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The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation - Henry David Thoreau, who had the blues and couldn't be satisfied

Author Topic: Big Maceo Lyrics  (Read 2370 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Big Maceo Lyrics
« on: December 03, 2014, 01:42:25 PM »
Hi all,
I've been listening a lot recently to a 2-CD set of Detroit Blues and noticed that every time a Big Maceo track came on, I was so happy to hear his music.  For "County Jail", Big Maceo played piano out of Bb and was joined by Tampa Red.  What a beautiful cut!  I feel like there's much to be learned from this cut, in the sense that neither player is going for anything consciously innovative in what he is doing--rather they are speaking and communicating comfortably in their own ways of expressing themselves in the style.  And that is more than enough, it is a treat in every way.  I love everything about Big Maceo's singing, including note choices, and he sets up such a rock solid groove on the piano, heavy time, and is perfectly willing to let Tampa Red handle all of the fills and solo space, something Red was certainly perfectly qualified to do.  They rock to a V7 chord in the second bar of the form, something you run into a bit less often than rocking to a IV7 chord, and it is a nice touch.  Here is the track:



They picked me up and put me in the county jail
They picked me up and put me in the county jail
They wouldn't even let my woman come and go my bail

Now I'm in prison, but I've almost did my time
Now I'm in prison, but I've almost did my time
They give me six months, but I have to work out nine

Course, I know my baby, she's gonna jump and shout
I know my baby, she's gonna jump and shout
When that train roll up, and I come walkin' out

SOLO (Spoken: Now play 'em, Mr. Tampa)

So take these stripes from 'round me, chain 'way from 'round my leg
These stripes from 'round me, and these chains from 'round my leg
Well, these stripes don't hurt me, but these chain gonna kill me dead

All best,
Johnm

Online Stuart

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2014, 04:34:25 PM »
Good choice, John. Here's a collection:

http://www.arhoolie.com/blues/big-maceo-merriweather-the-king-of-chicago-blues-piano.html?sl=EN

One of my favorites is "Maceo's 32-20" -- A toss up between an ode to domestic violence and/or tender love poetry:



I  first heard it back in the late 60s-early 70s on one of the LP anthologies and I was hooked.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2014, 04:56:13 PM »
Yes, Stuart, "32.20" was my intro to Big Maceo's music, too.  I remember it was on RBF on "The Country Blues, Vol. 2", one of the early re-issues curated by Sam Charters.  I remember the same album had Luke Jordan's "Church Bell Blues" and Bo Carter's "I'm An Old Bumble Bee", along with Henry Townsend's "She's Got A Mean Disposition".  Talk about a lot of meat and not many potatoes!
All best,
Johnm

Online Stuart

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2014, 08:13:16 AM »
...Talk about a lot of meat and not many potatoes!

Sam certainly knew how to package the good stuff--And corrupt the youth of America in the process!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2014, 08:48:49 AM »
Hi all,
Here is the performance that Stuart alluded to, "Maceo's 32-20", for which he is once again joined by Tampa Red.  Maceo plays the song in G, and Tampa Red accompanies him in G position without a slide, and on an electric guitar, rather than a National.  Maceo's descending signature lick on this rendition is so powerful.  Here it is:



I walked all night long, with my 32-20 in my hand
I walked all night long, with my 32-20 in my hand
Looking for my woman, well, I found her with another man

When I found that woman, they was walkin' hand in hand
When I found that woman, they was walkin' hands in hand
Well, she didn't surprise me, when I found her with another man

She started screaming, "Murder!", and I had never raised my hand
She started screaming, "Murder!", babe, and I had never raised my hand
Terrible, she know I had them covered, 'cause I had the steel right there in my hand

SOLO

I ain't no bully, and I don't go for the baddest man in town
I ain't no bully, and I ain't the baddest man in town
When I catch a man with my woman, I usually tear his playhouse down

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 08:52:53 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2015, 12:54:35 PM »
Hi all,
Big Maceo composed and recorded one of the most covered of Blues songs, "Worried Life Blues".  It's an 8-bar chorus blues, and the combination of strong lyrics an audience can identify with and a good melody proved an irresistible combination.  The fact that Big Maceo could sing the way he did certainly didn't hurt the song either!.  Tampa Red once again shows himself to be a wonderfully sympathetic playing partner.  Most of the covers of the song that I have heard change the lyric of the refrain to "But someday, baby, you ain't gonna worry my life any more".  I much prefer Big Maceo's lyric--it's much more hopeless, and has an emptiness to its promise of better times ahead that is more wrenching than the changed lyric.



Oh Lordy-Lord, oh Lordy-Lord,
It hurts me so bad for us to part
REFRAIN: But someday, baby, I ain't gonna worry my life any more

So many night since you been gone
I been worried and grievin', my life alone
REFRAIN: But someday, baby, I ain't gonna worry my life any more

So many day since you went away
I had to worry both night and day
REFRAIN: But someday, baby, I ain't gonna worry my life any more

SOLO (Spoken before solo: No, boy, I ain't gonna worry my life no more.  Yeah, yeah!)

You on my mind every place I go
How much I love you, nobody knows
REFRAIN: But someday, baby, I ain't gonna worry my life any more

So that's my story, this is all I got to say to you
Goodbye, baby, and I don't care what you do
REFRAIN: But someday, baby, I ain't gonna worry my life any more

All best,
Johnm


« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 10:33:38 PM by Johnm »

Offline eric

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2015, 01:06:01 PM »
[For some reason,the link didn't work for me, but I found the cut on Youtube.]

I really like Big Maceo.  Blues Classics put out that great double LP back in the day that got a lot of play here; I'm gonna have to dig that out.  Thanks for posting that.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 01:07:32 PM by Eric Hubbard »
--
Eric

Offline blueshome

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 06:32:24 AM »
Love Maceo. Also love Lightnin's early version of Worried Life:


Offline Lignite

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 09:22:13 AM »
Here is Lightnin's earliest recorded adaptation of Worried Life Blues recorded for Aladdin in 1947. Notice how he freely changed the verses but kept the refrain and claimed authorship of the song.
http://picosong.com/XdAv

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2015, 09:50:10 AM »
Hi all,
I recently found Big Maceo's recording of "Poor Kelly Blues", from 1941, on youtube and was surprised to discover that R. L. Burnside's "See What My Buddy Done" was a cover of it.  For Big Maceo's recording, he was joined by Tampa Red, and hearing those two musicians work together, I find myself thinking that they are the equal of any piano/guitar blues duet that ever recorded.  The song has a striking set of lyrics and a pretty unusual phrasing scheme.  For most verses, the flow is: A for the first four bars, the first half of A for the second four bars and the second half of A for the final four bars.  It's an indication of the seriousness with which the duo took that song and the story it tells that they chose not to interrupt the flow of the song with a solo.  Here is "Poor Kelly Blues":



INTRO

I went up on the mountain, to see what poor Kelly done, he killed his woman, and didn't even 'tempt to run
Up on the mountain, just to see what poor Kelly done
Well, he killed his woman, and he didn't even 'tempt to run

When I found poor Kelly, he was standing in the door, with a .32-20, and a .44
When I found poor Kelly, he was standing in the door
With a .32-20 and a hard-hitting .44

I asked him, was he sorry, he said, "No, buddy, no, just can't stand the way she was treatin' me anymore.
Just couldn't stand the way she was doin' me, anymore.
She's a dirty mistreater.  She won't jive me no more."

He said, "I know I love her, better than I did myself.  She misused me for somebody else.
She know I loved her better than I did myself.
Still, she tried to misuse me for somebody else."

"I know they gonna get me,", he said, "but I know I don't care.  They may even send me to the electric chair.
I know they gonna get me, but, baby, I don't care.
There's one consolation, they won't leave my woman here."

All best,
Johnm     

Offline Lignite

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2015, 10:37:36 AM »
I now realize that Messin' Up recorded  by Lil Son Jackson for Imperial in 1955 is also a cover of this great blues song.

« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 10:39:29 AM by Lignite »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2015, 10:58:19 AM »
Good find, Lightnin'!  I had actually transcribed the lyrics to "Messin' Up" a couple of years ago when I was on a Lil Son Jackson transcribing binge, but had completely forgotten about the song since then.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were some more covers of "Poor Kelly Blues" out there that we haven't discovered yet.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2016, 11:03:00 AM »
Hi all,
For "Kid Man Blues", Big Maceo was joined by Tampa Red on guitar and Melvin Draper on drums.  The song has an irresistible trucking rhythm with Tamp Red, for the most part, playing a moving bass line, eight-to-the-bar.  the way the song goes to a V7 chord in the second bar makes it sound like it is going to be an 8-bar blues, but Big Maceo foxes us and goes for the 12-bar form.  I sure love Big Maceo's singing.  Here is the song:



I had a woman, I had a woman, had a mouthful of shiny gold
I had a woman, had a mouthful of shiny gold
This woman made trouble everywhere she go

She had a man, on her man, and a kid man on her kid
She had a man on her man, and a kid man on her kid
She had some many men, until she couldn't keep it hid

I left that woman, one mornin', just about, break of day
I left that woman one mornin', just about the break of day
You know, I packed my suitcase, made my get-away (Spoken: Yeah, man!)

PIANO SOLO

Here I am, in Chicago, and I'm doin' very well
Here I am in Chicago, and I'm doin' very well
I don't find the woman I love, I just live alone, by myself

Baby, you're gonna weep, and moan, fall down on your knees
You're gonna weep and moan, fall down on your knees
You gonna tell the whole world, how you mistreated me

All best,
Johnm
 


Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2016, 09:30:45 PM »
Hi all,
Wow, I just found a sensational number by Big Maceo from 1942, "Anytime For You", for which he was joined by Tampa Red and a drummer.  Each verse begins with a lyric break, and when Maceo takes a solo (something he didn't do all that often), it is hilariously exciting, one of the rockingest things you're ever likely to hear.  When someone plays the piano like that, it can make a guitar seem like a little toy.  Here is the cut:



INTRO

I trusted in you, right from the start, you messed around until you broke my heart
REFRAIN: Any time for you, and all the time for me
Some day you're gonna be sorry, the way you treated me

You leave me in the morning, come home late at night, but have the nerve to tell me that you treated me right
REFRAIN: Any time for you, and all the time for me
Babe, you're gonna be sorry, the way you treated me

You is a liar and a cheater, too.  The things you do to me is coming home to you
REFRAIN: Any time for you, and all the time for me
You're gonna be sorry, the way you treated me (Spoken: Pick 'em, boy, pick 'em!)

SOLO

Pack up your clothes and get out of my flat, and let my doorknob hit you in your back
REFRAIN: Any time for you, and all the time for me
You're gonna be sorry, the way you treated me

All best,
Johnm


« Last Edit: April 21, 2018, 09:22:39 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2016, 09:52:00 AM »
Hi all,
For his "Big Road Blues", recorded in 1945, Big Maceo was joined by Tampa Red on guitar.  Their duo is surely one of the finest piano-guitar pairings ever recorded in the blues.  Tampa Red, especially in his fills, sounds really modern here, with some beautiful distortion on his electric guitar.  Here is the song:



INTRO

Babe, I ain't going down, that big road all by myself
Baby, I ain't going down, that big road all by myself
If I can't take you, baby, I'll just have to take somebody else

I love you, baby, and I want you by my side
I love you, baby, and I want you by my side
If I don't love you, baby, well, I declare I hope to die

Whoo-ee, baby, please come and go with me
Whoo-ee, baby, please come and go with me
If you go with me, baby, I'll try and be as kind as I can be (Spoken: Lay it on me, boy!)

GUITAR SOLO (Spoken during solo:  I hear you, Tampa, I hear you, man.)

Hey, baby, it's a long old lonesome road
Hey, baby, it's a long old lonesome road
If you can't go with me, baby, somebody else will have to go

All best,
Johnm



Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2016, 03:39:53 PM »
Hi all,
"It's All Up To You", from 1941, has Big Maceo paired with Tampa Red, and it must be one of their earliest collaborations on record.  They already had things worked out perfectly, and Big Maceo's vocal speaks to the grown-ups in the audience--it just deals with real stuff.  Here is the track:



INTRO

I'm so disgusted, and broken-hearted, too
I'm so disgusted, and broken-hearted, too
Though I'm disappointed in your love, baby, that's all right for you

There's no need of you lyin', babe, you know I've been good to you
There's no need of you lyin', babe, you know I've been good to you
But I'm leavin' you now, babe, go do what you want to do

You know I had a good woman, and she was so kind and true
Yes, Lord, she was so kind and true
I even let her down, all on the account of you (Spoken: Yes, pick 'em for me, boy!)

SOLO (Spoken: Yes, get off of my back, blues!  I'm gonna see my little woman now.)

But she's willing to forgive me, so I leave it all up to you
Yea-a-a-ah, to forgive, and I leave it all up to you
She told me when I was leavin', that your love wasn' really true

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 05:55:47 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2017, 10:41:59 PM »
Hi all,
Big Maceo and Tampa Red recorded a rocking novelty number, "Can't You Read?", in 1941.  Maceo has so much fun with the vocal, messing around with his voice.  When you can groove like this, you don't have to do much more, instrumentally.  Here is the song:



PIANO INTRO

'Way back in the nineteen hundred and ten,
The monkey and the baboon, they came walkin' in
The monkey told the baboon, "Let's shoot a game of pool." 
The monkey could shoot, but the baboon wasn't no fool
Next thing came along was a little mule, he say,
"You know, I'm so mad, I even can't wear no shoe."
Next thing came along, there was Mr. Cat,
"We ain't gon' have no such a stuff goin' on here like that."
Next thing came, was a little mouse,
"Let's all get drunk and break up the doggone house!"
REFRAIN: Can't you read?  Now, can't you read?
If you keep on readin', I'm bound to put you out

Well, the monkey and the elephant, they went out for a little drive. 
The elephant hit the monkey right square in his eye.
The monkey looked up with a tear and a sigh,
Said, "Look-a-here, big boy, you oughta get someone your size.
One of these days, I'm gonna climb me a tree. 
Remember, big boy, you got to march right under me.
When you march under me, you better march careful and fast. 
I'll get me a limb and break it 'cross your . . . ."
REFRAIN: Now can't you read?  Now, can't you read?
If you keep on readin', I'm bound to put you out

If anybody just happen to ast you where the wedding gonna be
Tell 'em, right down there on Hasting Street
Go down there just about the end of the week
You can get 'most anything that you care to eat
If you don't like s'rimp, just name your dish
The will even serve you some of that old 'filte fish
REFRAIN: Now can't you read?  Now, can't you read?
If you keep on readin', mama, I'm bound to put you out

GUITAR/PIANO SOLO (Spoken before solo:  Yeah, play it Mr. Maceo!)

Well, fifteen cents, you know, that's their regular price
If you got two bits, they will even serve you twice
REFRAIN: Can't you read?  Now, can't you read?
If you keep on readin', I'm bound to put you out

Edited 12/19/18 to pick up correction from Johnm

All best,
Johnm


« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 11:42:13 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2018, 09:56:01 AM »
Hi all,
Big Maceo was joined by Tampa Red and a drummer for "Winter Time Blues", from 1945.  Red is playing in standard tuning here, on an electric guitar, and starts out the first verse with a Robert Johnsonesque move, taking a I7 chord in the treble down one-half step to get a I dim7 chord.  Big Maceo always sang so great, and what a terrific set of lyrics this is.  Here is "Winter Time Blues":



INTRO

Hello, baby, how you feel today?  I want to talk with you, baby, before I go away
Have you got time, baby, to have a little talk with me?
Winter time is coming, and I'm worried as a man can be

My overcoat's in pawn, baby, and I haven't got a dime.  Winter time is coming, and it's worryin' my mind
Ain't it a shame, baby, the way you treatin' me?
I'm blue and disgusted, worried as a man can be

Winter time is coming, getting colder every day.  Well, I done got tired of being treated this-a-way
So tell me, baby, tell me, what have you got to say?
You better say it now, baby, and then I will be on my way

GUITAR/PIANO SOLO (Spoken: Play your racket, boy, lay a racket.  Yes, I know!)

So long, baby, if that's what you got to say, but someday you'll need me, and I'll be far away
Then you'll be worried, worried as a gal can be
Then you'll want to tell the whole world, just what you did to me

All best,
Johnm



Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2018, 11:00:28 AM »
Hi all,
A number of tracks from Big Maceo's last recording session, made in Detroit in 1950, are included on the JSP set, "Detroit Blues".  Big Maceo was joined on the session by John Brim on electric guitar, Alonso Tucker on drums, and on some tracks, Grace Brim on harmonica.  Big Maceo's vocals sound a little wan here--he does not sound well, and evidently had had a series of strokes prior to the session, but his singing is still wonderfully musical, and soulful.  He's not coming from a place of physical power, as on his early recordings, but rather what appears to be a conscious feeling of diminishment that is very affecting.  Here are the lyrics to his "Worried Life Blues No.2" from that session, and here is the track:



INTRO

Just tell me, baby, just tell me, baby, what can I do to change your mind?
Hey, hey, baby, can I change your mind?
I got the freight train blues, and the tracks is out of line

You said you love me, and I believed in you.  You're tryin' to quit me, what more can I do?
Hey, hey, baby, what more can I do?
Some old day you're gonna want me, and I won't care a thing about you

You got a man in the East, a man in the West, I'm just sittin' here wondering who you love the best
Hey, hey, baby, what can I do to change your mind?
I got the blues for you, baby, you keep me worried all the time

GUITAR SOLO (Spoken: Hit 'em, boys, pick 'em real fast!  Ee-yow! Umm-hmm.)

I been lovin' you, baby, I been lovin' you, baby.  Just tell me, what more can I do?
Hey, hey, what more can I do?
Good bye, good bye, baby, I am leaving you

All best,
Johnm

 

Offline alyoung

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2018, 02:56:04 AM »
Also on the Worried Life Blues #2 session was James Watkins, who -- according to the Blues Discography 1943-70 (and other sources) -- played the right-hand piano part, as Maceo's strokes had affected his ability to play the piano.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2018, 06:35:52 AM »
Hi Al,
The presence of Watkins was questioned on the disc that I have because it was considered that the treble playing of the piano sounded sufficiently shaky that Big Maceo may have been playing it after all.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 09:43:02 AM by Johnm »

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2018, 10:38:42 AM »
On the label of the original 78 rpm record on Fortune, both Maceo and James Watkins are listed on piano. There are alternate takes from this session on which Watkins is not listed (and on which one does not hear the treble keys being played). Watkins also played on a few of John Lee Hooker's very earliest combo recordings from the same time.
Jeff

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Maceo Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2019, 11:58:39 AM »
Hi all,
Another song from the same session as "Worried Life Blues, No. 2" is "Big City Blues", with Big Maceo, John Brim on guitar, and possibly James Watkins playing the piano part's right hand.  Maceo sings wonderfully as usual, despite sounding unwell.  Here is "Big City Blues" (along with an inexplicable picture of John Hurt):



INTRO

When I was in your city, nothing never worrying me
When I was in your city, nothing never worrying me
Because I had plenty money, and everything a poor man need

When you got money, you can have every woman in town
When you got money, you can have every woman in town
If you don't have no money, no woman don't want you around

SOLO (Spoken:  Hey!)

Since I left your city, now you have throwed me down
Since I left your city, now you have throwed me down
Look like you would write me, or send me a telegram

All best,
Johnm




 


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