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Country Blues => Country Blues Lyrics => Topic started by: Alexei McDonald on October 27, 2007, 12:38:31 PM

Title: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Alexei McDonald on October 27, 2007, 12:38:31 PM
I've been idly searching for information on this song today.   I found a couple of things of interest in decrypting Hambone Willie's diction.

https://youtu.be/JU3D_ygKqgs

Exhibit #1

A 1916 recording by Billy Murray and Irving Kaufman

http://www.archive.org/download/BillyMurrayIrvingKaufman/BillyMurrayIrvingKaufman-WayDownInArkansaw.mp3 (http://www.archive.org/download/BillyMurrayIrvingKaufman/BillyMurrayIrvingKaufman-WayDownInArkansaw.mp3)

Exhibit #2

The 1915 sheet music by James White

http://www.letrs.indiana.edu/cgi/b/bib/bib-idx?&g=sheetmusic&c=starr&c=devincent&view=reslist&type=simple&q1=Way%20down%20in%20Arkansaw&rgn1=title (http://www.letrs.indiana.edu/cgi/b/bib/bib-idx?&g=sheetmusic&c=starr&c=devincent&view=reslist&type=simple&q1=Way%20down%20in%20Arkansaw&rgn1=title)

With these it's pretty easy to grasp the choruses, but the verses as printed aren't the ones used by Hambone Willie.   Does anyone have any clues where those came from, or a better ear for his diction than I have?
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern : Way down in Arkansaw
Post by: Johnm on October 27, 2007, 12:43:11 PM
Hello, Alexei,
I will give the piece a listen and see what I come up with.  I've been meaning to post about this song for some time on the "Harmony and Hearing Chord Changes" thread, for Hambone Willie's harmonization of the melody on this song is in a class with Leadbelly's "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" for weird choices.  I realize you're asking for something altogether different.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern : Way down in Arkansaw
Post by: Alexei McDonald on October 27, 2007, 01:10:32 PM
That would be interesting to see as well ; I've loved this song, at least in the way Hambone Willie performs it, ever since I heard a very rough sounding copy of it on one of Paul Oliver's Songsters and Saints LPs back in the 1980s.
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern : Way down in Arkansaw
Post by: Johnm on October 27, 2007, 03:56:57 PM
Hi all,
Here's what I ended up with for "Way Down In Arkansas".  My favorite phrase from it is "the new-born hay".

   Way down yonder in old Arkansas, where you find the turkey in the straw
   Can hear the roosters crowin' 'bout the break of day, old hen a-layvin' (sic) in the new-born hay
   There's where my Great Grandma, first met up-a with my Great Grandpa
   Well, they settled down together, how they loved each other, way down in Arkansas

   Now, way down yonder in old Arkansas, where you find the turkey in the straw
   Can hear the roosters crowin' 'bout the break of day, old hen a-layrin' (sic) in the new-born hay
   There's where my Great Grandma, first met up-a with my Great Grandpa
   Well, they settled down together, how they jawed with each other, way down in Arkansas

   I can hear the darky moanin' at the old barn door, can see the ladies tippin' 'cross the kitchen floor
   When you get your coffee it'll be 'foreday, see that turkey slippin' out through the hay

   Now, way down yonder in Arkansas, where you find the turkey in the straw,
   Now, when you make your money, when you see your honey, way down in Arkansas

   Way down yonder in Arkansas, where you find the turkey in the straw
   Can hear the roosters crowin' 'bout the break of day, old turkey slippin' out the new-born hay
   There's where my mother-'n-law first met up-a with her brother-'n-law
   Well, we went around together, how we 'joyed each other, way down in Arkansas

All best,
Johnm
   
   
   
   
   
   
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern : Way down in Arkansaw
Post by: Stuart on October 27, 2007, 05:04:23 PM
Had a listen and heard the following:

old hen a-layin' in the new-born hay

I can hear the donkey moanin' at the old barn door

It's possible that these variations from Johnm's transcriptions are a result of my being pre-disposed by the barnyard imagery. It's not at all clear cut.
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern : Way down in Arkansaw
Post by: Alexei McDonald on October 27, 2007, 05:55:38 PM
The word sounds like lay-vrin to me when I listen to it, which is no help I know, or maybe lay-ring.   Not sure at all.

But brother-in-law and mother-in-law in the last verse!   I could never hear that for myself in a million years, but once John had transcribed it that way, it makes perfect sense.   Many thanks, John & Stuart.
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern : Way down in Arkansaw
Post by: Johnm on October 27, 2007, 10:34:47 PM
Hi Alexei and Stuart,
I went back and listened to the song again after reading your suggestions.  I think the intent with the hens is "laying" as you both suggest.  In the first verse, it sounds like Hambone Willie combined "layin'" with "livin'".  In the second verse, it seems a pretty clear "layin'", with the letter r inserted between consecutive syllables that end and begin with vowel sounds, as you encounter pretty often.  It still sounds like "darky" rather than "donkey" in that interlude, I think.  I will make the changes.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 07, 2015, 11:54:17 AM
Hi all,
Hambone Willie Newbern accompanied himself out of Spanish tuning with a slide for his very influential recording of "Roll and Tumble Blues".  I hadn't listened to the recording for some time and had forgotten how closely Robert Johnson copied him for "Traveling Riverside Blues" (though Johnson takes his song at a much slower tempo).  Willie Newbern looks as though he thought of the song as a guitar showpiece, devoting time for three solos in the course of his performance.  Here is Hambone Willie's rendition:

http://youtu.be/Qyx2Z647kJ4 (http://youtu.be/Qyx2Z647kJ4)

And I rolled and I tumbled and I cried the whole night long
And I rolled and I tumbled and I cried the whole night long
And I rose this mornin', mama, and I didn't know right from wrong

SOLO

Did you ever wake up and find your dough-roller gone?
Did you ever wake up and find your dough-roller gone?
And you wring your hands and you cry the whole day long

And I told my woman, Lord, 'fore I left the town
And I told my woman just before I left the town
"Don't you let nobody tear the barrelhouse down."

SOLO

And I fold my arms, Lord, and I walked away
And I fold my arms and I slowly walked away
Says, "That's all right, sweet mama, your trouble gonna come some day."

SOLO

Edited 7/11/20 to pick up correction from islandgal

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: jpeters609 on July 07, 2015, 12:30:35 PM
Man, what a great song. And so pervasive! Lyrically, Garfield Akers' "Dough Roller Blues" is a word-for-word copy of Hambone Willie Newbern's "Roll and Tumble Blues," although played without slide in Akers' unmistakable style. (The Garfield Akers version remains my favorite of all the Rollin' and Tumblin' recordings out there. But the Baby Face Leroy Trio's two-part version and Robert Johnson's "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" are up there!)
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 07, 2015, 12:36:54 PM
Yes, those are great ones, Jeff, and I'm also really partial to a few of the non-slide versions, from Joe Callicott, Rosa Lee Hill and R. L. Burnside.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 07, 2015, 04:24:49 PM
Hi all,
Hambone Willie Newbern recorded "Hambone Willie's Dreamy-Eyed Woman's Blues" accompanying himself out of C position in standard tuning, using substantially the same accompaniment as he used for "Shelby County Workhouse Blues".  He was really a strong player, and versatile, too.  Something about his right hand touch reminds me of Mance Lipscomb's touch.  Here is the song:

http://youtu.be/Fw_t3U2jGzY (http://youtu.be/Fw_t3U2jGzY)

I got a dreamy-eyed woman, live down on Cherry Street
I got a dreamy-eyed woman, live down on Cherry Street
And she laughs and talk with every brownskin old man she meet

Says, I told her last night and all the night before
And I told her last night and all the night before
Said, "If you don't quit so much runnin', baby, you can't be mine no more

SOLO

Put both hands on her hips, and these is the words she said
Put both hands on her hips, and these is the words she said
Says, "Big boy, I couldn't miss you if the Good Lord told me you was dead."

SOLO

I'm gonna leave here walkin', chances I may ride
I'm gonna leave here walkin', chances I may ride
'Cause I got the blues, baby, and I can't be satisfied

Hollerin', mmmmm, baby, what more can I do?
Hollerin', mmmmm, baby, what more can I do?
Want me to cut my throat, baby, tryin' to get along with you

SOLO

All best,
Johnm 
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: TempeRed on February 18, 2017, 10:33:02 AM
Hello!  They're in the "New-Mown Hay", not the "new-born hay"....

Anyone got the changes on this fun tune?
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on February 19, 2017, 09:53:45 AM
Hi TempeRed,
"New-mown hay" makes more sense, but what Hambone Willie sings is "new-born hay", the "b" sound is quite clear, as is the "r" sound.
The song is in C, but he starts in a G chord, walking the melody up the first and sixth strings from the fifth fret to the third fret.  Then to F for "where you find the turkey in the straw", to G  up until "the break of day", then A for "old hens, etc.", resolving to G, then starting over.  He was operating under the assumption that whatever note was in the melody was the root of the chord under it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 08, 2020, 03:52:29 PM
Hi all,
I thought I would try to get the lyrics to Hambone Willie Newbern's "Shelby County Workhouse Blues".  He played the song out of C position in standard tuning, and utilized the same accompaniment he played for his "Dreamy-Eyed Woman Blues", as noted earlier in this thread.  I was only able to figure out the name of Marked Tree by reading some of the comments on the attached youtube video.  Hambone Willie Newborn really sang some strong intervallic "rs" on this song, connecting words that end in vowels with words that begin with vowels, as in "my arms" in the second verse.  Here is "Shelby County Workhouse Blues", and I'd very much appreciate correction/corroboration of any of the lyrics:

https://youtu.be/D-6id5pcXgI

I left old Memphis, Tennessee on my way back to Marked Tree
I left old Memphis, Tennessee on my way back to dear old Marked Tree
I'm out in the gumbo mud, baby, says jam up above my knee

Says, I fold my arms, I didn't have but one word to say
And I fold my arms, I didn't have but one word to say
Cast my eyes to the Lord, say, "You please have mercy on poor me."

Well, I left old Marked Tree, goin' back to Memphis, Tennessee
And I left old Marked Tree, on my way back to Memphis, Tennessee
No sooner I got at the bus station, Lord, the police, he arrest poor me

Lord, the police 'rest me, carried me 'fore the judge
Police 'rest me, take me 'fore the judge
Well, the lawyers talked so fast, didn't have the time to say not nary word

Well, the lawyer pleaded, and the judge he turned and wrote it down
Lawyer pleaded and the judge, he turned and wrote it down
Says, "I'll give you ten days, buddy, out in little old Shelby town."

And they carried me up, and stared me up in the face
And they stood me up, stared me in the face
Guard said to the trustee, said, "Put the shackles", says, "around his leg."

Hollerin' mmmmmmmmmm, Lawdy, Lawdy Lawd
Mmmmmmmmm, Lawdy, Lawdy Lawd
Lord, the guards all treated me like I was a low-down dog

OUTRO

Edited 7/9 to pick up corrections from banjochris and Johnm
Edited 7/10 to pick up correction from harry

All best,
Johnm

 
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on July 09, 2020, 04:33:28 PM
This one has driven me nuts for a long time, John, that third line in the first verse especially. I think I've finally gotten it. He uses an expression that Sleepy John Estes uses in "Mary Come On Home":

1.3 I'M OUT IN THE GUMBO MUD BABY, SAYS JAM UP ABOVE MY KNEE

5.1 and 5.2 I think it's: he DONE wrote it down
(Just pronounced very oddly)
5.3 I think Shelby is probably right, but also pronounced very oddly

6.1 And they CARRIED me up, and STARED me up in the face
6.2 And they STOOD me up, STARED me in the face
6.3 GUARD said to the trusty...

Chris
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 09, 2020, 05:08:36 PM
Wow, Chris, that tagline on verse one is above and beyond the call of duty-- and it's spot on!  I would never have gotten that.  I'm going to stick with "turned and" in 5.1 and 5.2, mostly because the starting consonant sound seems pretty clearly "t" rather than "d", and there's a word break in his articulation there.  The corrections in verse 6 are all right on.  I found one also, I think in the tagline to verse four, he does sing "lawyers" rather than "laws", though he really swallows the second syllable and gets off of it very fast.  Thanks so much.  I wasn't even close on that tagline to verse one.  As it is, this one is ready to go into Weeniepedia.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: harry on July 10, 2020, 08:04:03 AM
I'm sure about 4.2 the others are suggestions.

4.2 Police 'rest me, carried take me 'fore the judge

5.1 Well, the lawyer pleaded, and the judge he turned and wrote it down
5.2 Lawyer pleaded and the judge, he turned and wrote it down

6.2 And they stood me up, stared me right in the face
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 10, 2020, 08:16:57 AM
Hi Harry,
It is "carried", not "take" in verse four.  The long "e" sound in carried is elided, but the front consonant is a hard "c" and the concluding consonant is a "d", not a "k" as in "take".  He does sing "turned and" in both lines of the next verse, though he chops off the front end both times, so that it sounds more like "'nd". He never says "right" in the next-to-last verse either--what you're hearing is the "r" he adds in between words that end with a vowel sound followed by words that begin with a vowel sound.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: harry on July 10, 2020, 08:31:14 AM
I'm really hearing 4.2 as police 'rest me, take me 'fore the judge.
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 10, 2020, 08:55:30 AM
Well, you're mistaken.
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 10, 2020, 09:51:53 AM
Hi all,
Another Hambone Willie Newborn song that seems like it might have come out of the vaudeville or minstrel show tradition is "Nobody Knows (What The Good Deacon Does)".  He accompanied himself out of C position in standard tuning, as he did for all of his recorded numbers except "Roll And Tumble Blues".  He must have been fun to see in person, because this is a really entertaining performance, with vocal asides commenting on the lyrics and scat singing.  Here is "Nobody Knows":

https://youtu.be/cwV3m7E5n54

Say, you talk about your fly deacons, there was one from my home
Says, he done got busy 'bout all them good-lookin' womens, (What did he said?)
"I'm gon' leave all the mens alone."
They invited their great deacon down to our church last night
When the reverend who gives religion out, he said,
"I know you all won't act right." (Why?)
At night when the lights come on, you oughta heard them sisters moan (What did he said?)

There's nobody knows what the good deacon was doin', Lord, whilst the lights was out
Now I ain't no fortune-teller but I 'clare I know just what I'm talkin' about
There was one old brother by the name of Mo, got so happy, pulled off all of his clothes (Be quiet)
Nobody knows what the good deacon's doin', Lordy, whilst the lights was out

And I ain't no fortune-teller but I 'clare I know just what I'm talkin' about
There was one old sister by the name of Ewing, 'shamed to tell you, brother, what that sister was doin' (Shhh!)
Nobody knows what the good deacon was doin', Lord, whilst the lights was out

I ain't no fortune-teller, but I 'clare I know just what I'm talkin' about
There was one old sister, lived down on Vance, said, "I'd just be in that shimmy parlor if I had a chance."
Nobody knows what the good deacon's doin', Lord, whilst the lights was out

Says I ain't no fortune-teller but I 'clare I know just what I'm talkin' about
There was one old sister named Sister Green, jumped up and done the shimmy, Lord, you ain't never seen
Nobody knows what the good deacon was doin', Lord, once the lights was out

SOLO (During solo:  Mm, deacon, hi, deacon, dee, dee-dah, dee, dee-dah)
'Body knows what the good deacon was doin', Lordy, whilst the lights was out

I ain't no fortune-teller but I 'clare I know just what I'm talking' about
She pulled off one slipper and then one sock, got way back and doin' the double Eagle Rock
Nobody knows what the good deacon was doin', Lord, whilst the lights was out

SOLO (During solo:  good deacon, bad deacon, dah, dah-dahdle, dee, dee-dah
Dooo-doo, dee-dee, diddle-diddle, di-di-dah)

OUTRO

Edited 7/10 to pick up corrections from banjochris and Johnm

All best,
Johnm

   
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on July 10, 2020, 04:45:34 PM
I'm really hearing 4.2 as police 'rest me, take me 'fore the judge.

John, going back I hear "take" in 4.2 also (but just 4.2, it's "carried" in 4.1).
Chris
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on July 10, 2020, 04:54:49 PM
Couple suggestions for "Good Deacon," some are pretty minor

1.5 When the reverend who gives that RELIGION out, he said, he pronounces it "reel-ish-ion"
1.6 "I know YOU ALL WON'T ACT RIGHT."

2.4 (the aside) I think is BE QUIET

3.2 I think it's shame to tell YOU, brother, ...
3.3 ...Lord, WHILST the lights was out

5.2 ...jumped up and DONE the shimmy...

6.2 ...pulled off ONE slipper...

Chris
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 10, 2020, 05:12:49 PM
Well, If two close listeners heard "take" in 4.2 of "Shelby County Workhouse Blues", I needed to re-listen again.  I did and you were both right, and I was mistaken.  Thanks for the catch, Harry.  I've made the fix here and in Weeniepedia.  Thanks!  And I'm sorry for being crabby with you before, Harry.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 10, 2020, 05:20:18 PM
Thanks for the catches on "Nobody Knows", Chris, and your catches helped me make some more catches, I think.  In the last line of each refrain, I think it is "whilst" every time through.  In 2.2, I think it is:
   'SHAMED to tell you, brother, what that sister was doin'
I think the tail end of 3.2 is:
   "I'd JUST be IN that shimmy parlor if I had a chance
I'll make the fixes.  Thanks for all the help.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: islandgal on July 11, 2020, 08:04:46 AM
Going back to a post from 2015, I was just listening to Hambone Willie Newbern's version of Roll and Tumble Blues again and I'd like to suggest a change. I think in the last line of the first verse he's singing, "And I rose this mornin', mama, and I didn't know right from wrong."
Title: Re: Hambone Willie Newbern Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 11, 2020, 12:23:50 PM
Hi Jean,
I re-listened to "Roll And Tumble Blues" and I agree with you, so I made the change.  Thanks for the catch!
All best,
Johnm
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