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Author Topic: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"  (Read 1198 times)

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Offline joebanjo

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SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« on: September 04, 2015, 02:01:08 PM »
Hello folks,

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" is credited to Jimmy Cox, but I have be unable as yet to locate any sheet music for the song from the (seemingly) generally accepted publication date of 1923. I would be very interested to learn if any of you have come across original sheet music, or other publications that show lyrical antecedents prior to the versions posted below.

The only precursor for the Cox publication I've found is this wonderful 1906 performance by Bert Williams:



?All In, Out and Down?
As recorded by Bert Williams
New York City, September 26, 1906

I had a friend I thought was true, but I done found out
that friends won?t never do.
It seems to me so awful strange
to get refused about a little change.

This is all I said to him,
?Lend me 10 cents, wontcha Jim??
It made me just as blue as could be
to have my very best friend say to me,

   "Sorry I ain?t got it you could get if i had it.
   But I?m all in - out and down.
   I could send you where they?d lend you and gladly they?d d befriend you
   But they?re all in, too?out and down.
   When I had money I was crazy to lend
   But if i ever get my hands on a few rocks again
   I?m gonna hang on to ?em?they?re your only friend?
   When you?re all in out and down."

I don?t want no friends no mo?
Was friends that brought me down this low.
None of them can now be found
Just because i?m all in out and down
I ain?t got a single cent?if i ain?t broke them i?m badly bent.
Liberty they say is always free
But if I?da asked for that I guess they?d say to me:

   Sorry I ain?t got it you could get if i had it.
   But I?m all in - out and down.
   I could send you where they?d lend you and gladly they?d d befriend you
   But they?re all in, too?out and down.
   When I had money I was crazy to lend
   But if i ever get my hands on a few rocks again
   I?m gonna hang on to ?em?they?re your only friend?
   When you?re all in out and down.

The moral here is plain to you, I know.
If you ain?t got you can?t get?now, that am true.
When you?re in luck, your friends are near.
When you?re down and out, why then they don?t be there!
Don?t figure on just what you might get?
You?re only sure of what?s in your mitt.
Don?t be so keen to always go and lend,
You?re liable for to lose?both coin and friend.

   Sorry I ain?t got it you could get if i had it.
   But I?m all in - out and down.
   I could send you where they?d lend you and gladly they?d d befriend you
   But they?re all in, too?out and down.
   When I had money I was crazy to lend
   But if i ever get my hands on a few rocks again
   I?m gonna hang on to ?em?they?re your only friend?
   When you?re all in out and down.


Arthur Collins recorded the song in 1907 with the same lyrics, and a very similar arrangement:
http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/8208/

The LOC credits the composition to Chris Smith.


The clearest connection between the two songs--beyond their general perspective and sentiment--is the phrase "if I ever get my hands on a few rocks again..." My suspicion is that the basic message of the song, which is succinctly stated in Jimmy Cox's title, is an concept or idea that was already floating around in oral tradition well before Bert Williams incorporated it into his beautiful set piece for the stage. Unfortunately nobody was going around recording toasts until the mid-sixties, and I have included two transcriptions of such toasts at the bottom of this post. But as members of this forum are well aware, blues or blues-tinged songs like the one in question were often drawn from the oral tradition that preceded blues music. Thus, I would posit that Jimmy Cox was already hearing some version of this piece of folk wisdom before he formalized it and published it in 1923. Interestingly, nobody bothered to record his song until 1927, when Bobby Leecan sang it accompanied by his guitar:



"Nobody Needs You When You're Down and Out"

As recorded by Bobby Leecan
circa June, 1927 in New York City

Now I went downtown on broadway
Looked up at a sign that said ?no free meals today.?
Walked right in, I took a seat,
Waiter looked at me and said ?Hey brother, pay up before you eat.?
I was raggedy, thirsty too
Lice on my body was walking from two by two
In my pocket I didn't have a cent
Right straight down the street to where I went.

Now you can see nobody needs you
Oh, when you're down and out.
In your pocket you ain't - ain't got a dime,
Look over town, not a friend you can find.
As soon as your money grows treetop tall
Bill, Jack and Harry will all give you a call.
Now listen now brother, this ain't no doubt:
Nobody wants you when you're down and out,
I mean on your last go around.

Now I was feeling lonesome, kinda blue.
I put couldn?t place ?em numbers like most colored people do.
I put my money down on old twenty-two.
I didn't play no bleeder, I thought that would do.
As soon as I thought that I had won,
The man brought over eleven said, ?two twenty one?
A friend of mine walked up to me the very next day
He said he lost on that number the very same way

Now you can see nobody needs you,
Oh when you're down and out.
In your pocket you ain't - ain't got a dime,
You look all over town not a friend can be found.
As soon as your money grows treetop tall
Bill, Jack and Harry will all give you a call
Now listen now brother this ain't no doubt
Nobody wants you when you're down and out,
I mean on your last go around.


Roughly a year and a half later, Pinetop Smith went into the studio and recorded the song solo, accompanying himself on the piano and speaking the lyrics, talkin' blues-style. It's also interesting to note that both Pinetop and Leecan tie the song into the culture of gambling--specifically, the crap game.



?Nobody Knows You When You?re Down and Out?
Pinetop Smith
Chicago, January 15, 1929

That?s alright?that ain?t the first time I got broke in the crap game.
Ask ?ol Dry Bread over there to lend me a quarter.
He?s cryin, He just got broke.
Ask ?0l [Splivens] there to lend me a dime for car fare,
Talkin? bout ?I ain?t had two good feet that?d carry me any old where.?

Ahh, well, nobody knows you when you?re down and out.

Now when I was lucky and on the ground,
I had lots of friends to hang around.
But when my back was turned to the wall
It didn?t seem like I had no friends at all.

And I believin? to my soul at that time I was on my last go round.
It was an unjust jury that set me down.
Course I would admit sometimes I do go wrong.
But if was left to my friends?seems like jail would be my home.
All the boys they know I?m a lucky ?Mo,
Would spend my money too?that ain?t no joke.
Take all my friends out for a good time,
Buy them whiskey, champagne and wine.
But soon as I began to fall so low,
I can?t hardly find a friend no place I go.
But if I ever get my hands on a dollar again
I?m gonna hold onto it until the eagle grin.
Because nobody sure don?t know you
Friendy, when you?re down and out.
In your pocket?not one penny.
And all your friends?you have not any.

But soon as you get on your feet
A lotsa friends you sure can meet.
But it?s mighty strange without a doubt,
There?s nobody knows you when you?re down and out.

Now nobody sure don?t know you when you?re down and out.
In your pocket?not one penny.
And all your friends?you have not any.
But soon as you get on your feet
A gang ?o [gay cattles] you sure can meet.
But it?s mighty strange without a doubt,
Nobody knows you when you?re down and out.

Mean, when you?re down and out.


A few months later, the song was taken up and laid down definitively by the mighty Bessie Smith:



?Nobody Knows You When You?re Down and Out?
As sung by Bessie Smith
New York, May 15, 1929

Once I lived a life of a millionaire,
Spendin' my money I didn't care.
I carried my friends out for a good time,
Buyin? bootleg liquor, champagne and wine.

When I began to fall so low,
I didn't have a friend and no place to go.
But if I ever get my hands on a dollar again,
I'm gonna hold on to it ?till them eagles grin.

   Nobody knows you, when you down and out.
   In my pocket not one penny,
   And my friends?I haven't any.
   But if I ever get on my feet again,
   Then I'll meet my long-lost friends.
   It's mighty strange, without a doubt,
   Nobody knows you when you down and out,
   I mean when you down and out.

Instrumental

   Ummmmmmmm, when you down and out
   Ummmmmmm, not one penny
   And my friends I haven't any
   Ummmmmmm, and I fell so low
   Nobody wants me 'round their door
   Ummmmmmm, without a doubt
   No man can use you when you down and out
   I mean when you down and out.


As Wikipedia observes in their post on this subject, Bessie's version ended up being entirely prophetic, as the stock market crashed right around the time the song was released that very same year.

One of my favorite later versions was recorded by Scrapper Blackwell:



The only version I've ever heard done on the ukelele was recorded by the immortal Papa Lemon:



I am curious to hear any other versions that folks can dredge up, and would like to leave you with two toast versions of the song included in the wonderful book "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me" by the noble Bruce Jackson, which you can preview here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=E7mAGgqb9SsC

Jackson presents two versions of the toast with the following note: ?This toast is partially parallel to Jimmy Cox?s Depression song, ?Down and Out,? but there is no way to tell which was in circulation first."

A. ?Once I lived the life of a Millionaire,? John, Ramsey, 17 November 1965

Once I lived the life of a millionaire,
I spent my money and I didn?t seem to care.
I?d take my friends out for a good time,
Bought ?em whiskey, beer, and wine.
Finally I got broke and got in soak,
I asked one for a dime, he wanted to cut my throat.
Boys, you must learn what it?s all about,
?cause nobody knows you when you?re down and out.
But if I ever get my hand on a dollar again,
I?m holdin? it till the eagle turn to a settin? hen,
and ?fore a joker can get a dime,
he got to be born bald-headed, crippled, and blind.
He got to have both his legs cut off above his knees,
suffering with the tuberculosis and the heart disease,
and from his blind eyes he got to be sheddin? briny tears
and got to be wearin? his crutches up under his ears,
even got to have that old German flu,
and every rib in his body cryin? ?What shall I do??
He got to show me a letter written in red
that his grandma is sick and his grandpa dead,
and I got to see the hearse standin? before the door
with the motor runnin? just rarin? to go.
But he got to come over with another letter at the very same time
that his mama is sick and his papa is dyin?.
Now if he come to me with that kind a line,
maybe I?ll make up my mind to loan him a dime.


B. ?Down and Out? Homer, Jefferson City, 24 April 1962

Boys, I used to live the life of a millionaire,
spendin? my money without a care,
and takin? my friends out for a good time,
buyin? good whiskey and the best of wine.
Now that I has fell so low
I has no friends and no place to go.
But I?ve made up in my mind that I was gonna take a dollar to be my friend
and I?m gonna hold that motherfucker until the eagle grin.
Say, now, Jack, that I?m back on my feet
many of my old friends I can meet.
Now one day while walkin? down the street
I met a pal a mine called Piccolo Pete.
He said, ?How are ya there, pal a mine??
Said, ?How?s chances a me borrowin? a dime??
I said, ?Lookit here, Jack, I?m not flyin? no more kites
and I?m not sayin? this to bring on no fights,
but you gotta be born blind, crippled, and cannot see,
and both your legs cut off up above the knee,
you gotta have the T.B. and the German flu,
you gotta have crabs crawlin? up and down your back singin? ?Yankee Doodle Do,?
you gotta walk a barb-wire fence twenty miles or more,
just to wrassle with a she-lion and dare the he-lion to roar,
you got to look up a cow?s asshole and tell me the price a butter,
you got to bring me the Wriggly Building in a paper sack,
and kiss a camel in the ass and draw the hump out his back.
You got to show me the palace where Eve and Adam hid,
and walk the water like the good lord did,
and when elephants start roostin? in trees
and poor people stop eatin? black eyed peas,
you bring me the news that your grandma?s dyin?
and you mammy?s pussy is runnin? your pappy blind,
and your sister got the pox all around her belly,
and your whole damn family?s got a stroke from cryin?,
you come go with me and I might introduce you to a friend of mine
and maybe he?ll loan you a thin, thin dime,
because Jack, I?ve made up my mind that I was gonna take a dollar to be my friend,
and I?m gonna hold that motherfucker just as tight as I can,
because, Jack, that?s the only friend.


What versions am I forgetting--and do you know of any other instances of the song's lyrics floating around prior to 1923?

Looking forward to hearing your responses!

Joe

Offline Slack

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2015, 02:17:47 PM »
Another great selection and a great job covering --- I still need to go back and listen thoroughly, as there always seem to be versions I was unaware of.

Nice job Joe - SOTM soars!

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2015, 02:21:40 PM »
Great choice Joe. I hadn't realised the song's history.

Offline King Neptune

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 02:27:21 PM »
Great post, joebanjo. Thank you!

Offline ScottN

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 03:33:22 PM »
Hi Joe,

Thanks for the great post.

My personal favorite is Scrapper Blackwell's version from the Bluesville album Mr. Scrapper's Blues. Cllapton's covers on Layla and Unplugged are also enjoyable as is Sam Cooke's version. Here are lyrics for the Scrapper version:

Intro

Once I lived the life of a millionaire
Spending my money now did not care
Carryin my friends out for a good time
Buyin bootleg liquor, champagne and wine

Lord but I got busted and I fell so low
Didn't have no money and nowhere to go
This is the truth Lord without a doubt
Nobody wants you when you're down
I mean nobody wants you when you're down

Lord the other day I asked the man for my rent
He told me boy the money he had spent
But I fought my best to try one or two
I see everything that I could do

Lord nobody let me have one lousy dime
I'm out there worryin now all the time
But I'm gonna tell you this the truth Lord without a doubt
Nobody wants you when you're down
Nobody wants you when you're down

Solo

Lord if I could get my hands on a dollar again
I would hold it 'til that eagle grins
I would try just for one little [house?]
Nobody knows me when I'm down and out

Lord I'll try for another day
To make my troubles in my own way
But I'm gon tell you the truth Lord without a doubt
Nobody knows me when you're down
I mean nobody knows me when your down

Solo



The Document Scrapper Blackwell 1959-1960 has a version with a couple of alternate verses including:

Don't you know that rent man was by the other day
And he told me my rent was due and I'd have to pay
Well I looked in my pocket and I didn't have one dime
[Borrow] from my friends they don't have time

So I tried to [do] best I can
Thinkin some day I'm gonna meet me a friend
Boy this is the truth without a doubt
Nobody wants you when you're down and out
I mean when you're down and out


Thanks,
            Scott
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 05:23:24 PM by ScottN »

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 08:58:09 PM »
For the singing and all, it's hard to beat Bessie Smith's version, but for lyrics, I have to to with Scrapper....

Love the song.  One of those that says so much in so few words.
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline harry

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2015, 10:30:43 AM »
Thanks Joebanjo, Really dig the Pine top Smith version. Found out not long ago that he died only 24 years old.

Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2015, 12:35:24 PM »
Thanks for a great topic, Joe!

I wasn't aware of the early Bert Williams or Arthur Collins takes on the subject. Also Papa Lemon was news to me! I love the tune, and appreciate your post very much.

Tommie Bradley also did a nice version in 1931. Unfortunately it's not on YouTube.

One of my favourite versions is by the pianist Cecil Gant, from the late 40's.



Creole George Guesnon also did two takes of the tune, retitled "Goodbye Good Luck To You", in 1936 and 1947.





A later jazzy version by Jimmy Witherspoon and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster is also nice.



Cheers

Pan

Edited to add: here's an earlier thread on the song, where forum members Bunker Hill and MTJ3 share some valuable information on the early versions: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=1968.0



« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 12:54:16 PM by Slack »

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2015, 04:15:32 AM »
One I did earlier...

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2015, 10:45:33 AM »
Thanks to Joe, for the great topic and initial post, and to all who have contributed other versions.  Thanks for posting your version, Prof, I'm always especially interested to hear Weenie versions of the Songs of the Moment.  You sound great!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2015, 03:35:51 PM »
Very nice, professor, and I love the Tonk American as well!  8)

I too do the song, and I'm trying to recreate a descending scalar bass line in the first 4 bars, I think I'm hearing on Cecil Gants' version.

https://www.reverbnation.com/pansalmenhaara/song/7405266-nobody-knows-you-when-youre-down

Cheers

Pan

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2015, 02:40:41 AM »
Excellent as always, Pan!

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2015, 09:30:13 AM »
Wow, that's a great arrangement, Pan, very original and with a real "uptown" sound.  Well done, and nice singing, too!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2015, 11:34:51 AM »
Thanks, guys!

Cheers

Pan

Offline Slack

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2015, 02:21:55 PM »
Ditto there Pan, a terrific version.. and "uptown" is a good description!

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2015, 09:34:20 AM »
Despite it being quite jazzy, adding this interesting version because the artist is such a surprise (to me anyway).
Dave

Offline frankie

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2015, 12:06:30 PM »
Great topic, Joe, and fantastic contributions from Prof and Pan!

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2015, 09:57:59 AM »
This song seems to bring out some great things in people. The Lecan and Cooksey version is terrific, and one that I never heard before. The Bert Williams is a real find! 1906! Holy Bleep! What an interesting scanning and set of lyrics. And Professor and Pan ..both terrific versions. Loved your walking bass lines Pan. I know the Scrapper version well having owned that LP since the mid sixties, and its great. But when Bessie Smith does a song..she just OWNS it! I must have heard her do this hundreds of times back in the days when she'd be on my turntable 24/7 for months on end. She doesn't just make you FEEL it she makes you EXPERIENCE it. What strange power she had! Of all women singers Minnie, Geechie, Billie, Rosetta, Aretha..nobody gets into me like Bessie..with the possible exception of the obscure and under recorded Gospel singer Betty Perkins..and even then, I don't know.
Incidentally This was one of the very first songs I ever learned back in the middle of the last century..hoo boy...
Richard Pryor could really sing! Who knew? Very interesting phrasing. Maybe he was going for the full Sammy Davis image at that point? Its hard to remember how mainstream he was in the beginning, in light of the brilliant social critic he evolved into later. Thanks for all these great posts. This song is very deservedly deemed a "Classic".
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2018, 09:23:09 AM »
Hi all,
I just found this Josh White version of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" from 1945:



All best,
Johnm

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM: "Nobody Knows You"
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2018, 08:07:37 AM »
The Library of Congress National Jukebox is no longer accessible from here in Britain, but the Arthur Collins recording can be heard on YouTube here



The title All In Out And Down was used for this 1937 recording by Uncle Dave Macon


 
This obviously a different song, and doesn't even use the wording of the title, with its refrain

Quote
It's hard time
Pity poor boy
It's hard time
Pity poor boy
When you down and out

And the song is very much about the Great Depression ? not the fickleness of fair-weather friends.

Someone who did use the wording all out and down (but not all in out and down) was Leadbelly.



He seems to have started with some levee camp holler verses, regularised the tune, added a guitar (one of his recordings of the song starts unaccompanied) and some floating blues verses. So the song isn't about false friends or the Depression ? just his terrible job and trouble with his woman.

The Bobby Leecan link YouTube link joebanjo's posting doesn't work here, but here but this one does:




The song has been a turned into a  toast (rhymed recitation). I attach a lo-fi copy from the CD accompanying this book



To hear it, click the link below. I can post a transcription if anybody is interested.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 02:59:04 AM by DavidCrosbie »

 


anything