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Author Topic: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'  (Read 940 times)

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Offline TenBrook

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SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« on: May 08, 2018, 07:39:39 AM »
For the song of the month for May I chose ?Alabama Bound?, which as is mentioned in ?Ramblin' on My Mind: New Perspectives on the Blues? ?[is] one of a song cluster which includes Don't You Leave Me Here and Elder Green's In Town.? I hesitated for a bit on using it for SOTM due to that fact as it seemed too broad a choice but I decided to focus my song selections on those featuring the ?I?m Alabama Bound? double line. So two versions of ?Don?t You Leave me Here? are included but I did not follow that thread very far and may have missed others that fit my (entirely subjective) criteria. I?m not averse to others posting versions of ?Don?t You Leave me Here? but it seems it could maybe feature as its own song of the month. Also, I should point out that fellow Weenie DavidCrosbie summed up some of the musical elements and other trivia on ?Alabama Bound? in the ?Baby Please Don?t Go? SOTM thread: https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=11465.msg102690#msg102690

The first appearance of 'I?m Alabama Bound' in print was the 1909 version by Robert Hoffman. In ?Long Lost Blues? Peter Muir notes ?[the sheet music?s] first edition was subtitled ?The Alabama Blues??this was the first time that a published composition was titled using the formula ?The X Blues.?? He goes on to state: ?Two of the three themes used in the original instrumental version are important black folk proto-blues songs: the title theme, ?I?m Alabama Bound,??and the melody usually called ?Fare Thee, Honey??which is first known from a published?song version from 1901, and which has been recorded and published numerous times since.?

There is a (what I assume to be midi) version of the 1909 sheet music to be heard here:


In 1910 Prince?s Band was the first to record an instrumental version based on Hoffman?s work:


In 1925 we get Papa Charlie Jackson?s version:


In 1927 Papa Harvey Hull and Long Cleve Reed recorded ?Don?t You Leave Me Here? which opens with the double ?Alabama Bound? lines:


In 1928 we get an old time version recorded by the Tennessee Ramblers under the title ?The Preacher Got Drunk and Laid his Bible Down." The main lyrics are very different from traditional versions but I decided to include it as it has the ?I?m Alabama Bound? double line and was a new find for me:


In 1929 we get Henry Thomas? version of ?Don?t You Leave Me Here? which includes the double "I?m Alabama Bound" lines:


In 1933 John Lomax recorded Bow Legs singing this unaccompanied version:


And in 1934 Lomax recorded Pete Harris doing this version:


In 1938 Jelly Roll Morton recorded his version (and famously claimed composer credits) along with a back story:


In 1940 Lead Belly and the Golden Gate Quartet recorded their version:


And finally, in 1963 we get Mississippi John Hurt?s take on things:

« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 07:06:38 AM by TenBrook »

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2018, 08:37:30 AM »
Thank you, Lew, for your Song of the Month choice and for your research and tracking down the various versions you posted.  I look forward to listening to the versions I've not previously heard.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Forgetful Jones

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2018, 10:59:53 AM »
Thanks for the good work TenBrook. I particularly love the Pete Harris version. The groove that he gets himself into partnered with those descending runs he sticks in there really get me moving!
It's in Vestapol tuning- Nothing too tricky about finding the location of what he's doing with his fretting hand. Rhythmically it's just fantastic as are his vocals and phrasing.
I was just listening to Pete Harris recently. I can't help but wonder why so many of the recordings he did for Lomax were just snippets of songs. I sure wish I could hear a full run of Alabama Bound and his others as well.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 06:34:50 PM by Forgetful Jones »

Online Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2018, 02:47:27 AM »
Thanks for the SOTM, Tenbrook. This is a great song, and the Leadbelly version was on the first LP of his I bought in the early sixties. The Pete Harris, Mississippi John Hurt and Bow Legs videos are sadly not viewable in Europe, so if anyone knows of other links to these performances, it would be good!

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2018, 09:36:38 AM »
Hi all,
I found this video of Pete Harris' "Is You Mad At Me" that I believe will be viewable by European weenies.



All best,
Johnm

Online Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2018, 11:10:22 AM »
Thanks, John!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2018, 03:46:39 PM »
My old friend and sometimes playing partner Big Boy Henry recorded a version of Alabama Bound as a home recording back in his younger days; http://picosong.com/wPfMa

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2018, 06:30:01 AM »
Hi all,
This version by Rich Brown was recorded by John Lomax.



Here is a version by Little Brother Montgomery, I'm afraid not viewable by non-U.S. Weenies.



All best,
Johnm

Offline TenBrook

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2018, 07:04:18 AM »
Thanks all for the responses. Thanks Lignite for the great version by Big Boy Henry. And John thanks for posting the Rich Brown and Little Brother Montgomery versions. The latter is really wonderful.

Prof,
Apologies on the European Weenie unfriendly links. I just uploaded my own videos for those three versions which should hopefully be visible on your side of the pond. Posting them below and replacing the links in my initial post too:

Here's Bow Legs doing his version:


And here's Pete Harris:


And here's John Hurt:

« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 07:07:40 AM by TenBrook »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2018, 06:43:38 AM »
John Lomax also recorded Alf 'Dad' Valentine.



Lomax  calls the song Alabama Bound, but that's just one of the themes. Alf sing all three of the one's we've discussed:
Quote
She's Alabama bound
Don't you leave her here
Elder Green done gone

Arlo Guthrie does a competent copy of Leadbelly's version. It's worth viewing for Arlo's introduction:



Another performance which seems influenced by Leadbelly is this by Odetta



My favourite 'revival' version is by Doc Watson:



Doc's tune strikes me as close to he Tennessee Ramblers' The Preacher Got Drunk

Anther theme that attaches to this family is the hen

Jelly Roll Morton sings (in his Don't You Leave Me Here version)

Quote
And the rooster crowed
And the hen ran around
She said if you want my fricassee
You got to run me down

Other performers sing if you want my loving ? as Morton did on his Library of Congress recording. But fricassee is a lovely touch.

Mance Lipscomb



has three hen verses

Quote
Then the rooster crowed
And flew on the fence
I can see in your deep eyes
You gotta be content

What did the rooster say
To the little red hen?
You can meet me down to the old bone lot
'Bout half past ten

Then the rooster crowed
And the hen flew down
Said If you want to be a man of mine
You got to run me down

Louis Jordan



goes one better

Quote
Oh the rooster crowed
And the hen looked round
Said If you want me to love you
You got to run me down

Oh the rooster crowed
And he raised his legs
He ran that old he and caught her
Then she laid an egg


« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 03:52:53 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline TenBrook

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2018, 07:21:21 AM »
David,
Thanks for all those great versions. I was worried maybe there weren't many more out there but you dug up quite a few. Looking forward to going through them all.

Lew

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2018, 01:00:17 PM »
Another theme is the preacher

In Papa Charlie Jackson's version

Quote
And the preacher's in the pulpit
Bible in his hand
And the sisters way back on the Amen Corner
Holler 'That's my man'

Pete Harris sings (as far as I can tell)

Quote
The preacher's in the stand
With the Bible in his hand
Sister's in the Amen corner singin' 'Sweet  mama, honey, hear me
I'm Alabama bound'

(He also sings of Elder Green with his long coat on)

Alf Valentine conflates the Amen Corner with Elder Green

Quote
Elder Green's in town
Runnin'(?) round and round
My sister in the Amen Corner's singin'
'Alabama bound'

Charlie Jackson also has Elder Green talking to a congregation

Quote
Elder Green's in town
And he's going around
And he's tellin' all the brothers and sisters he meets
He's Alabama bound

Mance Lipscomb sings

Quote
Oh the preacher's in the pulpit
Just a-waivin' his hand
And the sisters way back in the Amen Corner hollerin'
'Go on man'

...

Well the preacher's in the pulpit
[....]  on his knee
And I heard a sister crying' in the Amen Corner
'That's the man for me'

Doc Watson sings

Quote
Oh the preacher got lonesome
And laid his Bible down
Said he'd be in Alabama
'Fore the sun went down

I'm Alabama bound
Alabama bound
I've got a mule to ride
If the train breaks down

which is close to the Tennessee Ramblers'

Quote
Oh the Preacher got drunk
And throwed his Bible down
Told his congregation
I'm Alabama bound

I'm Alabama bound
I'm Alabama bound
If that train breaks down
I've got a mule to ride

For Brits of my generation, our introduction to the song was in the Skiffle craze. Here's Lonnie Donegan:



Either he got words from a book or somebody half-remembered a record. Either way he had a good  preacher verse

Quote
Well hear the preacher preach
Pass his hat around
Cryin' Brothers and sisters leave your money to me
I'm Alabammy bound

I suspect the choice of 'Alabammy' was influence by the Tin Pan Alley song popularised by Al Jolson. In another song, Jolson rhymed Alabamy with mammy.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:31:33 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2018, 01:34:40 PM »
When I posted, i hadn't figured how to play the Big Boy Henry file. His lyrics include hen verses

Quote
Well the rooster crowed
And flew to the ground
If yoant my loving, got to run me down
I'm Alabama bound

Well,the rooster told the hen
I said the rooster told the hen
Meet me down in the barnyard
About a half past ten

and two preacher verses

Quote
Well the preacher in the pulpit
Throwin' up his hands
Sister in the Amen Corner she screams
'That's my man'

Preacher man all [?]
Went down on his knee
Sister cried out 'That's the man
And all for me'

What a terrific musician! I've never heard him before. Why isn't he on all the postwar anthologies?
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:26:10 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2018, 07:29:07 AM »
DavidCrosbie, Big Boy Henry possibly had personal experience with the preacher verses in his version of Alabama Bound. He spent at least a decade as a preacher prior to resuming playing the blues once more in the early 1980s. It really seemed to help his music too as he was able to come up with coherent fully formed blues lyrics around an interesting  theme spontaneously.

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM - May 2018 - 'Alabama Bound'
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2018, 11:55:11 AM »
There's a thread on Alabama Bound & Don't You Leave Me Here on the Mudcat Cafe site:

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=97813

For me most exciting reference was to a record I'd forgotten about. Laura Smith's 1927 Don't You leave Me Here.



There's a composed introduction and some composed verses, but at the heart of the song is the chorus

Quote
The boat's up the river,
And it ain't comin' down.
But I believe to my soul my man
Is Alabama bound.

Several versions quoted from books have a similar chorus. So boat's up the river is another theme:

Henry Thomas sings in Don't You Leave Me Here

Quote
Says the boat's up the river
And she won't come down
I believe to my soul pretty mama
She's water bound

I look to the east
And I look to the west
If she heads to the South, Great God
She's Alabama bound
and he uses much the same in Cottonfield Blues

Charlie Jackson sings

Quote
Now the boat's up the river
And she's floated down
But she's eased on south now darling babe
Alabama bound

Papa Harvey Hull and Long Cleve Reed use the theme in Don't You Leave Me Here.

Quote
Boats up the river
Running side by side,
When you got my lovin' kind sweet babe,
Guess you're satisfied.

and with a more familiar wording in France Blues

Quote
Well the boat's up the river :
Baby and she won't come down
Well I believe to my soul
Baby boat is water bound

Somebody on the Mud Cafe thread refers to records titled Boat's Up the River. To my ears it's a completely different song drawing on the same traditional lyrics. However, the finest version ? by Ola Belle Reed ? uses the words She's Alabama bound. Unfortunately, nobody's uploaded it to YouTube, but there are several posting imitating her version.

Much better than these (but without the words Alabama bound) is John Jackson's version



Another reminder on the thread is Trixie Smith's Railroad Blues



Nothing really to do with our song, despite what they say on the thread.  Just the opening and closing lines lines:

Quote
Now if the train stays on the track, I'm Alabama bound
...
And if the Seaboard don't wreck, I'm Alabama bound

but a great record!
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:23:25 PM by DavidCrosbie »

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