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Author Topic: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics  (Read 54274 times)

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Offline Buzz

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Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« on: June 02, 2003, 03:23:02 PM »
Just been listening to these and other tunes on this CD, recommended by Michael Browne last summer. Learning a few
tunes. Thought we could play some of these, in different keys this PT Blues Camp, to keep our gray cells active!
Can't hear the words in Milk Cow Blues in 2 spots--any help, Weenies? ;D
Cheers, Miller
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Buzz

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Another 2, and I'll send the rest again separately, since I can't see that they all arrived.
Miller
« Last Edit: April 07, 2005, 11:35:10 PM by waxwing »
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Buzz

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Next
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Buzz

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next
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Johnm

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Hi Miller,
Which verses are you missing on "Milk Cow Blues"?
John

Offline Buzz

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Hi, John!
Thanks Weenies, for the lyrics to the Noah Lewis and Estes tunes. John, I would like all the words, in verse format is easiest for copying in Word, of the Milk Cow Blues. Thanks.Incidently , I put the unwound G on the National and have been revisiting the Pink Anderson Catfish , and the Patton and Curtis tunes, and have a few more strings for the trip,
 so I am ready and eager for any more unwound G tunes you may have on your agenda. Cool!
Only 2 weeks, Guys and Gals, only 2 weeks until PT!!! I am looking forward to the break from everyday stuff I always have to do(a vacation!), the comeraderie, the music and learning experince. See you ll soon.
Cheers,
Miller
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Johnm

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Hi Miller,
Here's what I have for "Milk Cow Blues".  I reckon some more input from other Weenies may clear up some of my trouble spots.
Now, asked sweet mama to let me be her kid,
She says I might get buggish, I couldn't keep it hid
Well, she looked at me, she began to smile
Says, "I thought I would use you for my man a while,
That's just don't let my huzman catch you there
Now, it's just don't let my huzman catch you there."

Now, went upstairs to pack my leaving trunk
I never saw no whiskey the blues done made me sloppy drunk
Saying, I never saw no whiskey, the blues done made me sloppy drunk
Now, I never saw no whiskey but the blues done made me sloppy drunk.

Now, some say the ?, some say the?, but it's the slow consumption killing you by degrees [pronounced the grees]
Lord, it's the slow consumption killing you by degrees
Now, it's the slow consumption and it's killing you by degrees.

Hope this helps.  You may be missing the same words I am, from the third verse.  Take care.
All best,
John

Offline Buzz

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Thanks, John!
Yes, I did hear that "the grees"--HA!
I'll listen again a few times to try to fill in that blank we have. Take care,
Miller
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Johnm

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Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2005, 10:43:01 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John Estes recorded "Fire Department Blues" in 1938, with Brownsville Son Bonds joining him on second guitar.  One of the guitarists (I believe Bonds) is playing out of G position in standard tuning, and the other guitarist is capoed three frets higher and playing out of E position in standard tuning.  The opening turn-around is given a dark cast by the under-recorded guitarist playing in E position hitting a V minor 7 chord.  The guitarist playing in G takes the lion's share of the fills, and plays a really nice, rhythmically complex, chromatic signature lick throughout the song.
There is something wonderful about John Estes' lyrics that mention people that he actually knew.  You get the same sort of feeling from Charlie Patton singing a song like "Tom Rushen Blues"; something about naming people who were acquaintances of the singer has the effect of pulling you into that world.  Verse four seems characteristic of Sleepy John Estes.  He always comes across very decently in his own lyrics, and it must be said, a lot of singers couldn't be bothered to care about such a thing.

   Now, go call the fire department, for my house is burning down (2)
   You know that must be little Martha Hardin, 'cause it's on the North side of town

   I see the people is running and I wonder who could it be 
   I say the peoples is running, and I wonder who could it be
   You know that must be little Martha Hardin, I saw 'em turn down on Wilson Street

   When you see the Chief, boys, please clear the street
   Now, when you see the Chief, boys, please clear the street
   'Cause you know he's goin' down, save little Martha Hardin's house for me

   She's a hard-workin' woman, you know her salaries is very small (2)
   Then when she pay up her house rent, that don't leave anything for insurance at all

   Now, I wrote little Martha a letter, five days it returned back to me (2)
   You know little Martha's house done burnt down, she done move over on Bradford Street

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 30, 2005, 10:51:27 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2005, 11:02:03 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John Estes was joined by Yank Rachell and a harmonica player known only as "Tee" for the 1929 session that yielded "Black Mattie Blues".  This is a different "Black Mattie" than the song done by such Northern Mississippi bluesmen as R.L. Burnside and Robert Belfour.  This version sports a signature lick that Sleepy John, Yank and Tee play in unison at the end of each vocal phrase.  It should be noted that Sleepy John's ensemble recordings generally showed a compositional bent for arranging the songs rather than a free-for all approach or a simple taking of turns playing the instrumental fills.  The harmonica player, Tee, deserves to be better known.  Working almost exclusively in the upper register, he does a great job of shadowing Sleepy John's vocal.
The lyrics for "Black Mattie Blues" follow for the most part an unusual ABB format.  The last verse is a refreshing change from "the day you quit me, that's the day you die" type lyrics.

   Oh, Black Mattie, where did you sleep last night?
   With your hair all tangled, clothes ain't fittin' you right (2)

   Now when I had money, "Hello, Sugarpie"
   Now I done spent all my money, "Goodbye, country guy" (2)

   Lord, my heart struck sorrow, tears come a-rolling down
   Now you know by that, babe, fixin' to leave your town
   Now you know by that, babe, I'm fixin' to leave your town

   Now, life ain't worth livin' if you ain't with the one you love
   Lord, life ain't worth livin' if you ain't with the one you love
   Now, life ain't worth livin' if you ain't with the one you love

   Now, you 3 X 7, you know what you want to do
   Now, the day that you quit me, I won't be mad wit' you (2)

Edited to pick up corrections from dingwall, 6/20/07

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 11:44:25 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2005, 08:49:29 AM »
Hi all,
"Lawyer Clark Blues" was recorded by Sleepy John with Brownsville Son Bonds in 1941.  It is a 12-bar "chorus" blues, with both guitarists playing out of G position in standard tuning.  The song is really well recorded--you feel as though you are in the room with the musicians.  The guitars are right on top of each other, and the sound is exciting, not particularly worked out, but very confident.  The lyrics are wonderful, as was often the case with Sleepy John's songs. 

   Now, got offices in town, resident out on Century Road
   He got a nice little lake right inside the grove,
   Boys you know I like Mist' Clark, yes, he really is my friend
   He say if I just stay out the grave, he see that I won't go to the pen

   Now, Mist' Clark is a lawyer, his younger brother is, too
   When the battle get hot, he tell him just what to do
   Boys, you know I like Mist' Clark, yes, you know he is my friend
   He say if I just stay out the grave, he see that I won't go to the pen

   Now, he lawyer for the rich, he lawyer for the poor
   He don't try to rob nobody, just bring along a little dough
   Boys, you know I like Mist' Clark, yes, he really is my friend
   He say if I just stay out the grave, he see that I won't go to the pen

   Now, once I got in trouble, you know I was gonna take a ride
   He didn't let it reach the courthouse, he kept it on the outside
   Boys, you know I like Mist' Clark, yes, he really is my friend
   He say if I just stay out the graveyard, poor John I see you won't go to the pen

   Now, Mist' Clark is a good lawyer, he good as I ever seen
   He's the first man that prove that water run upstream
   Boys, you know I like Mist' Clark, yes, he really is my friend
   He say if I just stay out the grave, poor John, I see you won't go to the pen

Edited 10/30 to pick up correction from Bunker Hill and Uncle Bud.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 31, 2005, 09:37:09 AM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2005, 11:55:07 AM »
Hi all,
"Lawyer Clark Blues" was recorded by Sleepy John with Brownsville Son Bonds in 1941.  It is a 12-bar "chorus" blues, with both guitarists playing out of G position in standard tuning.  The song is really well recorded--you feel as though you are in the room with the musicians.  The guitars are right on top of each other, and the sound is exciting, not particularly worked out, but very confident.  The lyrics are wonderful, as was often the case with Sleepy John's songs.  Any help with the phrase in bent brackets would be appreciated.

   Now, he lawyer for the rich, he lawyer for the poor
   He don't try to rob nobody, [just bring along to the store]
   Boys, you know I like Mist' Clark, yes, he really is my friend
   He say if I just stay out the grave, he see that I won't go to the pen
I realise this doesn't meant it's so but fwiw he re-recorded this a couple of times in the 60s and from memory what he sings on those are variants of "just bring along a litle dough".

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2005, 08:39:44 PM »
I hear "just bring along a little dough" in Lawyer Clark as well.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2005, 09:37:16 PM »
Thanks very much, Bunker Hill and Uncle Bud, for the correction to the "Lawyer Clark Blues" lyrics.  I gave it a listen, and you are dead on the money.  It's so easy to hear sometimes, once you've been given the correct lyric!  I will make the correction.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2005, 10:49:24 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John Estes recorded "Broken-Hearted, Ragged and Dirty Too" in 1929, along with Yank Rachell on mandolin and Jab Jones on piano.  It is unusual when considered in comparison to the rest of the songs that group recorded, for the ensemble was generally well-prepared and was able to achieve good, tight takes in the studio, but on "Broken-Hearted, Ragged and Dirty Too", Sleepy John is losing Jab Jones left and right with his idiosyncratic phrasing.  Sleepy John is generally long with his first four-bar phrase and short over his IV chord; Jab Jones never does figure out Sleepy John's timing over the entire course of the rendition.  As a result, they have a kind of vertiginous ensemble sound, with the various interpretations of the form flipping over each other.  Like most really weird takes of Country Blues or Old-Time music, if you listen to it three or four times in succession, it starts to sound normal . . . but it definitely is not.  Perhaps it is significant that this is one of the trio's earliest recorded collaborations; maybe Jab Jones had not become accustomed to Sleepy John's way of phrasing yet.  The lyric model for this song comes from Blind Lemon Jefferson, though Sleepy John doesn't take long to change it.

   Now, I'm broke and I'm hearted, I'm ragged and I'm dirty, too
   Now I'm broken-hearted, ragged and I'm dirty, too
   And if I clean up, pretty mama, may I stay all night with you?

   Now, can't come in, mama, let me sit down on your porch
   Now, if I can't come in, mama, let me set down on your porch
   Lord, I will leave so soon that your man, he won't never know

   Now, I went to my window but I couldn't see through my blinds
   Now I went to my window, couldn't see through my blinds
   I heard the bed springs poppin' and I really heard my baby cryin'

   How can I feel misery, baby, and feel at ease?
   How can I feel misery, baby, feel at ease?
   And have a woman in Brownsville and she goin' with who she please

   Now, sure as the stars gon' shine in the world above (2)
   You know life is too short for to worry 'bout the one you love

EDITED TO ADD, ON NOVEMBER 1:  I think the musical analysis above is not in-depth enough to make sense of the ensemble playing on "Broken-Hearted, Ragged and Dirty, Too".  After repeated listening, I think it is a miracle how well Jab Jones and Yank Rachell do stay with Sleepy John on this song.  I will try to prepare a more thorough analysis of how the ensemble works on this song, and post it on the "Vocal Phrasing:  The Long and The Short of It" thread, when I'm satisfied that I've made some sense out of it.  JMM

Edited to pick up corrections from dingwall, 6/20/07

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 11:43:27 PM by Johnm »

 


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