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Author Topic: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics  (Read 39658 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2005, 08:28:58 PM »
Thanks very much, Hard Luck Child!  I am also a particular fan of Peg Leg Howell and will work on some more of his tunes--"Low Down Rounder", which has very interesting, kind of formal-sounding lyrics, "Tishimingo Blues" and "Georgia Skin Game".  I believe Frank Basile and his wife Kim have a version of Peg Leg and Eddie Anthony's "Rolling Mill Blues" posted on the Back Porch, and Suzy Thompson also recorded it on her new solo album on Arhoolie.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 27, 2005, 10:55:33 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2005, 11:07:01 AM »
Hi all,
Continuing on with Peg Leg Howell songs, here is his "Low Down Rounder's Blues", an unusual song in just about every way.  He plays it in C standard, capoed up, but a lot of what he's hitting doesn't sound like what anyone else played there, in particular his descending signature lick.  Note:  That's because Peg Leg Howell was playing in open C/Bflat tuning. 7/1/11  Lyrics have what seems a unique flavor and way of speaking, to me.
  
   Just a worried old rambler, with a troublesome mind (2)
   All bundled up from hardships, fates to me have been unkind.

   I wouldn't listen to mother, wouldn't listen to my dad (2)
   And by my reckless living, I've put myself in bad.

   (spoken) I wouldn't listen to nobody, I was headlong, wouldn't hear what nobody said.  Mama talked to me all the time, but I was a wil' child, wouldn't listen to her.

   I ain't trustin' nobody, I'm 'fraid of myself (2)
   I've been too lowdown, liable to put me on the shelf.

   My friends have turned against me, smilin' in my face (2)
   Since I been so disobed'ent, I must travel in disgrace.

   I cannot shun the devil, he stays right by my side (2)
   Tellin' you there's no way to cheat him, I'm so dissatisfied.

   Ain't nobody wants me, they wouldn't be in my shoes (2)
   I feel so disgusted, I got them low-down rounder blues.

I believe this one should be on the Juke, if you want to hear it.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 02:52:26 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2005, 05:02:34 PM »
Hi all,
As long as I'm on this lyric transcription jag, may as well do "Tishamingo Blues" too.  It is in Spanish, capoed up like "Coal Man Blues", and really pretty.  Come to think of it, every solo piece by Peg Leg Howell I have heard is capoed up, to suit his singing, I expect.

   I'm goin' to Tishamingo, 'cause I'm sad today
   I'm goin' to Tishamingo, because I'm sad today
   Say, the woman I love, she done drove me away

   I'm goin' to Tishamingo, to have my hambone boil (2)
   These Atlanta women done let my hambone spoil.

   I woke up this morning, 'tween midnight and day (2)
   I felt for my rider, she done walked away.

   Can't you always tell when, when your good gal's gonna treat you mean?
   Can't you always tell when your good gal's gonna treat you mean?
   Your meals is unregular, your house ain't never clean.

   You can always tell, there's something goin' on wrong (2)
   When you come in, your rider, she's out and gone.

   Say, when she come in, she got a rag tied 'round her head
   When she come in, she got a rag tied 'round her head.
   You speak about lovin', she swear she's almost dead.

   Mama, sweet mama, what's on your lovin' mind? (2)
   You can't quit me, 'tain't no need of trying.

   I've got a lovin' fary, she's long and tall like me
   Got a lovin' fary, 'n' she's long and tall like me
   I love my brownskin, I don't care where she be.

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2005, 02:48:40 PM »
Hi all,
Here are lyrics for Peg Leg Howell's "Please Ma'am".  It is a quick vocal/guitar call-and-response slide number in Vastapol.  I can't really think of another tune that I have encountered like it.  It has an almost chanting quality to it with a pre-Blues sort of feel--no V chord, and a straight major IV chord.  The picking is quite clean, as it generally was on Peg Leg's solo numbers, and would be quite difficult to figure out, because of the irregular nature of his thumbwork.  It is basically a backwards alternation from the 4th string down to fifth string, but then he omits stategic beats, changes the direction of the alternation, etc., all without interrupting the rhythmic flow and phrasing.  Whew!
   Please, Ma'am
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Try me one
   One more time
   Please, Ma'am
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   'f you take me back
   Please, Ma'am

   Been beggin' you
   All night long
   I'll acknowledge
   I've done wrong
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Please, Ma'am

   Beggin' you
   All night long
   I'll acknowledge
   I've done wrong
   Please, Ma'am
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   Please Ma'am, Babe, take me back, try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am

   Spoken:  Take me back, babe, I won't do wrong no more.  Try me one more time if you please.

   Beggin' you
   Down on my knees
   Beggin' you, Babe
   If you please
   Take me back
   Please, Ma'am,
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   Please, Ma'am, Babe, take me back, try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am

   Please, Ma'am, Babe, take me back, try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am

   I'm the poor old boy
   Beggin' you
   Take me back
   If you please
   Please, Ma'am
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Won't do wrong
   No more
   Please, Ma'am

   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Take me back
   Try me one more time
   Please, Ma'am


   Been beggin' you
   All night long
   I'll acknowledge
   I've done wrong
   Please, Ma'am
   Please, Ma'am, Babe,
   Take me back
   Try me one
   One more time
   Please, Ma'am

Each of the short lines is followed by a slide response.  If you would like to hear this one, I know John D. put it up on the Juke recently.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2005, 05:28:08 PM »
Hi all,
I just figured out lyrics for another song from Peg Leg Howell, his "Skin Game Blues".  As the lyrics make clear, Skin Game is a card game, and any pointers on how it is played would be appreciated.  One of the interesting things in the song is that Peg Leg does spoken asides where he appears to be assuming the identity of a pit boss or professional dealer.
The use of the word "nigger" is rarely encountered in recorded country blues lyrics--certainly less than in present day Rap or comedy routines.  It occurred with some frequency in the songs of some white Old-Time musicians like Earl Johnson or the Allen Brothers, though.
Peg Leg played this in Vastapol, with a slide intro, like "Please Ma'am".  Once he gets into the song he pretty much jettisons the slide.  At the end of each refrain, he does a walk-up in octaves between the 5th and 2nd strings, like Robert Wilkins did in "That's No Way To Get Along", except that Howell walks up to the major 7 note (4th fret) rather than the flat 7 note (3rd fret) that Wilkins used.
   When I came to Georgia
   Money and clothes I had, babe,
   All the money I had done gone, my
   Sunday clothes in pawn.

   Sunday clothes in pawn
   Sunday clothes in pawn, lovin' babe, my
   Sunday clothes in pawn

   Says you better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close, and
   You better let the deal go down.

Spoken:  Hold the cards!  A dollar more!  Two more halves!

   A dollar more the deuce beat a nine
   A dollar more the deuce beat a nine, lovin' babe,
   A dollar more the deuce beat a nine

   Went out to the skin game last night
   Thought I'd have some fun
   Lost all the money that I had made
   Had to pawn my special gun

   Had to pawn my special gun
   Had to pawn my special gun, lovin' babe,
   Had to pawn my special gun

   Says you better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close, and
   You better let the deal go down

   Says gambled all over Missouri
   Gambled all through Spain, babe,
   Police come to arrest me, babe,
   And they did not know my name

   And they did not know my name
   And they did not know my name, lovin' babe,
   And they did not know my name

   Better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close, and
   You better let your deal go down

Spoken:   Hold the cards!  A dollar more the deuce beat a nine!  Half more two!  Put up over there, nigger!

   Better let the deal go down
   Says you better let the deal go down

   Gambled all over Missouri
   Gambled through Tennessee, babe,
   Soon as I reached old Georgia
   The niggers carried a handcuff to me

   The niggers carried a handcuff to me, babe,
   The niggers carried a handcuff to me, lovin' babe,
   And the niggers carried a handcuff to me

   Better let a deal go down
   Skin game's comin' to a close
   And you better let the deal go down.

As with "Please Ma'am", "Skin Game Blues" was recently added to the Juke.
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2005, 05:42:41 PM »
Hi all,
I just found lyrics I transcribed for "Rolling Mill Blues", a duet Peg Leg Howell did with fiddler Eddie Anthony.  What a beautiful song!  It's real closely related to "In the Pines", that Bill Monroe did, and "The Longest Train", that J.E. Mainer did, as well as Leadbelly's "Black Girl".  Peg Leg played it in Spanish tuning, capoed up a ways.
   
   The rolling mill, baby, done broke down
   They're shipping no iron to town

   The longest train I ever seen
   Ran round Joe Brown's coal mine

   The engine was at the Four Mile Hill
   And the cab had never left town

   Corinne, Corinne, my lovin' Corinne,
   Honey, let your bangs grow long

   The train rolled of the tracks last night
   And killed my lovin' Corinne
   
   Her head was found in the driving wheel
   And her body have never been seen

   I didn't bring nothing to this old world
   And I won't carry nothing away

   It was late last night when my honey come home
   I heard her rapping on her door

   She got up in her stocking feet
   Went tipping across the floor

   Tell me, pretty mama, what evil have I done
   To make you treat me so?

   I've killed no man and I've robbed no train
   And I've got no hangin' crime.

   The lastest words I heard my baby say,
   "What more, babe, can I do?"

   "I've done more for you than I'll ever do again
   Goodbye, my love, goodbye."

I think it's pretty tough to beat the last two verses and verse seven for blues lyrics.

Edited 6/16 as per lyric corrections suggested by Frank Basile.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 07, 2007, 06:34:42 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2005, 04:38:23 PM »
Here's Turtle Dove. I agree with Phil, it's one of Peg Leg's great ones. Unusual guitar part, great singing...

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline phhawk

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2005, 04:52:47 PM »
Also, great lyrics. Many of these lines are used over and over again in any number of blues records, but here, Peg Leg uses them to perfection. The opening lines are killer:

I weep like a willow, moan like a dove.
Weep like a willow, moan like a dove
Weep like a willow, moan like a dove

Life ain't worth livin',
 if you ain't with the one you love

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2005, 12:54:52 AM »
Hi all,
I want to thank Phil for bringing "Turtle Dove Blues" to my attention, and also for him and Uncle Bud making the tune available to hear.  It really is a beauty, and unlike any of Peg Leg Howell's tunes I had previously heard.

"Turtle Dove Blues" is a 16-bar blues played out of the F position in standard tuning, with the unusual progression:
   |    VIminor 7      |    V7            |      I    /   V7    |         I            |
   |         IV            |       IV          |      I    /    V7   |         I            |
   |         IV            |       IV          |      I    /    V7   |         I            |
   |    VIminor 7     |      V7           |      I    /    V7   |         I            |
Peg Leg's most distinctive chord, the VI minor 7, is arrived at in an ingenious fashion.  He takes a D shape on the top three strings, moves it up the neck three frets, so it is an F chord, and then plays it over the open D string in the bass.  The result?  It is a D minor 7 chord that sounds really pretty in this context.  Peg Leg also alters the progression in the first four bars of his solo, going:
   |       I                |         IV          |          I             |      flat VII       |
The really cool thing is that he gets all four of these chord out of the D shape, getting the I chord at the 5th fret, the IV chord at the tenth fret, and the flat VII chord at the third fret.  In this context, the flat VII chord functions as a IV of the IV chord it is resolving to; the Mississippi Sheiks used the chord in exactly the same fashion in their song "Tellin' You 'Bout It".
Apart from all this, "Turtle Dove Blues" has beautiful lyrics and a great vocal.

   I weep like a willow, moan like a dove (3)
   Says life ain't worth livin' if you ain't with the one you love

   If I had wings like Norah's [sic] turtle dove (3)
   I would rise and fly, light on the one I love

   It's a low-down fireman, mistreating engineer (3)
   Took my gal away and they left me standing here

   I was standing at the station, waiting for my train
   Standing at the station, waiting for my train (2)
   And the tears run down just like the drops of rain

   Mr. Engineer, turn your engine 'round (3)
   For the woman I love, she done blowed this town

   Gonna leave here walkin', talkin' to myself (3)
   The woman I love, she can have somebody else

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 16, 2005, 09:06:01 AM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2005, 04:18:28 AM »
I've killed no man and I've robbed no store
 And I've got no honey now.

 The lastest words I heard my baby say,
 "What more, dear, can I do?"

 "I've done more for you than I'll ever do again
 Goodbye, my babe, goodbye."

I hear these verse with some very slight differences.  Very minor:

   I've killed no man and I've robbed no train
   And I've [done] no hangin' crime.

   The lastest words I heard my baby say,
   "What more, babe, can I do?"

   "I've done more for you than I'll ever do again
   Goodbye, my love, goodbye."

In the 'killed no man verse', I'm fairly certain that the first line ends with 'train' rather than 'store'.  In the second line, the third word does sound something like 'got' (or at least 'gone'), but I clearly hear 'hang-in' rather than 'honey' and hear something more like 'crime' (pronounced 'crahm') rather than 'now'.  The last word is about 98% vowel in any case, making it hard to work out anyway...

Even if it's not what he sang, I really like the 'killed no man' verse as I hear it - or as it presents itself to my imagination as the case may be.

I just noticed after looking over the lyrics that there's nary a rhyme in the whole song.  Even though I sing it, I never noticed that!

Offline frankie

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2005, 04:28:16 AM »
   If I had wings like Norah's turtle dove (3)
   I would rise and fly, light on the one I love

I think this is a case of a singer injecting an 'R' sound between two vowel sounds - I hear this as:

   If I had wings like Noah's turtle dove (3)

But 'Noah' is pronounced like 'No-r-ah', in much the same way that Walter Vincson pronounces 'going' as 'go-r-ing'.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: June 16, 2005, 09:02:35 AM »
Hi Frank,
You are right, the intent in "Turtle Dove Blues" is unquestionably "Noah's dove" and Peg Leg does the added "r" before a syllable beginning with a vowel.  Probably the most accurate way to transcribe it is "Norah's [sic] dove".  I never know how fussy to get about stuff like that.  One of the Angola CDs that Harry Oster recorded has  a tune listed as "Brother Norah" in exactly the same context.
Thanks for the catches in "Rolling Mill Blues", too.  "And I've done no hangin' crime" is sure enough right as is "goodbye, my love, goodbye".  I can't catch the word at the end of "I've robbed no ____?", he really swallows it.  I will make all the changes as per your suggestions.
If you have the time and inclination, could you vet the lyrics for "Woman, Woman" on the Ishmon Bracey thread?  Thanks for the input.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 16, 2005, 09:14:35 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2005, 02:57:41 PM »
Hi all,
Another great Peg Leg Howell solo number is his "Walking Blues", which he played capoed up in Spanish.  It's a real guitar showpiece, in which the verses are book-ended by introductory and concluding solos that are quite different from each other.  Peg Leg's accompaniment is like an instructional manual for how to get around in Spanish; he varies his accompaniment from beginning to end, as well as altering phrase lengths in a completely natural way. 
With the heavy immersion I have had in Peg Leg's music recently, I have noticed that he was unusually exacting in his tuning.  His guitar was always perfectly in tune, and songs recorded a year or two apart in the same tuning are precisely in tune with each other.  That isn't encountered all that often.

   Everybody got a lovin' mama but me
   Everybody got a lovin' ma but me
   That keeps me worried, troubled, don't you see?

   I'm goin' down South, wear 99 pair of shoes
   I'm goin' down South, mama, wear 99 pair of shoes
   I'm gonna keep a-walking, 'til I lose these blues

   Say your cryin', it sure don't make me stay
   Your cryin', it sure don't make me stay
   You keep on cryin' and further you drive me away

   Don't never drive a good man from your door (2)
   He may be your rider someday, you don't know

   I stood and cried, cried the whole night through
   I stood and cried, mama, cried the whole night through
   I swear I don't love no other one but you

All best,
Johnm

Offline phhawk

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2005, 07:34:56 PM »
Hello Johnm, I really appreciate your description of "Walking Blues". A perfect description. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Best, Phil
« Last Edit: June 18, 2005, 12:31:34 AM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #29 on: June 17, 2005, 09:03:34 PM »
Quote
With the heavy immersion I have had in Peg Leg's music recently, I have noticed that he was unusually exacting in his tuning.  His guitar was always perfectly in tune, and songs recorded a year or two apart in the same tuning are precisely in tune with each other.  That isn't encountered all that often.

No kidding.  Gotta love this. I'm a little slow(as always, but especially after TGIF happy hour), but now you've got me listening to Peg Leg Howell on a daily basis too- and I'm afraid I'll slip into heavy immersion.  (We'll have to start another support group.)

I don't know much about Peg Leg Howell (a little education please). It seems he was a prolific recorder - late 20's and early 30's? , Document has 3 "complete" issues so he recorded 60 to 70 songs or more both solo and w/ string band?   

So when you say he is perfectly in tune from year to year, is he also in A440?  eg... is he using a tuning fork?

Is there no end to pre war musical discoveries?   :)

Cheers,
slack