it was a common religious phrase of some kind of ancestry . . . might look into it.
If it is 'World Unknown' it certainly works better for me now finding this religious context & gives the lyric the romantic angle I think Fahey (?) & other transcribers were reading into it.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 24, 2007, 09:50:29 AM
For kicks, I googled "I'm going away to Illinois" (and "goin'") within quotation marks to see what comes up. Only two results, one of which was an article by Elijah Wald which appeared in Sing Out! in 2002. I reproduce the first paragraph here because of its pertinence to our discussion but you can read the whole article at http://www.elijahwald.com/patton.html (and I recommend it heartily - Elijah is very readable).

Charlie Patton ? Folksinger
by Elijah Wald

Who was Charley Patton, and what the hell was he singing about? There are infinite arguments about Patton?s lyrics. His growling, slurred diction, and the fact that his recordings were often made on mediocre equipment and survive only in scratched and beaten copies make words and phrases utterly indecipherable. Combined with the gaps in what we know of his life and character, this creates an almost irresistible opportunity for historians to shape him into whatever they want him to be. Take the first line of ?Down the Dirt Road Blues,? one of his earliest and greatest recordings: Is he a haunted, Delta mystic singing, ?I?m going away to a world unknown,? as transcribed in the liner notes to an ornate new box set and a half-dozen web sites? Or is he a popular country entertainer singing, ?I?m going away to Illinois,? a common theme of the great exodus of black Mississippians to Chicago? There is no ?right? answer, but how one hears a line like this can be emblematic of the whole way one looks at blues....

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Slack on September 24, 2007, 01:24:21 PM
Yes, good article - long, but well worth the read.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dingwall on September 24, 2007, 01:40:43 PM
This is difficult, but my hearing is:

I'm goin' away, to wander North.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on September 24, 2007, 01:50:44 PM
I think Uncle Bud is right, it's "to were I don't know", sung with a rather peculiar accent.

As an interesting aside, John Fahey, in his Patton book, gives the line as "I'm going away to the one I know" in his lyric transcription, but as "I'm going away to where I don't know" when he transcribes the melody.

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on September 24, 2007, 03:55:40 PM
Hi all,
It has always sounded like "to where I don't knooooow" to me.
all best,
Johnm
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: CF on September 24, 2007, 05:29:44 PM
I read that Wald article over a year ago & I really liked it, one of the better articles on Patton I've read . . .
This is a different thread altogether but I'm really starting to view pre-war blues in a different light . . . beginning to think that the blues was much more of a 'popular', recorded phenomenon than it was a traditional one . . . anyway . . .
Hmm, I just don't hear 'to where I don't know' . . .
Does the Revenant box transcription have 'world unknown'? I think I assumed that from Wald's suggestion in this article  . . .
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: banjochris on September 24, 2007, 06:01:01 PM
I seem to remember that, for whatever this is worth, that the source for the "world unknown" lyric in the Calt/Wardlow book was Booker Miller, who sang and played with Patton, and wasn't just the way they heard it.
Chris
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on September 24, 2007, 07:19:54 PM
Charlie came up with "Circle 'Round The Moon". Whoa, metaphysics dude.  8)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Doug on September 24, 2007, 10:21:44 PM
Yeah UB I knew it was a 60s recording but figured it was a common religious phrase of some kind of ancestry . . . might look into it.

I have no idea what Patton actually sang, but "world(s) unknown" is definitely a well-known religious phrase. I've spent a fair bit of my life listening to hymns (insert your own jokes about a mis-spent youth), and the source that jumps to mind is the last verse of the well-known hymn "Rock of Ages," with the words by Augustus Toplady (1740-1778):

"While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I soar [rise] to worlds unknown
See thee on thy judgment throne
[or: And behold Thee on thy throne]
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee."

That's not the only reference to the phrase though...  I know it comes up in one of Isaac Watts' adaptations of Psalm 97, which are earlier still. Watts lived 1674-1748, and his hymns were extremely influential. See http://books.google.com/books?id=_X4CAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA199&lpg=PA199&dq=%22worlds+unknown%22+flight&source=web&ots=RKIfd32AGv&sig=a9hdRrFDcdOuKP5_cFBmYdr6vRg

(Sorry, I don't know how to prettify the link...)

Doug
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 25, 2007, 12:04:27 AM
Since I occasionally work with historical phonology and rhymed texts, as well as old texts, their content and context, I'll throw in my 2 cents?just some things to think about. Charley's rhymes are consistent?maybe not perfect, but pretty damn close when we listen to the finals and vowel shapes. I'm pretty sure that the last word in the first verse is "long." "I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long" is a stock phrase. My assumption is that he would start off with an AAB structured verse with rhyming finals, since that's the pattern for rest of the piece. Working backwards, he would try to rhyme "?ong" with something identical or something close, such as "?on" ("-own"). "To where I don't know" ("-o") is close, but lacks the final ?n. (Where is IPA when I need it?) But it is phonetically and semantically close enough to be a strong possibility, barring other evidence.

I'd forget about the metaphysical, philosophical, lyrical, affected, poetic stuff. No offense fellows, but we don't want or need to project this back on Charley. It just muddies the waters. "World unknown" may have been a commonplace that was in his vocabulary, or may have been borrowed for the specific purpose of creating lyrics for this song. Happens all the time. He could have been using it in the sense of  "some unknown place in the (or "this") world." (Like when I walk out my door to Aurora Ave. here just north of Seattle. I never know what I'll run into.)

I listened to the first verse a dozen times or so and its anything but clear. The final "?on" makes me lean towards "world unknown," and if Chris's memory is correct about Calt's and Wardlow's source, Booker Miller's recollections make the case stronger. In the absence of an urtext or a clear ur-recording, there's room to speculate. We're all entitled to our own opinions, but we're not entitled to our own facts. The fact is that Charley did have something specific in mind when he sang the specific lyrics to "Down the Dirt Road" when he cut the song that we listen to. Its finding out that "fact" that isn't easy. 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on September 25, 2007, 02:08:32 AM
Quote
Does the Revenant box transcription have 'world unknown'?

Yes.  Dick Spottswood and company have "world unknown" in the lyric transcriptions included in the Revenant box.

And Stephen Calt has "world unknown" in his transcription of the song, too.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on September 25, 2007, 03:59:32 AM
I put "Down The Dirt Road" on Transcribe! and played with it a bit, mostly slowing it way down looking for any phonetic clues to what Patton might really be singing.  What he's pronouncing is "wur dun no".  There's no hint of a syllable before "wur" that might be the "a" in "a world unknown".  But there's also no hint of an "I" in "where I don't know".  So whichever phrase it is, Patton swallows one syllable - not that unusual an occurrence for him.  I also don't get any hint of an "n" sound at the end of "no".  But dropping a final consonant sound is also not that unusual for Patton.  Based on the above, either phrase would fit what Charley is actually pronouncing.

As Son House said, "You could sit at Charley's feet and not understand a word he was singing."   ;D

I like the "world unknown" imagery, but I think I finally have to come down on the side of "where (I) don't know", just because Patton almost certainly would have known the phrase "a world unknown" from hymns and thus would have been familiar with its metaphysical connotation, and I just don't feel that that connotation fits in with the rest of the song.
   
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on September 25, 2007, 05:34:35 AM
Patton produced some memorable poetry. It's one of the reasons his work is set apart from the others. So with all due respect I would suggest it's not projecting backwards to recognize that simple fact. The man was clearly capable of poetic writing  that occasionally, as poetry often will, crosses over into the metaphysical. Whether Patton himself realized it or not, to discount that diminishes the man's genius.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 25, 2007, 06:50:05 AM
I'm not saying Patton wasn't capable of poetry. I'm saying the phrase "a world unknown" seems affected, poetically hammy and out of character.

My guess is that these lines would be variations on a stock verse, as many Patton lyrics are. It would certainly be helpful if any other examples of verses using similar language could be turned up. I can't think of any but will keep my ears peeled.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on September 25, 2007, 08:29:13 AM
Well, using Transcribe! myself, slowed to 70% with no EQ,  and the Nevins/Yazoo remastering, what I clearly hear is "to  wellah  no-o-o" in both iterations. I can't hear any hard "D" sound at all, but do hear the soft "L" tap between a pretty sharp "eh" sound to the "ah" sound. Of course, the "W" sound would be a natural elide between "oo" and "eh" as a glottal stop would jar the phrasing.

It seems Charley drops the long "E" sound from the end of "Illinois" and the "NG" from the end of "Long" also somewhat changinge the "O" in "Long" to make the rhyme.

Metaphysics aside, I think Charley and most of the other residents of the Delta had Chicago on their minds. And I guess Son House's evidence negates Booker Miller's transcription, eh?

I'm sticking with "To Illinois".

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 25, 2007, 09:24:49 AM
OK, so I did the same myself for fun, except using Audacity (and yes, Wax, working from the best remastered version by Nevins on Yazoo). Slowed to 70%. No EQ (though EQ could help) and the first occurrence it's a toss-up IMO, and the second it sounds clearly as a 'D' not an 'L', IMO. I'd go with "Illinois" before "world unknown" but am still sticking to "where I don't know", pronounced pretty much the way dj has it. He pretty much swallows the "I". Which wouldn't be uncommon for many more than just Patton.

Wax, what Son House evidence are you referring to? Frankly, I take everything Son House says about Patton with a grain of salt.

And if we're to talk poetics, "where I don't know" fits structurally with the deliberately vague imagery Patton builds up in the first couple verses. Not much is actually named in these verses, except the rider. There is a playful lack of concreteness. What we get is really wordplay based on unnamed things and concepts in opposition (going away/doesn't know where, worried now/won't be worried long, rider hiding something/Charley finding something).

I'm goin away to where I don't know
I'm goin away to where I don't know
I'm worried now but I won't be worried long.

My rider got somethin', she try'n to keep it hid,
My rider got somethin', she try'n to keep it hid,
Lord, I got somethin' to find that somethin' with.

(and no, it's not "find that bastard with...", Wax.  :P)


Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 25, 2007, 09:37:17 AM
John C: Son House's statement is just that--a statement. It may be at odds with or contradict what Booker Miller stated, but it doesn't negate it. We may not be sitting at Charley's feet, but we do understand a lot of what he says when he sings. His words are not totally unintelligible.

One can certainly make a case for "Illinois." It's possible that the first verse is not a close rhyme, even when we factor in Charley's pronunciation.

When I referred to "projecting" (re: the metaphysical, poetic, etc.) I just wanted to make sure that we are aware that we should be careful when giving reasons why or why not Charley would use a specific word or phrase. They are our reasons and do not necessarily apply to him. We don't want to impose any "fictive constructs,"--or do we?

Rivers: I agree that Charley wrote some great poetry. Wisdom and insights have come in many forms and from many different individuals. No one has a monopoly.

Again, the recording is unclear, or we wouldn't be having this discussion. At times the mind fills in what the ear cannot clearly hear (or wants to hear). Perhaps the best answer is "I think he's saying "X," but I can't be 100% certain."

I'd like to hear the "un-remastered" original 78s of this one. Sometimes I think that the remasters are like edited texts, certainly more refined, but another step (or steps) removed from the original.

Added: No 78s, but I listened to the Yazoo vinyl LP--as expected I still can't make it out. The liner notes transcribe it as "to where I don't know." (There you go, Uncle Bud.) I checked Fahey's book and he has it as "to the one I know."

When it comes to figuring out lyrics, I'm going to stick to instrumentals from now on. ;)

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 25, 2007, 12:07:45 PM
When I referred to "projecting" (re: the metaphysical, poetic, etc.) I just wanted to make sure that we are aware that we should be careful when giving reasons why or why not Charley would use a specific word or phrase. They are our reasons and do not necessarily apply to him. We don't want to impose any "fictive constructs,"--or do we?

Hi Stuart -

I don't think it's projecting to say that a phrase sounds unlikely and unnatural in a particular context. I don't think Charley was incapable of getting metaphysical nor incapable of poetic turns of phrase (even bad ones). If the line had occurred in one of Patton's religious numbers, where the language is indeed that of religious texts and songs, fine. Then it would be like some variant on lines such as "I'm going down to the river of Jordan" that are 'metaphysical', reflective, spiritual etc. But in Down the Dirt Road, it just sounds out of place, and is more like something from the mouth of a carnival barker, or a Peter O'Toole character satirizing bad actors, or some other person inclined to purplish turns of phrase - like a writer of hymns. Like maybe the brilliantly named Augustus Montague Toplady. (I'd forgotten that name existed. Thanks Doug!)

Quote
I'd like to hear the "un-remastered" original 78s of this one. Sometimes I think that the remasters are like edited texts, certainly more refined, but another step (or steps) removed from the original.

I'd like to hear it too, although the latest version on the Best of Charlie Patton is probably as good as we'll get, and my limited understanding of Nevins' concept of remastering is to be as "natural" (e.g., unprocessed) as possible. Sometimes what we're calling "remastered" is mostly better copies of 78s, played at the correct speed, on the right equipment etc. Low tech, in other words.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 25, 2007, 02:29:43 PM
Hi Uncle Bud:

As I said in my earlier post, Charley could have just picked up "world unknown" and used for the purpose of rhyme. This is just one possible explanation of how "world unknown" came to be used in the first verse--if in fact it was used at all. (A big "if.") Personally, like yourself, I favor "to where I don't know." As you say, it's more like Charley. But this view--for me, anyway--is impressionistic and not analytic. If it is the case that Booker Miller personally heard Patton sing and play this piece and if his statements were accurate and also applied to the recorded version, then I'd be hard pressed to come up with a counter argument. Coupled with the evidence based on the rhyme scheme, the statements of a reliable informant supports the position that Patton sung "world unknown." However, it may be that his statements were inaccurate and that the rhyme scheme evidence is a red herring.

We don't have a very large sample of Patton's output to work with. And even if we did, there are always surprises. I always keep Richard Feynman's famous dictum in mind: "The easiest person to fool is yourself" and follow it by the old standard "So don't believe everything you think!" I've made too many mistakes to ever begin to entertain the notion that I know everything and/or that I am right all of the time.

One more thing: The copy to the advertisement for "Down the Dirt Road Blues" reads in part, "...he's decided to hit the dirty, dusty trail for parts unknown." Perhaps this phrasing worked it's way into the deciphering/transcription process, but this is just a guess on my part.

As Always,

Mr. Know-It-All

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on September 25, 2007, 03:27:28 PM
Quote
If it is the case that Booker Miller personally heard Patton sing and play this piece and if his statements were accurate and also applied to the recorded version, then I'd be hard pressed to come up with a counter argument.

I agree with this.  In judging Miller's statement, it would be nice to know when and under what circumstances it was made.  Did Miller sing his version of the song without prompting?  Or was he asked what the lyrics were?  Or did Calt read his  transcription of the lyrics and say "Is this correct"?  In the first case Miller's testimony would be worth a lot.  In the last, it's almost worthless. 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on September 25, 2007, 04:28:03 PM
I took my baby to meet that mornin' train, and the blues come down, baby, like showers of rain -  Charlie Patton, Pony Blues

Evenin' was at midnight when I heard that local blow -  Charlie Patton, Moon Goin' Down

Not to mention hollow logs, Natchez on a high hill, Vicksburg down below (or was it...), his mama gettin old and hair turnin' grey, whistles blowing, Southern crossing the Dog...

Patton's stuff is high art compared to most of the hack lyrics of the time, much as we love them.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: banjochris on September 25, 2007, 05:43:14 PM
I agree with this.  In judging Miller's statement, it would be nice to know when and under what circumstances it was made.  Did Miller sing his version of the song without prompting?  Or was he asked what the lyrics were?  Or did Calt read his  transcription of the lyrics and say "Is this correct"?  In the first case Miller's testimony would be worth a lot.  In the last, it's almost worthless. 


Boy, ain't that the truth. From the clips of the interviews Gayle Dean Wardlow did with Miller that are included on the "Chasing that Devil Music" CD, I'd guess that some version of the latter is more likely. I'd also love to hear more of the actual tapes of a lot of those interviews.
Chris
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 25, 2007, 11:29:26 PM
I really don't have any knowledge about the process that resulted in the transcriptions provided in the Revenant box set. I have no insight into how rigorous the critical evaluation of the various variants was and how final decisions were arrived at. My opinion is based on certain suppositions and assumptions, but in the end it is just that--an opinion. As I mentioned, I think that Uncle Bud and John C can each certainly make a case for alternative explanations.

Charley will never sing "Down the Dirt Road Blues" again, but hopefully many other people will. They will do it as they see fit. Poetic license, personal interpretation, and the art of performance have always been an important part of the Blues as a living tradition. I'm sure that future performances of Charley's great song will bear this out.

Over and Out,

Uncle Stuie
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 26, 2007, 08:28:07 AM
Stuart - I agree, Charley could have just picked up the line. Good point about the advertisement, too. I'd forgotten about that.

That there is no definitive answer here is basically what I was getting at -- cheeky claims of being right aside -- when I referred way back in this thread to Elijah Wald's article beginning "Who was Charley Patton and what the hell was he singing about?" and which goes on to say "There is no 'right' answer...."

Patton's lyrics have been debated for decades and will continue to be. I'm surprised we haven't had more of them discussed on WC.

Like Wax, though, I know what I'm hearin' and singin'.  :D

Rivers: is anyone saying otherwise?  :D Though I think it's important to keep in mind that many of Charley's lines have other origins.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on September 26, 2007, 09:04:52 AM
Yeah, UB, but I think Charley would be just as likely to artistically change a traditional line to something different as to merely repeat it. For instance, I don't know how you can hear him sing "somethin' with" at the end of the second verse. He sings the word "somethin' " three other times in that verse and that last phrase doesn't sound even remotely like the others. It's not overly obscured by the guitar or scratches, and whether you think it's "ba-a-a-stid with" or not, I don't see how you could hear "somethin' " just because he or someone else has sung it in another song. You could possibly make a case that that is what he meant to say and just screwed up, except that he sounds pretty purposeful to me, but I think there's just as strong a case that he would purposefully change a line that his audience was familiar with just to catch their ear. To me that would be "in character" for what we know of Charley.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 26, 2007, 10:50:54 AM
Wax, you're putting words in my mouth.

I hear that last "somethin'" -- pronounced like "find that tumthin'", that-umthin', that umtin etc. -- based on my own listening, though I have some vague memory of seeing it transcribed that way somewhere. It is another spot we could debate endlessly and where I think there is no definitive answer. But it is based first and foremost on what I hear, and then on what I think logically fits, and even fits poetically, not on some other text.

I am not basing my interpretation on a traditional verse. I don't know whether one even exists. I wish I knew. Maybe ask David Evans. I do know that in Low Down Mojo Blues (in 1928), Blind Lemon sang:

She tryin' to fool her daddy, she better keep that mojo hid,
She tryin' to fool her daddy, keep that mojo hid,
But papa's got somethin', for to find that mojo with.

This is from Lemon's later period, where his lyrics were less and less based on traditional verses. Is this a traditional verse? I have no real clue, though its general theme would seem to be. Maybe someone else has a clue. I'm sure there are other lyrics with similar thematic structures out there that I don't know, or, like Alberto Gonzalez, can't recall. Did Patton hear Lemon's record before he himself began recording in 1929? Who knows. Down the Dirt Road is such a masterpiece that it seems to me Charley had been playing it for a long time and any influences on his song would be old, not new.

My comment about some of Patton's lyrics having other origins was meant only generally -- it had nothing to do with the first two verses of Down the Dirt Road -- and was a comment directed to Rivers, who was citing various examples of Charley's poetic flair. I was just saying some of what we might call Patton's poetry has its origins in other sources and did not spring from nowhere. As seems to be the case with some of the early Lemon lyrics, which are also great. Some of Patton's material might be from traditional verses, some of it from Ma Rainey or Sophie Tucker etc. I agree, Patton takes many of the elements he works with and gives them his own twist. It's just one part of his genius.

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Pan on September 26, 2007, 11:50:47 AM
Hi

This is getting interesting.  :)

Although "to find that something with" would make perfect sense, with the "mojo" explanation in mind, as UB points out, I never could hear that either.

What I'm hearing (purely phonetically) is something like:

"to find there at the house through with",

which of course, doesn't make any sense at all. Will this give anybody any new ideas?
Oh, well, maybe he just messed up "to find that something with"?

Just a thought, sorry I'm off... carry on :P

Pan
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on September 26, 2007, 04:30:35 PM
Lest anyone think I'm a 'world unknown' guy in my mind it's clearly, well maybe not so clearly, 'Illinois', with a mispronounced ending. 'World unknown' has always seemed just plain silly, IMNSHO.

I just put my spoke in to defend Charley's poetic virtue which seemed to me to be in danger of getting written-off at the tap of a keyboard. Steamboats and railroad whistles, the moon, images of a flooded delta, it's endless.

And when you compare his output with most of his peers, well, when you get down to it, he didn't really have any peers lyrically, did he?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on September 26, 2007, 04:42:57 PM
Sorry then, UB. I thought you said as much when we discussed the "bastid" line, and others, on IGS. And I know I've heard it since, "I got somethin', to find that somethin' with", as well as the rest of the verse, but I couldn't say where. When I heard it I thought, "Oh, that's what UB is talkin' 'bout." But I guess I was wrong. I'll let you know when I hear it again.

Sometimes I think slowing things down too much can cause problems. It becomes very easy to think that a singer can suddenly sing 5 words in the blink of an eye.-G-

For instance, in the original line being debated here, I think you could possibly make a case for "where don't know" pronounced "wheda know" but how one could even hear the faint suggestion of a "whe-a-da know" at anything close to normal speed beats me. And I think slowing down accentuates the soft tap of an "L" sound by isolating it to the point where it can be construed as the hard tap of a "D". Just my opinion.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 26, 2007, 07:48:03 PM
Rivers, I hope you didn't think Charley's virtue was in danger from me. Gawd!  :P I just think "world unknown" sounds lame. And I don't even think he sang it! I do however think Patton has some peers lyrically - like Lemon. There are exceptions/standouts of course. High Water Everywhere being the obvious, stunning example.

And while I know that on this board at least, I come off as a bit of a Lemonhead, I can say with certainty that I listen to Patton much more, play more of his songs myself, and am at least as obsessed with him as I am with Lemon, and probably more, depending on what day it is.

Wax, we'd discussed it (can't recall where, perhaps on the phone) but I don't recall ever citing a line that duplicated Patton's, only that there were other similarly structured verses (like Lemon's). As for "whe-a-da know" vs. "wheda know", ain't much difference, sort of a diphthong, and even in a purely hypothetical case would not be hard to hear, or not hard to miss, IMO. Patton barely pronounces words so often, offering only the barest bones of them, that this doesn't seem a mystery to me.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 27, 2007, 12:02:49 AM
From the Yazoo LP (L-1020): "Notes & Lyrics: Stephen Calt, Jerry Epstein, John Fahey, Don Kent, Nick Perls, Michael Stewart, Alan Wilson"--I doesn't detail who was responsible for what.

On page 56 of the Revenant set, Dick Spottswood, in his preamble, more or less says that transcribing the lyrics is a work in progress. On page 95 there's a list of transcriptions. (Approaching the truth by successive approximations.)

After listening again, what I hear is closer to "to where I don't know." I think that I hear an "L" in there, however. But the evidence supports "world unknown." So now what?

Here's a quote from one of my profs from my undergrad days: "The only people who really understand it are those who say they don't understand it, because in places it is virtually unintelligible." He was talking about Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind.

Its been over 35 years and I haven't reread The Phenomenology of Mind, but Charley never gets old. The genius that captures life with the obviousness of pre-philosophic thought, and in ways that I can truly relate to.


Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on September 27, 2007, 05:06:39 AM
My copy of it, on a Black Swan double CD, must be clearer than y'all's, because I can hear 'Illinois'. Instead ofthe 'oy' sound or 'oys' there a characteristic Patton extension of the last vowel. There are many places where he does this, I will list them later when i get a chance to listen.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 27, 2007, 07:25:49 AM
Rivers, want to swap files for educational purposes? I'd be surprised if the Black Swan (issued 1995) is clearer than the latest Yazoo (Best of Charlie Patton, Yazoo 2069, issued 2003) with the newly remastered version which has received raves, specifically for this song. I'd be delighted too, but surprised. Besides I think the problem with this line is Charley's fault, not Paramount's or the 78s. And of course the listeners.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on September 27, 2007, 07:49:12 AM
I've been listening to the Revenant CD while trying to decipher the line.  I don't think that anything Patton sings in the first two lines of "Down The Dirt Road" is obscured by surface noise.  Or at least not more obscured than any other verse on any other Paramount record.  But Uncle Bud raises an interesting point.  I don't know anything about the Black Swan release, but both the Revenant and Yazoo disks were remastered from 78s.  I wonder if it was the same 78 in both cases.
 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on September 27, 2007, 08:47:49 AM
I was just listening to the first disk of the Revenant Patton set here at work.  Actually, half  listening.  And when "Down the Dirt Road" came on, I'll be darned if my brain didn't get hauled from work to the music for a second with the thought "You know, he could be singing 'Illino'".  Though my conscious mind still insists on "where (I) don' know". 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on September 27, 2007, 08:40:44 PM
OK Andrew, good project. I'll rip it outside of iTunes, I have Audacity, that should be able to make a fairly accurate .WAV of just verse 1, eh? I'll rip the whole song at lower res as well. Won't be until tomorrow or Saturday though.

I've always liked the sound of the Black Swan CDs and that might explain why I've never felt the urge to rush out and buy the Revenant or JSP sets. For a reality check I'll also compare it with the other copy I have, Yazoo.

DJ, hold that thought! It could well be 'Illinooooooo....'
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 27, 2007, 09:39:51 PM
Hey Rivers:

Put me on the list, if possible. If it is going to Uncle Bud directly, then UB, could you forward it to me at my Yahoo address?

It crossed my mind last night when I was listening that it might be a variant of what we've been focusing on, so I'd like to listen to the Black Swan rip. It might be possible that I've been predisposed by the transcriptions of the experts.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 17, 2007, 05:12:37 PM
Sorry I dropped the ball on making some audio snips, will try and get it done. Actually having A-B'd them since I don't think it's much more audible than the old Yazoo. Certainly it's from a different source recording, that can be enough to confirm a transcription.

Now. I had a theory strike me today. What the hell is this song about?

We have Illinois, "Illinooo...". Chicago, blah blah. No! It's not the state, it's the Indian tribe.

"I've been to the Nation..."

"Feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere...", think tomahawks, totem poles.

Finally I've never been happy with that "some people say the overseas blues ain't bad" transcription. Of course that's completely wrong. Listen again! It's 'O.C. Blues', common abbreviation for Oklahoma City. And where, he asked rhetorically, were the tribal territories a.k.a. 'the Nation?' Oklahoma.

The whole song is Charley's longing to go and hang out with his Indian relatives a long way from Dockery Farms.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on October 17, 2007, 06:53:01 PM
Well, I agree with you on some points, Riv, but I don't think the Illinois tribe were anywhere near the Oklahoma Nation. They were from up around the Great Lakes. I believe the "Indians" kept on the Oklahoma reservation were from the South eastern states, like Seminole, Cherokee and Choctaw, a product of the Indian Removal.

But, yeah, in the "Nation" line and, also the OC line (I agree about not really buying the "over sea" transcription and I don't think OK came into popular use until the Post Office standardized 2 letter abreviations for the states, perhaps in the '60s? But doesn't he say, "Lord, but I couldn't stay there" at the end of the "Nation" line, going on to say they give him the "OC blues", I guess implying that's no solution to his present worries?

So, what do you get for the last few words of the second verse? Andrew and I have been arguing that one for a while, so give a listen, without me predisposing you and tell us what you get.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 17, 2007, 07:02:53 PM
Au contraire, my dear Waxwing. My research shows they ended up in Oklahoma, what was left of them. As a tribe they really suffered.

Received knowledge is Patton was part Cherokee. We'd have to get to the original source of that statement to pass an opinion either way on its accuracy. And even so, if Patton had had a major time and connected with one particular tribe... I don't see this as at all a stretch.

Re. "I couldn't stay there". These songs are full of contradictions. Longing for a place yet having had a less than perfect time there is reality. we're all nostalgic for times and places gone by. Selective memory paints a rosy picture, though a little voice cuts in and reminds you of the reality. Like, the entire 1960s/early 70s for example!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on October 17, 2007, 07:08:15 PM
Hi Rivers,
I'm similarly dubious about the "Illinois", both because I don't hear Charley saying it, and because no one of the period from Mississippi would have talked about the Illinois tribe.  I think that "OC" referring to Oklahoma City could be right on the money, but "Overseas Blues" occurred elsewhere in blues lyrics, and Charley was not above cribbing lyrics, like the rest of his contemporaries.  Totem poles were and are not universal among Native American peoples, and are pretty much confined to tribes of the Northwest. Lastly, if Charley wanted to visit with Indian relatives (about which you may have been joking), he wouldn't have to travel at all.  I don't know if it is known that Charley had any connection with full-blood Choctaw relatives anywhere.  I reckon he would go the Nation to visit total strangers, not relatives.
all best,
Johnm    
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 17, 2007, 07:29:13 PM
My rider [got] somethin, she try to keep it hid
Oh and I got somethin', find that somethin' with

The 'got' is implied. Sounds like he had major catarrh during the session particularly on that verse.

PS I cheated!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on October 17, 2007, 07:39:41 PM
But I wanted to know what you heard! I think the last line is "Lord, I got somethin', find that Ba-astard with." I can't hear anything remotely like "somethin' with" for the last two words. Sounds to me like he does his whole vocal slide thing with the A sound in bastard and then ends with a quick "-st'dwi'- " drawing out the end. Anyone else hear this?

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Bricktown Bob on October 17, 2007, 08:44:34 PM
Hi, Rivers.

I was born in the Nation and the Territo' (Delaware allotment within the Cherokee Nation), and have never heard anyone refer to Oklahoma City as OC.  It is usually OKC, but maybe that's just because it's the airport designation.  Anyway, Oklahoma City was never in the Indian Territory, nor in any Nation.

I personally hear, and have no problem with, "o'erseas."  But then I have no problem with "world unknown" either, so maybe I just have no imagination.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on October 17, 2007, 09:56:51 PM
Hi, Rivers.

I was born in the Nation and the Territo' (Delaware allotment within the Cherokee Nation), and have never heard anyone refer to Oklahoma City as OC.  It is usually OKC, but maybe that's just because it's the airport designation.  Anyway, Oklahoma City was never in the Indian Territory, nor in any Nation.

I personally hear, and have no problem with, "o'erseas."  But then I have no problem with "world unknown" either, so maybe I just have no imagination.

Or maybe others have overactive imaginations.  :P Just a thought.

I think it is not necessarily accurate to talk about what some of these songs are "about". Many of them are simply collections of verses and non-thematic. David Evans has much to say on the subject in Big Road Blues.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 18, 2007, 05:49:17 AM
OK, so what does 'feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere' mean?

My theory is it's 'shopping', in the casino on the reservation, poker chips flyin' everywhere...

Dunno how you guys could say I have an overactive imagination.  :)

Seriously though, what does that line mean? I don't buy David Evans on a lot of stuff and frankly I don't buy the 'random streams of consciousness' deal in this context either, no way. The song is about Charley's tribal connections. The Nation should clinch that. Charley never toured the UK either so I doubt he had the overseas blues, at least not the same overseas blues I had...  8)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: banjochris on October 18, 2007, 08:21:42 AM
OK, so what does 'feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere' mean?

I always thought it meant that he was so angry and frustrated he wanted to take it out on something, in this case by chopping wood violently.
Chris
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on October 18, 2007, 11:39:41 AM
OK, so what does 'feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere' mean?

I always thought it meant that he was so angry and frustrated he wanted to take it out on something, in this case by chopping wood violently.
Chris

Maybe it's a racist stereotype - a tomahawk reference.  :P (I actually agree with Chris - seems clear to me.)

Rivers, while you may not agree with Evans, I think the distinction between blues that are not thematic and are more loosely collected verses, some of which may have a bit to do with each other, and blues that are indeed thematic would hardly be controversial. Lemon's a perfect example, with early lyrics all over the place, later lyrics more "composed" and thematically unified. I think Patton does both as well. I'm not convinced this song is personal.

The occurrence of the term "nation" in this song is hardly unusual as well. I'd recommend Chris Smith's article "Going to the Nation: the idea of Oklahoma in early blues recordings" in the journal Popular Music for lots of juicy tidbits about the Nation and Oklahoma in blues. You can get it here (http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FPMU%2FPMU26_01%2FS0261143007001146a.pdf&code=186ec90d7a40d26a6798fcc5c0bfb3b2) in pdf. (And while I'm recommending that, you can actually get all of the articles in this issue of Popular Music in pdf here (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=PMU&volumeId=26&issueId=01). Lots of interesting stuff in there.)

David Evans, anyways, might agree with you (ha!). In Smith's article he discusses Evans' interpretation of this song, which has Charley referencing his black, white and Native American heritages. Smith has an even wilder interpretation, which has the song dealing (obliquely, I'm sure) with the back-to-Africa movement of Chief Alfred Sam who took blacks (over sea) from Oklahoma to the Gold Coast (now Ghana).

I think both are reaching a bit far for "meaning".

Two other points of interest in this article. Down the Dirt Road Blues was originally titled 'Over the Sea Blues' in Gennett's files, according to Dixon and Godrich. And then there's this copyright notice (shades of Robert Johnson!):

Copyright acknowledgements
?Down The Dirt Road Blues? (Words & Music by Charley Patton), ? Copyright
1969 EMI Longitude Music, USA, Windswept Music (London) Limited, Used by
Permission of Music Sales Limited. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright
Secured.

EMI!!!


Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 18, 2007, 04:22:59 PM
Chopping. Why pick on chopping, chips flying everywhere? And what makes you think he's expressing frustration? He could easily have said "I feel like fishing, fish jumping everywhere". Chopping totem poles is a recreational activity for people who are into it. Fact: Charley had native American Indian ancestry. Related-fact: He'd been to the Nation in Oklahoma. I'd suggest to you that since, as Son House would have it, "Charley hated work, it didn't look right to him" he was talking about getting away and having some fun.

Maybe the key is in Wax's verse, which I still haven't had my 'bingo' moment with, and I don't really agree with the accepted transcription either Wax.

Edited to add: Johnm, I accept not all tribes were into totem poles. But tomahawks were used for building (in fact the Illinois lived in houses), making travois and many other everyday items. Chopping was a part of everyday life.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: banjochris on October 18, 2007, 05:13:47 PM
Two points: Why do I think he's expressing frustration with the "chopping" line? Because of the emotion in his voice and the extra emphasis he puts on the guitar there, going up to the minor third instead of staying on the tonic. And because, fishing, unless you do it in a very unusual way Rivers, does not involve slamming something repeatedly with an axe.  :P

And I believe there's an image of that "Over the Sea Blues" ledger entry somewhere in the Revenant box set.
Chris
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on October 18, 2007, 05:20:13 PM
I view "Down The Dirt Road" as a group verses drawn from a pool of commonly used verses, changed and shaped by Patton, on the theme of unhappiness due to "woman troubles". 

In defense of the view put forth above, I can only say that I have no imagination whatsoever.   ;D
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 18, 2007, 05:21:08 PM
The record companies routinely misheard lyrics and titled songs incorrectly. Examples are legion, we could start a whole thread on that. Actually, that's a good idea.

And yes, chopping is a form of recreation. Just because you or I don't get it doesn't make it not so. There are whole yuppie rec camps for learning how to chop totem poles.

Listen hard to the so called 'overseas' line. Tell me if you hear three syllables, or just two.

Re. fishing techniques, I prefer dynamite myself.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on October 18, 2007, 06:01:20 PM
Hi Rivers,
I never knew Charlie Patton (obviously) but I did know Sam Chatmon, and I know that for him, being of partial Native American heritage (1/4, via his mother) was a simple fact that involved no special identification with his tribal forebears, sense of kinship with present-day members of the tribe that contributed to his identity, or anything else of that sort.  He had no sense of himself being an Indian or having anything in common with Indians he might encounter.  I think that in the U.S., for the time and locale in question, presence of any observable Black heritage swept all other potential ethnic identifications aside and rendered them an afterthought.
It seems unbalanced to me to presume that Charley Patton would devote an entire song to the topic of his Native American heritage and not mention it once anywhere else in his recorded repertoire.  I've not read even anecdotal evidence that suggests that Charley commented on his Indian heritage in social interactions or set any particular store by it.  As to whether he had been to the Nation or not, we have only his word for it in the song's lyric.  He may have been there, but then again, he said he did a lot of things in his lyrics.  I think these lyrics are like most of his non-narrative lyrics, drawn from a variety of sources, probably some original and some not, in a loose assemblage.
All best,
Johnm
P.S.  Why assume that he is chopping with a tomahawk when it is not mentioned in the lyrics and any general store carried axes and hatchets? 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 18, 2007, 06:05:17 PM
Why a tomahawk? Because it makes sense within the context. Hatchet, axe, whatever.

I'm inclined to believe he had been to Oklahoma. To turn the argument around, why should we not believe him when he says he'd been to the Nation? The burden of proof would seem to lay with us to prove that he had not.

Sam Chatmon had not, presumably, been there. I have no idea if that's true or not, just a complete guess from what you're saying. But that could be the whole difference between Sam and Charley's take on it.

I subscribe to the idea that there is a key point in every good song that makes the whole song. "The Nation" is not just buried somewhere in there as a throwaway line lifted from the 'cool blues lyrics' stack. It makes the whole song.

Charley's an enigmatic figure. I read Gayle Dean Wardlow's book several times and am always enthralled by it. At the end of it I still feel I know very little about the real Charley Patton.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on October 18, 2007, 06:23:56 PM
Personally, I agree with dj. I think he's talking about leaving his woman, why, and where he might go for pretty much the whole song. And you're right, Riv, [edit- or you were three posts ago -G-] I think finding that bastard, i.e. his woman's lover, is the key.

What I also think is interesting about this song is how he bleeds thematic ideas across verses and makes shifts within verses.

For instance, I think the line about chopping follows on "I got somethin' to find that bastard with" the something being an ax, like when he sings about throwing a ten pound ax in Jersey Bull Blues. Here he's taking what is normally a sexual image and turns it into an image of jealousy. If she's hiding a lover in her shack when he comes in he's gonna tear it down (bed slats and all-G-) by chopping it to flying chips with an ax. But mid verse he drops that theme and starts thinking about leaving again, going to the Indian Nation, where, he explains in the next verse, he has been before but obviously didn't get on there. Next verse he's back talking about how bad it is here with his woman, where it seems like someone is gonna get killed. Finally he's off down the dark road, hopefully already with a different woman.

So throughout, he goes back and forth between places he might go (Illinois, the Indian Nation) and how bad it is where he is. And he does it by slightly modifying a lot of stock verses to cleverly change their meaning to suit his purpose.

I think it's brilliant.

How's that for a vivid imagination?

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on October 18, 2007, 06:49:29 PM
I think it's brilliant.

Who's your shrink??!! :P
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on October 18, 2007, 07:26:44 PM
Hey, I just saw her yesterday and she says I'm doing fine.

You mean you don't think the song is brilliant?

Well, I'm actually off to play the song at my monthly boat club gig. I hope I can keep my mind on the song and off this discusssion and the one on the PWBG,

I'll check in around 2 AM PDT and see if this has progressed any further. I still wish someone would at least try to come up with some alternative to "bastard with" or agree with me, 'cause it sure ain't "somethin' with"

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on October 18, 2007, 08:50:19 PM
It sure is.  :P 

I threw out tomahawk as a joke.  Didn't think people would take it seriously. :D

Charley sang like he had a mouthful of marbles much of the time, as we all know. He twisted words, pronunciations, elongated or left out syllables etc etc.  I can't imagine the majority of black Mississippians of the day pronouncing "oversea" or "overseas" as 3 clearly enunciated syllables anyways, let alone while singing, let alone Patton singing. O.C. blues? Find that bastard? You're creating things that aren't there.

As for Charley actually going to the Nation, well, there's no evidence I'm aware of. Doesn't mean it's not the case, but it sure seems more likely that Patton was simply using a reference to the Nation that occurred in songs by Bessie Smith, Papa Charlie Jackson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, George Bullet Williams, Ida Cox and others before Patton recorded -- singing about "going to the Nation and the Territory" -- and by Bo Carter, Jesse James (who actually sings "I've been to the Nation"), Skip James and others later.

I'm with JohnM:

Quote
I think these lyrics are like most of his non-narrative lyrics, drawn from a variety of sources, probably some original and some not, in a loose assemblage.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on October 18, 2007, 10:57:45 PM
What do you know, Internet access at the boat club.

Well, that's an easy position to take, Andrew. Everything is just nonsense so you can say he sings the same old tired lyrics as everyone else. Turning a bit of a waver between O and C in one of three iterations into "over sea" because it was sung somewhere else? Okeh, fine. And who else here really hears "somethin' with"? (BC, I'd really like to hear from you on this. You've been oddly silent on this point since I first mentioned it on IGS several months ago) Sure Andrew, Occam's razor. Can't hear anything else (and the censors would supposedly have heard "bastard" and stopped the issue, eh?) so it must be that. Okeh, fine. End of discussion.

But why does he go to the Nation mid verse after doing some chopping? Who else sang it like that? I mean that's just not a stock verse.

Back to Tommy's Lonesome Home Blues for me.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on October 19, 2007, 12:44:35 AM
Uh, my better judgement says that I should point out that the above post was meant in the most comradely one-ups-manship. This thread has had it's share of outrageous certitude and I am only reflecting that level of tongue-in-cheek behaviour, I hope.

Besides I'm slightly inebrieted at a raucous musical happening. What do you expect?

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on October 19, 2007, 04:05:07 AM
Based on how they're generally used in songs, it's my opinion that "the Nation" and "the Territor'", pretty much mean some place far away, on the edge of civilization.  So to my mind "I've been to the Nation" means "I've traveled, I've really been around, I've been everywhere."   

As for chopping, don't forget that Patton was singing in a time and place where if you wanted to eat or wanted to take the edge off a cold winter morning, you had to chop wood to feed the stove.
 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 19, 2007, 05:09:04 AM
Andrew, I'd already mentioned tomahawks a few posts earlier.
Chopping = axe, tomahawk = Native American Indian axe.

It's not a racial stereotype, due to their importance and multiple uses in everyday life, including as tools, weapons and for smoking tobacco in the pipe versions, tomahawks evolved to a high art and make your average whitebread hardware store axe look like a very blunt instrument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomahawk_%28axe%29

Wax, great point about Occam's Razor. Fortunately we have all the time in the world to come up with new alternatives and put them alongside each other. The most attractive outcome would be if we come up with something new that jumps up and grabs us by the throat. Horn Lake Road in Dry Land Blues, for example. It was only a willingness to try all possible means, Google maps in that case, that broke it. The 'Ear Power Collective' is what we are, so let's try to all keep an open and inquiring mind.

Today I'm going to try listening to both recordings again on loop with several variations of EQ, volume and naturally-achieved states of consciousness.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on October 19, 2007, 07:29:17 AM
It's been 20+ years since I looked at their writings, but Albert B. Lord and Milman Parry did work that some may find interesting, informative, and insightful. Not Country Blues, but oral lit and folksongs.



Here's totally unrelated clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR63Y5LIQDI
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: CF on October 19, 2007, 10:42:54 AM
I'm on the side of these being floating verses that maybe, overall, highlight a theme, thought, or mood for Patton, the use of floating verses in prewar blues & the recycling of the same verses being sooo pervasive. I've recently acquired a lot of new music both by more established blues stars & cats who had humbler amounts of recordings. It's mind-boggling how many lyric ideas & themes are reused. I find myself hearing new songs all the time & knowing exactly what the B part of the AAB verse is going to be . . . because a thousand other artists & songs have the exact same lyrics. I think if Dirt Road was specifically about Patton's native heritage or anything else it would be more clear. MS Boll Weavil is all about a boll weavil so we know he could write thematically, Spoonful too, Revenue Man, etc . . . I would happily be corrected here but my experience thus far has shown that there were many talented folk musicians from this time but there were very few out & out untouched, completely original artists. That's not a bad thing either, I like the communal aspect of traditional music, I think that's a big part of its appeal for everyone.
Waxwing I don't think Patton is saying 'something with' either but I do think he's implying it, referencing a well-worn traditional lyric. He's normally 'lazy' with traditional verses it seems, he doesn't even say 'spoonful' in 'Spoonful' but plays a slide lick instead & there are a lot of examples of it in his work.

'A rider [] something . . . she tryna keep it hid . . .
 A rider [] 't something . . . she tryna keep it hid . . .
Lord I got somethin', mm find that . . d' s'with

I'll admit that it does kinda sound like 'bastard' there for a second, & man I wish I could believe it did! but for me it's not clear enough to make a comfortable assertion, & I have to fall back on the overt evidence of the traditional verse form & Patton's garbling.

Dat's my two cents anyway

P.S. This song is brilliant + 2!!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 23, 2007, 05:04:48 PM
I've been studying this for the past week and think I may have cracked a couple of things. I did not refer to any other sources and put the recent discussions out of my mind, attempted to practise pure forensic lyric reconstruction based on the two recordings I have.

Firstly, I firmly agree with Wax on 'bastard'. That's what he would like to be saying, he turns it into 'darstard' which I believe is either imposed- or self-censorship.

Second, I think I nailed the first line. It's so simple it's crazy we didn't pick it up.

Third, I've reheard the Nation line. The context might indicate what choppin' is all about. Sex, naturally.

Fourth, I'm more convinced it's 'OC', not overseas. All three times there is no 'S' on the end, and only two syllables. What OC might be is intriguing.

Finally, I came up with something very cool for the last line that I dunno if anyone has ever suggested. If it's right it represents a major piece of double entendre from Charley.

I would ask that before ripping it to shreds you cue up the record and listen along!

I'm goin' away, too well I know.
I'm goin' away, too well I know.
I'worried now, but I won't be worried long
 
My rider's somethin', she try to keep it hid
My rider's so' thin', she try to keep it hid
Oh and I got somethin, 'mm find that daa-ah-stard with
 
I feel like choppin', chip' flyin' everywhere
I feel like choppin', chip' flyin' everywhere
I could add to our Nation, mm, Lord but I couldn't stay there
 
Some people say them OC blues ain't bad (my, of course they are)
Some people say them OC blues ain't bad (what's the matter with 'em?)
It must not have been them OC blues I had
 
Every day, seem like murder here (my I'm gonna stay here)
Every day, seem like murder here
I'm gonna leave tomorrow, I know you don't been born here(?)
 
Can't go down that long road by myself
Can't go down that long road by myself (my God, what you gonna carry?)
I don't carry my ax, gonna carry me someone's hoe

   
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on October 23, 2007, 05:48:58 PM
Hey, Rivers,

It's good to see an original take on the lyrics to "Down The Dirt Road Blues".  It kind of shakes me out of my rut and makes me think.

Your "too well I know" fits phonetically with what Patton is singing in the first verse.  I hear it as "to wah (d)un oh", with the "d" being a really mangled sound that's hard to express in the standard alphabet.  The other suggestions, "to where (I) don' know", "to (a) world unknown", and "to Illino'", also fit this phonetically.  At this point I think that's as close as I'll ever get to what Patton actually sings.

I'd still go with "find that somethin' with" in the second verse.  But "somethin'" is again pretty garbled, coming out more like "dahm-tin".

I prefer "I been out to the Nation" in the third verse, though I can see why you like "add".  Patton pronounces what I hear as "out" sort of like "aaht".

I'm sticking with "oversea" ("o'sea" with maybe the barest hint of an "r" at the end of the first syllable).

"I'm gonna leave tomorrow, I know you don't [bit don' (?)] care"     

And I hear the last verse as pretty much straight out of Tommy Johnson (or vice versa):
"Can't go down that dark road by myself
I don't carry my rider, gonna carry me someone else"

A lot of my suggestions are based on what traditional blues verses fit phonetically with what Patton is singing rather than on a firm conviction that he's pronouncing one word instead of another.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on October 23, 2007, 07:29:31 PM
Alright dj! We'll file those thoughts and revisit when more comments are in.

Any more takers?  8)

PS you must abide my rules, listen to the recording as you read, then rip it to shreds! You know it makes sense.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: CF on October 24, 2007, 07:22:11 AM
Here's my take:

I'm going away to Illinooo . . .
I'm going away to Illinooo . . .
I'm worried now but I won't be worried long

A rider [] something . . . she tried ta keep it hid
A rider [] 't something . . . she tried ta keep it hid
Lord I got somethin', mm find that d' as'with

I feel like choppin' [it], chips flyin' everywhere
I feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere
I've been to the Nation, mm Lord but I couldn't stay there

Some people say them o'seas blues ain't bad (my, of course they are)
Some people say them o'seas blues ain't bad (what's the matter with 'em?)
It must not have been them o'seas blues I had . . .

Everyday seems like murder here (my god I'm gonna sing 'em)?
Everyday seems like murder here
I'm gonna leave tomorrow I know you don't bit more care

Can't go down this dirt/dark road by myself
Can't go down this dirt/dark road by myself
(My god, who ya gonna carry?)
'I don't carry my habit, gonna carry me someone new

 . . . & at the end of the day, WHO KNOWS?

River, no shred-ripping from me but I would politely suggest you're listening to this song too much! If that's possible of course  :)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on October 25, 2007, 09:55:31 AM
Michael Taft has a take I haven't seen before on the first line of "Down The Dirt Road".  He has it as:

I'm going away to (the) one I know

It fits as well phonetically as any of the other suggestions we've come up with so far.  Just thought I'd throw it out to muddy the waters a bit more.   :)   
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Bunker Hill on October 25, 2007, 11:34:46 AM
Michael Taft has a take I haven't seen before on the first line of "Down The Dirt Road".  He has it as:

I'm going away to (the) one I know
 
Which I suspect originally came from Fahey's transcription on p.73 of the 1970 Blues Paperback since Taft's 1984 published four volume concordance cites Fahey as source.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on October 25, 2007, 12:00:20 PM
Quote
Which I suspect originally came from Fahey's transcription

Good point.  In all this discussion of "Down The Dirt Road", I never thought to look at Fahey's transcription of the song.  I'll have to compare that against both Taft's and what we've come up with here.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on October 25, 2007, 01:24:05 PM
I just checked.  Taft's lyrics for "Down The Dirt Road" are Fahey's. 

Thanks for the tip, Bunker Hill.  If I could only remember half as much as what you remember...
 

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on December 15, 2007, 08:07:26 AM
Wax, while filling out lyrics in the "name that CB artist" topic I just noticed a similar verse to Patton's "keep it hid" in another song. McTell in Scarey Day Blues sings:

My baby got a mojo, she try to keep it hid // But Georgia Bill got somethin' to find that mojo with
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on December 15, 2007, 12:46:29 PM
Wax, while filling out lyrics in the "name that CB artist" topic I just noticed a similar verse to Patton's "keep it hid" in another song. McTell in Scarey Day Blues sings:

My baby got a mojo, she try to keep it hid // But Georgia Bill got somethin' to find that mojo with

There are others. If you'll indulge me for numerous moments, I've been preparing a book-length (OK, article-length :P) analysis of the roots, branches and meanings of Down the Dirt Road Blues for fun, and partly as a result of this thread and other discussions of the song occurring elsewhere. It is a song that certainly provokes all sorts of responses as to its meaning, though I personally think it's reasonably simple lyrically, built largely out of lyric formulas.

Here's what I had for the second verse so far. You'll forgive the repetition of one or two elements from earlier in the thread. Is there a windbag tag for our forum software? Consider it turned on:


My rider got somethin?, she tryin?a keep it hid
My rider got somethin?, she?s tryin?a keep it hid
Lord, I got somethin? to find that somethin? with


This verse follows a formula that normally uses the phrases got a mojo/find that mojo, rather than Patton?s got somethin?/find somethin?. In ?Low Down Mojo Blues? (1928), Blind Lemon sang:

My rider?s got a mojo, and she won?t let me see,
My rider?s got a mojo, and she won?t let me see,
Every time I start to lovin?, she ease that thing on me.

She tryin? to fool her daddy, she better keep that mojo hid,
She tryin? to fool her daddy, keep that mojo hid,
But papa?s got somethin? for to find that mojo with.


Blind Willie McTell used the verse even earlier in ?Talkin? to Myself? (17 April, 1927):

My mama she got a mojo, believe she trying to keep it hid
Papa Samuel got something to find that mojo with

Then later in ?Scarey Day Blues? (23 October, 1931):

My good gal got a mojo, she?s trying to keep it hid
My good woman?s got a mojo, she?s trying to keep it hid
But Georgia Bill got something to find that mojo with

And in ?Ticket Agent Blues? (25 April, 1935):

My baby she got a mojo, I believe she trying to keep it hid
McTell got something to find that mojo with

Blind Boy Fuller would also use it in ?Stingy Mama? and ?Mojo Hidin? Woman? (Sept 1937), the same song recorded under different titles:

Says my babe got a mojo and she won?t let me see
Says my babe got a mojo, she won?t let me see
One morning ?bout 4 o?clock she eased that old thing on me

Now mama, mama, you can?t keep that mojo hid
I say, hey, hey, mama, can?t keep that mojo hid
?Cause I got something, mama, just to find that mojo with

And Curly Weaver used it in ?Fried Pie Blues? (23 April, 1935), in which he also has a verse from the ?Big Road Blues? school of big road/dark road/dirt road/long road formulas. (The second verse of this song included below is also found in variant form in McTell?s ?Scarey Day Blues? which, as mentioned, also features the mojo verse.)

I ain?t going down baby that long road by myself (x2)
If I can?t carry you baby, carry somebody else

Can I wait around here baby, till your fried pies get done (x2)
If I have any money, I will buy me some

My baby she got a mojo trying to keep it hid
Papa Weaver got something find that mojo with

Patton?s verse replaces mojo with somethin? in a bit of repetitive wordplay (?my rider got somethin?, she tryin?a keep it hid/Lord, I got somethin? to find that somethin? with?). The repetition of somethin? has a structural balance that echoes the more common verse and the meaning is the same. The mojo verse formula clearly features a double entendre, and Patton?s variation on it features the same double entendre. A mojo hand, as explained by Cat Yronwode on her Lucky Mojo site (http://www.luckymojo.com/mojo.html), was often worn under a woman?s skirt:

?The concealment of the mojo hand is what has led to confusion about the meaning of the word. Many acoustic rural blues songs of the 1920s-30s refer to mojos, among them a dozen that carry a floating verse about ?keeping a mojo hid.?

?Mojos made for an individual are usually carried on the person, always out of sight. They are very rarely worn on a string around the neck, fairly commonly pinned inside a woman?s brassiere, and much more commonly pinned to the clothes below the waist or carried in a pants pocket.

?Since the least conspicuous way for a woman to wear a hidden mojo is hanging from a string under her skirt -- or, as Coot Grant put it, above her knee ? a male blues singer is making a double entendre when he declares he?s going to find that mojo.?

Blind Lemon Jefferson had a couple hoodoo references in his lyrics, in which he?s worried about his woman putting spells on him, but he still seems to be using the mojo verse as a double entendre. McTell, Weaver and Fuller certainly are, and I think Patton clearly intended this as well.

Entertaining for a moment the possibility that it is something else being hidden and found in Patton?s verse, one could maybe make a case for this being a variation of the numerous ?kid man? formulas, one example of which can be heard in Patton?s ?It Won?t Be Long?:

She?s got a man on her man, got a kid on her kid, baby (x2)
Done got so bold, Lord, she won?t keep it hid

Clifford Gibson uses another version of this formula in ?Don?t Put That Thing On Me?:

I asked a married woman to let me be her kid,
She said she?d swear she?d put that thing on me
And I couldn?t keep it hid

I couldn?t keep it hid, I couldn?t keep it hid,
She said she?d swear she?d put that thing on me
And I couldn?t keep it hid

But in both these examples, ?won?t keep it hid? seems to be a reference to open promiscuity and sexuality, and in Gibson?s case, perhaps partly a joke about arousal. It is not the kid man who is being hidden. It is the sexual activity that is not being hidden. Sleepy John Estes and Charley Jordan use similar verses to Gibson?s, as do others, no doubt.

(windbag off)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on December 15, 2007, 05:15:18 PM
Great collection and research Andrew, and all around one verse. I had no idea there were so many instances it. I like "somethin'" even more now, repeated in the first two lines and the last line.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on December 15, 2007, 06:04:08 PM
I still don't "hear" it.-G- And if Patton changes mojo to somethin', he's just as likely to.....

If you start a collection of lines using "world unknown", Leadbelly uses it in Shorty George.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on December 15, 2007, 06:30:39 PM
BTW, Andrew Rose, of Pristine, the creator of the  XR remasterings of RJ posted on IGS so I asked him if he was gonna do Patton next. I stopped short of actually requesting DTDRB.-G- Knowing that vintage Classical recordings have about as much of a market as pre-war blues, I told him I suspected the RJ issues were meant to raise funds for more Classical remasterings, but hoped I was wrong.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 10, 2009, 08:00:38 PM
Woo hoo! Let's bring this one back.

Of course, Andrew, you saw Elijah's post on the Pre War List a while back?

Quote from: Elijah Wald
down that dirt road yet again

While we're reviving ancient lyrical discussions:
I hear:
My rider got something, she trying to keep it hid
Lord, I've got something to find that *bastard* with...

Unfortunately no further discussion....

But on to the first line. I've been listening to Rattlesnake Blues a bunch lately and suddenly I realized he was singing that he was gonna eat supper in Shelby, a world unknown. Hunh? Well, you call it? I'll post two excerpts.

Wax



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Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 10, 2009, 09:45:50 PM
Of course, Andrew, you saw Elijah's post on the Pre War List a while back?

Quote from: Elijah Wald
down that dirt road yet again

While we're reviving ancient lyrical discussions:
I hear:
My rider got something, she trying to keep it hid
Lord, I've got something to find that *bastard* with...

Unfortunately no further discussion....

What is this--bait Andrew night? A bunch of us saw it, so maybe the consensus was just a case of "Two wrongs don't make a right!"

But on to the first line. I've been listening to Rattlesnake Blues a bunch lately and suddenly I realized he was singing that he was gonna eat supper in Shelby, a world unknown. Hunh? Well, you call it? I'll post two excerpts.

Wax

That's Shelbyville, Illinois, my friend. It's right there on the map. Read Fahey's and Spottwood's notes, why don't yez! Realized?? What kind of realization is this?? The same kind like when you realized "world unknown" was "Illinois??!!" Realized?? Realized?? Maybe "unrealized" is more like it!

Now the tables are turned--it's bait Waxy night. Let's see how you like it, Pal! ;D  You're the one who wanted to bring it back!

Jeez, you must really think we don't know a trick question when we hear one!

TICingly Yours,

Uncle Stuie (aka Mr. Know-It-All)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 10, 2009, 11:21:31 PM
Well, having just read the entire thread (man, we really got out there) I can assure you that UB has more asides addressed to me than I do to him. He and I have been going at it on this one on more than one forum (on the IGS board he questioned what I was smoking) as well as by cell phone (where I assured him the term "high" refers to heightened senses) since long before this thread.

OOHHH! "TICingly Yours," Guess I'm a little dense tonight.

OK, your right, Shelbyville is on the map, but I don't really hear Patton singing the "ville". I'm sure folks commonly left it off. The "ill" I'm hearing after "Shelby" is the beginning of Illinois. I don't think folks pronounced the state "Enois", do you? He definitely doesn't sing "Shelbyville, Illinois."

Anyway, did you listen to the clips. I mean, there is certainly a strong similarity in the pronunciation. It's especially telling that in this case he is rhyming with "boy" yet he still barely hints at the E sound in the middle of the long drawn out O sound, just as he does in DtDRB. Well, that is, if you hear that like I do.

Wax
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 11, 2009, 07:55:26 AM
John:

I listened to the Rattlesnake several time last night right after reading your post, but it was to the mp3 files on the computer through the computer speakers. Later today I'll give put the CD in the stereo system and use the headphones when I have more time. From what I was able to hear (--"not hear" is more like it) last night, I agree that this is a tough one. Spottswood and Fahey both have "Shelby" in their transcriptions, not Shelbyville. Spottswood notes, "[Shelbyville] lay on the Illinois Central route between New Orleans and Madison, Wisconsin." (p. 63 of the Screamin' and Hollerin' set.)

I was just having a little fun last night. We all know how difficult it is to actually come up with a definitive transcription for many of these songs. As I mentioned in my post to your other thread, we can go toe-to-toe when disagreeing about what we think we hear re: some specific lyric, but then loosen up and appreciate artistic license and interpretation when listening to our contemporaries perform the same song. I take the music and the process of arriving at accurate transcriptions very seriously, but at the same time I try not to take myself too seriously. Life doesn't get any easier if one loses one's sense of humor.

I'll get back to you later after I get a chance to go under the headphones.

Stuart
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on April 11, 2009, 09:46:57 AM
Wax, you and Elijah both eating moldy bread doesn't make the hallucinations real.  ;D

In Rattlesnake, I hear "Shelby, Illinois", quite clearly. If one can use that word with Patton. It's like the word pronunciation, in that regard. Takes on a whole new meaning.

edited to add: I forgot, I did come across the use of "a world unknown" in a prewar blues-ish song somewhere recently, but can't remember what. A female singer I think, pretty early. Might be wrong. One of those moments where I was busy with something else and didn't stop like I should have. I'll have to retrace my steps, but those can go all over the place...
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 11, 2009, 12:08:18 PM
Sure, UB, weren't there several instances of others singing the line "a world unknown" given in the PWBL discussion of the hymn containing the line? But what we need is an example of Patton singing it. I've found an example, for comparison, of Patton singing what everybody seems to believe is "Illinois" in Rattlesnake Blues. I don't believe this has been presented before in any of the various discussions. But from your silence I guess you all don't think they sound anything alike? Okay, fine. I was just offering it up for your examination. But examples of others singing it don't really help us here, at least, I don't see how they do. Lots of people sang "Illinois", too, but I don't see that that proves anything either.

Stu, my concern here is purely from the "getting the transcription as close as possible" point of view, out of personal interest, not to mention it seems to be a preoccupation of this site. But I keep getting a sort of "we'll never know so any evidence is moot" feeling here, which is very frustrating. Perhaps it's a big joke that I think we can get closer? Okay, humor is fine, I was trying to be funny, too, but is the topic under serious discussion or not?

My point here has nothing to do with Shelby or Shelbyville, it is merely to compare the sound of the accepted word "Illinois" in Rattlesnake Blues with that of the disputed word or words in DtDRB. To me it sounds like the same word in both instances, but, of course, it is evidence supporting what has been my theory all along so I guess we just chalk it up to wishful thinking?

Wax
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on April 11, 2009, 12:59:30 PM
Could somebody please summarize the competing theories in an impartial manner, I've completely lost the plot at this point despite having read through the latter part twice. I'm not party to the convo on IGS so maybe that's why I can't make head nor tail of what everybody's arguing about. Thank 'ee!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 11, 2009, 01:08:46 PM
Well, I hear Illinois in Rattlesnake Blues, and, hearing it and paying attention to what I hear, I'd like to retract everything I've previously said about Down The Dirt Road, and say that I now think Patton is going away to Illinois.

This doesn't mean that I don't like "a world unknown".  In fact, if I were ever going to perform either song, I'd likely use "a world unknown".  

Quote
But I keep getting a sort of "we'll never know so any evidence is moot" feeling here, which is very frustrating.

I have very conflicted feelings in cases like this.  On the one hand, I really do think "We'll likely never know for certain", and on the other, I think "But if we could just get enough people listening closely enough..."  I have to admit that I've seen a lot of lyrics by the likes of Patton, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Ishmon Bracey, Sleepy John Estes, etc. nailed here - stuff that I never thought would ever be deciphered - that hope springs eternal.  Sometimes, though, it seems like listing three different interpretations and letting the reader/listener take his pick is the best we're ever going to do, at least for the present.    

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 11, 2009, 01:59:11 PM
Sure, Riv, but they are presented pretty clearly in this thread if you care to read it.

The first difficulty comes in the first verse of Down the Dirt Road Blues, at the end of the first and second lines. I'll scan through the thread and find all the various theories for this one. If I miss any please add them in.

"to a world unknown"
"to where I don't know"
"too well I know"
"to (the) one I know"
"to wander North"
"to Illinois"

It is to this issue that I presented the evidence of Patton singing the word "Illinois" in Rattlesnake Blues, for comparison. He even sings it in the same end of line format where he typically stretches out the vowel sounds.

The second difficulty arises at the end of the second verse and the two theories are:

"find that something with"
"find that bastard with"

You yourself stated at some point that you heard "dastard" and that you thought Patton was self censoring.

The only other difficulty, I think, is in the fourth verse and the theories are:

"over sea blues"
"O. C. blues"

I'm sorry, Riv, but I can't take your "tomahawks and recreational chopping" theory seriously. I think the only through line in the piece is that he is leaving an unfaithful woman and feels a lot of uncertainty about where he might go. He loosely expresses this by doing what Andrew and others have stated, collecting various "floating" verses which he then bends somewhat for his own needs and adding perhaps an original verse or two. As far as I can tell we are only in disagreement as to how he may have changed these lines.

[Edit to add] Thanks for your considered opinion, dj.

Wax
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 11, 2009, 03:58:47 PM
John:

I just did some time under the headphones. To begin, I definitely agree that in Down the Dirt Road, the fourth "Something" (the one you and Elijah hear as "Bastard") requires further attention. If aural pattern recognition is what we are basing ourselves on, then the fourth pronunciation is definitely different than the first three. Whether or not CP is singing "Bastid" is another matter, something that still needs work, but IMHO, the jury is still out--or should be--on this one. Stick to your guns and stand your ground.

Regarding Shelby, "Illinois," I definitely hear the "--oy" drawn out--at the end of this word. I strongly believe that the word is "Illinois." I do hear the similarity with it's counterpart in question in Down the Dirt Road, but I don't hear the final as "--oy" in Dirt Road. I agree that there is a similarity, but there are a lot of similarities between words. It's the differences that I hear that lead me to believe that in Dirt Road, the word in question is not "Illinois," although "Illinois" certainly works with regard to a possible meaning in this context. I work with language, phonology (otherwise known as "phoneyology") and with rhymes (although not in English), so I take the rhyme scheme as evidence that the word in question is something other than "Illinois." N.b. that I used the word "evidence" and not the word "proof."

dj:

I understand what you mean re: the conflicted feelings. My personal take is that we should never give up and continue to be extremely rigorous and diligent in our efforts to arrive at the most accurate transcriptions possible. I don't think that any evidence is ever really moot. It may be the case that some of the recordings are not of a quality that will ever allow a final definitive version of the lyrics to be agreed upon--at least not unanimously. I agree that the more ears, the better, but the truth or correct answer is not necessarily arrived at democratically. Sometimes it is the lone dissenting view that leads to the right answer, so it's important that all views be given a fair shake. I wouldn't want the person with the right answer to give up because he or she felt outnumbered, out voted, or in an unpopular minority. IMHO, the important thing is to ultimately arrive at the right answer or correct transcription.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on April 11, 2009, 06:41:17 PM
Thanks Wax.

Everybody, please assume your audience doesn't read the other forums, so mentioning convos that happened elsewhere, without providing a detailed background explanation, is just confusing to those of us without the time at the moment to hang out on IGS etc

I'm firmly in the "Illinois" camp myself as I stated, in fact I first proposed it, if you read back. Not that I want the credit or anything but I've never seen any other transcription using 'Illinois', that was entirely my hearing. Good for me. UB, it's a matter of national importance you find that earlier female singer reference you mentioned... if you find it I'll certainly reconsider.

I also think 'dastard' is Charlie Patton trying to be nice for the mic to get a GA rating, so to speak. The 'chopping' verse needs work, I was just throwing the tomahawk theory out there because frankly no-one had anything more convincing, to me anyway, at that point.

I think we can nail these things and should never give up trying. Meaningless gobbledygook is just that, usually. It's a substitute for understanding, a failure to bridge sound and meaning.

We should give these guys the benefit of the doubt. If a proposed transcription don't make sense, is terminally weak or wildly out of context it's probably just plain wrong. Just my opinion. Dogged determination, don't let go, shake it til it's dead. That's what we're all about, yes?

If you're in a hurry you should go with what fits, and sings, best, for you. Personally I'm not in a hurry, fortunately I don't have a deadline, and when something's already been a mystery for 80 years now...

I mean just a few years ago some people thought the Titanic would never be found. Heh! Failure of imagination, one on a very long list down through the ages.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 13, 2009, 12:11:44 AM
The second difficulty arises at the end of the second verse and the two theories are:

"find that something with"
"find that bastard with"

You yourself stated at some point that you heard "dastard" and that you thought Patton was self censoring.

I spent some more time on this one tonight. I hear something like "dustid" or "dustard." I don't hear an initial "b-" ("bastard") which is a bi-labial--meaning the lips close (b,p,m). The point of articulation of the final -t in "that" is the same as the initial d- in "dustard." That just means in this case the tongue is in the same place, right up against the ridge behind the upper front teeth, The difference is aspiration. There's continuity between "that" and "dastard." If CP was saying "bastard," the initial "b-," with the lips together, should be audible. Maybe CP got a little tongue tied and mispronounced "bastard" as "dustard," but that's just a wild guess.

In any case, I don't hear "something," although "something" certainly works as an attractive lexical choice in this context.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 13, 2009, 04:52:24 AM
Quote
I spent some more time on this one tonight. I hear something like "dustid" or "dustard."

This is getting interesting!  Listening to the version of "Down The Dirt Road" from the CD that came with the 2004 Blues Images calendar at various speeds and with various EQ settings, I think Stuart has it almost right.  At the clearest setting I can find - 35% or 50% speed and "Flute Select" EQ on Transcribe! It sounds like Patton is singing "Duster".  The initial 'd" sound is clearly enunciated separately from the "t" of "that".  I don't hear any indication of a "d" at the end of the word before Patton goes to "with".

So the possibilities as I now hear them are:

   1: dustard - changing "bastard" on the fly to "keep it clean"
   2: dustard - an idiosyncratic pronunciation of "dastard", as in "a dastardly fellow"
   3: duster - possibly related to a broom duster and the whole "dust my broom" thing

I'm not sure which interpretation I'd go with now.  I'm leaning ever so slightly towards number 1 above, but even a gentle breeze could sway me in another direction at this point.


       
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 13, 2009, 08:20:39 AM
I  just listened a few more times. I definitely hear a final -d before "with." It still sounds like "dusterd" or "dustid" to me. What did CP mean or have in mind when he used this word in Down the Dirt Road?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 13, 2009, 10:38:26 AM
It does sound like there's a "d" on the end of the word at full speed.  But slowed down a bit, the "d" disappears.  I think the sound at full speed is just the transition of Patton's mouth from the "r" of whatever it is he's singing to the "w" of "with". 

I'm not too concerned with the lack of a "d" at the end of the mystery word, as I think dropping something like that would be well within the parameters of Charley Patton's pronunciation.  I just think we need to consider solutions that do not contain the final "d".
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 13, 2009, 11:35:32 AM
Attached is a snippet (high quality mp3 due to it's short length) of the word in question, played at 70% speed and no EQ, for any who wish to give a listen.

I think slowing down too much, and EQing out part of the sound, can both really rob the ear of critical data and often convince us that a lot more [Edit - or less, as you state above dj] is going on than in reality (waiting for the next hallucination joke). I think 70%  speed is still within understandable range yet gets things just a little clearer.

I don't really see how one can make such a definitive call between a 'b' and a 'd' sound here. They are both plosives, one created with the lips and one with the tongue on the back of the teeth. When spoken with less than perfect diction they are barely discernible. As has been pointed out consistently in this thread, Charley's diction was not the greatest, and as Stuart points out with the word "that" just before, he already has the tongue at least near the back of the teeth, and eliding the 't' from "that" and the 'b' from "bastard", might give a plosive with both the lips and the tongue/teeth involved (I tried this and it is very possible to do), making for a very difficult call. Certainly not enough to rule out that he is intending to say a word starting with a 'b'.

As to the vowel sound, I am hearing a dipthong instead of the simple 'u' sound. I hear a sound that goes "uhh-aah" as he shifts from a lower note to a higher one. Charley commonly morphs vowel sounds as he changes pitch as can be heard at the end of almost every line in this and most of his songs. For instance " she tried to keep it hee-aah-id" No one here is saying that he said "heed" instead of "hid'?

So, I 'hear' him saying " tha' buh-aah-stard with"

But how about context and meaning? Well, UB has given us a treatise on the sexuality implied by all the roots of this line in various other forms. But to me, far from being romantically poetic, Charley is a bit of an emotional realist. Where McTell and others may want to maintain the euphemism, and seem to still have the female genetalia as their goal, Charley is one to express what he is really feeling: He's over the woman, whom he is singing about leaving, he just wants to kill the bastard she's fooling around with. The song reaches its emotional height musically, with the next line regarding "chopping", as banjochris has pointed out.

I don't really see why, in the 1920s, at one of his earliest sessions (?) Charley would think that "bastard" would need to be censored?

If we were going to select a word for a transcription, I think "bastard" is our best guess. If we need a note to say there is some disagreement and that some think he says "duster" or dastard", that's fine.

Wax

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Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 13, 2009, 02:08:45 PM
John: Thanks for taking the time and for going to the trouble to process and post the audio segment in question. I think that it's important that we listen to the same sample.

I still hear the initial as d- and a hint of a final -d. Again, this is just what I hear. I don't know if you could say that it is a definitive call, as again, I'm only stating what I hear--not what I think everyone should hear. I'm not too concerned about the vowel shape as there is certainly a range in which it could fall so that the word could be understood as "bastard" or perhaps as one of the "d-words," maybe "duster,"--functioning as a very local slang term with sexual connotations, the meaning of which has been lost. (This is just a far fetched guess to illustrate one possibility, and one that I wouldn't bet the family jewels on.)

The more ears, the better, so I'll be interested to read what others hear. So don't hesitate to post your views, as we're all in this together.

When we select a word for the transcription, we might bracket the other possibilities with a convention such as "bastard [alt: "duster"]." That way we would have a variorum edition.

As for "heed" vs. "hid," I think that context makes it clear and eliminates any ambiguity. Pronunciations vary. I guess the next step is to do actual field work in dialectology. (Just kidding!)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 13, 2009, 03:30:05 PM
Yes, thanks for posting the audio snippet, wax. 

What I hear, phonetically, is [d] [uh]-[uh] [st] [er/ur] (d?), meaning the word starts with a d sound, the first consonant is a short u, and is the same on both notes it is sung to, there's an st in the middle, then another short u followed by an r (which in English could be written er or ur or just possibly ir) then, just a hint of a d sound which seems to me to be just Patton's mouth changing shape. 

I feel like we're closing in on this a bit, and would agree with Stuart that the more people we can get to listen to this, the better off we'll be.

   
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on April 13, 2009, 04:07:38 PM
I hear a 'd' on the beginning and either a 'd' or 't' on the end. The initial sound could be a mispronounced, or generally obscured, 'b' I guess, but I think I hear 'd'

I'm still not sure we've got this line. It's almost like the last two syllables, '-sturd with' as we have it now, of the line could be 'somewhere', it cuts off a bit too quickly so I went back to the recording.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 13, 2009, 09:01:20 PM
I Googled "duster slang definitions" which led me to Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. A few of the definitions listed are as follows:

Duster n.2 [1930s] (US Tramp) One who steals from freight trains or box cars.

Duster n.3 [1940s] (US Black) the act of moving; usu. In phr. dig a duster, thus COLLAR A DUSTER UP THE LADDER

Duster n.4 [1940s] (US Black) the buttocks, the posterior. [RUSTY-DUSTY]

There's also a 60s-70s usage: a cigarette laced with heroin or marijuana

Edited to add: Link: http://tinyurl.com/csvkuc

The dates can be misleading as often a word, phrase or usage can be in use and circulation long before its "officially documented."

Another possibility is a "duster" as in one who works in the fields dusting crops, and what that may refer to by extension. Again, just a possibility.

I'm not suggesting that this should be used as evidence to make the case for the word in question being "duster." But if "duster" is in fact what Charley sang, there are a few meanings that fit.

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 14, 2009, 11:00:38 AM
Well, while we are parsing meaning here...

As I was reading through UB's treatise on "My rider's got a mojo", I noticed that he quoted Charley as:
Patton?s verse replaces mojo with somethin? in a bit of repetitive wordplay (?my rider got somethin?, she tryin?a keep it hid/Lord, I got somethin? to find that somethin? with?).

In spite of the fact that both Fahey and Spottswood agree with him, I don't see how one can transcribe the line as "rider got something. I've attached another 70% speed recording (entire 2nd verse, Riv, so you can hear the end of "with") and it seems clear to me, especially in the second line, that he is saying "rider had something" (Dispute this if you must, but it's clearly not "got", which you can hear him say quite clearly in the 3rd line.) Not only has Patton changed the nouns ("mojo" to "something" and "bastard", or whatever) but the tense ("rider's got" to "rider had") and really he has changed the repetitive structure somewhat and pretty clearly, the meaning.

[Edit to add] No, he doesn't say "has". There is a clear "d" sound before the "s" of "something" in the second line. Lowering the speed beyond 70% and EQing out the bass may distort this so I would advise against those extremes.

Now we could say that Charley was totally unconscious and that's how his use of the "floating" verse just happened to come out, but that's an awful lot of changes. Or, given the possible context that he is singing about the uncertainty of leaving home because of an unfaithful lover, perhaps the floating verse suggested a far more pointed meaning to him, within the context of his song, and he changed it to reflect that meaning. By changing his rider's possession of the "thing" to the past tense he makes it clear that he has abandoned the double entendre referring to a body part. She had it in the past, yet she is trying, in the present, to keep it hid? I'll offer up the obvious, an affair with another man, and you guys can find other alternatives, I'm sure.

But, if y'all decide to go with "duster" or some other alternative to "bastard" I think you can focus more on derogatory names for a man and be relatively clear Charley's not talking about her "buttocks".-G-

Wax

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Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 14, 2009, 01:42:12 PM
You're right, it sure isn't "got".  I'm not so sure it's not "has", though...
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on April 14, 2009, 04:23:47 PM
That was nice and clear, I'm now pretty sure I hear:

My rider'd somethin', she tried to keep it hid
My rider'd somethin', she tried to keep it hid
Oh I got somethin', mm, find that b(d)astard with

"rider'd" being a contraction of "rider had" obviously. Makes sense given the context you're proposing.

I think it's "bastard", he sounds like he has a cold elsewhere in the song so I can easily imagine how it could come out with a "d" sound.

So basically I'm convinced.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 14, 2009, 04:58:40 PM
Quote
My rider'd somethin', she tried to keep it hid
My rider'd somethin', she tried to keep it hid
Oh I got somethin', mm, find that b(d)astard with

I think that's as close as anyone in the world has gotten to getting this verse right.  My only complaint is the first vowel in "b(d)astard".  It's an "uh-uh" or "uh-ah" sond, not the "aa-aa" that one would expect with "bastard/dastard".

But maybe that's as close as we'll get.  It could be that when Art Laibly was previewing Patton's repertoire before recording, he stopped Charley at this point and said "Did you just sing 'bastard'?  You've gotta change that.  You can't sing that on a record!"  And when they were recording, Patton suddenly remembered that, gave a bit of a "duh", couldn't think of another word, and just finished with the second syllable of 'bastard'.  Probably not, but ya never know...

Maybe the solution really does lie in some dialectological fieldwork.  Stuart, start preparing that grant application.   ;D     
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 14, 2009, 05:56:35 PM
Thanks for the longer clip, John. After listening a couple of times, I'd have to say that I either hear "bastard" with a d- initial or "duster" with a -d final. I agree with you re: Fahey and Spottswood--I don't hear a "got" or "have," not on this clip, anyway.

It's just a pipedream, but I'd really like to be able to listen to the extant 78 copies of Down the Dirt Road on top of the line equipment. It's not that I don't trust the people who do the remastering, it's just that I'd like to hear it they way Fahey or Spottswood heard it. Maybe I'd get some insight into why they transcribed it the way they did.

I still think that the variorum approach is the way to go. It tips folks off that the transcriptions aren't etched in stone--at least not yet--and might encourage some further listening.

And speaking of ears, I wish that I knew how my own hearing compared to that of my 18 year old self. I'm sure that there has been some deterioration.

As for the "duster" definitions, I'll repeat that it was something that I ran across and found interesting. I'm sure that there are more out there, as it is just one dictionary. It wasn't meant to strengthen the argument for duster, just give some possible meanings, just in case. I saw that Cassell's is available from Amazon for about $26, which is certainly reasonable.

Dialectological fieldwork? Not in this lifetime--I'm on the lit/text side of the fence and I can't even get the stuff that I'm supposed to be good at right most of the time!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on April 14, 2009, 06:07:34 PM
One question that springs to mind is does "bastard" appear in any other songs from that period? I can't think of any off the top. Pretty sure it was a current term of abuse back then.

That being the case, and if he did feel he had to censor it, it tells you something about how the word was regarded and the mores of the time, at least in the Richmond studio. It was his first ever session, probably the 5th song he played for the mic if you look at the matrix numbers. As a newbie he would quite likely have been on his best behavior and susceptible to suggestion. How's that for wild speculation?

Not only that, it was released a little later than some of the others from the session, you can deduce that from the Paramount release numbers. It would be cool if the actual release dates were shown in a future ed. of B&GR 8) There were others from the session released later though so it doesn't prove anything.

I still think self-censorship is likely, unfortunately it's just not provable either way, without a written account.

PS I agree with dj and Stuart, the first vowel is a "U' sound, "dustard". Standard procedure in the Delta mangling vowels though, after a certain point it's not about what you hear, it's about what they're saying.

PPS another thought, could it have been a common figure of speech to say "dustard" to replace "bastard", like when people say things like "What the heck" when they're sensitive about cussing and saying terrible words like "hell"? Just thinking out loud, what the heck and gosh darn it.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 14, 2009, 06:35:51 PM
dj - (or anyone else) - try this experiment and don't read ahead until you do each step.

Sing "bastard" (loud) with a nice sharp 'a' sound, like in "fat".

You were probably using a little nasal and maybe some throat voice and at a nice comfortable pitch?

Now drop the pitch a bit from where that was and just try to voice it in your throat.

Now drop the pitch even lower and see if you can get the vibrations in your lower throat or even in your chest (I know, pretty hard if you don't have vocal training, but that's where Charley gets that nice bass voice he uses).

How did that 'a' sound fare when you got down there? If it's sounding like it does for me, now try holding the vowel and raising it a few notes. When I do that, really trying to voice an 'a' sound the whole time, it sure sounds a lot like what Charley is singing, to me. I just can't make a "fat" a sound down there. You gotta sing low and loud and you have to open your throat to get down there, which makes it almost impossible to make that 'a' sound, I think. And then it comes back a bit as you raise pitch.

Actually I do hear the 'a' sound in the "had"s, i.e. "my rider 'ad something". The "h" is a little on the cockney side.-G- But isn't our standard to spell out the words, regardless of pronunciation?

I'd like to see some documentation that the word bastard (if they could understand that that was what he was saying) would have been a sensitive word at that time? It doesn't show in the Concordance, but I'm not sure that's definitive.

Wax
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 14, 2009, 09:16:31 PM
I'd like to see some documentation that the word bastard (if they could understand that that was what he was saying) would have been a sensitive word at that time?...

I've been thinking along these lines as well. Whether or not a word is considered a taboo word?and the decision to use it or not--is usually dependent on social context. In addition, there are almost always alternate words or expressions available to substitute for the taboo word.

So, was it the case that Charley usually sang "bastard," knew he shouldn't use it in the recorded version, substituted "duster" (given that one of it's slang meanings works), but in the process subconsciously reverted back to what he knew best and tagged it with "bastard's" final ?d? Maybe. Or is he singing another word altogether?not a taboo, not duster, just something that we, in spite of our best efforts, haven't been able to figure out (yet)? I don't know.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on April 14, 2009, 10:03:48 PM
Sounds likely to me. He's definitely not relaxed about it, whatever it is. A quick search reveals it's a word that goes back at least to the Old Testament, and variously means person of low character, born out of wedlock and / or of mixed race, depending on cultural context.

The same search also reveals how much crazed religious literalist b/s is still out there in the world. ::)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 15, 2009, 03:33:12 AM
Quote
Or is he singing another word altogether?not a taboo, not duster, just something that we, in spite of our best efforts, haven't been able to figure out (yet)?

Like maybe "buster"?  Either a slang term for a man or a term with connotations in 1929 that we're not aware of now?

Wax, I get a good fat a sound even at very low pitches when my whole chest is vibrating.  But then, I sing bass in the choir.   :)
 

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on April 15, 2009, 10:43:37 AM
Well, you can hear the effect to a greater or lesser extent in much of Patton's singing, "ruh-ain", "wuh-ay", etc., and examples of the opposite, where, going down in pitch he "opens up" the vowel sound, like the "hee-ah-id" (high, low, middle) I mentioned above. I think it is accentuated in DtDRB because it is one of the few songs that he pitches down at Db (playing in C). Most of his E tunes are pitched at F or higher and his Spanish tunes are above that, so the effect is lessened. But it seems a standard Patton vocal technique.

And, I think this effect is further accentuated by slowing down the speed. An 'ah" sound becomes 'uh', not to mention the voicing of consonants is distorted. I tried something radical. I listened to it at full speed, no EQ. Give a listen to the clip below.

You guys have pretty much convinced me. He's singing "bastard", pronounced "bah-astard".-G- Doesn't sound at all like "duster" or "buster" at full speed. As dj said, you can really hear the final 'd' at speed. Doesn't sound like he's changing anything on the fly either, just singing confidently, especially when heard in the context of the rest of his singing.

As we've all mentioned, it would be great to get some more ears on this, I realize we have scared most folks away with our severe overzealousness, but at this point no one is going to bite anyone's head off.

In fact, I'm done. I feel this has been vetted to the best of our abilities, barring time travel. Good work by all.

Wax

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Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: onewent on April 15, 2009, 11:50:33 AM
After reading/listening on the sidelines the past few days, here's my take:  I hear CP sing, pretty clearly, 'dastard' and it's a word meaning a mean, sneaking coward fwiw..
When I hear waxwing sing it, I hear 'bastard' loud and clear  :D
..regards, Tom
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 15, 2009, 12:30:00 PM
After reading/listening on the sidelines the past few days, here's my take:  I hear CP sing, pretty clearly, 'dastard' and it's a word meaning a mean, sneaking coward fwiw..

Good call.

I still hear the initial as a d-. As I mentioned, I don't think the vowel shape is an issue. If dastard was in much more common use and conversely bastard much less, maybe we would have been predisposed to hear dastard. I stole this thought from a book I was reading this a.m., "...we tend to perceive what we're predisposed to perceive." (p.51 in Richard Lanham's Style: an Anti-Textbook--I'm sure that our own Uncle Bud has this one on his shelf).

I don't think that dastard was considered taboo.

I agree with John that we're probably at the point where this revisit is coming to an end. But for those who care to offer up their opinions, either now or later, the topic is never really closed.

I've been enjoying Waxwing John's CD since I picked it up right after it came out and quite honestly, I never gave his decision to use bastard in his performance of Down the Dirt Road a second thought.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Richard on April 15, 2009, 12:53:22 PM
A fine old English word too! Dastardly deeds et al!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: dj on April 15, 2009, 01:24:00 PM
I'm happy with dastard for now.  It's as close as we're going to come at this point, and much better than anything we've had before.  I might have a completely different view of the matter the next time we revisit this line, though.   ;D

From a letter sent by Mississippi Governor James K. Vardaman to law enforcement officials in the state in 1904: "There is no time for hesitation, for 'he who dallies is a dastard, and he who doubts is- damned.'"  So the word was around when Patton was a young man. 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on April 16, 2009, 08:56:33 AM
I've been meaning to reply in some detail but have been out with a cold and buried in work and haven't had time. Suffice to say, I still strongly disagree and see these recent developments as a kind of communal mondegreen phenomenon of alarming proportions.

However, I couldn't not post that in listening to the rather obscure Play My Juke Box collection on Flyright while toiling away this morning, I stumbled upon this verse in Marylin Scott's I Got What My Daddy Likes:

Now, my baby's got somethin', he always keep it hid
But I've got somethin' I can find it with

The song was recorded some time after Dirt Road of course (the collection is from 1943-54), but it does illustrate the existence of the verse in this format, and links back to the many examples of the related "my baby's got a mojo" formula discussed earlier in this thread, both in its structure as a lyric formula and in the song's overall suggestiveness.

As for Dirt Road, Patton distorts his speech and singing all the time, adds the end of one word to the beginning of another, leaves consonants out, makes weird noises instead of expected vowel sounds etc etc. He sings something like TAHMTHIN'/TAHMSTIN'/TAHMSHTER'/TAHMTERN, and those T's could be transcribed as D's, whatever way you want to analyze it, but it's still "somethin'". As for "my rider got", he sings "my RIDER'AWT" or RIDER'AW, but it's still "got". Henry Higgins he ain't...

I've attached Marylin Scott's fun tune. The verse in question comes at about the 1:06 mark. Interestingly, she makes another double entendre reference to a mojo in a subsequent verse:

Now my baby's got something, he carry it in a sack
But when he takes it out, we really ball the jack



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Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on April 16, 2009, 11:13:02 AM
Hi all,
I'm disinclined to slow recordings down when transcribing lyrics, which is to say, I don't do it and will not do it.  But in many years of listening to "Down The Dirt Road", and re-listening many times lately, I hear "to where I don't know" very clearly at the end of the first two lines of the first verse, and "My rider got somethin'' (with the g in got partially elided) in the first two lines of the second verse, and "I got somethin' to find that somethin' with" very clearly as the closing line of the second verse.  I also hear "oversea" blues clearly.  The toughest verse in the song for me to hear, by far, (after Son House's gimme of "I feel like choppin' it, chips flyin' everywhere") is the one that begins, "Every day seems like murder here".  I still don't know what the tagline is on that verse.  I've read other people's transcriptions of it, but if forced to come up with something of my own, I've never been able to make sense of it. 
All of my listening has been on the OJL LP re-issues and the Yazoo LP re-issue.
All best,
Johnm 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 16, 2009, 05:28:32 PM
Andrew, Johnm, et al:

"The ants are my friends,
But they're blowin' in the wind,
The ants, they're blowin' in the wind."

Well, following Johnm's lead I listed to the Yazoo Charley Patton LP version of Down the Dirt Road. The "world unknown" phrase is still unclear and the fourth "something" still sounds like he is singing "dusterd" or "dustid" to me. I hadn't thought of "duster" or "dastard" as possibilities before they were mentioned and the definitions made clear.

I think that the purpose of this revisit or re-listen has been to give it another shot and to merely state what we hear and try to offer up some possibilities or explanations. I don't think that it was to arrive at an answer by consensus or to try to force a definitive answer. The words "possibly," "maybe," and "I don't know" are as about as definitive as I can get at this point. IMHO, a forced explanation and conclusion is worse than none at all. But of course, if one is performing DtDRB, one has to choose between imitating the sound one hears, even though it may be unintelligible, or using a lyric that is intelligible, even though it may not be faithful to the original.

I certainly don't think that we should give up on this one, but I think that for now at least, it may be time to call time out. We may have  reached the point of diminishing returns and our collective time, energy and concentration might be better directed torwards that vast body of material that has yet to be worked through and transcribed.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Mr.OMuck on July 03, 2009, 10:08:45 PM
Well....
I've become rather obsessed with this tune of late, so with due trepidation about getting this started again:
I've been hearing something like "Wilano" in the world unknown place.
Just tonight i tried googling various phonetic spelling of what I think I'm hearing and here's what I came up with:

"The Cherokee are a Native Americans in the United States people originally from the Southeastern United States . They are linguistically connected to speakers of the Iroquoian language....
 to the south have added to historical confusion in writer's references regarding identification of the tribe. The ancient North South/East West trade trails met at what is today Max Meadows, Virginia. In addition to their own language of Tla Wilano, the individuals of the tribe were said to have spoken many different languages including Monican, Shawnee, Cherokee, Powatan, and even the languages of the Six Nations to the north who also came south to trade and to hunt at the sacred hunting grounds, a strip of land with vast meadows stretching from Draper Valley westward to the Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap"

Then there is the mention of the six Nations....hmmmmm?

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Ani-Stohini_slash_Unami

I don't know anything about this site or if its a reputable source of info. Interesting coincidence if nothing else.


Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on July 03, 2009, 10:44:32 PM
It has crossed my mind that what we hear is a place name that is obscure by modern standards (--possibly not), but would have been familiar to many in Charley's locale. There may have be some distance between the formal spelling and Charley's pronunciation (as phonetically transcribed), thus we haven't been able to match them up (yet). You may be on to something. Only time (and some luck) will tell. It might be worth looking at maps of the region from the early 20th century--the kind that show virtually everything--if such maps exist.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Mr.OMuck on July 04, 2009, 05:58:20 AM
Also Choppin' (or a Polish composer?  :P) seems a clear allusion to phucking, or the absence thereof and the inevitable Onanistic flying of "chips".
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: waxwing on July 06, 2009, 05:17:34 PM
Very interesting.

But I do think, if you are looking for phonetically similar place names or words, that you should also search for names without the 'W' sound. I think it is very difficult to sing "to ill" without an elide, which produces a 'W' sound. Yes, you can force a glottal stop in there, but that's not very consistent with Charley's singing style.

So to be thorough, I think phonetic representations of Ilano should be included along side Wilano in your searches.

See discussion of Charley's pronunciation of Shelbey, Illinois above.

Wax
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: maddoggirl on July 07, 2009, 02:23:52 PM
First post here - formal intro to come, hopefully  :D

Anyway, I just watched a YouTube vid of this song and I'm as certain as I can be that he sings 'Illinois'. If I hadn't seen this discussion first, I wouldn't even have considered it could be anything else. 'Worlds unknown' is a nice image, but the word, to me, is in line with the usual rural enunciation of country bluesmen. However, let the debate rage on  ;)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Slack on July 07, 2009, 02:32:56 PM
Welcome to WeenieCampbell Maddoggirl  (we hope you are not rabid  :P )

FYI, the version that they are trying to decipher is Charlie Patton's original tune - which was well before YouTube (unfortunately, as it would solve a lot of problems! :) )
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: maddoggirl on July 07, 2009, 03:08:51 PM
Welcome to WeenieCampbell Maddoggirl  (we hope you are not rabid  :P )

FYI, the version that they are trying to decipher is Charlie Patton's original tune - which was well before YouTube (unfortunately, as it would solve a lot of problems! :) )

Don't worry, fella - I meant the Patton original. In fact, the video I watched was a rather odd one from Dailymotion where they had manipulated poor Charley's photo to make it look as if he were singing... Except it didn't, really.

And thank you for the welcome! I've a rather unusual background for an enthusiast, so I'll be sure and introduce myself better sometime soon. But one of the things about me is that I can't resist throwing in my two cents  ;)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Parlor Picker on July 08, 2009, 08:42:22 AM
Sounds like "Illinois" to me.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on April 09, 2010, 11:50:26 PM
I'd like to hear the "un-remastered" original 78s of this one. Sometimes I think that the remasters are like edited texts, certainly more refined, but another step (or steps) removed from the original.

If you saw the thread over at IGS, it looks like Joe Bussard has one.

http://www.guitarseminars.com/gs/viewtopic.php?t=5045&sid=66437f934a8813c8db43ba4a4a2fd1a4

Anyone live near Joe?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on September 19, 2010, 08:30:16 AM
More grist for the mill in this far-too-long thread.  :P In one of the versions of Mary Don't You Weep from Leadbelly's Last Sessions (the longer take), he sings

Mary wept and Martha mourned
Mary's goin' to the world unknown
Because Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep

As Wax points out way back in the nether pages of this thread, just because it appears one place in one song, doesn't confirm it's place elsewhere. But I'm still always interested in lines making their way into more than one song. And as with many of the people who posted in this thread, 'world unknown' has been my least favoured candidate for whatever the hell Patton is singing. But it's interesting to see it in Leadbelly's verse in a very similar construct - "goin' to a world unknown"/"Goin' away, to a world unknown". And as Doug mentioned way back when as well, 'a/the world unknown' is a phrase appearing in several hymns, though the examples cited do not have the same lyric structure, just that phrase.

A very quick and non-exhaustive google on other versions of Mary Don't You Weep does not turn up this exact line as it appear in Leadbelly's version. But I wonder if it does turn up in other versions somewhere? Mississippi John Hurt sings "Mary weeped, Martha mourned, all around God's holy throne". Of the several recordings I have of this song by different singers and groups, few verses are the same and cumulatively there is quite a lot of verses. It seems the form of the song welcomed all sorts of variation in all the two-line verses that precede the refrain and chorus.

Anyway, like I said, just more grist for the mill.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on September 19, 2010, 12:29:05 PM
Thanks for the additional info, Andrew.

Well, at least "world unknown" is attested in another song. But even if it wasn't, IMHO whatever Charley sang in "Down the Dirt Road" is still an open question if we are basing ourselves solely on what we hear--for me, anyway.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: LB on March 06, 2011, 09:04:20 AM
Sorry to bump this back up but didn't he live through the times of the big war and didn't he also sing in the same song about overseas blues? I don't have much trouble hearing the lyrics this way, if indeed he is saying "world unknown" and "overseas blues". One thing I often do is pass lyrics by my fellow players locally that are black. They often hear something much more subtle and accurately. I've had them solve a few before they nailed instantly. Be interesting to hear someone from that area and what they'd say, Especially someone very old and preferably black.



Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: maddoggirl on March 09, 2011, 05:34:47 PM
I never quite feel entirely sure, but to me his enunciation just doesn't contain either the 'r', 'l' or 'd' sounds needed for him to be saying 'world'. There's a deinfite (w)illanoooo going on. It's not quite satisfying as 'Illinois' either, though, which is the guess I would go with, yet I still feel the answer is out there  :)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 10, 2011, 12:15:36 PM
If you look this up on Google Maps it starts to look like a very good prospect. Geographically close to where Patton would habitually be rambling and right off highway 55.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winona,_Mississippi

I'm goin' aw-ayayay to Winaaanonaaa..
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on March 10, 2011, 01:40:22 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winona,_Mississippi
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stumblin on March 10, 2011, 03:26:11 PM
Hmm...
Could be.
I'm still hearing the place name in the first line as having an L sound after the first vowel though. But I suppose Mr. Patton is sort of renowned for his sometimes impenetrable diction!
Great idea though, I'm about 75% convinced, it could very well have been Winona. Any other takers?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: maddoggirl on March 10, 2011, 04:58:44 PM
This might sound very tenuous indeed, but is it possible that in the third verse Charlie is talking about chopping cotton? Because it seems that Winona was right in the middle of cotton country and had a large mill. I found out a little about it here: http://narvellstrickland1.tripod.com/cottonmillhistory2/index1.html (http://narvellstrickland1.tripod.com/cottonmillhistory2/index1.html), but here's the key passage:


"In 1901 Winona, a small town on the Illinois Central Railroad just east of the Mississippi Delta, was lured by its proximity to the state's famous cotton-growing region and the new tax law to enter the cotton manufacturing business. It organized and authorized a capital investment of $132,000 to build the Winona Cotton Mill. The town's first large industry began operations with J. H. Frazier, president, and G.R. Kelso, secretary. It was powered by steam engines and initially employed one hundred and twenty-five workers to operate 8,736 spindles and 220 looms in the production of unfinished drilling and sheeting.22

James Sanders purchased the mill in 1924, and reorganized it under the name Winona Cotton Mill Products. Unlike the case at his other mills, he did not increase the number of spindles and looms to increase production at the new mill. There was no need to add machinery because the mill, like many mills across the country at the time, was not operating near capacity. Sanders simply increased the number of work hours per week and the number of workers and, in the process, increased the production of cloth from 10,000 yards to 16,500 yards daily--a sixty-five percent increase.23 During the Depression years before 1938, the mill operated two twenty-four hour shifts and employed two hundred and twenty-five workers. The shifts were later changed to ten hours and then finally to eight. "

Not very conclusive, but maybe worth a thought...
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: LB on March 11, 2011, 04:48:45 AM
It does prove one thing. The journey trying to find a clue or fact often leads you past a lot of equally interesting stuff. I still think a good avenue is for me to pass this audio past some of the older generation black friends I know and see what they say. I had a number of old Peg leg tunes and more with impossible lyrics and they heard them ONE time and instantly told me the lyrics. It's funny how when you hear the right words they suddenly fit and the light comes on. Fascinating stuff and thanks for posting those links!
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 11, 2011, 06:49:10 AM
Good idea L.B. Please post the results. I often wonder though whether or not the local dialects differed significantly enough from each other to make a Mississippian comprehensible to a Georgian.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: LB on March 11, 2011, 11:57:15 AM
Good idea L.B. Please post the results. I often wonder though whether or not the local dialects differed significantly enough from each other to make a Mississippian comprehensible to a Georgian.

My guess is the differences are less for african americans but that's also based on some experiences I've had. For example Curley Weaver's family, Mr Franks, Buddy Moss all still live here and many of them huge blues fans and actually still play blues, mostly not in public, but they all grew up listening to blues artists from all regions. For example Cora Mae when still alive used to tell us about listening to blues on the radio shows back in the early days and sending off money orders to places like Knoxville for all the latest records. She knew every word, story and detail to almost any obscure blues, much like we hear on the weenie juke. All of these folks had blues musician relatives and friends in a huge multi-state network. Mr Frank toured with countless people from Mississippi, Chicago, Kentucky, Carolinas. He was also friends with people like Sam Chatmon, Tommy McClennon. George Mitchell is another friend who talks about his days of thinking all blues was in Memphis until he discovered Atlanta was a hub to countless musicians from all these states. Pink Anderson. McTell was connected to several Texas bluesmen. Although I'm not as versed on historical details, I always forget them, these older black bluesmen, and women were completely connected across state lines. In fact the way they speak has not changed much since the 20/30s. Another aspect to me is that they are so practiced in the vocal communications instead of written, they are highly advanced in listening. So when Cora's sons say something to her it's a lightning fast mumble and her boys could hear and reply all the way from another room, with guitars going. I was always flabbergasted what a keen ear the older generation had. They also have more than one language. The one most people hear, and the more abbreviated you hear behind the scenes. And it was a LOT of years before I was trusted enough to hear that. So when I hear Patton I have no problem believing that could be saying Worl-a-know and mean world unknown. Just like Peg Leg says "Ah-weep-lacka-willa" when singing "I weep like a wipperwhil" > Sorry for the long post...

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: frankie on March 12, 2011, 02:30:40 AM
Interesting post, LB - never too long! but:

Just like Peg Leg says "Ah-weep-lacka-willa" when singing "I weep like a wipperwhil" > Sorry for the long post...

Always heard this line as "I weep like a willow" - clear as day, really.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: LB on March 12, 2011, 06:27:11 AM
I was always told that was what they called a wipporwill, a willa. At least the older African American players here told me that.

Oh the other line in that song is also even more funny sounding. Like a turtle dove when some people actually said that like "Like,nara turtle dove: stretched a little from a more common way "Like'na turtle dove" and I've heard people talking like that growing up for sure. Of course these things are always teaching me something new, and I'm willing to hear other input, corrections.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: frankie on March 12, 2011, 08:31:55 AM
Oh the other line in that song is also even more funny sounding. Like a turtle dove when some people actually said that like "Like,nara turtle dove: stretched a little from a more common way "Like'na turtle dove" and I've heard people talking like that growing up for sure. Of course these things are always teaching me something new, and I'm willing to hear other input, corrections.

That line I've always heard as "Like No(r)ah's turtle dove" - really "Noah" (the ark guy with the dove), but some speakers inject an "r" sound into words that combine two vowels back to back:  "going" becomes "go(r)ing".  Flagrant examples in the singing of Blind Willie McTell and Walter Vinson.  Somebody posting to weenie a few years ago described this as a "rhotic" accent.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on March 12, 2011, 08:44:38 AM
Yup, I would go with frankie's interpretation on that, especially since it references a Biblical story, and has an "s" at the end, making it a possessive.  "Norah" for Noah is the commonly sung pronunciation.  In fact, you'd be hard put to find a recording in which "Noah" is pronounced "Noah" rather than "Norah" in all of this music, by black Americans, at least.  Josh White may have sung it as "Noah".
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: LeftyStrat on March 12, 2011, 07:00:14 PM
I think someone mentioned this earlier in the thread, but here's my take, for what its worth.

In "Rattlesnake Blues", Charley clearly (at least to my ears) sings:

"Think I'll eat my supper in Shelby, Illinois..."

The last word of which sounds similar enough (again, at least to me) to the word or phrase in question that he sings in "Down the Dirt Road"





Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Oatmeal Jones on June 20, 2013, 02:12:22 PM
Diction Vs. Context
What if Dirt Road Blues is meant to be taken in a WWI conscription context based on the premise that the original title was "Overseas Blues"? What if this song makes a ton of sense and fits perfectly with what we already know of Patton's songcraft?

He was a songwriter capable of powerful imagery ? yet we wonder if he was just goofing here. Is it because we're trying to make the song fit the mythology we've built up to understand his character and are taking it out of context? Trying to make it fit into a more proper blues mythology?

My image of Charley Patton changed a good bit after reading the David Evans Bio on Charley. It?s been a while since I read it and I'm gonna dig into it again, but he seemed a performer on the verge of greater fame, with growing renown in Mississippi ? not simply some uncontrollable juke jointing troubadour. He was a man. We know that much just by having his draft card from 1918.

He was a crossover artist popular with black and white residents of Mississippi struggling to manage increasing popularity and a difficult race image. Why do we judge him often through the eyes of a fellow musician, Son House, who seem somewhat embittered with the man and nowhere near the talent? What if we asked Wellington to judge Napoleon?

From Evans Bio
"About the time that Klatzko presented the first factually based outline of Charley Patton?s life, ?Son? House was rediscovered. House had known Patton for the last four years of the latter?s life and was a Mississippi blues artist of comparable stature to Patton. House clearly found some of Patton?s character traits hard to comprehend or annoying. He told Stephen Calt and Nick Perls in an interview published in 1967 that Patton was argumentative, far from generous with his money, unable to read and write, and careless about his music, preferring to clown for the audience rather than take care to structure his songs coherently.7 In an article published in the same magazine issue as House?s interview, Gayle Dean Wardlow and Stephen Calt (writing under the pseudonym of Jacques Roche) work from House?s assertions and paint an unflattering portrait of Patton as illiterate, self-centered, a drunkard, a glutton, and a hustler of women."

We critique the diction so much ? but is that for us and not for him? Is poor diction to blame if we are judging the context incorrectly? If the man had an eighth or ninth grade education, is there a chance he could write?

Charley looks like a pretty damned polished musician to judge by the photo we have of him, especially the spats, not some folksy down home drunk. What if (respectfully) the image painted by first generation blues researchers needs re-evaluating, as it seems Evans work does?
 
And he certainly was no blues hack. Like Robert Johnson (whom is best judged on his blues merits than the over commercialization and romanced image that sometimes causes country blues aficionados to by pass him for the more obscure), Charley had a sophisticated style of tune making that could include social commentary in songs like High Water Everywhere or Dry Well Blues, and others. Who's to say that Johnson didn't have delta models that allowed him to craft imagery and personal mythology?

Who knows, he may have had a cache of social songs he never sang, who knows? Certainly the draft could have been a formative experience whose fear he shaped a song around. It certainly was a formative experience for international relations. 

If it is true that ?Down the Dirt Road Blues? was originally supposed to be called "Overseas Blues" ? like in other topical songs like High Water ? couldn?t Charley be saying something to us? I keep wondering, why would the rider line make sense in a protest song? Does it make better sense in our blues mythology?

For the first verse, in a WWI context, a ?world unknown? does fit pretty good don?t it? Or, a guy getting called up to go to war in 1917 ? possibly a rebellious man as CP sometimes is known to have had, maybe he thought he was going to get called up, maybe for kicks by some local authority ? so why not evacuate to a couple places like Winona or the Nation for refuge?

Or a suggestion below is much better for the second line of verses.

?I?d write out something, she'd try to keep it hid.?
?Lord I?ve got something to fight that duster with.? (duster, knuckleduster, knife) Heck, he could be saying bastard here too.

Maybe someone is trying to keep him from filling out certain things on a draft card? We know the war was a transformative experience for blacks in America.

I know we all like that line "choppin" but what if he was saying jumping, chips flying everywhere - meaning shrapnel?

Could we agree that drifting, another common Patton theme, from place to place to avoid draft or actually being overseas in a war would make it seem like every day was murder there? Would you want to wander a dirt road by yourself if you were in some foreign land?

Here's an interesting article about WWI and a draft that Charley may have known about. http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/237/the-great-war-1917-1918-loyalty-and-dissent-in-mississippi (http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/237/the-great-war-1917-1918-loyalty-and-dissent-in-mississippi)

Could Patton have understood Williams and Vardaman's debate?
Some people say them overseas blues ain't bad (my, of course they are)
Some people say them overseas blues ain't bad (what's the matter with 'em?)
{I won't suggest he's saying "billet my care" in the next line, but could something fit the context that we're blaming on poor diction?}

"In all, 157,607 Mississippians eventually registered for the draft, 75,977 whites and 81,548 blacks, and by the end of the war, some 19,296 whites and 24,066 blacks had been inducted into the military."

"More tangibly, almost eight thousand Mississippians deserted by either not showing up for induction into the military or by going absent without leave."

Be interesting to know if there was any action on Patton's draft card.

Evans Bio
http://www.paramountshome.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76:charley-patton-biography-part-1-dr-david-evans&catid=45:new-york-recording-laboratoriesartist&Itemid=54 (http://www.paramountshome.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76:charley-patton-biography-part-1-dr-david-evans&catid=45:new-york-recording-laboratoriesartist&Itemid=54)

Deepest Blue on Blind Man writes:
Third Registration. The registration on 12 Sept 1918, was for men aged eighteen to twenty-one and thirty-one to forty-five?men born between 11 Sept 1872 and 12 Sept 1900.

In many areas, the draft registration was an event. Some cities held parades and closed businesses for the day. Other cities announced the start of registration by blowing whistles, ringing church bells, and firing cannons.

If a registrant was not living in his home town, he could register elsewhere and the card would be sent to his home draft board. In some rural counties, it may have been easier to travel to the bordering county to register and request that the registration be sent on to the actual county. Because it?s possible that some registrations were never transferred, an individual?s card may appear in a neighboring county or state.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: cru423 on June 21, 2013, 11:39:13 PM

Could we agree that drifting, another common Patton theme, from place to place to avoid draft or actually being overseas in a war would make it seem like every day was murder there?


I'm not sure, the spoken comment after that line, "My God, I ain't no sheriff" makes this theme of murder seem more local and personal (like in murder mysteries where someone is called to report or identify a body). 


I know we all like that line "choppin" but what if he was saying jumping, chips flying everywhere - meaning shrapnel?


I think he's saying, "I feel like chompin' chitlins everywhere". He's making fun of the rural black minstrel stereotypes (i.e. black man chomping on a fat ham or eating watermelons).


{I won't suggest he's saying "billet my care" in the next line, but could something fit the context that we're blaming on poor diction?}


"Bid my care" is a fairly common blues idiom, though. It should be included in the archetypal blues lyric thread. I'll have to recall a few songs where I've heard it before.

I do think you're right about wandering aimless and going to the Nation to duck the draft. We agree on that  ;)



Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: jrn on June 22, 2013, 11:47:13 AM
I feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere

I feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere

I been to the Nation, oh Lord, but I couldn't stay there

 ;)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: bird to whistle on June 23, 2013, 09:14:59 PM
I wanted to compare the "world unknown" in Down the Dirt Road Blues to "Illinois" in Rattlesnake Blues so I made some samples and cleaned them. Check them out.

The first two are from Dirt Road and the third is from Rattlesnake. The "long" clips let you hear the samples in a bit more context.

To me the samples sound the same. I don't hear "world unknown". I don't think it's "where I don't know" either. That doesn't seem to fit. Also, I don't hear the word "don't". To me it's "Illinois". See what you think.


Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: pkeane on June 24, 2013, 08:02:11 PM
Thanks.  FWIW, I've never heard anything but "Illinois" on Dirt Road (tried really hard to hear "world unknown") -- it always seemed obvious to me (I know other disagree :-)).
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on June 26, 2013, 07:06:00 PM
I'm firmly in the '...to Illinois' camp also. 'A world unknown' has always struck me as a way too rarified abstraction given the genre context and, so far as I know, absolute lack of precedent. 'Illinois', on the other hand is shot-through the music. Plus I actually do hear it. "to a world unknown" has always struck me as a creative placeholder pending general agreement on the correct lyric.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: joebanjo on July 24, 2013, 04:29:09 PM
These are the lyrics I'm hearing, really can't hear it any way besides "a world unknown." I'd love to hear your corrections suggestions:

I'm going away to a world unknown.
I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long.

My rider got something ?she try to keep it hid.
Lord I got something?find that something with.

I feel like choppin, chips flyin? everywhere.
I went down to the Nation, lord but I couldn?t stay there.

Some people tell me, Overseas Blues ain?t bad.
It must not ?o been them Overseas Blues I had.

Every day seem like murder here.
I'm gonna leave tomorrow.  I know you don't bit more care.

Can?t go down that dark road by myself.
Ain?t gon? carry my rider, gonna carry me somebody else.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: sj1976 on August 16, 2013, 12:40:24 PM
I read through the posts and the more I thought about it I decided to look at the problem geographically. The first line phonetically sounds like:
I'm goin away to wa na na and then a huuu sound

I think he's saying
Im goin away to Winona and then the huu sound to extend the verse to the timing he wanted.
I looked on google map and sure enough theres a Winona,Ms.
right in the heart of his old stomping ground.
Any thoughts on my theory would be greatly appreciated as I'm a huge Charley Patton fan
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Slack on August 16, 2013, 12:50:17 PM
Hi sj1976, welcome to WeenieCampbell!

I really like geographic lyric solving, folks have solved a number of lyrics geographically.  It's been awhile since I've listened, but if there were not any obvious aural differences to blow your theory - I'd say it is an excellent theory.

One thing you forgot though -- a street view of Winona, MS haha

https://www.google.com/maps/preview# (https://www.google.com/maps/preview#)!q=winona%2C+ms&data=!1m7!1m3!1d3!2d-89.726781!3d33.493727!2m1!2f90!4f75!2m5!1e2!2m3!1s86061781!2e1!7e10!4m10!1m9!4m8!1m3!1d245247!2d-106.4245174!3d31.811133!3m2!1i1203!2i868!4f13.1&fid=6
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: sj1976 on August 16, 2013, 12:58:20 PM
Hello
Thanks for responding!
no street view, but i checked the distance and its about 50 miles
from dockery plantation.
I need to check the history of the town though to make sure it existed at the time
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Stuart on August 16, 2013, 04:39:03 PM
I've changed my approach. I don't know what he says,  but I know exactly what he means: "I'm goin' away, to anywhere but here."
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 19, 2013, 09:20:43 PM
New theory for one of the verses starting around 1:55 depending on which recording you're listening to:

Every day seem like murder here
Every day seem like murder here
I'm going to leave tomorrow, I know you done been morphi-a

Charlie's way of saying his gal was shooting up. Apologies if someone's suggested that already and I missed it.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 19, 2013, 09:43:29 PM
Are we ready to attempt a complete transcription yet?  :P

BTW, Leftystrat never got an amen for his post re Patton's pronunciation of Shelby, Illionois in Rattlesnake Blues. I totally agree. http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4250.msg59260#msg59260 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4250.msg59260#msg59260)
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on August 20, 2013, 10:31:03 AM
Haha... Hearings range from correct to cockamamie, so I'd say never. This is clearly a country blues Rorschach test of a song
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: bird to whistle on August 20, 2013, 03:27:27 PM

Waxwing gets an amen from me.

Quote
what I clearly hear is "to  wellah  no-o-o" in both iterations. I can't hear any hard "D" sound at all, but do hear the soft "L" tap between a pretty sharp "eh" sound to the "ah" sound. Of course, the "W" sound would be a natural elide between "oo" and "eh" as a glottal stop would jar the phrasing.

He said this back on page two, and I think it's the most important thing in the thread. You can't say "to Illinois" without naturally making a "W" sound. If remove the "W" sound when you say it, "Illinois" becomes clear. I think anything that starts with "W" is wrong.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 20, 2013, 05:21:37 PM
Right, I apologize. I received a light smack on the wrist in an email from somewhere west of here this morning.  :P

Wax called it right, IMO, also mentioning Rattlesnake Blues on page 6. If you haven't listened to Rattlesnake with DTDRB in mind I recommend doing so. It has to be Illinois.

So what about 'morphi-a', eh? Anyone listened?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on August 20, 2013, 05:41:18 PM
Hi all,
I heard "I'm goin' away to where I don't know" on the first page of this thread and that's still what I hear.  I don't hear any "l" sounds in there at all, so "Illinois" doesn't work for me. 
In the "seem like murder" verse, I hear the words at the end of the tagline as "don't feel my care", a phrase that appears in a lot of blues lyrics, from Skip James to Robert Johnson.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 20, 2013, 07:25:15 PM
Re. the last line of the "seem like murder" verse. The first part, "I'm going to leave tomorrow, I know you...", is not in dispute.

For the next word I hear "done", and the word after that commencing with hard 'B', as in 'been...'.

I don't hear a hard 'C' commencing the last word, rather a 'Mor...' syllable, followed by a long F ''fiii', followed by a an 'uh', leads to 'morphiuh'.

To put it all together and leave out the phonetic spellings above: "I'm going to leave tomorrow, I know you done been morphia"
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on August 20, 2013, 08:21:09 PM
Must be something in the elevation there in Colorado.

It's surely "I know you don't bit more care". You can hear Honeyboy Edwards sing the line in his version of Catfish on Mississippi Delta Bluesman, transcribed in the Smithsonian Folkways liner notes as "bid more care". Preceded by another variation on a line found in Patton ("I'm going, yes, going, going, yes it may get lonesome here...." etc.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 20, 2013, 08:34:50 PM
Still at Austin elevation at this point. I don't hear that, absolutely no hard C for the last word, and definitely a 'Moor...' sound, regardless of any other singers' work or transcriptions. You guys need to get the Black Swan transfer.  :P
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on August 20, 2013, 10:51:27 PM
Yup, you've got it, uncle bud.  I can hear it plain as day.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: sj1976 on August 22, 2013, 06:49:43 AM
Well Im sticking with Winona,Ms. He dropped numerous place names in his songs, and I dont hear the l and n sounds of Illinois.
I do hear the two n's of Winona. Its the most logical word for the sounds you hear. Plus  look at a map of Winona. it's halfway between memphis and Jackson. and withen a 50 mile radius you find leland, drew, belzoni, itta bena, cleveland, indianola.
Any serious Charley Patton researcher will recognize all of the places. I think  Winona has been overlooked for more compilcated answers. he sung about the places he went to. I have read that he would travel to Chicago annually to play-not sure of the specifics or validity of this claim, so Illinois seems logical and plausable, but I just dont hear it.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 22, 2013, 05:28:21 PM
Quote
I know you don't bit more care

Well OK, assuming it's that, which I don't believe for a second, what does that actually mean?
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: bird to whistle on August 22, 2013, 06:22:04 PM
Quote
Well OK, assuming it's that, which I don't believe for a second, what does that actually mean?

I think it's bid not bit and it relates to the previous line. "I'm gonna leave tomorrow, I know you don't bid more care" I think it means I'm leaving and you don't really care or that it doesn't mean that much to you.


I updated wax's collection of suggestions in the thread.

I'm going away to

a world unknown/worlds unknown
Illinois (pronounced as el-eh-nooo)
where I don't know (pronounced as whe-a-da know or wheda-know)
the one I know
too well I know
to wander North
wilano
winona


Lord, I got somethin'

to find that somethin' with
to find that bastard with
to find that dastard with
to find that dustard with
to find that duster with
to find that buster with


some people say the

O.C. blues
oversea(s)/o'erseas blues


I guess these would be the results of the Rorschach test.
 
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on August 22, 2013, 06:39:02 PM
What bird to whistle said.

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 22, 2013, 06:42:20 PM
Well, I'm sorry but I don't hear that at all. There is no hard 'C' commencing the last word in my recording, it's an 'M'. The previous word I believe is 'been', as in 'done been'.

I need to cut out the Black Swan snippet and post it, clearly I'm hearing something you are not.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: uncle bud on August 22, 2013, 06:47:08 PM
It's a 'C'. But I am so done with this thread, shoulda known better than to start on it again.  :P
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 22, 2013, 06:51:26 PM
No way!

I'm going to leave tomorrow, I know you done been morphi-a
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Slack on August 22, 2013, 07:30:22 PM
LOL!  Too funny :P
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Rivers on August 22, 2013, 09:15:11 PM
Perhaps we should pencil-in a Down The Dirt Road Blues Rorschach Shootout for the next time we're all at Port T. I'm thinking headphones, multiple transfer versions, workshops. Count me in. "Bid more care"? Charlie Patton? I don't think so, obviously.
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Prof Scratchy on August 31, 2013, 11:16:55 AM
Indisputably, Patton sings "Winan-o-a"!

Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 4

Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: Johnm on August 31, 2013, 12:39:48 PM
I dispute that!  I'm moving these posts over to the "World Unknown" thread.  Uncle Dave should not be subjected to more of this discussion.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: 'A World Unknown'
Post by: jpeters609 on September 03, 2013, 09:02:44 PM
As an interesting aside, John Fahey, in his Patton book, gives the line as "I'm going away to the one I know" in his lyric transcription, but as "I'm going away to where I don't know" when he transcribes the melody.

After re-reading John Fahey's biography of Charley Patton, I encountered the same interesting duality mentioned in the above quote. In one appendix to the book, Fahey transcribes both the lyrics to Patton's songs (which appear in type), as well as the musical notation (which are written by hand). Interestingly, the musical notations include lyrics of their own, also written by hand and appearing beneath the appropriate musical notes. As indicated above, the typed lyrics say, "To the one I know," while the hand-written lyrics written in conjunction with the musical notations say, "To where I don't know."

More than one hand may have been involved in Fahey's transcriptions of Patton's songs, or perhaps Fahey is indicating his own ambivalence.

Either way, I think I will always hear, "To a world unknown," as it suits my sensibility. And it's awesome.
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