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We wanted to play the blues, so we got some stuff we recorded that's almost a blues and it's almost a waltz - which I think would be nice for y'all to learn about... Don't ever say "I can't do something because I don't have this..." I learned to play fiddle on a cigar box - Canray Fontenot

Author Topic: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics  (Read 39676 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #75 on: September 06, 2005, 11:56:43 AM »
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell recorded "New Jelly Roll Blues" with Henry Williams on second guitar and Eddie Anthony on fiddle.  I believe this recording was the source of the version of "Jelly Roll Blues" that fiddler Butch Cage and guitarist Willie Thomas did on the Arhoolie record "Country Negro Jam Session".  On the Howell version, Peg Leg is playing capoed up in Spanish, Henry Williams is playing without a capo in C, standard tuning, and Eddie Anthony is fiddling.  The ways the guitars are registered works really well; they sound great and are not in each other's way at all.  It is somewhat akin to the way that Frank Stokes and Dan Sane broke things down by playing capoed to different places and in different positions.  Peg Leg sings most of the verses and Henry Williams sings two.  On verse two, they have a mix-up in which each thought it was his turn to sing--they start the verse together (singing different lyrics), both stop, and then Peg Leg picks up the thread.  It's the kind of screw-up that would probably disqualify a take from being used on a CD nowadays, and I'm not at all sure that is to the good.  The take is in all other respects really spirited and strong, so I'm glad they issued it.  It is great the way the chorus is changed slightly as the song goes along to accommodate the different verses.  I especially like the tag line on the last chorus, it kind of comes out of left field.

   Jelly roll, jelly roll ain't so hard to find
   Ain't a bakin' shop in town bake 'em brown like mine
   I've got a sweet jelly, a lovin' sweet jelly roll
   If you taste my jelly it'll satisfy your weary soul

   [mix-up]  who say they're blind
   That jelly you got'll change anybody's mind
   I've got a sweet jelly, I've got a sweet jelly roll
   If you taste my jelly, your mama can't keep you home

   [Williams sings]  The reason I love my best gal so
   She's got the same jelly roll she had a hundred years ago
   [Fiddle]                    , sweet jelly roll
   When you taste that jelly it'll satisfy your weary soul

   [Williams sings] Jelly roll, jelly roll, layin' on the fence
   If you don't come and get it you ain't got no sense
   Taste that jelly, it's a lovin' sweet jelly roll
   Taste that jelly it'll satisfy your weary soul

   Old Aunt Dinah she's long and tall
   Spreads her legs from wall to wall
   Oh, she's got a sweet jelly, got a sweet jelly roll
   Taste your jelly,your mama can't keep you home

   She laid right down, in the grass
   You've never seed a woman shake her jelly so fast
   She's got a nice jelly to satisfy your weary soul
   Taste that jelly, your mama can't keep you home

   I've never been to church and I've never been to school
   Come down to jelly, I'm a jelly-rollin' fool
   I've got a sweet jelly, satisfy my weary soul
   I like my jelly and I like to have my fun

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #76 on: September 08, 2005, 11:23:30 PM »
Hi all,
"Papa Stobb Blues" was recorded on the same day as "New Jelly Roll Blues" and utilized the same personnel:? Peg Leg Howell on vocal and lead guitar, capoed up and played in Spanish, Henry William on flat-picked rhythm guitar in C, standard tuning and Eddie Anthony on fiddle.? The song has beautiful heavy time; it moves forward grudgingly.?
The lyrics employ an unusual archetype in which no lines are repeated.? The only other twelve-bar blues I can think of that works this way is Luke Jordan's "Church Bell Blues", though I'm sure there must be others.? The phrasing scheme has the first four-bar phrase completely full of lyrics; the second and third four-bar phrases are more conventional, with the lyrics falling in the first two bars of each phrase, and the following two bars available for fills or a turn-around at the end of the form.
The lyrics make no mention of the Papa Stobb of the song's title.? I suspect that "The Papa Stobb" may have been a local dance craze at the time this song was recorded, for in "Beaver Slide Rag", a lively instrumental tune from the same session, one of the guys in the band says a couple of times, "do the Papa Stobb".? The "panter" mentioned in verse 4 is a panther, of course.? I know that in frontier America panthers were sometimes called "painters"--"panter" is sort of halfway between "panther" and "painter".? I am stuck on the last line of the first and last verses.? Any help would be greatly appreciated.? I don't believe these are nearly as hard to hear as Ishmon Bracey's "Bust Up Blues", I'm just stuck.

? ?Two freight trains, mama, standin' side by side
? ?The Georgia's a nice one, but the Southern's the best to ride
? ?You can pack my suitcase, hand me all my clothes
? ?Mama, I just stayed last night, said please mama, I stayed outdoors

? ?I hoboed the Southern, I paid on the L & N,
? ?If you see me sober, mama, make me drunk again
? ?It's come on, Taglin [?], please don't weep and moan
? ?Say, your daddy leavin', count the days I'm gone

? ?Mississippi River is long, deep and wide
? ?Got a lovin' sweet mama, she's on the, the other side
? ?Had a mole on her face, it's just below her nose
? ?She's got a tooth in her head, I swear it's solid gold
? ?
? ?[fiddle] Mama, she's long and tall like me
? ?I love my sweet rider, don't care where she be
? ?She got Elgin movements, make a panter [sic] squall
? ?I'm so glad my sweet mama ain't got it all

? ?These my blues, I sing 'em as I please
? ?The onliest thing that give my heart ease
? ?I'm goin', sweet mama, to wean you off my mind
? ?You keep your daddy worried, troubled all the time

? ?Anybody ask you who composed this song
? ?Tell 'em Peg Leg Papa been here and gone
? ?I'm leavin', sweet mama, don't you want to go?
? ?I'm gonna take my fary, my buddy and two, three more

? ?My mama she told me when I's twelve years old
? ?Everything glitters, son, it ain't no gold
? ?Be careful, my boy, don't care what you do
? ?These women smile in your face but tain't no friend to you

? ?I whistled to the paper boy, the little boy stopped
? ?"What kind of paper, boy, have you got?"
? ?"I've got the Atlanta Journal, talk about the Mobile Flag
? ?I can tell you what [? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?]

Edited 9/9 to add Uncle Bud's addition to lyrics

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 09, 2005, 08:44:46 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #77 on: September 09, 2005, 07:15:46 AM »
In the first verse I hear something like:

 ?Two freight trains, mama, standin' side by side
? ?The Georgia's a nice one, but the Southern's the best to ride
? ?You can pack my suitcase, hand me all my clothes
? ?Mama, I just stayed last night, said please mama, I stayed outdoors


The last verse is a mystery. Is the last word engineer?
?

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #78 on: September 09, 2005, 08:37:42 AM »
Wow, that's great Andrew, I think that is dead on the money!? It's great what some fresh ears can hear.? I will make the change.? The last verse may conclude in "engineer", but may also conclude in "year".? I still can't hear it yet.? Have you tried the last line in "Banjo Blues"?? That one has me stumped, too.? Thanks for the help.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 09, 2005, 12:00:37 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #79 on: September 09, 2005, 09:01:58 AM »
I tried the last line in Banjo Blues but can't make it out. I think I hear the word 'preacher'.

Da da da preacher, da dada da da

A tough one!

Offline dj

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #80 on: September 09, 2005, 01:51:04 PM »
That last line's a tough one!  The best I can get right now is "I can tell you what [1] my [2] engine has".  The syllable at [1] sounds something like "churn" and doesn't sound like train, which is how I really want to hear it.  The syllables at [2] sound like "southeast" or "salty".

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #81 on: September 11, 2005, 11:31:18 AM »
Hi all,
You are right, Andrew and David, those last lines in "Papa Stobbs Blues" and "Banjo Blues" are really tough.  I may have figured out the last line in "Banjo Blues".  I am sure I have the back end of it right, less sure about the front end.
      Been to town to preacher, but she loves her gin 
See what you think.  Once again, any and all help is appreciated!
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #82 on: September 12, 2005, 10:00:09 AM »
Been to town to preacher, but she loves her gin?

I hear something that sounds like "top preacher". I'm not totally convinced the word is actually preacher, though I was the one who brought it up, and it could be that it just sounds like that. It would make more sense that it be a word ending in "-each" followed by "her" in the context of the verse being about his long and thin gal. The "but she loves her gin" sounds like it fits.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #83 on: September 12, 2005, 02:14:04 PM »
Hi all,
"Hobo Blues" was recorded on November 1, 1927 at the same recording session that yielded "Too Tight Blues", "Moanin' And Groanin' Blues" and "Peg Leg Stomp".  Once again, the trio of Peg Leg Howell and Henry Williams on guitars,  and Eddie Anthony on fiddle, did the honors, as on "New Jelly Roll Blues" and "Papa Stobb Blues". 
Instrumentally, "Hobo Blues" is a version of a piece that was recorded variously as "Cow-Cow Blues", by pianist Cow-Cow Davenport, "Jackson Stomp" by the Mississsippi Mud Steppers, and "Cigarette Blues" by Bo Carter, among many other recorded versions.  I am hard put to think of a country blues melody of similar complexity that was recorded more or less intact, melodically, in so many different instrumental settings.  Eddie Anthony starts out very rough on the fiddle, he sounds darn lonesome, but picks up steam as he goes along, and turns it around with stellar fills behind the vocal (which may be his own), and some really hairy descending double stops behind the end of the solo.  After focusing on this material for a while, I am trying to figure out why Eddie Anthony does not get more recognition as a blues fiddler, because he was terrific.  The guitars' division of labor is much the same as on the other tunes on which Henry Williams seconded Peg Leg Howell.  Henry Williams gets off a nifty boom-chang alternation in his bass over the IV chord, F, going between the first fret of the sixth string and the open fifth string.  I don't recall hearing anyone do that before.
The vocal phrasing on "Hobo Blues" follows an unfamiliar archetype.  The opening line of lyrics completely fills the first four-bar phrase, but when the line is repeated it is split over the second and third four-bar phrases.  Thus, you end up with a 12-bar blues in which one line is sung and repeated with minor variations.  It's unusual.  I have not transcribed spoken asides on the song, they're coming from all over the place.

   Set down on my jumper, iron my overall, I'm gonna ride that train you call the Cannonball,
   You can set down on my jumper, iron my overall, I'm gonna
   Ride that train you call the Cannonball

   Some says the Southern, b'lieve it's W & A, I'm gonna get the first train I see goin' out that way
   Some say the Southern, I believe it's W & A
   I'm gonna ride that first train I see goin' that way

   I woke up this morning, half past four, a long tall woman standin' knockin' on my door, I
   Woke up this morning, just about half past four
   You oughta seen the gang of women, standin' knockin' on my door

   Train left Cincinnati, goin' to New Orleans, oughta seen the fireman, tearin' up gasoline,
   Oh the train left Cincinnati, goin' to New Orleans
   Oughta seen that fireman, tearin' up gasoline

All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #84 on: September 22, 2005, 04:55:33 AM »
There's an interesting discussion of Beaver Slide Rag on the Early Blues website at

http://www.earlyblues.com/essay_peg%20leg%20howell.htm

Apparently the Beaver Slide was an Atlanta juke joint.  The essay contains a transcription of Peg Leg's and Eddie Anthony's spoken asides.  It speculates that "Papa Stobb" should be heard as "Papa Stubb", a reference to Peg Leg Howell.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #85 on: September 22, 2005, 07:55:36 AM »
Hi all,
You said a couple of posts back, Andrew, that you thought the first part of the last line in the last verse of "Banjo Blues" had a phrase that sounded like "top preacher".  I think you're right.  I'm hearing the entire last line as
   Likes the town's top preacher, but she loves her gin
I'll make the change, subject to revisions/improvements.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #86 on: October 13, 2005, 06:57:39 PM »
Hi all,
"Too Tight Blues" was recorded by Peg Leg Howell, with Eddie Anthony and Henry Williams, in a session on November 1, 1927 that also yielded "Moanin' And Groanin' Blues", "Hobo Blues" and "Peg Leg Stomp".  "Too Tight Blues" must have come out of Blind Blake's "Too Tight", and while it lacks Blake's nifty circle-of-fifths progressions and turn-arounds, it more than makes up for those lacks with an infectious "whatever happens is okay" spirit and deep backbeat that would have made it very danceable.  Instrumentally, it is kind of a free-for-all melee, with Henry Williams flat-picking in C position, standard tuning, Peg Leg capoed up playing out of Spanish tuning (almost inaudibly, at least as far as details go, until the outro) and Eddie Anthony fiddling.  The sung portion of the song is an 8-bar phrase that repeats.  The band switches to a 12-bar form for solos, and Eddie Anthony really shines on these; he does a wonderful bow-skittering descending phrase in his second big solo pass.  The chord progression is changed for two solo passes near the end of the tune, with a pretty VI chord inserted in the seventh and 8th bar. The vocal asides on this tune are amazingly entertaining.  Among them, "Just like Maxwell House"--answered, "Good to the last drop", and later on in the song "Do the Hindenburg" (!).  Eddie Anthony sings lead, Henry Williams doubles him an octave lower and Peg Leg joins in.  They were definitely having fun.  Any help with phrases in bent brackets would be appreciated.

   Grab your gal, fall in line, while I play this rag of mine,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, it just won't [        ], too tight, it make you moan,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, ain't you ashamed, too tight, I was shakin' that thing
   Too tight, that rag of mine

   Too tight, hear me cry, too tight, just won't die
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, look at old [         ], too tight, I got to pull it back out,
   Too tight, that rag of mine

   Grab your gal, fall in line, while I play this rag of mine,
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, into the gate, too tight, let's don't wait
   Too tight, that rag of mine
   Too tight, you hear me say, too tight, make us pray,
   Too tight that rag of mine

All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #87 on: October 14, 2005, 09:08:57 AM »
I am trying to figure out why Eddie Anthony does not get more recognition as a blues fiddler, because he was terrific.

Sorry for drifting slightly off-topic, here....

I don't know if the problem is that Eddie Anthony is particularly under-recognized, so much as that blues fiddling in general (not to mention CB as ensemble music) is almost totally unknown/ignored for the most part.  There are come great CB fiddlers - Eddie Anthony is certainly close if not actually on the top of the heap.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #88 on: October 14, 2005, 12:21:28 PM »
He was born in the 1880s, I believe, which makes him very important in studying and enjoying pre-blues and early blues music.
Born March 5, 1888, which was one of the motivations for George Mitchell to spend an entire day with a frail Howell recording him and his reminiscences in April 1963. Portions of what Howell told Mitchell were published in Blues Unlimited 10 (Mar 1964) under the heading of "I'm Peg Leg Howell". It ended with Howell saying "After Eddie Anthony died, I just didn't feel like playing any more. Not until now". The resultant LP that Mitchell and Pete Welding put together was a very sad affair with Howell shakily attempting to recreate Coal Man and Skin Game but slightly more confident with numbers like John Henry or Red River.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Peg Leg Howell Lyrics
« Reply #89 on: November 22, 2005, 01:21:52 PM »
Hi all,
Peg Leg Howell recorded "Turkey Buzzard Blues" with Eddie Anthony on fiddle, probably on October 30, 1928.? The tune is more commonly known in Old-Time circles as "Turkey In The Straw", though in Minstrel Show days, it was known as "Old Zip Coon".? "Turkey Buzzard Blues" is played in C here, though "Turkey In The Straw" is usually done in G, I believe.
I had despaired of every being able to figure out the lyrics on this number, because both Eddie and Peg Leg are singing throughout, and they were not overly careful about phrasing together, but? a couple of weeks ago, I re-listened for the first time in a long time, and was able to make some real headway.? The transcription is not complete by any means, but with some fresh ears and different perspectives applied to the task, I think we have a good chance of finishing this one up completely.
Once I began hearing the lyrics I realized that this song is a strong bit of evidence for the shared musical traditions of African-Americans and White Appalachian musicians.? Several of the verses may derive from minstrelsy, but others, like verses three and six, reference fiddle tune titles that are commonly encountered in the Old Time tradition:? "Chinkypin Hunting" and "Sugar In The Gourd".? A chinkypin, or chinquipin in some spellings, is, I believe a nut or berry, found on a bush.? Maybe somebody who knows the answer better than I can help us out.? The great musician Hobart Smith recorded a terrific banjo tune, "Chinquipin Pie", that I also recorded many years ago.
As usual, questionable lyrics or blank spaces will be set off with bent brackets.? Any help with the lyrics would be greatly appreciated.

? ?I had an old gal, tall and thin
? ?Had an old gal, she was tall and thin
? ?Had an old gal, tall and thin
? ?Everytime I [? ? ?? ?], I'd do it again

? ?If you got six bits that you think you wanta spend
? ?Got six bits, you think you wanta spend
? ?Got six bits, you think you wanta spend
? ?Go on around the [corner, let the cops get the wind?]

? ?Now, me and my gal went chinkypin huntin'
? ?Me and my gal went a-chinkypin huntin'
? ?Me and my gal went a chinkypin huntin'
? ?She fell down and I found sumpin'

? ?Have you ever went fishin' on a bright sunny day?
? ?Standin' on the bank, see the little fish play
? ?Hands in your pocket and your pocket in your pants
? ?See the little-bitty fish do the Hoochie Coochie dance

? ?Now, I had an old hen and had a peg leg
? ?Fattest old hen that ever laid a egg
? ?It laid more eggs than hens around the barn
? ?Another little drink wouldn't do me no harm

? ?There's sugar in the gourd, but I can't get it out
? ?Sugar in the gourd but I can't get it out
? ?Sugar in the gourd but I can't get it out
? ?Now, the way to get sugar, gotta roll it all about

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 23, 2005, 09:27:25 AM by Johnm »