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The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doing now, man, for more years than I know. They played it like that in the shanties and in their juke joints, and nobody paid it no mind 'til I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw - Elvis Presley, 1956, Last Train to Memphis

Author Topic: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues  (Read 782 times)

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Offline Old Man Ned

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SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« on: April 04, 2018, 11:48:58 AM »
I've chosen How Long - How Long Blues for April's Song of the Month.  This song was a massive success for Leroy Carr with Scrapper Blackwell.  Originally recorded in June 1928 the follow ups of How Long Blues No. 2 (November and December 1928), How Long Blues No. 3 (November 1928) and How Long Blues Part 3 (December 1928) and a version How Long That Evening Train Been Gone (1932) plus the numerous covers that followed and continued to follow for many years, testify to the popularity of this song.

Here's Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell's various versions of How Long - How Long Blues.  First the original 1928 version followed by No.2, No.3 and the 1932 version.







 

Staying with piano players, here's a couple of versions from one of my favorite piano players.  First, Jimmy Yancey solo then accompanied by Mama Yancey on vocals.





Staying with piano players, there's versions by Champion Jack Dupreee, Pinetop Perkins and a wonderful version by Skip James







The song wasn't only covered by blues players.  Here's a Count Basie version followed by Big Joe Turner.





and Ray Charles with Milt Jackson



Moving on to guitar based blues covers, Frank Stokes recorded his version in August 1928, just a couple of months after Leroy and Scrappers original recording.



and versions by Kokomo Arnold and Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee with Leadbelly.





Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band recorded the tune in Nov 1928



and Blind Lemon also recorded a version in 1928



For those who like their guitars plugged in, here's versions by Jimmy Reed and T-Bone Walker who with his vocals and guitar style, this tune could well have been written for.





To finish off, here's a version by Bertha Chippie Hill



I'm sure there's many more versions out there.  It's such a popular number.  Please add any others you find and I hope you enjoy the versions linked above.

Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2018, 11:53:46 AM »
Apologies, I seem to have linked the Tampa Red version twice and missed Count Basie's version.  Here it is:


Offline TenBrook

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2018, 01:09:37 PM »
Thanks for putting this together Ned.

Here's an early version by Papa Charlie Jackson and Ida Cox:

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2018, 01:23:05 PM »
Thanks very much for your Song of the Month choice, Old Man Ned, and for finding all of the different versions you included in your initial post.  I look forward to becoming acquainted with the versions I'd not heard before.  Here is one of my favorite versions of the song, from Dan Pickett:



All best,
Johnm

Offline Thomas8

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2018, 02:57:11 PM »
Wow! I really like Dan Pickett's version.
Seems I was beaten to the post with Papa Charlie Jackson, So what about Willie Jackson!



I like Bumble Bee Slim's version, it really stomps along with what to me sounds like Jimmie Gordon and Charlie McCoy at the helm. (apologies if the link doesn't work)



I don't know where we stand on song's derived from How Long, but I wanted to post "Daddy Goodbye Blues" as this was this first song I heard Tampa Red playing on and I still think it's the sweetest whilst saddest guitar sound I've ever heard.


Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2018, 04:39:25 PM »
Hi all,
I think Dan Pickett's version was modeled on George Torey's "Lonesome Man Blues", though George Torey did not use a slide, of course.  I think both Pickett (James Founty) and George Torey were Alabama musicians.  Torey, by the way, did this song out of the EAEGBE tuning.



All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2018, 04:46:33 PM »
Great choice! And a big thanks for running these down and putting them all together Ned--Well done. Here's one by Big Bill:



And a harmonica version by Jed Davenport:



And here's one by "Mr. Five by Five":


« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 04:52:32 PM by Stuart »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2018, 06:27:33 PM »
Surely the Frank Stokes 1925 (actually 1928, my mistake!) recording is a different song ? possibly the inspiration for the Ida Cox/Papa Charlie Jackson song and the Leroy Carr song.

A vaudeville version was recorded by (among others) Alberta Hunter in 1921 as How Long Sweet Daddy How Long



and by Alberta Brown in 1928



Another non-vaudeville version of the song (with input form Corinna) was recorded by Barbecue Bob as How Long Pretty Mama in 1927





« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 08:30:14 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Gumbo

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2018, 01:49:22 AM »
I think it's the Ida Cox/Charlie Jackson session that was 1925 - Frank Stokes recorded his song in Aug '28 as Old Man Ned originally stated. And yes, I agree, it sounds to me like he took the idea and did something different with it.

Great selection, Old Man Ned, good call! And easy to hear why the Carr-Blackwell version got so many covers. Beautiful.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2018, 02:11:42 AM »
Great choice, Old Man Ned, and so many outstanding versions.


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Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2018, 03:21:29 AM »
I think it's the Ida Cox/Charlie Jackson session that was 1925 - Frank Stokes recorded his song in Aug '28 as Old Man Ned originally stated.  And yes, I agree, it sounds to me like he took the idea and did something different with it.

You're completely right. i was looking at details of the two when I posted. With my mind on other particulars I got them confused.

The important date is the Alberta Hunter recording in May 1921 ? for her very first recording session.

It's hard to tell without a time machine. Perhaps the song existed before 1921 much as Frank Stokes sang it. The vaudeville version has obviously been crafted by a songwriter, but the main strain sounds just as 'folky' as the Frank Stokes and Barbecue Bob songs.

To my ear, the Ida Cox/Charlie Jackson is a different song ? inspired by the early song. And (again, to my ear) the Leroy Carr song is his personal improvement on that Cox/Jackson song.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 04:12:40 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2018, 05:44:06 AM »
Hi all,
I would agree with others that the Frank Stokes "How Long" is an altogether different song, its only similarity to the Leroy Carr "How Long-How Long" being the shared title phrase.  The Stokes song is an 11-bar blues, the Carr song an 8-bar blues, they have completely different melodies and phrasing, and the rhythmic feel of the Stokes song is different also, in two, with a cut time dance beat--it's jolly, which Leroy Carr's song certainly was not.  I feel as though it bears the same relationship to the Carr song as Freddie Spruell's "Milk Cow Blues" does to Kokomo Arnold's version of "Milk Cow Blues":  two very different songs which happen to share the same title phrase.  I don't think the Frank Stokes song was even influenced by the other "How Long" song.  They're both great songs, they're just different songs.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 06:42:22 AM by Johnm »

Offline GhostRider

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2018, 12:43:27 PM »
Howdy:

Funny Papa Smith did a version of "How Long" in 1931 titled "Before Long", the last song he recorded which survives. If you really hate an out-of-tune guitar, don't listen to this one. A .mp3 of the tune is on the fourth page of this thread.

https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=2142.45.

Alex

Offline Stuart

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2018, 04:27:04 PM »
Funny Papa Smith did a version of "How Long" in 1931 titled "Before Long", the last song he recorded which survives. If you really hate an out-of-tune guitar, don't listen to this one...

Thanks, Alex. I saw that Stefan Wirz has a link to "Before Long" on YouTube:



Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2018, 06:15:43 AM »
Jimmy de Berry recorded Before Long in 1953 at a session with Walter Horton. It was issued as by Jimmy & Walter although Horton didn't play on the track.



It doesn't sound a lot like Leroy Carr's song ? until you here the Funny Papa Smith song, which sound like me as a 'missing link'.

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2018, 06:39:00 AM »
Hi all,
The Barbecue Bob song appears to be a version of "Corinna, Corinna".  I remember seeing a similar trend in "Milk Cow Blues", where there was the version that most people played or covered, but where there were also stylistic outliers or just different songs that used the same title, perhaps just because it was so deeply a part of the commonly shared pool of lyric phrases.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 06:49:21 AM by Johnm »

Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2018, 01:20:36 PM »
Thanks for all the additions to How Long Blues.  Love George Torey's version. Yeah, I'd like to say I included the Franks Stokes version to stimulate interest and debate but truth is I got a bit carried away and put it in mainly because I like Frank Stokes :-)

Here's a couple more versions I've found.  First from Dinah Washington and then Ella Fitzgerald from her 'These Are the Blues' album




Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2018, 06:34:18 PM »

The Barbecue Bob song appears to be a version of "Corinna, Corinna". 

Of course Barbecue Bob brought the Corinna, Corinne verses to the mix, but the standard question in that song is not 'How long, how long?'but rather 'Where you been so long?'. I can't help feeling that Bob got his question from the sort of song that Frank Stokes was singing. And there's even the echo of the vaudeville song: How long Pretty Mama how long, how long? echoing Alberta Hunter's How long Sweet Daddy how long, how long? That's not to say that Bob had listened to Alberta, but there could well be an indirect link.

Having written this, I listened intensively to the various records. And I'm more convinced than ever.

The vaudeville blues as sung by Alberta Hunter and Alberta Brown comprises an introductory verse to a composed-sounding melody, followed by two choruses to a tune not unlike that of Corinne, Corinna. A version by Daisy Martin? not available on YouTube ?  differs only  in having a second verse to the opening tune; each verse is followed by those two choruses.

The Daisy Martin version is titled How Long? How Long? (Absent Blues) ? which suggests strongly that it is the song listed on Peter Muir's Long Lost Blues website

http://longlostblues.com/blues-list/

Quote from: Blues by title (1912-1020)
? DATE     TITLE                                               WORDS              MUSIC                NAME & LOCATION OF PUBLISHER
04/10/20   How Long, How Long: Absent Blues   T. Everett White   T. Everett White   T. Everett White, St. Louis

I bet that White took the chorus tune from something around in the tradition, tidied up the words, and added a couple or more verses with a tin-pan-alley-type tune.

The three vaudeville artists sang (with minor variations)

Quote from: How Long, How Long (Absent Blues)
VERSE
Down in my heart there lies a scream of misery
My daddy left and didn't have a word to say
Lonesome, I'm awfully lonesome
For people, he was the grandest man
In all this world to me
CHORUS 1
Now if you see my own dear daddy
Please tell him I said to hurry home
The days so lonesome, the nights so long
I ain't had no loving since he's been gone
CHORUS 2
I can't forget the way he used to hold me in his loving' arms
And call me mama, oh sweet sweet mama
Daddy, sweet daddy, how long how long?

Frank Stokes rang the changes on the two choruses. His first two choruses are

Quote from: Frank Stokes: How Long
I never never never never  : can forget that day
When you called me baby : how long how long
I ain't had no loving : since my baby gone

If you see my baby baby baby : tell her to hurry home
I ain't had no good feeling : how long how long
And I'm on my way babe : how long how long

Barbecue Bob even managed to fit in part of the VERSE lyrics

Quote from: Barbecue Bob: How Long Pretty Mama
I can't forget the way : she held me in her loving arms
She called my papa : oh sweet daddy
Now tell me pretty mama : how long how long

Down in my heart : there's screams of misery
Corinne she left me : without a word to say
She was the kindest one : all in this world to me

If you see my own dear mama : tell her hurry on home
Bout the days are lonesome : and the nights so long
I ain't had no lovin' : child since you been gone
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 07:05:39 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2018, 06:51:37 PM »
It seems likely to me that Leroy Carr took a fancy to the repetitious phrase How long, how long? and attached it to a different question that was kicking around in Blues lyrics: How long has the train been gone? From a  quick trawl through Jeff Taft's concordance:

http://www.dylan61.se/michael%20taft,%20blues%20anthology.txt.WebConcordance/c356.htm#LONG

Quote from: Green River by Charlie Patton
How long : evening train been gone
Yes I'm worried now : but I won't be worried long
Quote from: Left Alone Blues by Ishman Bracey
Now I went to the station : fold my arms and moan
Asked the operator : how long my rider been gone
Quote from: Away From Home by Peg Leg Howell
I asked the operator : how long the train been gone
Your train been gone : ever since this morn
Quote from: Down In The Basement Blues by Big Bill
Down to the depot mama Lord : I looked up on the board
Lord I asked the ticket agent : how long the southbound train been gone
Quote from: Nothing But The Blues by Cleo Gibson
I went to the depot : and looked up on the board
Oh I asked the operator : how long that train been gone
Quote from: Booster Blues by Blind Lemon Jefferson
I said ticket agent : how long your train been gone
Say yon go the train : that this fair brown left here on
Quote from: Cool Drink Of Water Blues by Tommy Johnson
I went to the depot : looked up on the board
I asked the conductor : how long has this eastbound train been gone

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2018, 05:21:11 AM »
The repeated question How long how long? also caught the fancy of the Church. That's assuming that it wasn' the other way round ? I suppose it's possible that the phrase originated in exasperated sermons against sin.

One popular preacher, Rev AW Nix, recorded a sermon titled How Long, How Long. JSP Records has reissued it on the Friends of Leroy Carr disc in their Leroy Carrr Volume Two box set. So they think they know who used the phrase first. It's not on YouTube, alas, and my free trial of software to make a lo-fi file has elapsed.

What is on YouTube is this exciting performance by Sister Ola Mae Terrell.



I think perhaps I detect an echo of an echo of Leroy Carr's song in her guitar riff.

Rev Charles White uses the single question How long? with a view to death since Before this Time another year, I may be gone.



Goldia Haynes asks God the single question Oh Lord, How Long?  ? much like in Hesitating Blues with its How long do I have to wait?. Not on YouTube, but well worth searching out.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 06:51:23 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2018, 07:03:50 AM »
Congratulations on your industry, David Crosbie.  It looks like you have found connections in the lyrics to a number of the songs that don't share obvious musical similarities, otherwise.  Well done.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2018, 01:20:49 PM »
Thanks David for the research, I find this sort of stuff fascinating. Much appreciate the effort and the links.
All the best,
Ned

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2018, 06:29:22 PM »
Yep David, you have added some great perspective, as usual. The touchstone is likely the compelling question itself: "How Long?"

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2018, 07:13:10 PM »
To complement the Ray Charles instrumental version with Milt jackson, here's Ray singing



And here's  Robert Lockwood Junior



And Johnny Fuller



Not on YouTube but recommended:

  • Bill Gaither's How Long Baby How Long?. One place to find this is on a CD of  him and Bumble Bee Slim, which forms part of JSP's Leroy Carr Volume Two box set. (Rev AW Nix's How Long sermon  and Tampa Red's solo instrumental version  feature on another disc in the set.)
  • Josh White's How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone. I don't always care for Josh's singing, but he performs the song simple and straight on a recording made for a Freedom Concert at the Library of Congress.
  • Guitar Pete Franklin's How Long Blues (playing piano, despite his name) on Art Rosenbaum's Art of Field Recording Vol 1.
    • Finally, for Brits who were around in the late fifties, the nostalgic sound of How Long Blues by the Avon Cities Skiffle Group on this JSP box set.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 07:15:42 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2018, 05:54:11 AM »
I finally got round to looking it up in the Encyclopaedia of the Blues edited by Edward Komara.



There aren't too may entries for songs, but there is one for How Long How Long written by Komara himself. He begins:

Quote from: Encyclopedia of the Blues
"How Long How Long" was first recorded as "How Long Daddy How Long" by Ida Cox with "Papa" Charlie Jackson on banjo in 1925 for Paramount Records (Paramount 12325). The song was later transcribed and published in a Paramount songbook. The form is of eight measures, split into a four-measure verse and a four-measure refrain. Harmonically the melody stays in one chord, using the flattened seventh scale step as an inflection dissonance during the second four measure. Because of the eight-measure length and the simple nature of the tune, it may be of unknown origin and transmitted by tradition.

[The American 'measure' = the British term 'bar'.]

I was puzzled by the harmony bit, until I realised that he was talking about what Ida was singing ? not what Charlie was playing. Anyway, I listened afresh to the Cox-Jackson record, and I think I have a clearer idea of what Carr and Blackwell did with the song.

  • Harmony for one thing. Carr's tune ? the tune he sings ? is much richer.
  • Text. I was mistaken in thinking that Carr originated the pairing of How Long How Long with the train been gone question, but he did do something different with it. The Cox-Jackson song strings together a collection of verses linked by nothing more than a mood. There's such a random free association that the old Hesitating Blues verse gets a look in. Carr by contrast stayed with the first verse and composed a coherent text of about three minutes' duration around the theme. This is what the record companies wanted ? because they could copyright newly composed songs and make more money. But it was also what the public wanted.
  • The rest is obvious, and has been said time and again: Carr and Blackwell were fine musicians; Carr's singing was hugely attractive; the laid-back style struck a perfect note for a changing Black society.
Komara points out that Carr re-used the music with You Got To Reap What You Sow



This song was covered by Tampa Red



And, without committing himself he reports

Quote from: Komara
It is also said that the song was among the first blues learned by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.

The rest of the article is more surprising, and may not be accepted by everybody. For Komara, Sitting On Top Of The World is basically the same song with a new and different set of lyrics, with longer lines and so without the pauses. I'll post his thoughts on the appropriate thread

https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=10934.0
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 08:07:14 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2018, 10:58:34 AM »
YouTube doesn't have that Skiffle version I recommended, but it does have this version by Lonnie Donegan



Sorry if it sounds odd to American ears ? and to young ears. But you might be less critical of this version by the Chris Barber band with Ottlilie Patterson. Lonnie started out in the band, and may well be the banjo player on this recording.



In those days we spoke of Trad Jazz (like the Barber band) and Modern Jazz (bebop and after). Everything else was big-band Swing or small-band[b ]Mainstream Jazz[/b] ? where they also played How Long How Long.

For example, Jimmy Witherspoon with Ben Webster and Gerry Mulligan



Wingy Manone



the Earl Hines band with Barbara Dane



And here's a revival of an old piano blues style by Stephanie Trick and Christian Bleiming ? suffering, I think, from having two left hands clunking away. But interesting



A piano player who didn't need to 'revive': Jay McShann



And another musician playing as he always had, Albert Nicholas



Finally, the Godfather of the British Blues Revival Alexis Korner and a bunch of mates, backing a young Ruby Turner.



Postscript

Just found this by Odetta



PostPostscript

Of the aforesaid British Blues Revival: Eric Clapton

« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 11:11:27 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 04APRIL2018 How Long - How Long Blues
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2018, 11:38:14 AM »
I finally got round to looking it up in the Encyclopaedia of the Blues edited by Edward Komara.



There aren't too may entries for songs, but there is one for How Long How Long written by Komara himself. He begins:

Quote from: Encyclopedia of the Blues
"How Long How Long" was first recorded as "How Long Daddy How Long" by Ida Cox with "Papa" Charlie Jackson on banjo in 1925 for Paramount Records (Paramount 12325). The song was later transcribed and published in a Paramount songbook. The form is of eight measures, split into a four-measure verse and a four-measure refrain. Harmonically the melody stays in one chord, using the flattened seventh scale step as an inflection dissonance during the second four measure. Because of the eight-measure length and the simple nature of the tune, it may be of unknown origin and transmitted by tradition.

[The American 'measure' = the British term 'bar'.]

I was puzzled by the harmony bit, until I realised that he was talking about what Ida was singing ? not what Charlie was playing. Anyway, I listened afresh to the Cox-Jackson record, and I think I have a clearer idea of what Carr and Blackwell did with the song.

  • Harmony for one thing. Carr's tune ? the tune he sings ? is much richer.
  • Text. I was mistaken in thinking that Carr originated the pairing of How Long How Long with the train been gone question, but he did do something different with it. The Cox-Jackson song strings together a collection of verses linked by nothing more than a mood. There's such a random free association that the old Hesitating Blues verse gets a look in.

    STOP PRESS I've just found this link to the Carr-Jackson lyrics https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=790.250;wap2

    Carr by contrast stayed with the first verse and composed a coherent text of about three minutes' duration around the theme. This is what the record companies wanted ? because they could copyright newly composed songs and make more money. But it was also what the public wanted.
  • The rest is obvious, and has been said time and again: Carr and Blackwell were fine musicians; Carr's singing was hugely attractive; the laid-back style struck a perfect note for a changing Black society.
Komara points out that Carr re-used the music with You Got To Reap What You Sow



This song was covered by Tampa Red



And, without committing himself he reports

Quote from: Komara
It is also said that the song was among the first blues learned by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.

The rest of the article is more surprising, and may not be accepted by everybody. For Komara, Sitting On Top Of The World is basically the same song with a new and different set of lyrics, with longer lines and so without the pauses. I'll post his thoughts on the appropriate thread

https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=10934.0

Tags: SOTM