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[Bull City] Red pulled his hat down over his eyes and said to her, "Cora Mae [Fuller's wife], I didn't get but one letter from you when I was in Virginia." To which [Blind Boy] Fuller replied, "Well, that was one too many." - Bull City Red, from an article about Richard Trice by David Menconi in the Raleigh [NC] News and Observer, 24Jun98

Author Topic: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics  (Read 650 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« on: March 23, 2017, 02:38:32 PM »
Hi all,
It's hard to say how we made it this far without a Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics thread here, but I guess the time has come for it.  Little Brother Montgomery recorded his "No Special Rider Blues" in 1930, accompanying himself on the piano.  The song bears no musical resemblance to Skip James' "Special Rider Blues".  Little Brother's playing on the song is remarkable for his grooving and inexhaustible supply of ideas.  He has been swinging his eighth notes throughout his rendition, but when he gets to his late solo, he switches and starts playing straight eighth notes, and the effect is riveting--so funky.  Lyrically, he employs a stammering archetype over the first four bars of each verse, and gives up the stammering for the remainder of each verse.  I'd very much appreciate help with any of the bent bracketed passages.  Here is his rendition:



INTRO

Now, rider, rider, rider, mama, where you been so long?
Now, rider, rider, brown, Lord, where you been so long?
I ain't had no lovin', mama, since you been gone

And I hate, hate to hear, hear the little Katy, when she blows
Lord, I hate to hear the little Katy when she blows
Puts me on a wander, mama, makes me want to go

I can't see, see no train, can't hear no whistle blow
Lord, I can't see no train, neither hear no whistle blow
Now it keeps me wandering, from the wander to the door

Now, mama, I ain't got no plumb good rider now
Lord, I ain't got no plumb good rider now
Now, it seem like my rider, tryin' to quit me anyhow

Now, the big bell, the bell is ringin', and the little bell sadly tones
Lord, the big bell's ringin', the little bell, she sadly tones
Mama, and I'm lonely, lonely, lone, a long, long way from home

Goin' to get up, get up in the mornin', mama, and I ain't gon' say a word
Gonna get up in the mornin', Lord, I ain't gon' say a word
Gonna eat my breakfast in sweet Johannesburg

SOLO

Lord, I know you, gonna miss me when I'm gone
Lord, I know you, gonna miss me when I'm gone
Gonna miss your baby, from rollin' in your arms

Edited 3/23 to pick up corrections from banjochris

All best,
Johnm


« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 05:04:42 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2017, 04:45:16 PM »
I'm a huge fan of Little Brother's, John, such a great musician. I have a couple of his tunes transcribed already, "Good Grinding" and "Must Get Mine In Front," which I'll post when I get home today.

That one passage sounds phonetically to me like "from the wander to the door" and it makes me think he meant to sing "going to wander to the door." Unfortunately he doesn't sing that verse on the later recording that's on YouTube.

Also, I'm pretty certain the little bell "sadly" tones. And I wonder if the "sweet Johannesburg" could be "sweet ol' Hattiesburg."
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2017, 05:00:21 PM »
Thanks for the help, Chris.  I also wondered about Hattiesburg vs. Johannesburg--hard to imagine Little Brother citing a city in South Africa (though there may be a Johannesburg in the U.S., too).  Re the little bell and big bells' sounds, I have Brownie McGhee singing a song in which the "little bell fairy tones".  I'll re-listen. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2017, 05:04:34 PM »
I think it's just his nasal voice that makes it sound somewhat like "fairly," especially in the first line -- for what it's worth, on the more modern recording, he sings "sadly" both times.

I don't think there's a Johannesburg, MS, although there is one in California about 2 hours from me that I've driven through but have no memory of doing so!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 05:07:30 PM »
After re-listening, I think you're right about both "from the wander to the door" and "the little bell sadly tones", and have made those changes, Chris.  Thanks!  Oddly, I think he does sing "Johannesburg", the "j" sound at the front end is pretty clear, I think.  Maybe Little Brother was fascinated by geography, like Robert Johnson or Willie Blackwell.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 05:12:09 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2017, 06:02:46 PM »
I think it's cool he sings Johannesburg -- very unexpected. I listened to all the modern recordings of "No Special Rider" that I have, by the way, which is about seven, and he never sings either the wander to the door or the Johannesburg verse! Oh, well.




Here's the lyrics to "Good Grinding," which has Little Brother backing up Irene Scruggs for Paramount back in 1930. We did this with Sausage Grinder for a long time in kind of a Blind Boy Fuller/Josh White style.


I was standing in the door when my grandma cried,
?If good grinding kills grandma, let old grandma die.?
I was standing in the door when I heard my grandma cry,
?If good grinding kills grandma, let old grandma die.?

Well, I?ve got a meat grinder, it belongs to me,
It's got good movements, I use it constantly.
I?ve got a meat grinder, it belongs to me,
It's got good movements, I use it constantly.

You don't like good grindin', you ain't gotta bit of sense,
It's been going on ever since the world commenced,
If you don't like good grindin', ain't gotta bit of sense,
?Cause it's been going on, ever since the world commenced.

Well, it's good for what ails you, sure ain't no lie,
I want one last grindin' just before I die.
It's good for what ails you, sure ain't no lie,
I want one last good grindin' just before I die.

When I found my grinder, he was livin' in the sticks,
Didn't know nothin?, I taught him lots of tricks,
When I first saw my grinder, livin' down in the sticks,
Well he didn't know nothin?, I taught him lots of tricks.

Now he's learned how to grind me, one steady roll,
The way he does it satisfies my soul
Well he learned how to grind me, with one steady roll,
And the way he does it satisfies my very soul.

Now grind me, Mr. Grinder, till I lose my mind,
Don't mind goin' crazy over this steady grind.
Grind me, Mr. Grinder, till I lose my mind,
I don't mind goin' crazy, over this steady grind.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 06:26:56 PM by banjochris »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 06:06:52 PM »


And another accompaniment to Irene Scruggs, "Must Get Mine in Front." Little Brother recorded this one several times by himself in later years.

Must Get Mine in Front

Susie runs a bakery shop down the street,
Sells jelly cakes and always looks neat,
Sam hung around said, mama, give me a break,
I want you to credit me for some of that cake.
I'm going up the river, got a job loadin' sacks,
Pay you for that cake, when I get back.

She looked at him and said, don't be no ham,
What kind of fool do you think I am?

Some folks may trust you to come back and pay,
I must get mine in front.
I'll trust you tomorrow if you pay me today,
I must get mine in front.

Now you goin' up the river and you carry your sack,
This jelly roll will be here, when you get back.

I trusted the man, who lived next door,
Ever' since then he don't speak to me no more.

I trusted a man who said he'd be back again,
The very next day he took a trip to Spain.

I trusted your father, he ain't no good,
He owes every woman in the neighborhood.

Some folks may trust you to come back and pay,
I must get mine in front, hear me talkin?,
I must get mine in front.

(solo)

Now your uncle owes me, he sure is bad pay,
He must think I got this stuff to give away.

So I ain't puttin' out nothin' till you pay off,
I must get mine in front, I ain't jokin',
I must get mine in front.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 06:27:30 PM by banjochris »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 06:26:05 PM »


Going to add one more since I was just listening to it. This has the same accompaniment as "No Special Rider":

Frisco Hi-Ball Blues

Now the Frisco, Frisco highballed and the Santa Fe stood still and groaned,
Now the Frisco highballed, Santa Fe stood still and groaned,
I don?t like this old place, mama it ain?t gon? be here long.

Old Bill, Old Bill?s on the mountain, and he?s cravin? on the Santa Fe,
Old Bill?s on the mountain, cravin? on the Santa Fe,
And I?m goin? to the river, and catch the longest train I see.

Now the woman, woman I love, mama she?s so far away,
Now the woman I love, mama she?s so far away,
Now the one I hate, I see her every day.

(solo 2x)

She?s got hands, hands full of diamonds, and a mouth chock full of gold,
She?s got hands full of diamonds, and a mouth chock full of gold,
And every time she smile, mama it makes my blood run cold.

Lord, I wonder, do she ever call my name?
Lord, I wonder, do she ever call my name?
And if you like me, pretty papa, I swear you would say the same.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 06:29:22 PM by banjochris »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2017, 09:39:47 PM »
Wow, thanks for posting all of those tunes, Chris.  That's great!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2017, 06:39:41 PM »
Hi all,
Here is Little Brother Montgomery's version of "Vicksburg Blues", from 1930.  Del Rey plays a ripping version of this song.  It sure is a memorable number, and that chord he plays in the eleventh bar of his verse accompaniments is one of the coolest ever. His 8-bar solo, concluding with the tagline of an unsung verse, is kind of a surprise.



INTRO

I got the Vicksburg Blues and I'll, sing 'em anywhere I go
I got the Vicksburg Blues and I'm, sing 'em anywhere I go
Now, the reason I sing 'em, my babe said she didn't want me no more

I got the Vicksburg Blues and I'll, sing 'em anywhere I please
I got the Vicksburg Blues and I'll, sing 'em anywhere I please
Now, the reason I sing 'em, done give my poor heart some ease

SOLO
Mama, I ain't gon' be your low-down dog no more

And I don't like this old place, mama, well, Lord and I never will
And I don't like this old place, mama, Lord, and I never will
'Cause I can sit right here and, and look at Vicksburg on the hill

All best,
Johnm 

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2017, 08:39:55 PM »
The flip-side of ?Frisco Hi-Ball Blues? from 1931. Two takes, nearly identical. From the context, I would assume he means Fresno, Texas, not California. The video is take A. There's a much nicer copy of this tune on the "Down in Black Bottom" Yazoo release.




Louisiana Blues

take A
I was borned in Fresno, by the Big Rock county jail,
Aaaaaah, by the Big Rock county jail,
I did not have nobody, mama to go my bonny bail.

Lou?siana, where I long to be,
Lou?siana, where I long to be,
I got a cool, kind pretty mama, waitin? there for me.

Now mama I?m goin? back, back to the Lone Star State,
Aaaaaah mmmm, back to the Lone Star State.
Won?t you wat? [watch] out pretty mama, I swear you can?t make me late.

SOLO
Woman?s voice: Ah play it!
Man?s voice: (off mike): Play it.
Woman?s voice: Let?s get drunk and beat somebody!
Play it Little Brother, a long time!
Now that?s what I?m sayin?!

Now the big bell keep on ringin?, and the little bell she sadly tone,
Aaaahh mmm, the little bell she sadly tone,
Mama, and I?m lonely, lonely, lonely, and a long lost way from home.

Now mama, this old place, don?t seem like home to me.
Aaaaaaaahhh mnmmm, don?t seem like home to me,
That?s why I?m so worried, mama heartbroken as I can be.




take B
I was borned in Fresno, by the Big Rock county jail,
Aaaaaah, by the Big Rock county jail,
I didn?t have nobody, mama to go my bonny bail.

Lou?siana, where I long to be,
Lou?siana, where I long to be,
I got a cool, kind pretty mama, waitin? there for me.

Now mama I?m goin? back, goin? back to that Lone Star State,
Aaaaaah, back to the Lone Star State.
Won?t you watch out pretty mama, I swear you can?t make me late.

SOLO
Woman?s voice: Oh pick 'em.
Man?s voice: (off mike but not as off mike as in take A): Ah, pick 'em till I get back to Lou?siana.
Woman?s voice: Ah, scat!

Now the big bell keep a-ringin?, and the little bell she sadly tone,
Now the big bell keep on ringin?, and the little bell she sadly tone,
Mama, and I?m lonely, lonely, lonely, and a long ways from home.

Now mama, this old place, don?t seem like home to me.
Aaaaaaaahhh, don?t seem like home to me,
That?s why I?m so worried, mama heartbroken as I can be.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 08:41:30 PM by banjochris »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2017, 09:31:11 PM »
Thanks for posting that, Chris, I'd not heard that performance before.  Do you know who the guitarist was on the track?  I was wondering if in the tagline to the first verse it might be
   I didn't have nobody, mama, to go my bounty bail
See what you think.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2017, 09:20:13 AM »
I was wondering about the guitarist as well and couldn't find my B&GR last night; I looked on Stefan Wirz's Little Brother discography and he's listed only as "Hicks," with prob. Minnie Hicks as the female vocalist. Little Brother backed her up on "Monkey Man Blues" and "Sweet Rider," but I don't hear guitar on either of those tracks. Whoever he is, he's a good guitarist!

On that lyric, I still hear "bonny" in both takes -- I can't hear a T at all and the vowel sound doesn't sound right to me. I agree "bonny bail" is somewhat unusual.

I found a video with take B, by the way -- it's in better shape:

Offline banjochris

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2017, 05:43:14 PM »
Here?s Louisiana Blues-Part 2, recorded at Little Brother?s marathon October 1936 session. I think the weird word in the tagline of the first verse is ?escort,? but if anyone has other ideas let me know.



Now boys, I?m leaving town, because I?m awful blue,
I?m leaving town, because I?m awful blue,
I?ll make the Great Northern ?scort me, baby up from here to Bogaloo.

Because I?m going down in Lou?siana, whoa, where I can have my fun,
I?m going down in Lou?siana, whoa, where I can have my fun,
Now if you don?t believe I?m leaving, wait until morning come.

Now it is all I?ve got to tell you, you don?t know like me,
Now this is all I?ve got to tell you, you don?t know like me,
Because down in Lou?siana, that?s just where I long to be.

SOLO

Now when I know my baby, she sure gon? jump and shout,
And I know my baby, sure gonna jump and shout,
Now when the Northern roll up mama, and I come walking out.

Offline blindwillie

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Re: Little Brother Montgomery Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2019, 10:37:15 PM »
Little Brother Montgomery is my favourite blues piano player. I'm a guitarist of sorts, but I love good jazz/blues piano, from the usual suspects through to obscurities like Kitty Gray, Jesse James, Jab Jones, and many more. Just saying that for a non-player, I've listened a lot. And had the pleasure to click glasses once in Memphis with Mose Vinson :) But Little Brother has a lyrical beauty that lands in my brain just right. On my player right now, Chicago The Living Legends recorded 1961. Good stuff esp. the Vicksburg, always special.
So does anyone know is there an LBM appreciation society or the like? I've searched in vain. IMHO he was a major force, played up front and behind everyone from Walter Vinson to Memphis Minnie and probably more that I have not found yet. There's a great discography at https://www.wirz.de/music/montgome.htm but I'm certain he played on many other sides.

 


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