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Author Topic: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man  (Read 712 times)

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Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2017, 04:26:04 PM »
Hi all,
I thought I'd post the lyrics to the Jim Jackson version of "Traveling Man".  I'd appreciate correction/corroboration for any of the bent bracketed places in the lyrics.  Jim Jackson played the song out of G position in standard tuning.  Here goes:

INTRO

I'm gon' tell you 'bout a traveling' man, he's borned down in Tennessee
This man made his livin', a-stealin' chickens, and everything else he's seein'
Well, the policeman got right in, after this man, and run him 'way down the road
He didn't care how fast that a freight train would pass, this man would get on board

REFRAIN:  Don't you know he was a travelin' man, he certainly was a travelin' man
He was a travelin' man, that ever in the land
Oh, he traveled, and known for miles around
And he wouldn't give up, and he wouldn't give up 'til the police shot him down

Well, they sent that old travelin' man, one day, after one pail of water
And swear he had to go, was two miles and a quarter
He went and got that water all right, but he stumbled and fell down
He run three miles and a half, and got another pitcher, caught the water 'fore it hit the ground

ABBREVIATED REFRAIN:  Don't you know he was a travelin' man

Well, the policeman got right in, after this man, he run and jumped on this Titanic ship, and started up that ocean blue
He looked out and spied that big iceberg, and right overboard he flew
All the white ladies on the deck of that ship say, "That man certainly was a fool."
But when that Titanic ship went down, he's shooting craps in Liverpool

REFRAIN:  Don't you know he was a travelin' man, he certainly was a travelin' man
He was a travelin' man, that ever, in the land
Oh, he traveled, he was known for miles around
And he wouldn't give up, and he wouldn't give up, 'til the police shot him down
And he wouldn't give up, and he wouldn't give up, 'til the police shot him down

Edited 9/25 to pick up correction from DavidCrosbie

All best,
Johnm
 
 



« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 05:53:55 AM by Johnm »

Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2017, 04:41:31 PM »
Thanks for your post, and a great choice for a SOTM, Norfolk Slim. And thanks for all the additional versions from others too. I hadn't heard all of them before.

To make my post more worthwhile. here's a live version by Roy Book Binder (who I think certainly qualifies as a travelin' man). The music starts at around 2:00.



Cheers,

Pan


Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2017, 04:58:47 PM »
Hi all,
Here are Pink Anderson's lyrics, or my best shot at them.  Like Jim Jackson, Pink Anderson played his version out of G position in standard tuning, though he used a different melody and chord progression.

I just want to tell you 'bout a man named Coombs Holmes in Tennessee
He made his living stealing chickens, and everything that he could see
That pop-eyed man, he'd run so fast, his feet couldn't stay in the road
When a freight train passed, no matter how fast, he'd always get on board

REFRAIN:  He was a traveling man, certain was a traveling man
He's one of the travelingest men, was ever in the land
He traveled, and known for miles around
He didn't get caught, didn't give up, 'til the police shot him down

Well, the police hired him a automobile, of purpose, to chase old Coombs
He run him from six o'clock in the morning 'til seven in the afternoon
That pop-eyed man, he'd run so fast 'til fire came from his heel
He burned up the cotton and he scorched the corn, he cut a road through the farmer's field

REFRAIN:  He said, "I'm a traveling man."  Certain was a traveling man
Travelingest man, was ever in the land
He traveled, and known for miles around
But he didn't get caught, didn't give up, 'til the police shot him down

Well, the police shot him with a rifle, and the bullet went through his head
All the people, they came from miles around, to see the man was dead
They telegrammed down South to his mother, she's all carried away in tears
She walk in the house and open up the coffin lid, and that fool had disappeared

REFRAIN:  He said, "I'm a traveling man."  Certain was a traveling man
Travelingest man, was ever in the land
He traveled, and known for miles around
But he didn't get caught, didn't give up, 'til the police shot him down

This man was on the Titanic ship, and hit [sic] was sinking down
Sitting out on a [towel], with his head hung down
When this boy jumped overboard, everybody said he was a fool
And about three minutes after that he was shooting dice over in Liverpool

REFRAIN:  He said, "I'm a traveling man."  Certain was a traveling man
Travelingest man, was ever in the land
He traveled, boys, he was known for miles around
He didn't get caught, didn't give up, 'til the police shot him down

This boy, he went to the spring one day, to get a pail of water
The distance the rascal had to go was about two miles and a quarter
He got there and got the water, and when he started back, he stumbled and fell down
But he went to the house and got him another bucket, caught the water 'fore it hit the ground

REFRAIN:  Now, you know he was a traveling man. That certain was a traveling man (Spoken:  Talk about him!)
Travelingest man, was ever in the land
You know he traveled, boys, he was known for miles around
He didn't get caught, and didn't give up, 'til the police shot him down

All best,
Johnm


 

Offline Stuart

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 08:16:48 AM »
Thank you, Slim. This is a great choice for SOTM, as others have said. I'm looking forward to working through and following up on the versions that have been posted.

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2017, 10:05:13 AM »
Hi all,
I thought I'd transcribe the lyrics to the Phineas Rockmore version of "Traveling Man".  He played the song out of C position in standard tuning.  I wish there were more recorded performances of his available.  He also did a ripping version of "The Boll Weevil". 

Tell thee a story 'bout a travelin' man, home down in Tennessee
He made his livin' by stealin' chickens and he stoled everything he'd see
He stole ten thousand dollars, and he tore it out, down the road
Made no difference how fast a train run, this coon he'd get on board

REFRAIN:  He was a travelin' man, certainly was a travelin' man
Travelingest  coon, ever come through the land
He traveled, he's known for miles around
He didn't give up, he wouldn't give up, until the police shot him down

This coon stole ten thousand dollars, right in the broad daytime
People all said it was desp'ate, for doin' such a brave old crime
Arrested this coon and handcuffed him, he told his people not to cry
He crossed his legs and he winked one eye, he sailed up to the sky

REFRAIN:  He was, travelin' man, certainly was a travelin' man
Travelingest  coon, ever come through the land
He traveled, he's known for miles around
He didn't give up, he wouldn't give up, until the police shot him down

Now, they taken a Springfield rifle, shot the coon right through his head
The coon come tumblin' down from the sky, everybody thought he was dead
They boxed him up, sent him down South, to drive away his mother's tears
She went to open the coffin and look at her darling son, he begin to disappear

REFRAIN:  He was, travelin' man, certainly was a travelin' man
Travelingest  coon, ever come through the land
He traveled, he was known for miles around
Didn't give up, didn't give up, until the police shot him down

This coon went to Liverpool, England, just to swim the ocean blue
He saw the Titanic comin' ten miles away, and right overboard he flew
The people all said he was crazy, everybody called him a fool
But when the Titanic sunk in the deep blue sea, he's shootin' dice in Liverpool

REFRAIN:  He was a travelin' man, certainly was a travelin' man
Travelingest  coon, ever come through the land
He traveled, he was known for miles around
Didn't give up, he didn't give up, until the police shot him down

Now, they sent this coon to the spring, just to get a couple buckets of water
The distance from the house back to that spring was only ten miles and a quarter
He got his water, all right, but he stumped his foot and fell down
He run back home, he got two more buckets, caught the water 'fore it hit the ground

REFRAIN:  He was a travelin' man, certainly was a travelin' man
Travelingest  coon, that ever come through the land
He traveled East, traveled West, he was known for miles around
He didn't give up, he wouldn't give up, until the police shot him down (Spoken: Yowsuh, they got him.)

All best,
Johnm


 

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2017, 07:41:55 AM »
I attach a low-sound-quality file of a particularly odd 1934 version by Smiley Burnette. Never having heard of hm, I went to Wikipedia. It seems he was a singer (and writer) of popular songs, when he wasn't playing comic parts in cowboy movies. Yet Allen Lowe considered him important enough to include in his massive history of jazz.



Contrasting him with the pseudo-country tenor Vernon Dalhart, Lowe writes
Quote
Closer to the real thing was Smiley Burnette, better known as Gene Autry's movie sidekick, whose gentle, Popeye inflected tenor rode lightly over semi-country swing rhythm sections, and whose recordings are early pop/jazz/country crossovers.

The performance reminds me not so much of Popeye as of Laurel and Hardy messing around with The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. I wonder whether this is from a film in which Burnette was playing the part of a hick country singer. In any case, he seems to be mocking the song while the Blues and Country artists sang it straight, allowing the humour to emerge from the lyrics.

Paul Oliver discusses the song in Songsters & Saints in the chapter The Long Tailed Blue Songs of the road shows.



Quote
Percy F. Dilling collected the song from "a traveling minstrel at King's Mountain, Cleveland County, N.C." in 1919. It was "obviously of vaudevile or street-singer origin", Newman White considered, noting that several years before - possibly before 1920 - it "circulated in Durham N. C. as a printed 'ballet'".  This could account for the marked similarity of all collected versions in the Eastern seaboard states, but Coley Jones, who led a string band in Dallas, Texas, was many hundreds of miles away, and it is more likely that he learned it from another singer. He added a couple of verses not in text collections:

[As Johnm reminds us, he has posted the whole of the Coley Jones lyrics here: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=8868.msg76178#msg76178]

Paul quotes a discussion by Lawrence Levine in Black Culture and Black Consciousness, but Levine seems to have revised his views by the time of the 2007 30th Anniversary Edition .



Paul quotes him as tracing Traveling Man back to the 'trickster' hero, but he now emphasises the contrast with the nineteenth century tradition
in a chapter sub-section headed THE MODERNISATION OF THE BLACK HERO.
Quote
The qualities of the exaggerated hero could be found in almost any type of twentieth-century black tale. The trickster John could suddenly manifest super powers and be transformed into superblack.  ...

Not even the minstrel-derived, stereotyped "coon" figure was immune from transformation into a hero with superhuman attributes. A song popular in the 1920s featured a "travellin' man" from Tennessee who wandered around "stealin' chickens, / An' anything he could see." He commits crime after crime with impunity, once outrunning a police car for more than thirteen hours:

The coon ran so bloomin' fast
That fire come from his heels;
He scorched the cotton an' burnt the corn
An' cut a road through the farmer's fields.

At another point the police shoot him through the head, but to no avail:

They sent down South for his mother,
She was grieved and moved with tears,
Then she open the coffin to see her son,
An' the fool had disappeared.

Finally he is caught but not even the gallows can contain him:

They put the coon on the gallows
An' told him he would die;
He crossed his legs an' winked his eye
And sailed up in the sky.!"

[His quoted verses are from collection by Odum and Johnson and by Newman White.]

In a separate sub-section of the chapter, he makes the obvious connection between the song's Titanic verse and the toasts about Shine, the black stoker on the Titanic although Shine is usually just a strong swimmer, not a superhumanly fast one. In one more printable version:
Quote
Captain said, "Shine, Shine, you save poor me.
I make you as rich as a shine can be."
Shine say, "There's fish in the ocean, whales in the sea,
captain get your ass in the water and swim like me."

From which Bruce Jackson took the title of his collection:



However, some version credit Shine with incredible speed. For example:

Quote
About four-thirty when the Titanic was sinking',
Shine done swimmer on over in Los Angeles and started drinking'.
But now when he heard  the Titanic had sunk
he was in New York damn near drunk.


PS I'm pretty sure Jim Jackson sings

I'm gon' tell you 'bout a traveling' man, he's borned down in Tennessee
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 08:02:27 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2017, 08:04:02 PM »
Thanks for your version of Traveling Man by Smiley Burnette. I believe he is singing it in all sincerity in the blackface minstrel style that was still popular with some southern comedians at this time. I'm pretty sure he is accompanied on this piece by Mustard and Gravy (Frank Rice and Ernest Stokes) from Wilson, NC who were quite popular around here regionally and were recruited by Smiley to participate in a few movies with him in Hollywood during the 1940s.  I think the deep voice in the recording is by Mustard or Gravy, as that was a trademark of their bluesy, blackface style of novelty folk music at the time. Here is a later recording by Mustard and Gravy from 1950 which seems to be one of the many precursors to Rock n Roll music to come a few years later. 
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 08:07:48 PM by Lignite »

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM 2017 September - Travelling Man
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2017, 05:52:26 AM »
Thanks for the catch on the lyrics to Jim Jackson's version of "Travelin' Man", DavidCrosbie, I will make the change.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

 


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