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Author Topic: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics  (Read 970 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« on: August 11, 2016, 01:14:30 PM »
Hi all,
Roscoe Holcomb was first found and recorded by John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers in the late '50s in Kentucky.  This recording of "Moonshiner" is from the second Folkways record he was on, the somewhat misleadingly titled "Roscoe Holcomb & Wade Ward", misleading in the sense that the two musicians did not play with each other, but were rather each given one side of the record for their music.
Roscoe's emotional identification with whatever he was singing was profound and unmistakeable.  That quality taken in conjunction with what you might call the "pure sound" of his singing makes for some really intense listening.  Roscoe's quality of always being intensely present and engaged in whatever he was singing reminds me a bit of Leadbelly's singing of unaccompanied songs on the first disc of his "Last Sessions".  Neither singer's attention wanders for an instant. 
"Moonshiner" has one of those Appalachian pentatonic melodies, starting each line on the II note of the parent major pentatonic scale and concluding each line on the V note below.  The range of the melody is not great, going from the low V note it concludes on up to a high point of the III note of the parent major scale a sixth above.  Here is Roscoe's performance of "Moonshiner":

   

It's, I have been a moonshiner ever since that I've been born
It's, I've drunk up all of my money and stilled up all of my corn

It's, I'll go up some dark hollow and put up a moonshine still
Say, I'll make you one gallon for a five-dolloh bill

It's, I'll go up some dark hollow and get you some booze
It's, if the revenues don't get me, no money will I lose

It's, come on all of you moonshiners and stand all in a row
You look so sad and lonesome, you're lonesome, yes I know

It's, God bless them pretty women, I wish they all were mine
Their breath smells so sweetly like good old moonshine

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2016, 01:18:03 PM »
Hi all,
For his version of "Trouble In Mind", Roscoe sounds as though he was playing his banjo out of open D tuning, f#DF#AD.  Please let me know if I have this wrong, you banjo players out there.  The intensity and focus of Roscoe's vocal tone, and especially his held notes are something to marvel at in this rendition.  Here it is:



INTRO SOLO

Trouble in mind, I'm blue, but I won't be blue always
'Cause the sun's gonna shine in my back door someday

Goin' down to the railroad, lay my head down on the line
Let that eastbound freight train satisfy my worried mind

Trouble in mind, I'm blue, but I won't be blue always
'Cause the sun's gonna shine in my back door someday

Going down to the river, gonna take my rockin' chair
If the blues overtakes me, gonna rock away from here

Trouble in mind, I'm blue, but I won't be blue alway
'Cause the sun's gonna shine in my back door someday

SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 24, 2016, 01:40:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2016, 03:21:30 PM »
For his version of "Trouble In Mind", Roscoe sounds as though he was playing his banjo out of open D tuning, f#DF#AD.  Please let me know if I have this wrong, you banjo players out there.

Yep, that's the right tuning, John!
Chris

Offline frailer24

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Re: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2016, 12:06:39 AM »
Oddly enough, "Trouble In Mind" was the first Roscoe piece I learned, due to its being in D tuning.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2017, 02:29:46 PM »
Hi all,
I found this version of Roscoe Holcomb singing "In The Pines" today, backing himself out of E position in standard tuning.  That held note on the repetition of the word "pines" is amazing, even by Roscoe's standards.  I'm not at all sure I have the tail end of the second line of the last verse correct and would very much appreciate correction/corroboration  Here is the track:



It's in the pine, in the pines, where the sun, it never shine
't's, and I shivered when the cold wind blow

GUITAR INTERLUDE

Little girl, little girl, don't lie to me
Sayin', "Honey, where'd you stay last night?"

"I stayed in the pine, where the sun don't never shine."
Sayin', "I shivered when the cold wind blow."

GUITAR INTERLUDE

Look up, look down that lonesome road
Hang down your little head and cry

It's, if you love me as I do you,
Would you go with me or die

GUITAR INTERLUDE

Edited 10/23 to pick up correction from TenBrook

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 04:39:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline TenBrook

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Re: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2017, 03:24:15 PM »
John,
I'm hearing that last line as "Would you go with me or die."

Lew

Offline Johnm

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Re: Roscoe Holcomb Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2017, 04:38:06 PM »
Thanks very much for the help, Lew.  Re-listening, I heard the line exactly as you have it.  I will make the change.  Thanks!
All best,
John