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I told a white fellow once, "If you were black for one Saturday night and on Beale Street, never would you want to be white again" - Rufus Thomas

Author Topic: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics  (Read 40157 times)

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Offline Stuart

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #45 on: July 16, 2005, 06:42:59 PM »
For what it's worth--to follow Rivers' "good thread in it's own right":

When I want thoroughly researched, well reasoned, articulate writing by the best minds at the forefront of culture and civilization, I go to the finest publications available at academic institutions of higher learning. However, when I want an accurate and comprehensive understanding the content and context of this pathetic existence that I refer to as my life, I seek the wisdom and insights that are evoked by the images which come forth from the lyrics of the country blues.

JohnM used the words, "apropos of nothing, just kind of nutty or enigmatic"--if the shoe fits...

Stu

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #46 on: August 09, 2005, 01:07:59 PM »
Hi all,
Another great Peg Leg Howell solo number from early in his recording career is "Fo' Day Blues".? It has a flexible structure as did many of the early blues; it is 16 bars in the first, fifth and sixth verses, and otherwise a 12-bar blues.? Why not?? The extra repetition in the 16-bar verses can be used for emphasis.? Peg Leg played it in A standard, a position he did not record any other solo performances in, and it is a harbinger of many characteristics found in later East Coast A standard tuning blues:? the slid A barre and the D7 with the wrapped thumb fretting the second fret of the sixth string, among others.? Clarence Greene's "Johnson City Blues" sounds like it could have been influenced by it.
Note:  The last verse is most often begun "I'd rather", as opposed to "I'm gonna".  Peg Leg does say "I'm gonna" though it makes less sense with the last line.

? ?I woke up this mornin', 'tween midnight and day (3)
? ?I felt for my rider, she done eased away

? ?Sweet mama, sweet mama, your papa double do love you
? ?Sweet mama, sweet mama, papa double do love you
? ?Says, crazy about the way sweet mama do

? ?My rider got somethin', I really don't know what it is (2)
? ?When I wake up in the mornin' can't keep my body still
?
? ?My rider got somethin', they call it the stingaree
? ?My rider got somethin', called it the stingaree
? ?I wake up every mornin' it worryin', worryin' poor me

? ?I'm goin', I'm goin', mama, ain't comin' here no more
? ?I'm goin' away, mama, ain't comin' here no more (2)
? ?When you see me leavin', pin crate [sic] on your door

? ?Says the Mississippi River, mama, is long and deep and wide
? ?The Mississippi River is long and deep and wide
? ?The Mississippi River long and deep and wide
? ?I've got a lovin' fary, she's on the other side

? ?I'm goin' up the country, mama, honey, and I won't carry you
? ?I'm goin' up the country, mama I won't carry you
? ?'T'ain't nothin' up the country, sweet mama, you can do

? ?I'm gonna drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log
? ?Gonna drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log
? ?Then to be in Atlanta, treated like a dog

All best,
Johnm
Note:  Edited 8/9 to pick up corrections as per dj's comments.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2005, 05:09:40 PM by Johnm »

Offline blueshome

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #47 on: August 09, 2005, 01:48:02 PM »
John,

I trust we're going to get some Peg Leg at Bluesweek?

 :P

Phil

Offline Rivers

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #48 on: August 09, 2005, 01:55:03 PM »
"I've got a lovin' fairy, she's on the other side"

Could that be 'faro'?
I don't have the recording handy.

Offline dj

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #49 on: August 09, 2005, 02:34:19 PM »
I was just listening to it, and it's definitely "fairy".  It's an alternate form of faro, for sure.  I guess you could spell it any number of ways.  Something like faree or fairee might be a better choice, just to avoid confusing associations.

I actually grabbed the CD and gave it a listen because I was sure John had misheard "crate" for crepe in the last line of verse 5, but Peg Leg clearly sings "crate" (though he must have meant crepe).  On the other hand, I clearly hear "ain't comin' here no more" in the first 3 lines of the 5th verse.       

Thanks, John, for the lyrics and analysis!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2005, 05:30:52 PM by dj »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #50 on: August 09, 2005, 05:02:49 PM »
Hi all,
Thanks very much for the catch on verse 5, dj, you are absolutely right.? I had transcribed "here" but typed in "home" when doing the post.? I will make the correction.? Similarly, I agree that "fary" is Peg Leg's version of "faro".? He never says "faro" anywhere, but his meaning is certainly not "fairy".? Where I have transcribed it in earlier songs on this thread, I have used the spelling "fary".? I'll return to it here, as well.? Thanks for the careful reading, everybody, I appreciate it, and I think it ensures better and more accurate transcriptions.? And yes, Phil, I do intend to do some Peg Leg in my class at EBA.? I'm heading out tomorrow, and really looking forward to it.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 10, 2005, 05:28:23 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #51 on: August 09, 2005, 11:22:20 PM »
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell recorded "Ball And Chain Blues" with the eccentric mandolin player, Jim Hill, on April 13, 1929.  Peg Leg played "Ball And Chain" in Spanish tuning capoed up a ways.  Instrumentally speaking it is not one of his most distinctive numbers, though it features the beautiful tone and perfect intonation we have come to associate with his playing.  Jim Hill's playing is kind of mysterious.  It is almost inaudible, yet despite that, lends a lot of color to the instrumental timbre.  It almost sounds like he was playing a multi-coursed instrument like the Puerto Rican quatro or the tiple.
As I listen to more Peg Leg Howell tunes, I become more impressed with how many of his lyrics turn up in later songs, as Lemon's did.  Verse three from "Ball and Chain" shows up, more or less intact, in John Hurt's "Monday Morning Blues", and the final verse appeared in Fred McMullen's "Dekalb Chain Gang".  Jim Hill supplies pretty much non-stop peanut gallery-type commentary throughout the song that I have not transcribed.  I don't think the phrase "poor boy" in verse 5 is right.  Any help would be appreciated.
   
   I laid in jail, back turned to the wall (2)
   Says, a Georgia woman was the cause of it all

   They arrested me, carried me 'fore the judge
   They arrested me, they carried me 'fore the judge
   Said, the judge wouldn't allow me to say a mumbling word

   I asked the judge, "What might be my fine?" (2)
   Said, "A pick and shovel, deep down in the mine"

   I told the judge, "I ain't been here before"
   I told the judge, "Ain't been here before"
   "If you give me light sentence, I won't come here no more"

   "Mr. Judge, Mr. Judge, please don't break so hard" (2)
   I've always been a [poor boy?], never had no job

   And the next day, carried the poor boy away
   The next day, they carried that poor boy away
   Say, the next day, I laid in ball and chains

   Take these stripes off my back, chains from 'round my leg
   Stripes off my back, chains from 'round my leg
   This ball and chain about to kill me dead

All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #52 on: August 09, 2005, 11:57:28 PM »
Lyrics also similar to Julias Daniels, 99 Year Blues.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #53 on: August 12, 2005, 10:14:08 AM »
Hi all,
Yet another early Peg Leg Howell solo number was his "New Prison Blues".  He played it in E, standard tuning, and as with "Fo' Day Blues", the accompaniment seems to hint at things to come in many future E standard tunes.  Also like "Fo' Day Blues", it moves into a 16-bar format while being primarily a 12-bar blues.
Certainly the most striking feature of the song is the grisly opening verse.  It is hard at this time to imagine the place for such a verse in a popular music with a primary function of entertainment.  Certainly, you encounter really tough verses in this music from time to time, but this one seems particularly ghoulish.  There is nothing in the performance that indicates Peg Leg intended it to be construed in a humorous light; rather, he sings it with the flat emotional affect of an Old-Time singer like Dock Boggs doing a murder ballad.Peg Leg's verse four (the one he goes 16 bars on) is one of my favorite blues verses.

   Says, I'll cut your throat, mama, drink your blood like wine
   I'll cut your throat, mama, and drink your blood like wine
   Say, you can't quit me and t'ain't no need of tryin'

   I'm goin' up the country, mama, swear the time ain't long
   I'm goin' up the country, mama, I swear the time ain't long
   Don't believe I'm leavin' count the days I'm gone

   I stood on the corner 'til I got soakin' wet
   I stood on the corner, brownie, 'til I got soakin' wet
   I bowed my head at every brown I met

   I stood on the corner, looked two blocks and a half (3)
   I didn't see my rider, but I'm sure I heard her laugh

   Sayin', I don't want no woman got hair like drops of rain
   I don't love no woman got hair like drops of rain
   Says, the woman I love got hair like a horse's mane

   Mama, if you don't want me what makes you whine and cry? (2)
   You called me sweet daddy when you see me passin' by

   When you see me comin', mama, heist [sic] your window high (2)
   When you see me leavin' hang your head and cry

   I'd rather drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow tree (2)
   Than to hear my fary say she don't want me

All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #54 on: August 14, 2005, 12:27:20 PM »
Certainly the most striking feature of the song is the grisly opening verse.? It is hard at this time to imagine the place for such a verse in a popular music with a primary function of entertainment.? Certainly, you encounter really tough verses in this music from time to time, but this one seems particularly ghoulish.? There is nothing in the performance that indicates Peg Leg intended it to be construed in a humorous light; rather, he sings it with the flat emotional affect of an Old-Time singer like Dock Boggs doing a murder ballad.

   Says, I'll cut your throat, mama, drink your blood like wine
   I'll cut your throat, mama, and drink your blood like wine

John, you and I have had discussions about these kinds of lyrics before  - particularly violence against women in old blues lyrics, and especially out of context, throwaway lines - and have agreed that, for ourselves, there are certain things we can't imagine singing. This line has always struck me as so ghoulish as to be poetic, albeit in the darkest way. I could see incorporating it into a bad man ballad or murder ballad somehow. It is a pretty astonishing image regardless of what era you're in. I have a vague recollection of a similar line appearing somewhere else from another CB artist. I can't recall and could be mistaken.

Anyway, if I was a woman, this is not a guy I'd be looking to date...  Yikes!

Offline waxwing

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #55 on: August 14, 2005, 12:57:43 PM »
Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas - Skinny Leg Blues:

I'm gonna cut your throat, baby, look down in your face(2X)
Hey, gonna look down in your face
I'm gonna let some lonesome graveyard be your restin' place

'Course it was violence against men in that situation. Is that any different?

And how the hell are any of us gonna sing Tired of Bein' Mistreated? I guess Clifford G at least has some justification, or is singing his frustrated fantasy which would never really be carried out? I'll try to post the lyrics to both versions later this week and we can discusss this in that thread, as it seems a little OT here.
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: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #56 on: August 14, 2005, 04:56:20 PM »
That's a pretty spooky and nasty one as well. But I was thinking of the combination of throat-cutting and drinking the blood like wine. Clifford Gibson has a throat-cutting line in Tired of Being Mistreated #1. #2 is much milder as I recall.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
« Reply #57 on: August 23, 2005, 03:10:20 PM »
Hi all,
It is over a year since this topic was posted on, but I realized after all the recent listening I have been doing to Peg Leg Howell's music that I might be better equipped to get the lyrics now than when I first attempted it.? Sure enough, I think except for the line in bent brackets, I'm pretty sure I've got it now.

? ?Verses 1 and 2--moaning and groaning in harmony

? ?My gal's in trouble, my gal's in trouble, I've seen trouble, too
? ?My sweet mama's in trouble, from the love of you
? ?That's the reason why you hear moanin' like I do

? ?Verses 3 and 4--moaning and groaning in harmony

? ?Gonna get me a fary, gonna get me a fary, train her to my hand, oh Lord
? ?Gonna get me a sweet fary, train her to my hand
? ?If I can't find a brown gonna do the best I can

Any improvements/refinements are most welcome.

Edited 8/24 to pick up corrections from John Dodson
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 24, 2005, 10:17:01 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #58 on: August 23, 2005, 03:27:49 PM »
Hi all,
Another particularly interesting Peg Leg Howell solo number is his "Fairy Blues".? It was recorded at the same session as his "Low Down Rounder Blues", immediately following it, and shares much of the same sound, as well as the enigmatic C position tuning.? Judging from the lyric, and from other songs he did, he rated "baby ways" very highly in a lover.? I really like the use of the verb "tip" in verse two.? It shows up in a lot of country blues lyrics, and seems to have such a context-specific meaning--to move furtively to an illicit assignation, or return furtively from such a rendezvous.? The last line of verse two sounds like rationalization.? Whatever.

? ?I got a lovin' sweet fary, she treats me nice and kind (2)
? ?She treats me so lovin', she satisfy my mind

? ?She may be your gal, but she tip to see me sometime (2)
? ?She sleeps with you but she got me on her mind

? ?SPOKEN:? Who's the man with the baby ways?? Must be Papa Peg.? The womens pet and the mens hates it.

? ?She's low, she's squatty, she got baby ways (2)
? ?She got Elgin movements, sure will make you raise

? ?Mama, mama, sweet mama, see what you done done
? ?Sweet mama, sweet mama, see what you done done
? ?You've caused me to weep, caused me to leave my home

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 23, 2005, 06:13:56 PM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Moanin' and Groanin' Blues
« Reply #59 on: August 23, 2005, 04:21:21 PM »
Hi John,

I get a little different take on the first verse - with some uncertain areas as well - see what you think:

 My gal's in trouble, my gal's in trouble, I've seen [or I've been?] trouble, too much
 My sweet mama's in trouble, Oh I'm in trouble too
 And the reason I worry is [honey] like I do

(How was EBA week?  Any weenies show up?)

Cheers,
slack