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I can't live in the north, you know I ain't got sufficient clothes. ...Ah Yank but they sell clothes up there, you know - Sonny Boy Williamson's informatory comment on Up North Blues

Author Topic: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon  (Read 483 times)

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Offline mwbutter

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Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« on: March 21, 2018, 08:56:16 AM »
Hi y'all,

My first post here. I've been struggling with a transcription of Charley Patton's "Circle Round the Moon," and I could use some help. Here's what I've got so far, with words or phrases I'm not sure of in brackets?though I should point out I'm not really sure of a single word in the entire tune!

Out on a road, [takin' my] time
Out on a road, [takin? my] time
[Got that Delta woman], was tryin? to run me down

How long, [pray God, how long]
How long, how long, [pray God, how long]
Can I be [a? rollin?], when your man is gone

I?m goin? away, [babe, long] from here
I?m goin? away, [babe, long] from here
I?m goin? away, [babe, make it] long from here

Got up this morning, blues all round my bed
Got up this morning, blues all round my bed
[I read a letter : I ? ? ? was dead]

[Eagle been here, cried and left and gone]
[Eagle been here, ? ? left and gone]
And you know by that, I ain?t gonna be here long

Throw your arms round like, circle round the moon
Throw your arms round like, circle round the moon
Throw your arms round like, circle round the moon


Any suggestions? Thanks!

-matt
Butter

Offline banjochris

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2018, 09:50:33 AM »
Welcome, Matt!

You've got most of it. 4.3 still has me stumped, hopefully someone else has some ideas:

Out on the road, servin' out my time,
Out on the road, servin' out my time,
And the Delta women was tryin' to run me down.

How long, pray God, how long?
How long, how long, pray God how long?
Can I be here rollin' when your man is gone.

I'm goin' away, may get lonesome here,
I'm goin' away, may get lonesome here,
I'm goin' away, babe, may get lonesome here.

I got up this morning, blues all around my bed,
Got up this morning, blues all around my bed
I read a letter that ??? was dead.

Eagle been here, built a nest and gone
Eagle been here, built a nest and gone,
And you know by that I ain't gon' be here long.

Throw your arms round like, circle round the moon,
Throw your arms round like, circle round the moon,
Throw your arms round me like a circle round the moon.

Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2018, 10:08:15 AM »
Hi Chris,
It sounds like he's saying,
   I read a letter that I'M SURE THESE ? was dead.
The question mark word sounds like "banner".
All best,
Johnm

Offline mwbutter

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2018, 10:10:40 AM »
Ah, brilliant! Thanks, Chris. I'll sleep much better tonight! I'm wondering about the first verse, though. It does indeed sound like he sings "servin' out my time," but that just doesn't make much sense to me. Not that it necessarily has to, but I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts about an alternative?
Butter

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2018, 10:23:23 AM »
Ah, brilliant! Thanks, Chris. I'll sleep much better tonight! I'm wondering about the first verse, though. It does indeed sound like he sings "servin' out my time," but that just doesn't make much sense to me. Not that it necessarily has to, but I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts about an alternative?

I think it could mean that he is serving his sentence as part of a chain-gang, doing road work.
Jeff

Offline mwbutter

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2018, 10:24:36 AM »
Hm, interesting. I like that idea.
Butter

Offline banjochris

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2018, 02:32:49 PM »
The "rollin" goes along with the chain gang reference; rolling in that context usually means working.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2018, 02:42:46 PM »
Hi Chris,
It sounds like he's saying,
   I read a letter that I'M SURE THESE ? was dead.
The question mark word sounds like "banner".

I hear something like that, too, John. I wonder if it's someone's name. I'll come back to it at home where I can play with the EQ some.

I remember the first time I heard "Circle Round the Moon" was on an old Wolf CD called "The Remaining Titles" and the copy of this tune made William Harris' "Electric Chair Blues" seem like high-fidelity. At least there's a better copy of it around these days!

Offline Saverio

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Re: Charley Patton lyrics - Circle Round the Moon
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2018, 09:12:34 AM »
The "rollin" goes along with the chain gang reference; rolling in that context usually means working.
I think in this case rolling refers to sex, i.e. rolling her dough, which fits the context of ?when your man is gone?. This is a common sexual innuendo in the genre. I?ve been working on Charley?s lyrics for many years, so I was happy to find this site today! In many cases, it?s taken knowledge of other artist?s usage of certain words or phrases commonly traded between song writers to get the revelation of what Patton?s singing. It?s a fun thing to study.

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