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Country Blues => Country Blues Lyrics => Topic started by: MotMot on June 14, 2004, 02:06:54 PM

Title: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: MotMot on June 14, 2004, 02:06:54 PM
Can anyone figure out what Peg Leg Howell and His Gang are singing in Moanin' and Groanin' the Blues (it's on one of the Old Hat CDs: either? "Violin Sing the Blues..." or "Folks He Sure Do ...").
Here's all that I can get:

[first bit of Mmmm's]

Some girls ....???
Some girls .....???
But they .....??? to my sweet mama
That's the reason I worry you, honey, like I do

[another round of Mmmmm's]

Some girls get married, some girls get fat
that's the reason .....? no more(?)
give me sweet Mary, take her to my home
If I can't find a brown girl ... to do the ...?

[final Mmmm's]
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: waxwing on June 14, 2004, 03:17:28 PM
Hey, MotMot. Welcome to Weenie Campbell. As you have probably already noticed, we derive a great deal of fun around here from trying to figure out really obscured vocals. The best thing to do is to post an mp3 of the song. If you select the Additional Options link, which is just below the text box on the Post reply page, you will see that you can attach files of various types, including mp3s. The only catch is that there is a size limit, which is 800 KB. So you need to shrink the mp3 before you can attach it. If you are working from a CD, the best thing to do is to import it to your computer's mp3 player (I use ITunes on my Mac), making sure that you import in mono and that you reduce the bit sampling rate enough to reduce the file size to below 800 KB. If you know the size of the original file you can make a ballpark calculation, or a little experimenting will get you there. Once you've got it small enough you can attach and post and we'll all be onboard the relief effort. Of course, by the time I've posted this, Frank or John M. or one of the other guys who seem to own the entire Document catalogue will probably already have fulfilled your wishes. I'm just tryin' to get a listen to Peg Leg and his Gang 'cause I just read about him in Bastin's Red River Blues (great book) and I don't have any of their stuff. That'll mean a trip to Down Home Music. By the way, you've already fulfilled the other requirement, which is to post your own first attempt, which let's everyone know you're trying, and not just lazy. Good show.
All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Johnm on June 14, 2004, 03:37:19 PM
Hi MotMot,
I just listened to this on an old OJL album I have that's devoted to Peg Leg and His Gang.? I don't have all the lyrics but I think I have some of them.? The first unmoaned verse begins, I believe,
?My gal's in trouble,
?My gal's in trouble
?-----?
?And that's the reason why you hear me moanin' like I do

 End of the last line of the second verse with words is, I think,
?If I can't get a brownskin gonna do the best I can.
I will keep listening and see if I can add to this.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Montgomery on June 14, 2004, 07:51:27 PM
A great tune with incomprehensible lyrics and really wild fiddle playing...wish I could help you more, but the  lack of decipherable lyrics doesn't really hurt the tune.
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: uncle bud on June 15, 2004, 07:12:24 AM
It's on "Folks He Sure Do Pull Some Bow", which I don't have. John C. you can hear a little (only the humming verse) at Old Hat's site (http://www.oldhatrecords.com/1003Samples.html).
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: MotMot on June 15, 2004, 07:23:16 PM
The only catch is that there is a size limit, which is 800 KB. So you need to shrink the mp3 before you can attach it. < . . . snip . . . >a little experimenting will get you there.

Well, my first bit of experimenting didn't get me there, but I'll keep trying.

the  lack of decipherable lyrics doesn't really hurt the tune.

Agreed.  I dimly recall reading a Mick Jagger interview in which he was asked about lyrics, and he that the words didn't really matter; so, he learned at least a few things from the old masters.
I guess if I want to try playing it myself, I just ought to come up with indecipherable lyrics of my own!
Cheers . . .
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: waxwing on June 15, 2004, 07:31:03 PM
Cool, once you figure it out it's a good trick to know. Now I gotta figure out how to do it with photos, so's I can post some guitar porn (as Reso1 would say).
And thanks for pointin' out that snippet UB. Definitely a trip to Down Home. I've been thinkin' about approaching a fiddler I know to see if he'd be into learnin' some country blues duets, so this is all whetting my appetite.
All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: uncle bud on June 15, 2004, 08:10:30 PM
The only catch is that there is a size limit, which is 800 KB. So you need to shrink the mp3 before you can attach it. < . . . snip . . . >a little experimenting will get you there.

Well, my first bit of experimenting didn't get me there, but I'll keep trying.

MotMot,

Generally if you set the bitrate to 24 kbps (mono) you should hit below the limit.

cheers,
UB
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: MotMot on June 18, 2004, 05:31:49 AM
The only catch is that there is a size limit, which is 800 KB. So you need to shrink the mp3 before you can attach it. < . . . snip . . . >a little experimenting will get you there.

Well, my first bit of experimenting didn't get me there, but I'll keep trying.

MotMot,

Generally if you set the bitrate to 24 kbps (mono) you should hit below the limit.

cheers,
UB

Can't seem to get there from where my computers are: programs won't let me set to mono, and the size of the copied file consistently comes up too large.  Sorry ...
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: frankie on June 18, 2004, 06:06:43 AM
Can't seem to get there from where my computers are: programs won't let me set to mono, and the size of the copied file consistently comes up too large.? Sorry ...

Weenie recommends CDex (http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/).? Free, works great, moderately intuitive...? free!
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: uncle bud on June 18, 2004, 07:02:44 AM
Can't seem to get there from where my computers are: programs won't let me set to mono, and the size of the copied file consistently comes up too large.  Sorry ...

Weenie recommends CDex (http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/).  Free, works great, moderately intuitive...  free!

Unless you're on a Mac. Then iTunes should do it. What program are you using?

Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: MotMot on June 18, 2004, 07:49:28 AM
Was trying the Windows mediaplayer that came automatically loaded on my not-Mac machines.? I'll try cdex, but it may have to be after upcoming vacation!
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: uncle bud on June 21, 2004, 06:46:22 PM
OK, so I picked up Folks, He Sure Do Pull Some Bow to complement Violin, Sing the Blues for me. Old Hat really must be commended for these 2 releases, which are just tremendous: great music, great notes, great photos. Both are models of what CDs should be. So without further ado, here's Peg Leg Howell and His Gang with Moanin' and Groanin' Blues. I really must increase my Peg Leg inventory, as from the half dozen or so tunes I have of his, he's just fabulous.

[attachment deleted by admin]
Title: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on April 24, 2005, 04:42:09 PM
Hi all,
Here are lyrics I transcribed last summer for Peg Leg Howell's "Coal Man Blues".  It sure is a one-of-a-kind piece--a beautiful pre-Blues sound in Spanish and great lyrics that scan perfectly, sort of like Chuck Berry or the Old-Time singers David McCarn and Oscar Ford.  Lines I wonder about have a parenthetic question mark.  You can hear this on the Juke, I'm pretty sure.  Peg Leg picks this beautifully in Spanish tuning capoed up a ways.

Woke up this morning 'bout 5 o'clock
Got me some eggs and a nice pork chop,
Cheap cigar and a magazine, had to
Run pretty fast to catch the 5:15.

Let me tell you something that I seen,
Coal man got run over by the 5:15
Cut off his arms and it crushed his ribs, did the
Poor man die? No, the poor man lived.

Let me tell you something that I know,
Coal man got run over by the 5:44
Cut off his arms and it crushed his head, did the
Poor man die? No, the poor man's didn't.

Hard coal, stovewood, ma'am
Hard coal and your stovewood, ma'am
I ain't got but a little bit left, if you
Don't come get it, gonna burn it myself.

Get the wood in the stove and the match in your hand
Wood in the stove and the match in your hand
Wood in the stove and the match in our hand
You run to the door and stop to tell the coal man

Sell it to the rich and I sell it to the poor
Sell it to the rich and I sell it to the poor
Sell it to the rich and I sell it to the poor
I sell it to the nice brown a-standing in the door.

Furnish your wood, furnish your coal
Furnish your wood and I furnish your coal
Furnish your wood and I furnish your coal
Make you love me, doggone your soul.

I've got your water, I've got your gas
Got your water and got your gas
Got your water and I got your gas
You trick me, mama, says, that's your last

Let me tell you, mama, what's the matter now
Let me tell you, mama, what's the matter now
Let me tell you, mama, what's the matter now
You don't want me, take me anyhow.

Sweet mama, sweet mama, what's on your mind?
Mama, sweet mama, what's on your mind?
Mama, sweet mama, what's on your mind?
Says, you can't quit me, no need of tryin'

I'm goin' up the country don't you want to go?
Goin' up the country, don't you want to go?
Goin' up the country, don't you want to go?
Leaving here, ain't coming back no more.

Me and my rider and two, three more
Me and my rider and two, three more
Me and my rider and two, three more
We're goin' up the country don't you want to go?

Went down the road, feelin' bad
Went down the road, mama, feelin' bad
Went down the road, mama, feelin' bad
I feel so worried that ever I had.

Got your home (guitar)
Greet me, mama, and we'll (guitar)
Me and my brown and three or two more (guitar)
Goin' up the country don't you want to go?

Goin' away and it won't be long
Goin' away and it won't be long
Goin' away and it won't be long
Don't believe I'm leavin' count the days I'm gone
   


I hope you get a chance to hear this one.

Edited 2/6/06, to pick up corrections from Gerry C.
Edited 8/30/06, to pick up correction from Frankie
Edited 12/8/14 to pick up corrections from ScottN

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: HardLuckChild on April 24, 2005, 04:56:10 PM
Great job! Have you worked on the lyrics to any other Peg Leg Howell songs? I only have about 6 tracks by the guy, but they are all great. He was born in the 1880s, I believe, which makes him very important in studying and enjoying pre-blues and early blues music.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on April 24, 2005, 08:28:58 PM
Thanks very much, Hard Luck Child!? I am also a particular fan of Peg Leg Howell and will work on some more of his tunes--"Low Down Rounder", which has very interesting, kind of formal-sounding lyrics, "Tishimingo Blues" and "Georgia Skin Game".? I believe Frank Basile and his wife Kim have a version of Peg Leg and Eddie Anthony's "Rolling Mill Blues" posted on the Back Porch, and Suzy Thompson also recorded it on her new solo album on Arhoolie.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on April 27, 2005, 11:07:01 AM
Hi all,
Continuing on with Peg Leg Howell songs, here is his "Low Down Rounder's Blues", an unusual song in just about every way.  He plays it in C standard, capoed up, but a lot of what he's hitting doesn't sound like what anyone else played there, in particular his descending signature lick.  Note:  That's because Peg Leg Howell was playing in open C/Bflat tuning. 7/1/11  Lyrics have what seems a unique flavor and way of speaking, to me.
  
   Just a worried old rambler, with a troublesome mind (2)
   All bundled up from hardships, fates to me have been unkind.

   I wouldn't listen to mother, wouldn't listen to my dad (2)
   And by my reckless living, I've put myself in bad.

   (spoken) I wouldn't listen to nobody, I was headlong, wouldn't hear what nobody said.  Mama talked to me all the time, but I was a wil' child, wouldn't listen to her.

   I ain't trustin' nobody, I'm 'fraid of myself (2)
   I've been too lowdown, liable to put me on the shelf.

   My friends have turned against me, smilin' in my face (2)
   Since I been so disobed'ent, I must travel in disgrace.

   I cannot shun the devil, he stays right by my side (2)
   Tellin' you there's no way to cheat him, I'm so dissatisfied.

   Ain't nobody wants me, they wouldn't be in my shoes (2)
   I feel so disgusted, I got them low-down rounder blues.

I believe this one should be on the Juke, if you want to hear it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on April 27, 2005, 05:02:34 PM
Hi all,
As long as I'm on this lyric transcription jag, may as well do "Tishamingo Blues" too.  It is in Spanish, capoed up like "Coal Man Blues", and really pretty.  Come to think of it, every solo piece by Peg Leg Howell I have heard is capoed up, to suit his singing, I expect.

   I'm goin' to Tishamingo, 'cause I'm sad today
   I'm goin' to Tishamingo, because I'm sad today
   Say, the woman I love, she done drove me away

   I'm goin' to Tishamingo, to have my hambone boil (2)
   These Atlanta women done let my hambone spoil.

   I woke up this morning, 'tween midnight and day (2)
   I felt for my rider, she done walked away.

   Can't you always tell when, when your good gal's gonna treat you mean?
   Can't you always tell when your good gal's gonna treat you mean?
   Your meals is unregular, your house ain't never clean.

   You can always tell, there's something goin' on wrong (2)
   When you come in, your rider, she's out and gone.

   Say, when she come in, she got a rag tied 'round her head
   When she come in, she got a rag tied 'round her head.
   You speak about lovin', she swear she's almost dead.

   Mama, sweet mama, what's on your lovin' mind? (2)
   You can't quit me, 'tain't no need of trying.

   I've got a lovin' fary, she's long and tall like me
   Got a lovin' fary, 'n' she's long and tall like me
   I love my brownskin, I don't care where she be.

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on May 16, 2005, 02:48:40 PM
Hi all,
Here are lyrics for Peg Leg Howell's "Please Ma'am".  It is a quick vocal/guitar call-and-response slide number in Vastapol.  I can't really think of another tune that I have encountered like it.  It has an almost chanting quality to it with a pre-Blues sort of feel--no V chord, and a straight major IV chord.  The picking is quite clean, as it generally was on Peg Leg's solo numbers, and would be quite difficult to figure out, because of the irregular nature of his thumbwork.  It is basically a backwards alternation from the 4th string down to fifth string, but then he omits stategic beats, changes the direction of the alternation, etc., all without interrupting the rhythmic flow and phrasing.  Whew!
   Please, Ma'am
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Try me one
   One more time
   Please, Ma'am
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   'f you take me back
   Please, Ma'am

   Been beggin' you
   All night long
   I'll acknowledge
   I've done wrong
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Please, Ma'am

   Beggin' you
   All night long
   I'll acknowledge
   I've done wrong
   Please, Ma'am
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   Please Ma'am, Babe, take me back, try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am

   Spoken:  Take me back, babe, I won't do wrong no more.  Try me one more time if you please.

   Beggin' you
   Down on my knees
   Beggin' you, Babe
   If you please
   Take me back
   Please, Ma'am,
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   Please, Ma'am, Babe, take me back, try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am

   Please, Ma'am, Babe, take me back, try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am

   I'm the poor old boy
   Beggin' you
   Take me back
   If you please
   Please, Ma'am
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   Please, Ma'am

   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Take me back
   Try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am


   Been beggin' you
   All night long
   I'll acknowledge
   I've done wrong
   Please, Ma'am
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Please, Ma'am

Each of the short lines is followed by a slide response.  If you would like to hear this one, I know John D. put it up on the Juke recently.
all best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on May 16, 2005, 05:28:08 PM
Hi all,
I just figured out lyrics for another song from Peg Leg Howell, his "Skin Game Blues".  As the lyrics make clear, Skin Game is a card game, and any pointers on how it is played would be appreciated.  One of the interesting things in the song is that Peg Leg does spoken asides where he appears to be assuming the identity of a pit boss or professional dealer.
The use of the word "nigger" is rarely encountered in recorded country blues lyrics--certainly less than in present day Rap or comedy routines.  It occurred with some frequency in the songs of some white Old-Time musicians like Earl Johnson or the Allen Brothers, though.
Peg Leg played this in Vastapol, with a slide intro, like "Please Ma'am".  Once he gets into the song he pretty much jettisons the slide.  At the end of each refrain, he does a walk-up in octaves between the 5th and 2nd strings, like Robert Wilkins did in "That's No Way To Get Along", except that Howell walks up to the major 7 note (4th fret) rather than the flat 7 note (3rd fret) that Wilkins used.
   When I came to Georgia
   Money and clothes I had, babe,
   All the money I had done gone, my
   Sunday clothes in pawn.

   Sunday clothes in pawn
   Sunday clothes in pawn, lovin' babe, my
   Sunday clothes in pawn

   Says you better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close, and
   You better let the deal go down.

Spoken:  Hold the cards!  A dollar more!  Two more halves!

   A dollar more the deuce beat a nine
   A dollar more the deuce beat a nine, lovin' babe,
   A dollar more the deuce beat a nine

   Went out to the skin game last night
   Thought I'd have some fun
   Lost all the money that I had made
   Had to pawn my special gun

   Had to pawn my special gun
   Had to pawn my special gun, lovin' babe,
   Had to pawn my special gun

   Says you better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close, and
   You better let the deal go down

   Says gambled all over Missouri
   Gambled all through Spain, babe,
   Police come to arrest me, babe,
   And they did not know my name

   And they did not know my name
   And they did not know my name, lovin' babe,
   And they did not know my name

   Better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close, and
   You better let your deal go down

Spoken:   Hold the cards!  A dollar more the deuce beat a nine!  Half more two!  Put up over there, nigger!

   Better let the deal go down
   Says you better let the deal go down

   Gambled all over Missouri
   Gambled through Tennessee, babe,
   Soon as I reached old Georgia
   The niggers carried a handcuff to me

   The niggers carried a handcuff to me, babe,
   The niggers carried a handcuff to me, lovin' babe,
   And the niggers carried a handcuff to me

   Better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close
   And you better let the deal go down.

As with "Please Ma'am", "Skin Game Blues" was recently added to the Juke.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on May 16, 2005, 05:42:41 PM
Hi all,
I just found lyrics I transcribed for "Rolling Mill Blues", a duet Peg Leg Howell did with fiddler Eddie Anthony.  What a beautiful song!  It's real closely related to "In the Pines", that Bill Monroe did, and "The Longest Train", that J.E. Mainer did, as well as Leadbelly's "Black Girl".  Peg Leg played it in Spanish tuning, capoed up a ways.
   
   The rolling mill, baby, done broke down
   They're shipping no iron to town

   The longest train I ever seen
   Ran round Joe Brown's coal mine

   The engine was at the Four Mile Hill
   And the cab had never left town

   Corinne, Corinne, my lovin' Corinne,
   Honey, let your bangs grow long

   The train rolled of the tracks last night
   And killed my lovin' Corinne
   
   Her head was found in the driving wheel
   And her body have never been seen

   I didn't bring nothing to this old world
   And I won't carry nothing away

   It was late last night when my honey come home
   I heard her rapping on her door

   She got up in her stocking feet
   Went tipping across the floor

   Tell me, pretty mama, what evil have I done
   To make you treat me so?

   I've killed no man and I've robbed no train
   And I've got no hangin' crime.

   The lastest words I heard my baby say,
   "What more, babe, can I do?"

   "I've done more for you than I'll ever do again
   Goodbye, my love, goodbye."

I think it's pretty tough to beat the last two verses and verse seven for blues lyrics.

Edited 6/16 as per lyric corrections suggested by Frank Basile.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on June 09, 2005, 04:38:23 PM
Here's Turtle Dove. I agree with Phil, it's one of Peg Leg's great ones. Unusual guitar part, great singing...

[attachment deleted by admin]
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: phhawk on June 09, 2005, 04:52:47 PM
Also, great lyrics. Many of these lines are used over and over again in any number of blues records, but here, Peg Leg uses them to perfection. The opening lines are killer:

I weep like a willow, moan like a dove.
Weep like a willow, moan like a dove
Weep like a willow, moan like a dove

Life ain't worth livin',
 if you ain't with the one you love
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on June 16, 2005, 12:54:52 AM
Hi all,
I want to thank Phil for bringing "Turtle Dove Blues" to my attention, and also for him and Uncle Bud making the tune available to hear.? It really is a beauty, and unlike any of Peg Leg Howell's tunes I had previously heard.

"Turtle Dove Blues" is a 16-bar blues played out of the F position in standard tuning, with the unusual progression:
? ?|? ? VIminor 7? ? ? |? ? V7? ? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? I? ? /? ?V7? ? |? ? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? ? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ? ?IV? ? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?IV? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? I? ? /? ? V7? ?|? ? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? ? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ? ?IV? ? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?IV? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? I? ? /? ? V7? ?|? ? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? ? ? |
? ?|? ? VIminor 7? ? ?|? ? ? V7? ? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? I? ? /? ? V7? ?|? ? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? ? ? |
Peg Leg's most distinctive chord, the VI minor 7, is arrived at in an ingenious fashion.? He takes a D shape on the top three strings, moves it up the neck three frets, so it is an F chord, and then plays it over the open D string in the bass.? The result?? It is a D minor 7 chord that sounds really pretty in this context.? Peg Leg also alters the progression in the first four bars of his solo, going:
? ?|? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ?IV? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? I? ? ? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? flat VII? ? ? ?|
The really cool thing is that he gets all four of these chord out of the D shape, getting the I chord at the 5th fret, the IV chord at the tenth fret, and the flat VII chord at the third fret.? In this context, the flat VII chord functions as a IV of the IV chord it is resolving to; the Mississippi Sheiks used the chord in exactly the same fashion in their song "Tellin' You 'Bout It".
Apart from all this, "Turtle Dove Blues" has beautiful lyrics and a great vocal.

? ?I weep like a willow, moan like a dove (3)
? ?Says life ain't worth livin' if you ain't with the one you love

? ?If I had wings like Norah's [sic] turtle dove (3)
? ?I would rise and fly, light on the one I love

? ?It's a low-down fireman, mistreating engineer (3)
? ?Took my gal away and they left me standing here

? ?I was standing at the station, waiting for my train
? ?Standing at the station, waiting for my train (2)
? ?And the tears run down just like the drops of rain

? ?Mr. Engineer, turn your engine 'round (3)
? ?For the woman I love, she done blowed this town

? ?Gonna leave here walkin', talkin' to myself (3)
? ?The woman I love, she can have somebody else

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on June 16, 2005, 04:18:28 AM
I've killed no man and I've robbed no store
 And I've got no honey now.

 The lastest words I heard my baby say,
 "What more, dear, can I do?"

 "I've done more for you than I'll ever do again
 Goodbye, my babe, goodbye."

I hear these verse with some very slight differences.  Very minor:

   I've killed no man and I've robbed no train
   And I've [done] no hangin' crime.

   The lastest words I heard my baby say,
   "What more, babe, can I do?"

   "I've done more for you than I'll ever do again
   Goodbye, my love, goodbye."

In the 'killed no man verse', I'm fairly certain that the first line ends with 'train' rather than 'store'.  In the second line, the third word does sound something like 'got' (or at least 'gone'), but I clearly hear 'hang-in' rather than 'honey' and hear something more like 'crime' (pronounced 'crahm') rather than 'now'.  The last word is about 98% vowel in any case, making it hard to work out anyway...

Even if it's not what he sang, I really like the 'killed no man' verse as I hear it - or as it presents itself to my imagination as the case may be.

I just noticed after looking over the lyrics that there's nary a rhyme in the whole song.  Even though I sing it, I never noticed that!
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on June 16, 2005, 04:28:16 AM
   If I had wings like Norah's turtle dove (3)
   I would rise and fly, light on the one I love

I think this is a case of a singer injecting an 'R' sound between two vowel sounds - I hear this as:

   If I had wings like Noah's turtle dove (3)

But 'Noah' is pronounced like 'No-r-ah', in much the same way that Walter Vincson pronounces 'going' as 'go-r-ing'.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on June 16, 2005, 09:02:35 AM
Hi Frank,
You are right, the intent in "Turtle Dove Blues" is unquestionably "Noah's dove" and Peg Leg does the added "r" before a syllable beginning with a vowel.? Probably the most accurate way to transcribe it is "Norah's [sic] dove".? I never know how fussy to get about stuff like that.? One of the Angola CDs that Harry Oster recorded has? a tune listed as "Brother Norah" in exactly the same context.
Thanks for the catches in "Rolling Mill Blues", too.? "And I've done no hangin' crime" is sure enough right as is "goodbye, my love, goodbye".? I can't catch the word at the end of "I've robbed no ____?", he really swallows it.? I will make all the changes as per your suggestions.
If you have the time and inclination, could you vet the lyrics for "Woman, Woman" on the Ishmon Bracey thread?? Thanks for the input.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on June 17, 2005, 02:57:41 PM
Hi all,
Another great Peg Leg Howell solo number is his "Walking Blues", which he played capoed up in Spanish.  It's a real guitar showpiece, in which the verses are book-ended by introductory and concluding solos that are quite different from each other.  Peg Leg's accompaniment is like an instructional manual for how to get around in Spanish; he varies his accompaniment from beginning to end, as well as altering phrase lengths in a completely natural way. 
With the heavy immersion I have had in Peg Leg's music recently, I have noticed that he was unusually exacting in his tuning.  His guitar was always perfectly in tune, and songs recorded a year or two apart in the same tuning are precisely in tune with each other.  That isn't encountered all that often.

   Everybody got a lovin' mama but me
   Everybody got a lovin' ma but me
   That keeps me worried, troubled, don't you see?

   I'm goin' down South, wear 99 pair of shoes
   I'm goin' down South, mama, wear 99 pair of shoes
   I'm gonna keep a-walking, 'til I lose these blues

   Say your cryin', it sure don't make me stay
   Your cryin', it sure don't make me stay
   You keep on cryin' and further you drive me away

   Don't never drive a good man from your door (2)
   He may be your rider someday, you don't know

   I stood and cried, cried the whole night through
   I stood and cried, mama, cried the whole night through
   I swear I don't love no other one but you

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: phhawk on June 17, 2005, 07:34:56 PM
Hello Johnm, I really appreciate your description of "Walking Blues". A perfect description. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Best, Phil
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Slack on June 17, 2005, 09:03:34 PM
Quote
With the heavy immersion I have had in Peg Leg's music recently, I have noticed that he was unusually exacting in his tuning.  His guitar was always perfectly in tune, and songs recorded a year or two apart in the same tuning are precisely in tune with each other.  That isn't encountered all that often.

No kidding.  Gotta love this. I'm a little slow(as always, but especially after TGIF happy hour), but now you've got me listening to Peg Leg Howell on a daily basis too- and I'm afraid I'll slip into heavy immersion.  (We'll have to start another support group.)

I don't know much about Peg Leg Howell (a little education please). It seems he was a prolific recorder - late 20's and early 30's? , Document has 3 "complete" issues so he recorded 60 to 70 songs or more both solo and w/ string band?   

So when you say he is perfectly in tune from year to year, is he also in A440?  eg... is he using a tuning fork?

Is there no end to pre war musical discoveries?   :)

Cheers,
slack
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on June 18, 2005, 09:26:36 AM
[

I don't know much about Peg Leg Howell (a little education please). It seems he was a prolific recorder - late 20's and early 30's? , Document has 3 "complete" issues so he recorded 60 to 70 songs or more both solo and w/ string band?? ?
Document only has two volumes that I know of, on their Wolf imprint. If there's a 3rd, I'm going to get excited!
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on June 18, 2005, 10:11:15 AM
Hi all,
I don't know very much about Peg Leg Howell's personal history, and most of what I know comes from the liner notes to "Peg Leg Howell & His Gang", Origin Jazz Library, OJL-22.  According to those notes, Peg Leg was born in 1888 in Eatonton, Georgia, about 50 miles southeast of Atlanta.  He attended school through the 9th grade and then helped his father on the farm.  He lost his leg in a shooting incident in 1916.  He took up guitar around 1909, and told blues researcher George Mitchell, who discovered him in 1963, "I learnt myself.  Didn't take long to learn.  I just stayed up one night and learnt myself."  He moved to Atlanta in his mid-30s and supported himself in a variety of ways, including selling moonshine, for which he was sent to prison in the early '20s.  Upon his release he most often supported himself "bustin' music", playing outside of stores or anywhere else a crowd might gather.  He so closely worked with fiddler Eddie Anthony that when Eddie Anthony died in 1934, Peg Leg gave up music.  All this information is from George Mitchell's interviews with Peg Leg.
George Mitchell recorded an album of Peg Leg Howell that was released in the 1960s on the Testament label.  The record has not survived into Testament's CD era catalog.  I have never heard it, though I would guess that someone at this site has, but people I know who heard it said it was pretty sad.  Evidently Peg Leg was in very poor health and had been living in dire poverty for some time prior to it being recorded.
I checked re your query about Peg Leg's tuning, John D., and he was not tuned to A 440; he was a bit sharp, but perfectly in tune with himself, and as I said, in tune with himself from one session to the next, which is quite unusual.
As Andrew said, I am only aware of two CDs in the Document catalog.  If there are more that would be a great thing!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Slack on June 18, 2005, 10:46:45 AM
Quote
Document only has two volumes that I know of, on their Wolf imprint. If there's a 3rd, I'm going to get excited!

Oops, sorry, my mistake - too much happy hour. ;-)

Quote
I checked re your query about Peg Leg's tuning, John D., and he was not tuned to A 440; he was a bit sharp, but perfectly in tune with himself, and as I said, in tune with himself from one session to the next, which is quite unusual.

Very interesting, thanks John --
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on June 18, 2005, 11:35:13 AM
Hi all,
Another great solo tune of Peg Leg Howell's was "Sadie Lee Blues", a 16-bar blues that he played out of F in standard tuning.  After an introductory solo, Peg Leg relegates the guitar to an accompaniment role for the remainder of the song, but the accompaniment is so active that it is almost as though he played a continuous solo behind his singing.  This is tough under normal circumstances, but in the key of F it is particularly sporting.  As with "Walking Blues", he varies the accompaniment as he goes along, rather than playing a single nifty pass over and over.  I'm amazed that he could sing and play the continuous runs he plays under the IV chord, B flat, at the same time.  Very many of the runs that he plays, particularly behind his F chord, are quite similar to those played by Leadbelly in his F tunes, especially "Roberta".  I wonder if Leadbelly ever heard this record?  There's no way to know, of course.

   Been a dog in my family, drove from door to door (3)
   Since I swore to the Lord that I wouldn't be drove no more

   I got a lovin' sweet woman, her name is Sadie Lee (3)
   I love li'l Sadie, but Sadie don't love me

   I'm gonna buy me a pistol, mama, long as I am tall
   Gonna buy me a pistol, long as I am tall
   Buy me a pistol, long as I am tall
   I'm gonna shoot li'l Sadie, see her rise and fall

   I've been your dog, mama, ever since I been your man
   I've been your dog ever since I been your man
   I've been your dog, mama, ever since I been your man
   Say now I'm leavin', try to do the best you can

   Hard luck in the family, mama, done fell on me (2)
   Hard luck in the family done fell on me
   I'm worried and troubled, sweet mama, as I can be

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 02, 2005, 10:22:55 PM
Hi all,
Yet another great Peg Leg Howell number was his version of "Rock and Gravel Blues".  He played the song with a slide in Vastapol, capoed a good way up.  The song has a really neat signature lick that he plays as an instrumental response to the first two vocal lines of each verse, in which he leans on the dissonance between the fourth string fretted at the third fret played simultaneously with the open third string; they're a semi-tone apart so it's a pretty grungy sound.  I notice a similarity with other Peg Leg Howell slide tunes like "Skin Game Blues" in that he confines his use of the slide pretty much to the intro and the solo.  Behind his singing he sticks pretty much to conventional fretting.  It's interesting to see how far back some of these lyrics go, though as was often the case with Peg Leg Howell, there are some archaic turns of phrase that don't show up in later versions of the verses.

   Let's go to the river and sit down
   Honey, let's go to the river and sit down
   If the blues overtake us, jump overboard and drown

   It takes rocks, it takes gravels to make a solid road (2)
   It takes a lovin' fair brownie to satisfy my soul

   I've got a range in my kitchen, mama, cooks so nice and brown
   I've got a range in my kitchen, cooks so nice and brown
   I want some lovin' fary to turn my damper down

   Can't you tell me pretty, mama, where'd you get your lovin' from?
   So tell me, pretty mama, where'd you get your lovin' from?
   "T'ain't none of your business, I ain't gonna give you none

   I'm going away, mama, won't be back 'til Fall (2)
   You have mistreat me, you was the cause of it all

   Come here, sweet mama, sit on your daddy's knee
   Run here, pretty mama, sit on your daddy's knee
   Said, tell your sweet papa, what may your troubles be?

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 12, 2005, 10:48:24 PM
Hi all,
A really excellent number that Peg Leg Howell did with the mandolinist Jim Hill is "Monkey Man Blues".  Peg Leg opens the song with a slide intro in Vastapol, capoed well up, and as seems often to have been the case with him, pretty much jettisons the slide work behind his singing.  He was such a good player in Vastapol and Spanish, that you don't really miss the slide behind the verses.  Jim Howell's mandolin is faintly audible for the intro and outro, but is otherwise next to impossible to hear behind the sung verses.
Peg Leg's vocal on this song is notably "dirty".  He gets a rawer tone than was customary for him, and Jim Hill's humorous vocal interjections, which I did not transcribe, seem somewhat at odds with Peg Leg's vocal, which sounds dead serious.  The "doggone my soul, Lord, Lord" interjection at the end of the first four bars of each verse phrases out in a kind of bumpy fashion, and usually results in the fourth bar being long by two beats.  I can't think of another blues in which the second verse is sung by/about a man.  The next to last verse seems closely related to a lyric commonly found in both the Blues and Old-Time traditions:
   Oh the cat's got the measles and the dog's got the whooping cough
Frank Hovington used that lyric on his "Lonesome Road Blues" in the 1970s.

   Says I want all you women to strictly understand, doggone my soul, Lord, Lord,
   I want all you women to strictly understand
   When God made me he didn't make no monkey man

   I'm the big fat papa got the meat runnin' 'round my bones, doggone my soul, Hey Lordy Lord
   I'm the big fat papa, the meat runnin' 'round my bones
   Every time I quiver some good man lost his home

   I got a long tall woman the meat runs up and down her bones, doggone my soul, Lord, Lord
   Got a long tall woman the meat runs up her bones
   When she begins to quiver some good man's dollar gone

   My woman's screaming murder I ain't raised my hand, doggone my soul, Lord, Lord
   My woman's screaming murder I ain't raised my hand
   She want to quit me 'cause and love another man

   My gal got the fever my baby got the whooping cough, doggone her soul, Lord, Lord
   My gal's got the fever, baby's got the whooping cough
   Doggone a man let a woman be his boss

   I'm leaving mama, honey I won't carry you, doggone my soul, Lord, Lord
   I'm leaving, sweet mama, honey I won't carry you
   T'ain't nothin' up the country, good gal, that you can do

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Slack on July 13, 2005, 07:08:55 AM
I'm hoping, especially since you've teased us with all of these Peg Leg Howell lyrics, that you teach one of his Vestapol numbers - My vote is for Monkey Man Blues or Rocks and Gravel. ;)

Cheers,
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on July 13, 2005, 05:09:35 PM
Quote
Oh the cat's got the measles and the dog's got the whooping cough

I don't think I've ever really noticed that line before, but there it was on the Juke this evening in Big Fat Mamma by Brantley and Williams.  The song is really funny, in both the humorous and odd sense of the word.  It's a bunch of mildly salacious blues lyrics sung in the style of a gospel group.  I wonder who Brantley and Williams were, and what their audience made of this.

Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but the line just jumped out at me.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 14, 2005, 10:32:21 PM
Hi all,
I think we can handle a little thread creep, dj.  I share your interest in lines like
   Oh the cat's got the measles and the dog's got the whooping cough.
In the earlier blues and Old-Time music you seem to encounter more lyrics that are apropos of nothing, just kind of nutty or enigmatic.  Lemon Jefferson excelled at these.  I particularly like, from "One Dime Blues"
   I bought the morning news (3)
   And I bought a ceegar, too.
Also the final verse of William Moore's "One Way Gal" is pretty hard to beat
   We walked and talked and then we went away (3)
   And then we went into a cabaret.
I'm particularly drawn to the kind of blues that seems to run from pillar to post in terms of its verses, much like Peg Leg Howell's "Coal Man Blues", that begins this thread.  The sort of lyric free-associating that seems to happen in this kind of blues seems much more tied into folk music and less tied into Tin Pan Alley than the "thematic" blues, in which all the verses pertain to the title and the title is reiterated in the last verse, like a product placement in a Hollywood movie.  I have to admit I don't get too wound up about the thematic blues lyric.  For a thematic blues lyric gone awry, check out Blind Lemon's  "Balky Mule Blues", which fairly early on shifts its topic to "Bearcat Blues" and by the time it ends has long since forgotten it began as "Balky Mule Blues".  It's really interesting what ended up happening on records . . . .
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on July 15, 2005, 09:15:01 AM
Papa Charlie Jackson, of course, recorded The Cat's Got the Measles...

Not actually my fave Papa Charlie tune.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on July 15, 2005, 03:52:27 PM
In the earlier blues and Old-Time music you seem to encounter more lyrics that are apropos of nothing, just kind of nutty or enigmatic.? Lemon Jefferson excelled at these.? I particularly like, from "One Dime Blues"
? ?I bought the morning news (3)
? ?And I bought a ceegar, too.

I always thought this was completely logical, actually. He's just telling us what he did with his one dime.

For a thematic blues lyric gone awry, check out Blind Lemon's? "Balky Mule Blues", which fairly early on shifts its topic to "Bearcat Blues" and by the time it ends has long since forgotten it began as "Balky Mule Blues".? It's really interesting what ended up happening on records . . . .

I can picture the 78 of this, with the picture of Lemon and the little yellow ribbon above his head, reading "Blind Lemon's Mixed Metaphor"? ;)

Chris
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on July 15, 2005, 03:55:30 PM
John-- here's a Peg Leg Howell-related question.

I've fooled with "Low Down Rounder Blues" for a long time. At first I thought it was in vestapol, but the high end never sounded quite right, and now that I try it in C, as per your earlier post, I can't quite get that descending lick to sound right. Any pointers on that would be appreciated.

Chris
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Slack on July 15, 2005, 05:19:56 PM
Quote
Quote from: Johnm on Yesterday at 11:32:21 PM
In the earlier blues and Old-Time music you seem to encounter more lyrics that are apropos of nothing, just kind of nutty or enigmatic.  Lemon Jefferson excelled at these.  I particularly like, from "One Dime Blues"
   I bought the morning news (3)
   And I bought a ceegar, too.

Quote
I always thought this was completely logical, actually. He's just telling us what he did with his one dime.

I think this is too literal.  I've always thought of this verse - which is the last verse - as a punch line... Blind Lemon was a comedian. 

Playing on the street all day, day after day.... I think the line is a check to see who is really listening to his song.  The gathered crowd chuckles at the last line -- ahh, success.

Relatively speaking, BLJ was not hurting for money.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on July 15, 2005, 10:05:41 PM
Hi all,
Nice to see that all it takes is a little digression to get people interested.  I have to admit I applied no psychology or interpretation to Lemon's verse from "One Dime", but just took it at face value.  I like it that way--it has a nice "so what" after-effect.
I will get back to you on "Low Down Rounder" after I get back from Elkins, Banjo Chris.  I am not altogether confident that I have it figured out properly at this point.  It is a very odd piece.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Rivers on July 16, 2005, 03:13:21 PM
All of which does highlight the lyrical brilliance of Lemon. Visual cameos, social backdrops, 1920s vernacular and in-jokes makes for a very rich experience. We tend to focus on his playing for obvious reasons but close listening to his lyrics is like flicking through a pre-depression magazine. Blind Willie Johnson had a similar penchant for rich documentary. Probably a good thread in its own right.

Now back to Peg Leg Howell, about whom I admit I know nothing.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Stuart on July 16, 2005, 06:42:59 PM
For what it's worth--to follow Rivers' "good thread in it's own right":

When I want thoroughly researched, well reasoned, articulate writing by the best minds at the forefront of culture and civilization, I go to the finest publications available at academic institutions of higher learning. However, when I want an accurate and comprehensive understanding the content and context of this pathetic existence that I refer to as my life, I seek the wisdom and insights that are evoked by the images which come forth from the lyrics of the country blues.

JohnM used the words, "apropos of nothing, just kind of nutty or enigmatic"--if the shoe fits...

Stu

Back to Peg Leg Howell
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 09, 2005, 01:07:59 PM
Hi all,
Another great Peg Leg Howell solo number from early in his recording career is "Fo' Day Blues".? It has a flexible structure as did many of the early blues; it is 16 bars in the first, fifth and sixth verses, and otherwise a 12-bar blues.? Why not?? The extra repetition in the 16-bar verses can be used for emphasis.? Peg Leg played it in A standard, a position he did not record any other solo performances in, and it is a harbinger of many characteristics found in later East Coast A standard tuning blues:? the slid A barre and the D7 with the wrapped thumb fretting the second fret of the sixth string, among others.? Clarence Greene's "Johnson City Blues" sounds like it could have been influenced by it.
Note:  The last verse is most often begun "I'd rather", as opposed to "I'm gonna".  Peg Leg does say "I'm gonna" though it makes less sense with the last line.

? ?I woke up this mornin', 'tween midnight and day (3)
? ?I felt for my rider, she done eased away

? ?Sweet mama, sweet mama, your papa double do love you
? ?Sweet mama, sweet mama, papa double do love you
? ?Says, crazy about the way sweet mama do

? ?My rider got somethin', I really don't know what it is (2)
? ?When I wake up in the mornin' can't keep my body still
?
? ?My rider got somethin', they call it the stingaree
? ?My rider got somethin', called it the stingaree
? ?I wake up every mornin' it worryin', worryin' poor me

? ?I'm goin', I'm goin', mama, ain't comin' here no more
? ?I'm goin' away, mama, ain't comin' here no more (2)
? ?When you see me leavin', pin crate [sic] on your door

? ?Says the Mississippi River, mama, is long and deep and wide
? ?The Mississippi River is long and deep and wide
? ?The Mississippi River long and deep and wide
? ?I've got a lovin' fary, she's on the other side

? ?I'm goin' up the country, mama, honey, and I won't carry you
? ?I'm goin' up the country, mama I won't carry you
? ?'T'ain't nothin' up the country, sweet mama, you can do

? ?I'm gonna drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log
? ?Gonna drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log
? ?Then to be in Atlanta, treated like a dog

All best,
Johnm
Note:  Edited 8/9 to pick up corrections as per dj's comments.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: blueshome on August 09, 2005, 01:48:02 PM
John,

I trust we're going to get some Peg Leg at Bluesweek?

 :P

Phil
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Rivers on August 09, 2005, 01:55:03 PM
"I've got a lovin' fairy, she's on the other side"

Could that be 'faro'?
I don't have the recording handy.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on August 09, 2005, 02:34:19 PM
I was just listening to it, and it's definitely "fairy".  It's an alternate form of faro, for sure.  I guess you could spell it any number of ways.  Something like faree or fairee might be a better choice, just to avoid confusing associations.

I actually grabbed the CD and gave it a listen because I was sure John had misheard "crate" for crepe in the last line of verse 5, but Peg Leg clearly sings "crate" (though he must have meant crepe).  On the other hand, I clearly hear "ain't comin' here no more" in the first 3 lines of the 5th verse.       

Thanks, John, for the lyrics and analysis!
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 09, 2005, 05:02:49 PM
Hi all,
Thanks very much for the catch on verse 5, dj, you are absolutely right.? I had transcribed "here" but typed in "home" when doing the post.? I will make the correction.? Similarly, I agree that "fary" is Peg Leg's version of "faro".? He never says "faro" anywhere, but his meaning is certainly not "fairy".? Where I have transcribed it in earlier songs on this thread, I have used the spelling "fary".? I'll return to it here, as well.? Thanks for the careful reading, everybody, I appreciate it, and I think it ensures better and more accurate transcriptions.? And yes, Phil, I do intend to do some Peg Leg in my class at EBA.? I'm heading out tomorrow, and really looking forward to it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 09, 2005, 11:22:20 PM
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell recorded "Ball And Chain Blues" with the eccentric mandolin player, Jim Hill, on April 13, 1929.  Peg Leg played "Ball And Chain" in Spanish tuning capoed up a ways.  Instrumentally speaking it is not one of his most distinctive numbers, though it features the beautiful tone and perfect intonation we have come to associate with his playing.  Jim Hill's playing is kind of mysterious.  It is almost inaudible, yet despite that, lends a lot of color to the instrumental timbre.  It almost sounds like he was playing a multi-coursed instrument like the Puerto Rican quatro or the tiple.
As I listen to more Peg Leg Howell tunes, I become more impressed with how many of his lyrics turn up in later songs, as Lemon's did.  Verse three from "Ball and Chain" shows up, more or less intact, in John Hurt's "Monday Morning Blues", and the final verse appeared in Fred McMullen's "Dekalb Chain Gang".  Jim Hill supplies pretty much non-stop peanut gallery-type commentary throughout the song that I have not transcribed.  I don't think the phrase "poor boy" in verse 5 is right.  Any help would be appreciated.
   
   I laid in jail, back turned to the wall (2)
   Says, a Georgia woman was the cause of it all

   They arrested me, carried me 'fore the judge
   They arrested me, they carried me 'fore the judge
   Said, the judge wouldn't allow me to say a mumbling word

   I asked the judge, "What might be my fine?" (2)
   Said, "A pick and shovel, deep down in the mine"

   I told the judge, "I ain't been here before"
   I told the judge, "Ain't been here before"
   "If you give me light sentence, I won't come here no more"

   "Mr. Judge, Mr. Judge, please don't break so hard" (2)
   I've always been a [poor boy?], never had no job

   And the next day, carried the poor boy away
   The next day, they carried that poor boy away
   Say, the next day, I laid in ball and chains

   Take these stripes off my back, chains from 'round my leg
   Stripes off my back, chains from 'round my leg
   This ball and chain about to kill me dead

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Rivers on August 09, 2005, 11:57:28 PM
Lyrics also similar to Julias Daniels, 99 Year Blues.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 12, 2005, 10:14:08 AM
Hi all,
Yet another early Peg Leg Howell solo number was his "New Prison Blues".  He played it in E, standard tuning, and as with "Fo' Day Blues", the accompaniment seems to hint at things to come in many future E standard tunes.  Also like "Fo' Day Blues", it moves into a 16-bar format while being primarily a 12-bar blues.
Certainly the most striking feature of the song is the grisly opening verse.  It is hard at this time to imagine the place for such a verse in a popular music with a primary function of entertainment.  Certainly, you encounter really tough verses in this music from time to time, but this one seems particularly ghoulish.  There is nothing in the performance that indicates Peg Leg intended it to be construed in a humorous light; rather, he sings it with the flat emotional affect of an Old-Time singer like Dock Boggs doing a murder ballad.Peg Leg's verse four (the one he goes 16 bars on) is one of my favorite blues verses.

   Says, I'll cut your throat, mama, drink your blood like wine
   I'll cut your throat, mama, and drink your blood like wine
   Say, you can't quit me and t'ain't no need of tryin'

   I'm goin' up the country, mama, swear the time ain't long
   I'm goin' up the country, mama, I swear the time ain't long
   Don't believe I'm leavin' count the days I'm gone

   I stood on the corner 'til I got soakin' wet
   I stood on the corner, brownie, 'til I got soakin' wet
   I bowed my head at every brown I met

   I stood on the corner, looked two blocks and a half (3)
   I didn't see my rider, but I'm sure I heard her laugh

   Sayin', I don't want no woman got hair like drops of rain
   I don't love no woman got hair like drops of rain
   Says, the woman I love got hair like a horse's mane

   Mama, if you don't want me what makes you whine and cry? (2)
   You called me sweet daddy when you see me passin' by

   When you see me comin', mama, heist [sic] your window high (2)
   When you see me leavin' hang your head and cry

   I'd rather drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow tree (2)
   Than to hear my fary say she don't want me

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on August 14, 2005, 12:27:20 PM
Certainly the most striking feature of the song is the grisly opening verse.? It is hard at this time to imagine the place for such a verse in a popular music with a primary function of entertainment.? Certainly, you encounter really tough verses in this music from time to time, but this one seems particularly ghoulish.? There is nothing in the performance that indicates Peg Leg intended it to be construed in a humorous light; rather, he sings it with the flat emotional affect of an Old-Time singer like Dock Boggs doing a murder ballad.

   Says, I'll cut your throat, mama, drink your blood like wine
   I'll cut your throat, mama, and drink your blood like wine

John, you and I have had discussions about these kinds of lyrics before  - particularly violence against women in old blues lyrics, and especially out of context, throwaway lines - and have agreed that, for ourselves, there are certain things we can't imagine singing. This line has always struck me as so ghoulish as to be poetic, albeit in the darkest way. I could see incorporating it into a bad man ballad or murder ballad somehow. It is a pretty astonishing image regardless of what era you're in. I have a vague recollection of a similar line appearing somewhere else from another CB artist. I can't recall and could be mistaken.

Anyway, if I was a woman, this is not a guy I'd be looking to date...  Yikes!
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: waxwing on August 14, 2005, 12:57:43 PM
Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas - Skinny Leg Blues:

I'm gonna cut your throat, baby, look down in your face(2X)
Hey, gonna look down in your face
I'm gonna let some lonesome graveyard be your restin' place

'Course it was violence against men in that situation. Is that any different?

And how the hell are any of us gonna sing Tired of Bein' Mistreated? I guess Clifford G at least has some justification, or is singing his frustrated fantasy which would never really be carried out? I'll try to post the lyrics to both versions later this week and we can discusss this in that thread, as it seems a little OT here.
All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on August 14, 2005, 04:56:20 PM
That's a pretty spooky and nasty one as well. But I was thinking of the combination of throat-cutting and drinking the blood like wine. Clifford Gibson has a throat-cutting line in Tired of Being Mistreated #1. #2 is much milder as I recall.
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Johnm on August 23, 2005, 03:10:20 PM
Hi all,
It is over a year since this topic was posted on, but I realized after all the recent listening I have been doing to Peg Leg Howell's music that I might be better equipped to get the lyrics now than when I first attempted it.? Sure enough, I think except for the line in bent brackets, I'm pretty sure I've got it now.

? ?Verses 1 and 2--moaning and groaning in harmony

? ?My gal's in trouble, my gal's in trouble, I've seen trouble, too
? ?My sweet mama's in trouble, from the love of you
? ?That's the reason why you hear moanin' like I do

? ?Verses 3 and 4--moaning and groaning in harmony

? ?Gonna get me a fary, gonna get me a fary, train her to my hand, oh Lord
? ?Gonna get me a sweet fary, train her to my hand
? ?If I can't find a brown gonna do the best I can

Any improvements/refinements are most welcome.

Edited 8/24 to pick up corrections from John Dodson
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 23, 2005, 03:27:49 PM
Hi all,
Another particularly interesting Peg Leg Howell solo number is his "Fairy Blues".? It was recorded at the same session as his "Low Down Rounder Blues", immediately following it, and shares much of the same sound, as well as the enigmatic C position tuning.? Judging from the lyric, and from other songs he did, he rated "baby ways" very highly in a lover.? I really like the use of the verb "tip" in verse two.? It shows up in a lot of country blues lyrics, and seems to have such a context-specific meaning--to move furtively to an illicit assignation, or return furtively from such a rendezvous.? The last line of verse two sounds like rationalization.? Whatever.

? ?I got a lovin' sweet fary, she treats me nice and kind (2)
? ?She treats me so lovin', she satisfy my mind

? ?She may be your gal, but she tip to see me sometime (2)
? ?She sleeps with you but she got me on her mind

? ?SPOKEN:? Who's the man with the baby ways?? Must be Papa Peg.? The womens pet and the mens hates it.

? ?She's low, she's squatty, she got baby ways (2)
? ?She got Elgin movements, sure will make you raise

? ?Mama, mama, sweet mama, see what you done done
? ?Sweet mama, sweet mama, see what you done done
? ?You've caused me to weep, caused me to leave my home

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Slack on August 23, 2005, 04:21:21 PM
Hi John,

I get a little different take on the first verse - with some uncertain areas as well - see what you think:

 My gal's in trouble, my gal's in trouble, I've seen [or I've been?] trouble, too much
 My sweet mama's in trouble, Oh I'm in trouble too
 And the reason I worry is [honey] like I do

(How was EBA week?  Any weenies show up?)

Cheers,
slack
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Johnm on August 23, 2005, 06:24:56 PM
Hi John D.,
After one quick listen, I like most of the places where we differed in your version better.  When I get home tomorrow, I will listen several times with headphones, but I think you've pretty much got it.  Good work!  I will post on EBA in Other Events.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on August 23, 2005, 08:06:57 PM
Great lyrics. Peg Leg sure had some good ones. Verse 3 is just brutal. Tremendous.
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Johnm on August 24, 2005, 10:22:50 AM
Hi John D.
I listened and made some changes.? Your end to the first line was definitely right.? The second and third lines, I'm still not sure of--I can't hear "trouble" in the second half of the second line.? In the third line I hear a clean break between "hear" and "moanin'".? It is sure hard to hear.? Funny that the second verse with words is so much easier to hear.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
Post by: Slack on August 24, 2005, 11:34:57 AM
Hi John,

Yes, the second verse is clear!

I think you'v got the second line - phonetically it works and it makes sense (whcih I htink may be the most important thing!)  I listened to the third line again and phonetically I hear:

And the reason I worry, is moanin' like I do

..which makes marginal sense... but not an unrealistic phrase.  I think you'll have to go with what you want to sing.

Cheers,
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 24, 2005, 11:03:52 PM
Hi all,
"Broke And Hungry Blues", a fiddle/guitar duet, was recorded on April 10, 1929, at the same session as "Rolling Mill Blues".  "Broke And Hungry" is just about as pretty as "Rolling Mill" and that is saying something.  The recording info from the Document set (vol. 2) suggests that the fiddler on these two tunes may be Ollie Griffin.  Whether it is Ollie Griffin or not, I can't say, but I do believe it is a different fiddler than Eddie Anthony, the fiddler on "Beaver Slide Rag", "The Georgia Crawl", "Moanin' and Groanin' Blues".  The fiddler on "Broke and Hungry" and "Rolling Mill" is a bit more refined sounding than Eddie Anthony, with a less raw-sounding tone, more classical- sounding intonation, and a predilection for the high range on the fiddle.  Whoever did it, the playing is beautiful, and it is matched by Peg Leg every step of the way.  As on "Rolling Mill", Peg Leg is playing in Spanish, capoed way up, and boy, does his guitar sound beautiful.  Lyrics work through a common blues theme.

   Says, I'm sick, broke and hungry, good gal done drove me away
   I'm sick, broke and hungry, good gal done drove me away
   I'm outdoors, mama, ain't got nowhere to stay

   Said, the woman I love, she done put me down
   Said, the woman I love, she done put me down
   It wouldn't worry my mind, but the news all over town

   I got a woman Cincinnati, one in Tennessee, woman in Georgia is good enough for me
   My good gal quit me, like to kill me dead
   I wake up every morning, the blues all around my head

   Can't see why, mama, you treat me like you do (2)
   If you don't want me, sayin' I don't want you

   You 'buked me, dogged me, drove me from your door (2)
   Told me to my face you don't want me no more

   I was standing at the station, waiting for my train
   Standing at the station, waiting for my train
   Outdoors, sleeping in the rain

   Pretty mama, pretty mama, honey what's on your mind?
   Tell me, pretty mama, honey what's on your mind?
   Say, you can't quit me, t'ain't no need of tryin'

Edited 8/25, as per Andrew's corrections.

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on August 25, 2005, 04:47:52 AM
The recording info from the Document set (vol. 2) suggests that the fiddler on these two tunes may be Ollie Griffin.  Whether it is Ollie Griffin or not, I can't say, but I do believe it is a different fiddler than Eddie Anthony, the fiddler on "Beaver Slide Rag", "The Georgia Crawl", "Moanin' and Groanin' Blues".  The fiddler on "Broke and Hungry" and "Rolling Mill" is a bit more refined sounding than Eddie Anthony, with a less raw-sounding tone, more classical- sounding intonation, and a predilection for the high range on the fiddle.  Whoever did it, the playing is beautiful, and it is matched by Peg Leg every step of the way.

I definitely agree that the fiddler here isn't Eddie Anthony and I totally agree with your assessment of his playing...  he's definitely comfortable in what sounds like third position to me (on Rolling Mill), although the fiddler on the Memphis Jug Band's "Rukus Juice and Chittlin's" (Will Batts?) sounds equally comfortable up there.  Maybe more so...  and in the same key (D) - who was Ollie Griffin, I wonder?
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on August 25, 2005, 08:32:22 AM
I hear a couple things slightly differently:

I don't hear "throwed" in verse 2, but "put" as in the 2nd line. Also I hear "Said" instead of "Say" and in both lines.

? ?Said, the woman I love, she done put me down
? ?Said, the woman I love, she done put me down
? ?It wouldn't worry my mind, but the news all over town

I don't hear early, but hear every, pronounced e'ry:

? ?I got a woman Cincinnati, one in Tennessee, woman in Georgia is good enough for me
? ?My good gal quit me, like to kill me dead
? ?I wake up every (e'ry) morning, the blues all around my head

You're right, John. Like Rolling Mill, the combination of the Spanish-tuned guitar and the meandering fiddle melodies played under the vocal makes for a really beautiful sound. That fiddler has a real nice vibrato going.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 25, 2005, 04:37:17 PM
Hi all,
Ollie Griffin is shown as playing banjo on the some of the earlier Peg Leg and His Gang cuts, Frank.  I don't know why they think he is a likely candidate for the fiddle on "Rolling Mill" and "Broke and Hungry".
Thanks for the lyric catches, Andrew, they all sound right to me, and I will make the changes.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 27, 2005, 12:01:33 PM
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell played "Doin' Wrong" in G position, standard tuning.  It was his only recorded solo number played in that position.  It sounds like it very well may have been influenced by Lemon's "Got The Blues"; the descending run over the G chord starting at the third fret of the first string is much like what Lemon plays, though Lemon stops his bass behind the run and Peg Leg continues to play bass notes under the run.  Taken in whole, "Doin' Wrong" is not so much like "Got The Blues". 
"Doin' Wrong" is a good candidate for the "Vocal Phrasing--The Long and the Short of It" thread.  Peg Leg is generally long on the first four-bar phrase and short on the second four bars.  He sings the first verse like the last twelve bars in a 16-bar blues, starting his first two lines on the IV chord.  The first line of the last verse is odd.  He sounds like he was distracted and turned his head away from the microphone.

   Take me sweet mama, allow me one more chore (2)
   I swear to the Lord that I won't do wrong no more

   I don't love no woman if she ain't got baby ways (2)
   I'm crazy 'bout my lovin', it's always been my crave

   I woke up this morning, 'tween midnight and day
   I woke up this morning, just before day
   I looked at the pillow where my good gal used to lay

   I hung my head, I cried just like a child (2)
   Says, the way I'm treated, mama, sure ain't satisfied

   If you ever go to Memphis, stop by Jesse's Hall (2)
   You see my picture hangin' on the wall

   I've got the blues so bad, mama, my poor heart is sore
   Got the blues so bad, mama, my poor heart is sore
   Can't rest contented, mama, nowhere I go

   Take me, mama, take me ain't nohow (?)
   Take me brownie, please don't throw me down (2)
   I'm gonna pack my suitcase, I'm gonna blow this town

Edited 1/24/09 to pick up correction from Baird

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 29, 2005, 01:42:41 PM
Hi all,
"Away From Home" is another song on which Peg Leg Howell was paired up with the mandolinist Jim Hill.  Peg Leg sounds to be flat-picking his guitar out of D position, standard tuning, with a boom-chang approach that he delivers very forcefully.  His guitar sounds huge--why did it sound so much better than almost anyone else's guitar recorded in that era?  Peg Leg  often hits the last "chang" in a two-bar chordal phrase lifting the fingers of his left hand and strumming the open strings, a technique used to great advantage by Henry Thomas, too.  Jim Hill is his normal noodly self.  Peg Leg's vocal is very strong, with a bit of a dirty rasp he did not often get.  He may just have been a bit congested or recovering from a cold that day.  I'm not sure about the first two lines of the last verse, so any help would be appreciated.
   
   Standin' at the station, waitin' for my train (2)
   I was outdoors, sleepin' in the rain

   My mama's sick, papa is dead and gone (2)
   Didn't have no lovin' pillow to lay my head on

   A thousand miles, babe, away from home
   I was a thousand miles, baby, away from home
   My mama is sick, my papa is dead and gone

   I asked the operator, "How long this train been gone?" (2)
   "Your train been gone every [sic] since this morn."

   Say the train I ride is eighteen coaches long (2)
   I'm a poor old boy, I'm a long ways from my home

   I'm a poor old boy, I ain't got nowhere to stay
   I'm the poor old boy, I ain't got nowhere to stay
   Says, everybody sure done throwed me away

   I was down in Cincinnati, baby, on the hog
   I'm down in Cincinnati, baby, on the hog
   I'm drinkin' muddy water, sleep in a hollow log

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on August 29, 2005, 05:34:42 PM
His guitar sounds huge--why did it sound so much better than almost anyone else's guitar recorded in that era??

According to the list of who played what (not sure where the information comes from) at earlyblues.com, Peg Leg played a Stella.

http://www.earlyblues.com/blues_singers.htm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on August 29, 2005, 10:30:25 PM
I'm not sure about the first two lines of the last verse, so any help would be appreciated.
(snip)
? ?I was down in Cincinnati, baby, on the hog
? ?I'm down in Cincinnati, baby, on the hog
? ?I'm drinkin' muddy water, sleep in a hollow log

I don't have the record handy to listen to, but that's almost certainly right. According to a dictionary of old hobo slang (at http://www.hobonickels.org/alpert04.htm) -- on the hog means broke. The same phrase is in Darby and Tarlton's first record, "Down in Florida on a Hog," and is sort of there in John Jackson's "Going Down to Georgia on a Horn." I think I remember reading somewhere that a hog was slang for a railroad engine, so on the hog would mean on the bum.

Chris
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: FrontPage on August 29, 2005, 11:13:36 PM
In the slang vocabulary used in railroading circles, the engine (term usually reserved for large locomotives) is indeed called a hog, and the engineer is ---- you guessed it, a hoghead. I'm not certain of the origins for these slang terms, but thery are still in use today.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 30, 2005, 11:34:47 AM
Thanks for the clarification, Chris and Bill.  It's nice when what you hear ends up making sense you weren't equipped to decipher at the time.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 02, 2005, 11:24:51 AM
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell played and sang "Banjo Blues" with fiddler Eddie Anthony.? The song employs a "stammering" phrasing archetype, like William Harris's "Bullfrog Blues", or Teddy Darby's "Built Right On The Ground".? The way that Peg Leg and Eddie sang this song is just great.? They make no attempt either to match up their lyrics exactly or phrase right with each other, and the effect is wonderful, conveying a feeling of tremendous looseness and absolute confidence that they're going to arrive everywhere important at around the same time.? This kind of singing is so much harder to do than the kind in which you work out every nuance of phrasing and try to sing it the same way every time.? This song really communicates how well these two knew each other musically.? Peg Leg sounds like he is flat-picking out of a C position, and Eddie sounds great.
Verse three is pretty hard to beat for sour humor.? Talk about getting hit when you're down!? Any help with the last line of the last verse would really be appreciated, I am really stumped there.

? ?Got the banjo blues and I'm feeling awful, I mean awful, I mean bad
? ?Got the banjo blues and I'm feeling awful bad
? ?And the blues ain't nothin' but a good man feelin' bad

? ?I had a good woman but the fool laid down and, I mean down and, I mean died
? ?I had a good woman but the fool laid down and died
? ?Got the banjo blues and I'm too darn mean to cry

? ?SPOKEN:? Play it a long time, boy.? To my gal's in Cincinnati. She's all right with me

? ?Now, give me some cover, honey, I'm getting, I'm getting, I'm cold
? ?Now, give me some cover, I'm getting cold
? ?And the blues ain't hitting you, you're only getting old

? ?Now the Mississippi River so long and deep and, mean deep and, I mean wide
? ?And the Mississippi River so long and deep and wide
? ?And my gal, she's on the Arkansas side

? ?SPOKEN:? Do it for me, boy

? ?And my little babe, she is so tall and, I mean tall and, I mean thin
? ?And my little babe she is so tall and thin
? ?Likes the town's top preacher, but she loves her gin

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 06, 2005, 11:56:43 AM
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell recorded "New Jelly Roll Blues" with Henry Williams on second guitar and Eddie Anthony on fiddle.  I believe this recording was the source of the version of "Jelly Roll Blues" that fiddler Butch Cage and guitarist Willie Thomas did on the Arhoolie record "Country Negro Jam Session".  On the Howell version, Peg Leg is playing capoed up in Spanish, Henry Williams is playing without a capo in C, standard tuning, and Eddie Anthony is fiddling.  The ways the guitars are registered works really well; they sound great and are not in each other's way at all.  It is somewhat akin to the way that Frank Stokes and Dan Sane broke things down by playing capoed to different places and in different positions.  Peg Leg sings most of the verses and Henry Williams sings two.  On verse two, they have a mix-up in which each thought it was his turn to sing--they start the verse together (singing different lyrics), both stop, and then Peg Leg picks up the thread.  It's the kind of screw-up that would probably disqualify a take from being used on a CD nowadays, and I'm not at all sure that is to the good.  The take is in all other respects really spirited and strong, so I'm glad they issued it.  It is great the way the chorus is changed slightly as the song goes along to accommodate the different verses.  I especially like the tag line on the last chorus, it kind of comes out of left field.

   Jelly roll, jelly roll ain't so hard to find
   Ain't a bakin' shop in town bake 'em brown like mine
   I've got a sweet jelly, a lovin' sweet jelly roll
   If you taste my jelly it'll satisfy your weary soul

   [mix-up]  who say they're blind
   That jelly you got'll change anybody's mind
   I've got a sweet jelly, I've got a sweet jelly roll
   If you taste my jelly, your mama can't keep you home

   [Williams sings]  The reason I love my best gal so
   She's got the same jelly roll she had a hundred years ago
   [Fiddle]                    , sweet jelly roll
   When you taste that jelly it'll satisfy your weary soul

   [Williams sings] Jelly roll, jelly roll, layin' on the fence
   If you don't come and get it you ain't got no sense
   Taste that jelly, it's a lovin' sweet jelly roll
   Taste that jelly it'll satisfy your weary soul

   Old Aunt Dinah she's long and tall
   Spreads her legs from wall to wall
   Oh, she's got a sweet jelly, got a sweet jelly roll
   Taste your jelly,your mama can't keep you home

   She laid right down, in the grass
   You've never seed a woman shake her jelly so fast
   She's got a nice jelly to satisfy your weary soul
   Taste that jelly, your mama can't keep you home

   I've never been to church and I've never been to school
   Come down to jelly, I'm a jelly-rollin' fool
   I've got a sweet jelly, satisfy my weary soul
   I like my jelly and I like to have my fun

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 08, 2005, 11:23:30 PM
Hi all,
"Papa Stobb Blues" was recorded on the same day as "New Jelly Roll Blues" and utilized the same personnel:? Peg Leg Howell on vocal and lead guitar, capoed up and played in Spanish, Henry William on flat-picked rhythm guitar in C, standard tuning and Eddie Anthony on fiddle.? The song has beautiful heavy time; it moves forward grudgingly.?
The lyrics employ an unusual archetype in which no lines are repeated.? The only other twelve-bar blues I can think of that works this way is Luke Jordan's "Church Bell Blues", though I'm sure there must be others.? The phrasing scheme has the first four-bar phrase completely full of lyrics; the second and third four-bar phrases are more conventional, with the lyrics falling in the first two bars of each phrase, and the following two bars available for fills or a turn-around at the end of the form.
The lyrics make no mention of the Papa Stobb of the song's title.? I suspect that "The Papa Stobb" may have been a local dance craze at the time this song was recorded, for in "Beaver Slide Rag", a lively instrumental tune from the same session, one of the guys in the band says a couple of times, "do the Papa Stobb".? The "panter" mentioned in verse 4 is a panther, of course.? I know that in frontier America panthers were sometimes called "painters"--"panter" is sort of halfway between "panther" and "painter".? I am stuck on the last line of the first and last verses.? Any help would be greatly appreciated.? I don't believe these are nearly as hard to hear as Ishmon Bracey's "Bust Up Blues", I'm just stuck.

? ?Two freight trains, mama, standin' side by side
? ?The Georgia's a nice one, but the Southern's the best to ride
? ?You can pack my suitcase, hand me all my clothes
? ?Mama, I just stayed last night, said please mama, I stayed outdoors

? ?I hoboed the Southern, I paid on the L & N,
? ?If you see me sober, mama, make me drunk again
? ?It's come on, Taglin [?], please don't weep and moan
? ?Say, your daddy leavin', count the days I'm gone

? ?Mississippi River is long, deep and wide
? ?Got a lovin' sweet mama, she's on the, the other side
? ?Had a mole on her face, it's just below her nose
? ?She's got a tooth in her head, I swear it's solid gold
? ?
? ?[fiddle] Mama, she's long and tall like me
? ?I love my sweet rider, don't care where she be
? ?She got Elgin movements, make a panter [sic] squall
? ?I'm so glad my sweet mama ain't got it all

? ?These my blues, I sing 'em as I please
? ?The onliest thing that give my heart ease
? ?I'm goin', sweet mama, to wean you off my mind
? ?You keep your daddy worried, troubled all the time

? ?Anybody ask you who composed this song
? ?Tell 'em Peg Leg Papa been here and gone
? ?I'm leavin', sweet mama, don't you want to go?
? ?I'm gonna take my fary, my buddy and two, three more

? ?My mama she told me when I's twelve years old
? ?Everything glitters, son, it ain't no gold
? ?Be careful, my boy, don't care what you do
? ?These women smile in your face but tain't no friend to you

? ?I whistled to the paper boy, the little boy stopped
? ?"What kind of paper, boy, have you got?"
? ?"I've got the Atlanta Journal, talk about the Mobile Flag
? ?I can tell you what [? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?]

Edited 9/9 to add Uncle Bud's addition to lyrics

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on September 09, 2005, 07:15:46 AM
In the first verse I hear something like:

 ?Two freight trains, mama, standin' side by side
? ?The Georgia's a nice one, but the Southern's the best to ride
? ?You can pack my suitcase, hand me all my clothes
? ?Mama, I just stayed last night, said please mama, I stayed outdoors


The last verse is a mystery. Is the last word engineer?
?
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 09, 2005, 08:37:42 AM
Wow, that's great Andrew, I think that is dead on the money!? It's great what some fresh ears can hear.? I will make the change.? The last verse may conclude in "engineer", but may also conclude in "year".? I still can't hear it yet.? Have you tried the last line in "Banjo Blues"?? That one has me stumped, too.? Thanks for the help.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on September 09, 2005, 09:01:58 AM
I tried the last line in Banjo Blues but can't make it out. I think I hear the word 'preacher'.

Da da da preacher, da dada da da

A tough one!
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on September 09, 2005, 01:51:04 PM
That last line's a tough one!  The best I can get right now is "I can tell you what [1] my [2] engine has".  The syllable at [1] sounds something like "churn" and doesn't sound like train, which is how I really want to hear it.  The syllables at [2] sound like "southeast" or "salty".
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 11, 2005, 11:31:18 AM
Hi all,
You are right, Andrew and David, those last lines in "Papa Stobbs Blues" and "Banjo Blues" are really tough.  I may have figured out the last line in "Banjo Blues".  I am sure I have the back end of it right, less sure about the front end.
      Been to town to preacher, but she loves her gin 
See what you think.  Once again, any and all help is appreciated!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on September 12, 2005, 10:00:09 AM
Been to town to preacher, but she loves her gin?

I hear something that sounds like "top preacher". I'm not totally convinced the word is actually preacher, though I was the one who brought it up, and it could be that it just sounds like that. It would make more sense that it be a word ending in "-each" followed by "her" in the context of the verse being about his long and thin gal. The "but she loves her gin" sounds like it fits.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 12, 2005, 02:14:04 PM
Hi all,
"Hobo Blues" was recorded on November 1, 1927 at the same recording session that yielded "Too Tight Blues", "Moanin' And Groanin' Blues" and "Peg Leg Stomp".  Once again, the trio of Peg Leg Howell and Henry Williams on guitars,  and Eddie Anthony on fiddle, did the honors, as on "New Jelly Roll Blues" and "Papa Stobb Blues". 
Instrumentally, "Hobo Blues" is a version of a piece that was recorded variously as "Cow-Cow Blues", by pianist Cow-Cow Davenport, "Jackson Stomp" by the Mississsippi Mud Steppers, and "Cigarette Blues" by Bo Carter, among many other recorded versions.  I am hard put to think of a country blues melody of similar complexity that was recorded more or less intact, melodically, in so many different instrumental settings.  Eddie Anthony starts out very rough on the fiddle, he sounds darn lonesome, but picks up steam as he goes along, and turns it around with stellar fills behind the vocal (which may be his own), and some really hairy descending double stops behind the end of the solo.  After focusing on this material for a while, I am trying to figure out why Eddie Anthony does not get more recognition as a blues fiddler, because he was terrific.  The guitars' division of labor is much the same as on the other tunes on which Henry Williams seconded Peg Leg Howell.  Henry Williams gets off a nifty boom-chang alternation in his bass over the IV chord, F, going between the first fret of the sixth string and the open fifth string.  I don't recall hearing anyone do that before.
The vocal phrasing on "Hobo Blues" follows an unfamiliar archetype.  The opening line of lyrics completely fills the first four-bar phrase, but when the line is repeated it is split over the second and third four-bar phrases.  Thus, you end up with a 12-bar blues in which one line is sung and repeated with minor variations.  It's unusual.  I have not transcribed spoken asides on the song, they're coming from all over the place.

   Set down on my jumper, iron my overall, I'm gonna ride that train you call the Cannonball,
   You can set down on my jumper, iron my overall, I'm gonna
   Ride that train you call the Cannonball

   Some says the Southern, b'lieve it's W & A, I'm gonna get the first train I see goin' out that way
   Some say the Southern, I believe it's W & A
   I'm gonna ride that first train I see goin' that way

   I woke up this morning, half past four, a long tall woman standin' knockin' on my door, I
   Woke up this morning, just about half past four
   You oughta seen the gang of women, standin' knockin' on my door

   Train left Cincinnati, goin' to New Orleans, oughta seen the fireman, tearin' up gasoline,
   Oh the train left Cincinnati, goin' to New Orleans
   Oughta seen that fireman, tearin' up gasoline

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on September 22, 2005, 04:55:33 AM
There's an interesting discussion of Beaver Slide Rag on the Early Blues website at

http://www.earlyblues.com/essay_peg%20leg%20howell.htm (http://www.earlyblues.com/essay_peg%20leg%20howell.htm)

Apparently the Beaver Slide was an Atlanta juke joint.  The essay contains a transcription of Peg Leg's and Eddie Anthony's spoken asides.  It speculates that "Papa Stobb" should be heard as "Papa Stubb", a reference to Peg Leg Howell.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on September 22, 2005, 07:55:36 AM
Hi all,
You said a couple of posts back, Andrew, that you thought the first part of the last line in the last verse of "Banjo Blues" had a phrase that sounded like "top preacher".  I think you're right.  I'm hearing the entire last line as
   Likes the town's top preacher, but she loves her gin
I'll make the change, subject to revisions/improvements.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on October 13, 2005, 06:57:39 PM
Hi all,
"Too Tight Blues" was recorded by Peg Leg Howell, with Eddie Anthony and Henry Williams, in a session on November 1, 1927 that also yielded "Moanin' And Groanin' Blues", "Hobo Blues" and "Peg Leg Stomp".  "Too Tight Blues" must have come out of Blind Blake's "Too Tight", and while it lacks Blake's nifty circle-of-fifths progressions and turn-arounds, it more than makes up for those lacks with an infectious "whatever happens is okay" spirit and deep backbeat that would have made it very danceable.  Instrumentally, it is kind of a free-for-all melee, with Henry Williams flat-picking in C position, standard tuning, Peg Leg capoed up playing out of Spanish tuning (almost inaudibly, at least as far as details go, until the outro) and Eddie Anthony fiddling.  The sung portion of the song is an 8-bar phrase that repeats.  The band switches to a 12-bar form for solos, and Eddie Anthony really shines on these; he does a wonderful bow-skittering descending phrase in his second big solo pass.  The chord progression is changed for two solo passes near the end of the tune, with a pretty VI chord inserted in the seventh and 8th bar. The vocal asides on this tune are amazingly entertaining.  Among them, "Just like Maxwell House"--answered, "Good to the last drop", and later on in the song "Do the Hindenburg" (!).  Eddie Anthony sings lead, Henry Williams doubles him an octave lower and Peg Leg joins in.  They were definitely having fun.  Any help with phrases in bent brackets would be appreciated.

   Grab your gal, fall in line, while I play this rag of mine,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, it just won't [        ], too tight, it make you moan,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, ain't you ashamed, too tight, I was shakin' that thing
   Too tight, that rag of mine

   Too tight, hear me cry, too tight, just won't die
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, look at old [         ], too tight, I got to pull it back out,
   Too tight, that rag of mine

   Grab your gal, fall in line, while I play this rag of mine,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, into the gate, too tight, let's don't wait
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, you hear me say, too tight, make us pray,
   Too tight that rag of mine

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on October 14, 2005, 09:08:57 AM
I am trying to figure out why Eddie Anthony does not get more recognition as a blues fiddler, because he was terrific.

Sorry for drifting slightly off-topic, here....

I don't know if the problem is that Eddie Anthony is particularly under-recognized, so much as that blues fiddling in general (not to mention CB as ensemble music) is almost totally unknown/ignored for the most part.  There are come great CB fiddlers - Eddie Anthony is certainly close if not actually on the top of the heap.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Bunker Hill on October 14, 2005, 12:21:28 PM
He was born in the 1880s, I believe, which makes him very important in studying and enjoying pre-blues and early blues music.
Born March 5, 1888, which was one of the motivations for George Mitchell to spend an entire day with a frail Howell recording him and his reminiscences in April 1963. Portions of what Howell told Mitchell were published in Blues Unlimited 10 (Mar 1964) under the heading of "I'm Peg Leg Howell". It ended with Howell saying "After Eddie Anthony died, I just didn't feel like playing any more. Not until now". The resultant LP that Mitchell and Pete Welding put together was a very sad affair with Howell shakily attempting to recreate Coal Man and Skin Game but slightly more confident with numbers like John Henry or Red River.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on November 22, 2005, 01:21:52 PM
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell recorded "Turkey Buzzard Blues" with Eddie Anthony on fiddle, probably on October 30, 1928.? The tune is more commonly known in Old-Time circles as "Turkey In The Straw", though in Minstrel Show days, it was known as "Old Zip Coon".? "Turkey Buzzard Blues" is played in C here, though "Turkey In The Straw" is usually done in G, I believe.
I had despaired of every being able to figure out the lyrics on this number, because both Eddie and Peg Leg are singing throughout, and they were not overly careful about phrasing together, but? a couple of weeks ago, I re-listened for the first time in a long time, and was able to make some real headway.? The transcription is not complete by any means, but with some fresh ears and different perspectives applied to the task, I think we have a good chance of finishing this one up completely.
Once I began hearing the lyrics I realized that this song is a strong bit of evidence for the shared musical traditions of African-Americans and White Appalachian musicians.? Several of the verses may derive from minstrelsy, but others, like verses three and six, reference fiddle tune titles that are commonly encountered in the Old Time tradition:? "Chinkypin Hunting" and "Sugar In The Gourd".? A chinkypin, or chinquipin in some spellings, is, I believe a nut or berry, found on a bush.? Maybe somebody who knows the answer better than I can help us out.? The great musician Hobart Smith recorded a terrific banjo tune, "Chinquipin Pie", that I also recorded many years ago.
As usual, questionable lyrics or blank spaces will be set off with bent brackets.? Any help with the lyrics would be greatly appreciated.

? ?I had an old gal, tall and thin
? ?Had an old gal, she was tall and thin
? ?Had an old gal, tall and thin
? ?Everytime I [? ? ?? ?], I'd do it again

? ?If you got six bits that you think you wanta spend
? ?Got six bits, you think you wanta spend
? ?Got six bits, you think you wanta spend
? ?Go on around the [corner, let the cops get the wind?]

? ?Now, me and my gal went chinkypin huntin'
? ?Me and my gal went a-chinkypin huntin'
? ?Me and my gal went a chinkypin huntin'
? ?She fell down and I found sumpin'

? ?Have you ever went fishin' on a bright sunny day?
? ?Standin' on the bank, see the little fish play
? ?Hands in your pocket and your pocket in your pants
? ?See the little-bitty fish do the Hoochie Coochie dance

? ?Now, I had an old hen and had a peg leg
? ?Fattest old hen that ever laid a egg
? ?It laid more eggs than hens around the barn
? ?Another little drink wouldn't do me no harm

? ?There's sugar in the gourd, but I can't get it out
? ?Sugar in the gourd but I can't get it out
? ?Sugar in the gourd but I can't get it out
? ?Now, the way to get sugar, gotta roll it all about

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Bunker Hill on November 22, 2005, 11:45:57 PM
? ?Now, I had an old hen and had a peg leg
? ?[? ? ??? ? ?] had to have a little egg
? ?The same old egg that I hid around the barn [?]
? ?Another little thing wouldn't do me no harm
FWIW what I can hear in my head is:

Fattest ol' hen that ever laid an egg
lays more eggs than hens around the barn
says 'another lil drink wouldn't do me no harm

with a variant repeated later in the song.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on November 23, 2005, 09:31:57 AM
Wow, thanks, Bunker Hill, that's terrific.  Of all the verses, that is the one I was having the hardest time hearing and making any sense of.  It's great, and typical of Old-Time music, that the last line of the verse doesn't pertain to the first three, and is basically apropos of nothing.  You can't get it from context, that's for sure.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Bunker Hill on November 23, 2005, 11:25:01 AM
Wow, thanks, Bunker Hill, that's terrific.? Of all the verses, that is the one I was having the hardest time hearing and making any sense of.? It's great, and typical of Old-Time music, that the last line of the verse doesn't pertain to the first three, and is basically apropos of nothing.? You can't get it from context, that's for sure.
Well I'm truly amazed. That was from memory of a 1967?Kokomo? LP (A Blues Potpourri K-1001) featuring Texas Alexander, Barbecue Bob, Peg Leg Howell, Lil McClintock and Curley Weaver). Mind around that time I was still playing new LPs until the almost wore white. :) I wish the enthusiasm had been sustained... :(
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Bunker Hill on November 27, 2005, 12:21:37 AM
A chinkypin, or chinquipin in some spellings, is, I believe a nut or berry, found on a bush.? Maybe somebody who knows the answer better than I can help us out.?
I don't know better but at the risk of being totally boring (you did ask) the Dictionary Of American English (4 vols, OUP, 1960) has four entries for this, but here are the first traced usages:

Chinqunpin. Also chinquepin, chinkapin, chinkopen, etc. [Amer. Indian. See CHINCOMEN TREE.]
1. The small, sweet nut of the dwarf chestnut: (see next).
1676 GLOVER Acc. Va. in Phil. Trans. XI. 629 Beside these [nuts], here is another called a Chincopine, which is like a Chesnut, with a Burry husk, but lesse by far. 1696-8 Mass. H. S. CaU. V. 126 The woods also bringing good store of chesnuts, walnuts, hickory nuts, chincopins. 1710 N.C. Col. Rec. I. 740 The Nottoway Indian old men being gone to gather Chinkopens. We deferred the taking their Examinacions till our Return. 1836 C. GILMAN Recoll. (1838) vi. 47 Look at Cornelia's face! It is as brown as a chinquapin. 1861 NORTON Army Lett. 26 In the woods near us we found any quantity of grapes and chinquapins. 1886 Leslie's Mo. XXI. I50/l A mess of chinkapins and hickory nuts. 1904 E. GLASGOW Deliverance 91 He had saved every stray penny from his sales of hogs and cider, of water-melons and chinkapins.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on November 28, 2005, 12:00:46 PM
Thanks very much for the information on chinquipins, Bunker Hill.  It's nice to have a much more complete idea of what something is that I have "sort of" known about for forty years.  I guess it is not surprising that lyrics seem richer when the context is more completely fleshed out.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: GerryC on February 05, 2006, 09:03:35 AM
I know this thread's been dormant for a while but I was listening again to Coalman Blues the other day and in verse 5, last line, I think I hear "Run to the door to stop the coal man". 
In the following verse, the last line seems to me to read "Sell it to the nice brown standing in the door", which seems to make more sense, given the open "I want to seduce you, woman!" message of most of the other verses.

Cheerily,

Gerry C
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Bunker Hill on February 05, 2006, 09:57:04 AM
In the following verse, the last line seems to me to read "Sell it to the nice brown standing in the door",
FWIW that's how Paul Oliver hears it too in the little he quotes of the song on page 18 in Songsters & Saints.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on February 05, 2006, 10:53:45 AM
Thanks very much for the lyric fixes, Gerry C.  I'm always glad to get the correct lyrics.  When I listened, the first one sounded like "stop to tell the coal man".  This is a great song, and I think it is pretty much all there now.  I have made the changes.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on August 27, 2006, 11:53:23 AM
   The worst (?) old worries that I ever had.

I hear the beginning of this line as "I feel so worried."  That would make the line:

I feel so worried that I ever had.

edited to add:  this is the last line of the 13th verse of Coal Man Blues (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=100&topic=1459.msg9563#msg9563).
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 30, 2006, 05:15:00 PM
Thanks for the find, Frank.  i listened a bunch of times and it sounds right, but it is a hell of a clumsy locution, isn't it?  Sometimes it sounded like he said "feets", but that makes even less sense.  I will make the change--the sound is right on.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on August 30, 2006, 11:38:45 PM
i listened a bunch of times and it sounds right, but it is a hell of a clumsy locution, isn't it?

Yep.  I wonder if he had something that flowed better in mind but couldn't get it out, since it seems like he kinda runs out of steam right about there - but who wouldn't after rattling off 12 verses with scarcely any instrumental breaks?  It sounds to me like the first two lines of the 14th verse consist of false starts of verses he's already sung:

Got your....  (maybe "water and gas" from the 8th verse?)
Me and my mama and...  (sounds something like "two," and then mumbles off)

Then he comes up with a bit of one-up-manship based on the 12th verse:

Me and my brown and three or four more
Going up the country, don't you want to go
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on January 07, 2007, 06:56:32 PM
Hi all,
I just looked over this thread for the first time in a while and was impressed by how close we are to having all of Peg Leg Howell's pre-rediscovery lyrics transcribed.  There really are just a few missing words or phrases in his long list of songs.  It would be great if we could finish these up, so any and all help is appreciated.  Here are the songs with missing words/lines and where the missing lines occur.  All of these songs are on the Juke.
   
   * "Ball And Chain Blues":  verse five

   * "Papa Stobb Blues":  second verse, third line and last verse, last line

   * "Too Tight Blues":  first verse, one word and second verse, one word

   * "Turkey Buzzard Blues":  first verse, last line and second verse, last line

Thanks for any interested fresh ears!

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: GhostRider on January 08, 2007, 08:13:11 AM
John:

If you would post MP3's of these four tunes, I'd be willing to give them a try.

Alex
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Baird on January 24, 2009, 12:08:49 PM
Hi all, I just wanted to propose this lyrical correction for Peg Leg's 'Doin' Wrong'

Take me sweet mama, allow me one more chore (2)
I swear to the Lord that I wont do wrong no more

instead of

   Take me sweet mama, allow me one more show (2)
   I swear to the Lord that I won't do wrong no more

What do you think?

Thanks,
Michael

Johnm's orig posting:

Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell played "Doin' Wrong" in G position, standard tuning.  It was his only recorded solo number played in that position.  It sounds like it very well may have been influenced by Lemon's "Got The Blues"; the descending run over the G chord starting at the third fret of the first string is much like what Lemon plays, though Lemon stops his bass behind the run and Peg Leg continues to play bass notes under the run.  Taken in whole, "Doin' Wrong" is not so much like "Got The Blues". 
"Doin' Wrong" is a good candidate for the "Vocal Phrasing--The Long and the Short of It" thread.  Peg Leg is generally long on the first four-bar phrase and short on the second four bars.  He sings the first verse like the last twelve bars in a 16-bar blues, starting his first two lines on the IV chord.  The first line of the last verse is odd.  He sounds like he was distracted and turned his head away from the microphone.

   Take me sweet mama, allow me one more show (2)
   I swear to the Lord that I won't do wrong no more

   I don't love no woman if she ain't got baby ways (2)
   I'm crazy 'bout my lovin', it's always been my crave

   I woke up this morning, 'tween midnight and day
   I woke up this morning, just before day
   I looked at the pillow where my good gal used to lay

   I hung my head, I cried just like a child (2)
   Says, the way I'm treated, mama, sure ain't satisfied

   If you ever go to Memphis, stop by Jesse's Hall (2)
   You see my picture hangin' on the wall

   I've got the blues so bad, mama, my poor heart is sore
   Got the blues so bad, mama, my poor heart is sore
   Can't rest contented, mama, nowhere I go

   Take me, mama, take me ain't nohow (?)
   Take me brownie, please don't throw me down (2)
   I'm gonna pack my suitcase, I'm gonna blow this town

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on January 24, 2009, 12:43:00 PM
Hi Michael,
That sure works for me.  Good catch!  It's great to have a transcription fine-tuned that was done so long ago.  I'll make the change in the thread and in Weeniepedia.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Stuart on June 12, 2010, 06:33:59 PM
Hi all,
"Papa Stobb Blues" was recorded on the same day as "New Jelly Roll Blues" and utilized the same personnel...I am stuck on the last line of the first and last verses...

   I whistled to the paper boy, the little boy stopped
   "What kind of paper, boy, have you got?"
   "I've got the Atlanta Journal, talk about the Mobile Flag
   I can tell you what [                 ?                           ]

Today at the PWBG, Chris Smith posted his lyrics for the last line :

"I can tell you where Sherman stopped his engine at."

as well as a question about the identity of "The Mobile Flag." He assumed that it was the name of a newspaper and couldn't find anything about a paper by that name.

Another member, Bruce Smith, suggested that "The Mobile Flag" is not the name of a paper, but refers to an Alabama regimental flag:

http://www.alabama37th.com/flag.htm

If this is the case, then there are two distinct subjects in the third line, with a conceptual break running right down the middle.

The Civil War reference makes sense to me. But of course whether or not this is what Peg Leg Howell actually had in mind is still an open question.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on June 13, 2010, 06:29:05 AM
I don't know that I'd go with a Civil War reference, but thinking of "mobile flag" as something other than a newspaper does raise other possibilities.  Was the mobile flag an event that was news in the Atlanta Journal at about the time that Howell recorded?  A horse race or automobile race?  Or a sports team from Alabama?  New possibilities for research, anyway.  It might help to revisit the last line of the verse.

   
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on June 13, 2010, 06:58:33 AM
Could Howell be saying "flood" or "flash [flood]"?  On September 20th 1926 there was a hurricane that caused major flooding in Mobile.  Papa Stobb Blues was recorded on April 8th 1927.  Could Sherman/Sherma/German/Germa have stopped his engine in conjunction with this flooding?  Or does the last line talk about some separate event?  Research is ongoing.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: dj on June 13, 2010, 07:15:09 AM
Rats!  I don't have online access to the Atlanta Journal from the 1920s.  If anyone does, scanning the headlines from September 20 - 30 1926 might prove illuminating.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: uncle bud on June 13, 2010, 11:02:59 AM
In the newspaper biz, a flag refers to the name/logo of the newspaper displayed on the front page. Sometimes called a masthead (though I think of a masthead as something a bit different, coming from a different environment). The line could conceivably be not "Mobile Flag" but "Mobile flag".
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Stuart on June 13, 2010, 11:53:49 AM
That "Mobile Flag/flag" has something to do with newspapers certainly follows from the first part of the line as well as from the verse, but it could also refer to something different, something that is contrary to our expectations. But what else is new? We've seen this in the past when trying to figure out lyrics and what they refer to.

You could be right, Andrew. Perhaps "Mobile F/flag" was a local way of referring to one of the Confederate flags (the one that is at present called the "stars and bars") that appeared as part of the masthead, and was a slang term for the paper. Perhaps. Possible. Likely? Any basis in fact? We'll have to dig deeper to see if there's any evidence that suggests that this could have been the case.

After listening to it a couple of more times and giving it some more thought, I think the third line might be understood as:

"I've got the Atlanta Journal, talk[ing] about the Mobile F/flag (or flood as dj suggests),"

I think that the paperboy might be hawking the paper the way paperboys are portrayed in films set in an earlier era: "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" (Followed by the headline stories of the day.)

I think that the last line needs to be gone over some more. While Chris Smith's transcription certainly sounds close to what Peg Leg Howell sings, the line is still less than clear. And there's always the possibility of the mind filling in what the ear wants to hear. We've all been there.

If my thoughts about line three of the verse are correct and if there is internal consistency throughout the entire verse, then "talk[ing] about the Mobile F/flag (or flood, etc.) and whatever line four is about might just be referring to the news of the day--what sells papers. And as dj points out, finding out what this was may require going through the Atlanta Journal archives to see if it corresponds to actual events that were reported in the paper. Of course, the events mentioned could be fanciful, made up for the song. The research continues.

Edited to add: Following Andrew's idea, line three could also be understood as:

"I got the Atlanta Journal, [I'm] talk[ing] about the Mobile F/flag,"

Where "the Mobile F/flag" is a slang term for the Atlanta Journal. Just a another wild guess...
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Alexei McDonald on June 14, 2010, 01:36:26 AM
I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I thought I'd chip in with this.   There's a swing-era tune called "Mobile Flag stop : catching the 8.02 local".   It's a train imitation instrumental recorded by Johnny Messner, so I think that the Mobile Flag is a train or a railway station, not a newspaper.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: frankie on June 14, 2010, 04:13:19 AM
Alexei - I think the term that PLH is using and the "flag stop" referred to in the Johnny Messner song are probably unrelated...  a "flag stop" (going from dim memory - a friend's dad was a railfan in high school!) is a minor train station that a train only stops for when there is a signal from the station (when the train is flagged down, so to speak).
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Alexei McDonald on June 14, 2010, 06:39:25 AM
Alexei - I think the term that PLH is using and the "flag stop" referred to in the Johnny Messner song are probably unrelated...  a "flag stop" (going from dim memory - a friend's dad was a railfan in high school!) is a minor train station that a train only stops for when there is a signal from the station (when the train is flagged down, so to speak).

Curses, I had hoped I was making a bit of progress there!  :)
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: coco on June 11, 2012, 07:52:24 PM
Certainly the most striking feature of the song is the grisly opening verse.  It is hard at this time to imagine the place for such a verse in a popular music with a primary function of entertainment.  Certainly, you encounter really tough verses in this music from time to time, but this one seems particularly ghoulish.  There is nothing in the performance that indicates Peg Leg intended it to be construed in a humorous light; rather, he sings it with the flat emotional affect of an Old-Time singer like Dock Boggs doing a murder ballad.

   Says, I'll cut your throat, mama, drink your blood like wine
   I'll cut your throat, mama, and drink your blood like wine

John, you and I have had discussions about these kinds of lyrics before  - particularly violence against women in old blues lyrics, and especially out of context, throwaway lines - and have agreed that, for ourselves, there are certain things we can't imagine singing. This line has always struck me as so ghoulish as to be poetic, albeit in the darkest way. I could see incorporating it into a bad man ballad or murder ballad somehow. It is a pretty astonishing image regardless of what era you're in. I have a vague recollection of a similar line appearing somewhere else from another CB artist. I can't recall and could be mistaken.

Anyway, if I was a woman, this is not a guy I'd be looking to date...  Yikes!


I HEARD THIS BY JELLY ROLL MORTON
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Rivers on June 11, 2012, 07:59:11 PM
Please feel free to elaborate, without Caps Lock on.  :)
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Cleoma on June 12, 2012, 05:34:52 AM
The last verse of Skinny Legs Blues by Geeshie Wiley is similarly gruesome.   And, similarly sung without scenery-chewing or any particular emphasis.  Floating verse?  Way to show how tough you are?  Maybe for some people it's a challenge and a come-on at the same time?
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on June 12, 2012, 09:29:11 AM
It seems like it's also a kind of bragging, however grisly it may be.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Ale_Buster_Ponti on August 30, 2014, 02:00:05 AM
Hello, I'm from Italy so I'm not really introduced to south slang, about "Hobo Blues": what does "iron my overall" means? Could it be "hire my overall"?. Thank you all!
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on August 30, 2014, 06:03:47 AM
Hi Ale_Buster_Ponti,
"Overalls" are heavy work wear, a one-piece sort of work jump suit.  In blues lyrics, the singer often asks that his jumper (another work wear item) be starched and his overalls ironed (pressed).  I don't know why the singer needs such well-cared-for work clothes, but I think it is mostly because "overalls" rhymes (sort of) with "cannonball", the name of a train.  Maybe, too, the singer wants to look sharp at all times, so starched and ironed jumpers and overalls are wanted for that reason.  Trying to explain it makes me realize I've heard such verses many times before and never really thought about them!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Ale_Buster_Ponti on August 30, 2014, 11:31:43 PM
Wow this is great Johnm, thank you. I can immagine Pel Leg wanting his overall ironed while he's hoboing around, taking trains, is funny, dramatic and poetic at the same time, just like the blues is (in my way of feeling it).
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on October 24, 2014, 08:15:16 PM
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell did a very spooky version of "Red River Blues" on his Testament album, recorded soon after he was re-discovered by George Mitchell in the early '60s.  He accompanied himself out of E position in standard tuning with a simple boom-chang back-up, and got an eerie sound by singing his minor melody without ever hitting the third of his I chord E, so he ended up with a sort of hollow, open sound.  He was living in very dire poverty at the time and was an ailing old man, but even so, there's something about his vocal that communicates such a presence. 
His lyrics place the song in the In the Pines/The Longest Train family, unlike other versions of "Red River Blues" I have heard, and Peg Leg sings an altogether different melody than the one he used for his early recording of a song in that family, "Rolling Mill Blues".  After each verse, he sings a little tagline with a creepy descending melody line in which he omits the last word of the phrase, every time.  It's nice to see that expression of intent made so clearly, especially by a person operating in extremis.  I'm attaching an .mp3 of the performance for folks who are interested in hearing it because I know the record is terribly difficult to find and has never been re-issued on CD.

Which-a way, which-a way, the blood Red River run?
Tell me, babe, which-a way do it run?
Some says East, some says it's West
Tell me, babe, which-a way do it run?

Over my back window, Lord, to the risin' ---

I's a-went down to the Southern new depot
Freight train come rollin' by
I's thinkin' about good time, once have had
Hung down my head and I cried

Lord, I hung down my weary head and ---

Freight train runned off the track last night
And it killed my woman dead
Her head was found in driver's wheel
And her body have never been seen

Which-a way, which-a way the blood Red River ---

SOLO

The longest train I ever seen
Run 'round Joe Brown's coal mine
The engine was at the Four-Mile Hill
And the cab had never left town

Which-a way, which-a way the blood Red River ---

Goin' away, gonna stay
Had my money, I'd go today

Which-a way do the blood Red River ---

Which-a way, which-a way, do the blood Red River run?
Tell me, babe, which-a way do it run?
Some says it's East, and some says it's West
Tell me, babe, which way do it run?

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: ScottN on December 08, 2014, 10:22:41 AM
Hi John,

We're probably approaching the 10 year statute of limitations on suggestions for Coal Man Blues but thought I would throw a couple in since I've been listening to it a lot over the past few days:

3.4 DIDN'T vs dead
5.1 GET vs just
8.4 TRICK vs cheat
12 "me my rider and two three more" vs "me (and) my rider and two (or) three more"
14.1 GOT THE HO...(guitar)
14.2 GREET ME mama and two (or) three (guitar)
14.3 Me and my brown AND

I think 3.4 changes the meaning quite a bit, the others are pretty minor.

Thanks,
           Scott
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on December 08, 2014, 12:05:06 PM
Hi Scott,
Thanks for the catches.  I've incorporated them all into the transcription, both in this thread and in Weeniepedia, and caught some other stuff as well.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: coco on March 01, 2019, 07:59:02 AM
I was wondering, what the heck they were talking about when they said "Do the Hindenburg" Since the only Hindenburg I know is that German Zeppelin that was burned down in 1937 (ten years later after the song was recorded). A profecy???

Hi all,
"Too Tight Blues" was recorded by Peg Leg Howell, with Eddie Anthony and Henry Williams, in a session on November 1, 1927 that also yielded "Moanin' And Groanin' Blues", "Hobo Blues" and "Peg Leg Stomp".  "Too Tight Blues" must have come out of Blind Blake's "Too Tight", and while it lacks Blake's nifty circle-of-fifths progressions and turn-arounds, it more than makes up for those lacks with an infectious "whatever happens is okay" spirit and deep backbeat that would have made it very danceable.  Instrumentally, it is kind of a free-for-all melee, with Henry Williams flat-picking in C position, standard tuning, Peg Leg capoed up playing out of Spanish tuning (almost inaudibly, at least as far as details go, until the outro) and Eddie Anthony fiddling.  The sung portion of the song is an 8-bar phrase that repeats.  The band switches to a 12-bar form for solos, and Eddie Anthony really shines on these; he does a wonderful bow-skittering descending phrase in his second big solo pass.  The chord progression is changed for two solo passes near the end of the tune, with a pretty VI chord inserted in the seventh and 8th bar. The vocal asides on this tune are amazingly entertaining.  Among them, "Just like Maxwell House"--answered, "Good to the last drop", and later on in the song "Do the Hindenburg" (!).  Eddie Anthony sings lead, Henry Williams doubles him an octave lower and Peg Leg joins in.  They were definitely having fun.  Any help with phrases in bent brackets would be appreciated.

   Grab your gal, fall in line, while I play this rag of mine,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, it just won't [        ], too tight, it make you moan,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, ain't you ashamed, too tight, I was shakin' that thing
   Too tight, that rag of mine

   Too tight, hear me cry, too tight, just won't die
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, look at old [         ], too tight, I got to pull it back out,
   Too tight, that rag of mine

   Grab your gal, fall in line, while I play this rag of mine,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, into the gate, too tight, let's don't wait
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, you hear me say, too tight, make us pray,
   Too tight that rag of mine

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on March 01, 2019, 08:47:06 AM
Hi coco,
The only guesses I would have on the "Hindenburg" in this context would be (and they are guesses!):
   * It may have been some kind of long-forgotten, localized dance craze popular at the time the record was made;
   * It may have been some trick bowing move that Eddie Anthony used on the fiddle that had visual appeal for an audience;
   * It may have been an expression along the lines of "Let's blow up!" or "Go crazy!"
Like I said, they're just guesses.  Maybe other people know more about the use of the Hindenburg in this context.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: coco on March 02, 2019, 09:39:10 AM
Hi coco,
The only guesses I would have on the "Hindenburg" in this context would be (and they are guesses!):
   * It may have been some kind of long-forgotten, localized dance craze popular at the time the record was made;
   * It may have been some trick bowing move that Eddie Anthony used on the fiddle that had visual appeal for an audience;
   * It may have been an expression along the lines of "Let's blow up!" or "Go crazy!"
Like I said, they're just guesses.  Maybe other people know more about the use of the Hindenburg in this context.
All best,
Johnm


I did some research and could be related to World War I.

The Hindenburg light or Hindenburglicht, was a source of lighting used in the trenches of the First World War, named after the Commander-in-Chief of the German army in World War I, Paul von Hindenburg. It was also used in World War II in air raid shelters (Luftschutzkeller) or during power cuts, and mandated black outs as emergency lighting.[1] It was a flat bowl approximately 5?8 cm (2.0?3.1 in) diameter and 1?1.5 cm (0.39?0.59 in) deep. It resembles the cover of Mason jar lid (Schraubglasdeckel) and was made from pasteboard. This flat bowl was filled with a wax-like fat (tallow). A short wick (Docht) in the center was lit and burned for some hours. A later model of the Hindenburglicht was a "tin can (Dosenlicht) lamp." Here, a wax-filled tin can has two wicks in a holder. If both wicks are lit, a common, broad flame (zungenfoermige Flamme) results.

The Hindenburg Programme of August 1916 is the name given to the armaments and economic policy begun in late 1916 by the Third Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL, the German General Staff), Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff. The two were appointed after the sacking of General Erich von Falkenhayn on 28 August 1916 and intended to double German industrial production, to greatly increase the output of munitions and weapons
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Johnm on March 02, 2019, 12:03:27 PM
Hi coco,
That information is interesting, but it's very hard to imagine that it had anything to do with the way Peg Leg Howell and his buddies used the term "Hindenburg" in "Too Tight Rag".
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: anomalousaudio on March 02, 2019, 02:14:31 PM
A little off topic but too fortuitous to pass up?
First post, been meaning to join for years but today was listening to ?Away From Home? by Howell, trying to figure out the (surprisingly advanced!) mandolin parts from Jim Hill, and I found myself compelled to find more about him, to no avail. Does anyone know who the hill (heh heh) Jim was? Point me right and true, if ye can! Glad to be on board! I can?t believe there?s other weirdos like me out there.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: banjochris on March 08, 2019, 06:01:36 PM
Hi coco,
The only guesses I would have on the "Hindenburg" in this context would be (and they are guesses!):
   * It may have been some kind of long-forgotten, localized dance craze popular at the time the record was made;
   * It may have been some trick bowing move that Eddie Anthony used on the fiddle that had visual appeal for an audience;
   * It may have been an expression along the lines of "Let's blow up!" or "Go crazy!"
Like I said, they're just guesses.  Maybe other people know more about the use of the Hindenburg in this context.

I would think that at the time "Too Tight" was recorded, the word "Hindenburg" would have been associated in most people's minds with the "Hindenburg Line" from WWI (mentioned in "That Old Gang of Mine," for instance). So it wouldn't surprise me if some kind of dance or way of lining up would have come from that.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Stuart on March 10, 2019, 12:32:45 PM
I think you're right Chris. The WWI context makes electronic searches difficult. There might be mentions or references in writings from the twenties, but finding them could be next to impossible since many texts have yet to be converted to searchable scans that are part of larger textbases.

Since there was a breakthrough of the Hindenburg Line, it could have been part of a dance where some folks lined up and others passed through a break in the line. But that's just an uneducated guess.
Title: Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
Post by: Rivers on March 13, 2019, 08:20:13 PM
Lane Hardin, California Desert Blues, 1935, also mentions the Hindenburg Line.

Quote
Crossin' that old desert, mama, just like breakin' the Hindenburg Line

Only clear relevance here is "Hindenburg Line" was still part of the collective consciousness in 1935 two years before the whole airship thing.

See https://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=California_Desert_Blues