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Now you know they gonna march us down to the waterfront, to cross the deep blue sea, my baby she began to worry, what's gonna become of poor me - Jimmy Rogers, The World Is In A Tangle

Author Topic: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues  (Read 979 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2018, 09:11:26 AM »
Hi all,
Given the realities of the recording business, it wouldn't have been natural for a company not to have an artist cover a hit as big as Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues".  Sure enough, he also recorded "Milk Cow Blues #2", "Milk Cow Blues #3" and "Milk Cow Blues #4".  For "Milk Cow Blues #2", Kokomo Arnold eschewed the lyric break that was the dramatic high point of his original version of the song.  Here is "Milk Cow Blues #2", and I'm sorry for the dodgy re-mastering:



INTRO

Says, I woke up this mornin', with my milk cow on my mind
Says, I woke up this mornin', with my milk cow on my mind
I get to thinkin' 'bout my milk cow leavin', hee-ee, just couldn't keep from cryin'

Lord, Lord, please help me find my cow
Lord, Lord, please help me find my cow
Says, I wanna churn some milk and butter, I wants to churn that stuff right now

Says, she ain't no high yella', she's just a tall teasin' black
Says, she ain't no high yella', she's just a tall teasin' black
Says, she got that sweet milk and butter, hoo-ooo, that stuff I sure do like

Now you can pull down your window, pull down your window blind
Now you can pull down your window, pull down your window blind
Now, don't you let your next-door neighbor, hear you when you whine

Now, if you see my milk cow, buddy, please drive her home to me
Now, if you see my milk cow, buddy, please drive her home to me
Put a ticket on that heifer, and send her C.O.D.

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 02:57:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2018, 05:49:02 PM »
There's an interesting article on Milk Cow Blues as recorded for the Race Market and the Western Swing Market



The Many Faces of ?Milk Cow Blues?
A Case Study
Jean A. Boyd and Patrick Kelly

downloadable from here: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwibgoWTnuXYAhWKAMAKHaa6ChAQFggpMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fdigital.library.txstate.edu%2Fhandle%2F10877%2F5234&usg=AOvVaw03bt-dZs0bAuDw3Oob7Fxt.

They note Sarah Martin's use of the milk cow metaphor in Mean Tight Mama (recorded 1928)
Quote
Now my hair is nappy and I don?t wear no clothes of silk,
Now my hair is nappy and I don?t wear no clothes of silk,
But the cow that?s black and ugly has often got the sweetest milk.
A closer parallel is in Son Houses' My Black Mama Part 1 (recorded 1930).
Quote
Well, you see my milk cow, tell her to hurry home,
I ain?t had no milk since that cow been gone,
If you see my milk cow, tell her to hurry home,
Yeah, I ain?t had no milk since that cow been gone.



Rather like the Johnny Shines song, don't you think?

Kokomo Arnold's record was such a hit in 1934 that it was covered under the same title by Josh White and Bumble Bee Slim ?  as we've seen ? and also by Big Bill.



And Clarence Williams recorded a band version.



Under different titles came songs with not-so-different lyrics, tunes, arrangements:

Big Joe Williams' Wild Cow Blues (1935)



Casey  Bill Weldon's What's The Matter With My Milk Cow? (She Won't Stand Still) (1935)



Memphis Minnie's Jockey Man Blues (1935)



and, of course, Robert Johnson's Milkcow's Calf Blues (1937)



In the Western Swing idiom, it's the Bob Wills/Johnnie Lee Wills version that became standard. I like this switched-gender version by Rose Maddox (1947).



And derived from the Western Swing tradition is this laid-back version by Doc Watson:



The old-time singer-musician Roscoe Holcomb does interesting things on the banjo with one of the tunes from the Western Swing version. This link doesn't work here in Britain, but may work elsewhere:

« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 07:05:21 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2018, 08:21:24 PM »
Thanks for posting the different versions of "Milk Cow Blues", David.  Here is one from a couple of years back, when Martin Grosswendt performed it at Blues Week at Augusta.  Some of you have attended camps where Martin has taught, including Euro BluesWeek the past couple of years.  He certainly is a fine and versatile musician and strong singer.  Here goes:



All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2018, 08:13:38 PM »
I have never, ever understood the milk cow metaphor, and/or why it became such a hit. So thanks for getting this going Johnm, great choice.

I will listen to all the examples and try to get my head further around it. Milk Cow Blues always seems like some kind of weird gender reversal to me. I really dunno what they're talking about, and I've milked a lot of lactating ruminants!

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2018, 05:18:32 PM »
In case it helps, Rivers, this is what Boyd and Kelly say:
Quote
Broonzy?s ?Milk Cow Blues? reinforced the theme established by Sara Martin that a woman who is like a milk cow requires a substantial degree of devotion and maintenance but rewards her partner(s) with ?rich? love and devotion in return.
Other singers concentrate on the loss rather than the reward. Kokomo Arnold ? and many singers who copied him ? challenges his lost love, and predicts that she will regret things in the end.

Note that when Memphis Minnie ? prompted by the commercial success of Arnold's record ? wanted to sing about an analogous loss, she chose the metaphor of a jockey.

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2018, 05:50:15 PM »
I really dunno what they're talking about, and I've milked a lot of lactating ruminants!
The people who reacted so strongly to Kokomo Arnold's record and the rest were largely from a background where they ? or their parents or grandparents before them at least ? milked and owned just the one cow, not as a business but as the sole source of dairy nourishment.

There was a Central European curse: May you eat bought bread! That Southern or ex-Southern audience would know of a time when it was a dreadful thing to buy milk and butter. You'd really miss that cow of yours!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Song of the Month, January, 2018: Milk Cow Blues
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2018, 06:59:19 AM »
Thanks David, it makes much more sense to me now.

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