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Author Topic: Blind Willie McTell lyrics  (Read 48075 times)

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Offline frankie

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #45 on: June 13, 2006, 07:36:30 AM »
It's on Vol. 3 - emusic's got it.  I'll probably dl it tonight when I get a chance.  That and Sugar Blues.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2006, 10:40:30 AM »
One of my "technocrat" colleagues has done a super job of declicking, dehissing and generally cleaning up my cassette copy and converted it to an mp3. Only trouble is the size - 3.5meg - which I guess is far, far too large to download here.

Offline frankie

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2006, 06:25:47 PM »
It seems clear to me that McTell's Razor Ball is a cover of of Sara Martin's.  I haven't had time to do a transcription, but here's the tune:

Sara Martin - Down At The Razor Ball

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #48 on: June 13, 2006, 11:55:21 PM »
It seems clear to me that McTell's Razor Ball is a cover of of Sara Martin's. 
And I'm fairly sure that it probably pre-dates her - vaudeville perhaps?

Offline Doug

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #49 on: June 14, 2006, 07:51:55 AM »
Thanks frankie....  interesting to hear a different take on it.  I'm not sure how much it'll help us with McTell's version though, since the parts uncle bud couldn't decipher seem to be places where he deviates from Sara's version.  But here are my notes on the disputed parts:

And then Mike took Charlie, shot his automatic twin
Charlie grabbed his gal, and he crawled?? cross ten

Sounds to me like Sara is singing something like:

Slim?? says to Charlie, shot automatic Slim,
Cause Charlie took his gal, and double crossed him

I'm not sure about the name at the first part of the line (Slim, Tim, Jim, Vin?), but I'm wondering if it's the same name we can't quite decipher at the end of the couplet when McTell sings it.  (The scenario here is different from what I assumed too...  I had though Charlie grabbed his own gal because he was shot; this version makes Charlie shot because he took someone else's gal).

Police came and pull the hall?? down at the razor ball

She definitely uses the phrase "pulled the hall" repeatedly throughout the song.

Put the/your lights out Kelly/Callie ?cause fightin's my game

Aw, Butcher-Knife-Sally said "fightings the game"...

(Which is nice to know, but it doesn't sound like what McTell's singing here...)

Incidentally, there's a bit of a "sound artifact" on McTell's version.  I would call it an echo, but it comes before the main part....  Between his spoken intro "Let's talk about this razor ball" and when he starts singing there's a faint foreshadowing of his first line.  I presume this is something from the deterioration of the master, right?
« Last Edit: June 14, 2006, 07:56:22 AM by Doug »

Offline frankie

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #50 on: June 14, 2006, 08:23:42 AM »
And I'm fairly sure that it probably pre-dates her - vaudeville perhaps?

Seems like it might be - a brief search of sheet music titles with 'razor' in the title brought up a few interesting hits:  "Never raise a razor 'less you want to raise a row", but nothing with a title even remotely like "Down At The Razor Ball."  (not that this would mean that the title doesn't come from the vaudeville stage, however)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #51 on: June 14, 2006, 10:57:15 AM »
Police came and pull the hall?? down at the razor ball
She definitely uses the phrase "pulled the hall" repeatedly throughout the song.
This is a bit tenuous in this context but Eric Partridge in his Dictionary of the Underworld (RKP, 1949) cites:
"Pulled", of the police,  to raid" and quotes a couple of 1870 usages from New York, one of which is "they [police] pulled the place but it was promptly opened the next morning, business a usual".
« Last Edit: June 14, 2006, 10:58:49 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #52 on: June 14, 2006, 01:16:45 PM »
An expression used even today is that "They (police or, more often fire department) pulled the license on the club." I don't know whether licences to serve alcohol were a requirement (I imagine so), but this may have been the derivation of the expression, which, in the vernacular, could have evolved to mean arresting everyone..

Just a thought.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #53 on: June 19, 2006, 08:17:09 AM »
Thanks Frank and all. I've been pretty much offline for awhile, so haven't had a chance to get to this properly. It's great to hear Sara Martin's version. I'll need to listen more carefully on better speakers than my laptop provides but so far I hear her sing

Down at the Razor Ball given at the Razor Hall
Sluefoot Mose and Cross-Eyed Joe didn't go at all
But they hung around outside and this is what they spied
Crapshootin' Ann was in the hall and started into fight
Joe got drunk, and that ain't all, he went and turned out the lights
Winchester Charlie shot Automatic Slim
'Cause Charlie took his gal and doublecrossed him
The police came and pulled the hall down at the razor ball

I said now Crapshootin' Ann was in the hall and started into fight
Joe got drunk and that ain't all, he went and turned out the lights
Butcher Knife Sally (Sallie?) said "fightin's the game
Put me head of the list and don't forget to call my name"
The police came and pulled the hall down at the razor ball
I said now, down at that razor ball


It seems clear McTell simply screws up, or reinterprets ;), the lyrics in places. Then of course adds his own bits.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2006, 08:18:36 AM by uncle bud »

LoneWolf

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #54 on: February 27, 2007, 02:00:23 PM »
Does anybody have the lyrics to that song? It can be found on his session for Lomax.

Offline natterjack

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #55 on: February 27, 2007, 02:43:21 PM »
It has quite a long spoken/hummed intro first but the lyrics of the song are:

You just well to get ready, you got to die, you got die
You just well to get ready, you got to die
It may be tommorrow, you can't tell the minute or the hour
You just well to get ready, you got to die, you got die

Just well to live in union, you got to die, you got die
Just well to live in union
May be tommorrow, Lord, you can't tell the minute or the hour
You just well to get ready, you got to die, you got die

Just well to love your enemies, you got to die
You just well to love your enemies
May be tommorrow, you can't tell the minute or the hour
Get ready, you got to die, you got die

Spoken: Way back in them days you'd see mothers and fathers wanderin' around in the field singin'

I am climbing high mountains, tryin' to get home
I am climbing high mountains, tryin' to get home
I am climbing high mountains, lord, I'm climbing high mountains
I'm climbing high mountains, tryin' to get home

I am bearin' the names of many, tryin' to get home
I am bearin' the names of many, tryin' to get home, lordy lord
I am bearin' hard burdens, I am bearin' hard burdens
I am bearin' hard burdens, tryin to get home.


That's the basic words, a lot of the time he doesn't sing the last few words of the line (or sometimes the first few words of the line) but substitutes them for a slide guitar fill.

LoneWolf

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #56 on: February 27, 2007, 02:53:32 PM »
Thank you so much!

It was the "minute/hour" line that I couldn't figure out...

Beatiful song!

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #57 on: November 11, 2008, 06:53:28 AM »
This is unquestionably the most mysterious and controversial lyric in the whole cannon. I've been perplexed for the entire thirty plus years I've been playing it. Here's today's interpretation:
"Can I get down snake lemon and tappin plantin' two ply on your floor"
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #58 on: November 11, 2008, 07:01:27 AM »


From Merriam-Websters
Pronunciation:
\-ˈplī\
Function:
adjective
Date:
1839
1: consisting of two thicknesses
2 a: woven with two sets of warp thread and two of filling <a two?ply carpet> b: consisting of two strands <two?ply yarn>
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #59 on: November 11, 2008, 08:38:06 AM »
Interesting bit of folklore. Relevant perhaps?
http://www.lemonquartz.com/folklore.php

What can lemon quartz do for me?

Do you have a problem controlling evil thoughts? This is not only thoughts about someone you dislike, this can be anything from self-limiting beliefs, thoughts that cause anxiety (always thinking about what may go wrong instead of what my go right), and any other bad thoughts.

Lemon quartz can protect you from these evil thoughts. If you feel depressed, maybe you should try to wear some lemon quartz, or keep it close by - in your pocket, desk drawer, or nightstand. You should consult a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment plan for your condition.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision