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The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doing now, man, for more years than I know. They played it like that in the shanties and in their juke joints, and nobody paid it no mind 'til I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw - Elvis Presley, 1956, Last Train to Memphis

Author Topic: Railroad Bill  (Read 2689 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2014, 12:43:09 PM »
Hi funkapus,
I am not aware of any instructional materials having been done on Frank Hovington's playing.  I think he is probably way too obscure a figure, despite his obvious musical gifts, to justify a commercially released lesson on his guitar playing.  Even at Weenie, which is frequented by serious Country Blues fans, I'd guess very few people have his Flyright CD or earlier albums.
All best,
Johnm

Offline ScottN

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2014, 03:14:07 PM »
Hi Blueshome, I'll take a first stab at John Jackson's Railroad Bill but there are lots of parts I can't make out...

From Country Blues & Ditties

Intro

Railroad Bill said as he will
He shot old to Kinley shot him to kill
Let him ride a new Railroad Bill

[Feed] ol McKinley shot so fine
Shot nine holes through a silver dime
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

[Garbled cemetery] buggy and cemetery hack
Gonna take old Kin' to the graveyard but ain't gon bring him back
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill he said as he will
He shot nine holes old to Kinley to kill
Let him ride on that new Railroad Bill

Solo

[Feed] ol McKinley he shot so fine
Shot nine holes through a silver dime
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Mama wrote the letter and papa sent the stamp
Poor boy come home lookin like a tramp
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill he said as he will
He shot ol to Kinley he shot him to kill
Let him ride on that new Railroad Bill



From Front Porch Blues

Intro

Railroad Bill he said that he will
He never worked and he never will
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill he rode out west
Shot brass buttons off the sheriff's vest
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

[Feed] ol McKinley he shot so fine
He shot nine holes through a silver dime
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

A cemetery buggy and a cemetery hack
Gonna take ol cap'n to the graveyard ain't gonna bring him back
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Solo

Some give a nickel and some give a dime
I wouldn't give five dollars for that girl of mine
Let her ride new Railroad Bill

Wash my 'jamas starch my overhaul
Poor boy come home on that Cannonball
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Solo

Railroad Bill he said that he will
He never worked and he never will
Let him ride new Railroad Bill



From Rappahannock Blues

Intro

Railroad Bill he said that he will
He never worked and he never will
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill he rode out west
Shot brass buttons off the sheriff's vest
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

[Sweet] ol McKinley he shot so fine
Shot nine holes through a silver dime
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Cemetery buggy and cemetery hack
Take old Kinley to the graveyard ain't gon bring him back
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Solo

Some give a nickel some give a dime
I wouldn't give five dollars for that girl of mine
Let her ride new Railroad Bill

Solo

Wash my 'jamas starch my overhaul
Poor boy come home on that Cannonball
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill he said that he will
He never worked and he never will
Let him ride new Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill!
 


Thanks,
           Scott
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 03:15:45 PM by ScottN »

Offline oddenda

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2014, 12:47:36 AM »
Just a bit of info for those interested in Frank Hovington, a brilliant musician. He was recorded by Bruce Bastin and Dick Spottswood for the LofC ca. 1975. An LP was released on both Rounder and Flyright. The Flyright CD is still available from the company and has additional titles recorded then. Axel Kustner and Siggi Christmann recorded him in 1980, with material released in Germany on LPs - currently available on CD from Bellaphon Records in the "Living Country Blues USA". He was one I wanted to record, quite worthy, but I never got to him - I passed on what info I had to Bastin and the rest is history. I heard of him from my youngest sister's boyfriend at the time who was at Yale. Frank opened a concert featuring Dr. Ross back in the day!

Peter B.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2014, 09:47:37 AM »
Hi all,
Bill Williams, of Greenup, Kentucky, on the Ohio River, recorded "Railroad Bill" on his first album on the Blue Goose label.  Bill was similar to Frank Hovington in that when he performed well-known songs like "Railroad Bill" or "Frankie and Johnny", he always seemed to come up with verses you've not heard elsewhere.  He starts with a pretty relaxed tempo and brings it up as he goes.



Railroad Bill was a desperado sport
He shot all the button off a brakesman coat
This morning, just before day

Then old Railroad Bill, he started around the curve
He stopped to catch a freight train, but he didn't have the nerve
A bad man, old Railroad Bill

Old Railroad Bill, he walked up to the law
He pulled out his fist and put it in his jaw
He was a bad man, old Railroad Bill

Old Railroad Bill, he stood right in the track
"I wonder if that freight train ever coming back."
He's a bad man, old Railroad Bill

Old Railroad Bill, he didn't have a home
All he'd do is ramble and run around and roam
It's a bad man, old Railroad Bill

Old Railroad Bill, he started 'round the curve
He start to see the police and he didn't have the nerve
He was a bad man, Railroad Bill

Old Railroad Bill, then he begin to roam
He's wonderin', "if I ever get back to my home
I'm a bad man, Railroad Bill"

All best,
Johnm

Offline blueshome

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2014, 10:22:53 AM »
Hi Blueshome, I'll take a first stab at John Jackson's Railroad Bill but there are lots of parts I can't make out...

Thanks Scott.

John sometimes seemed to mis-hear words and insert his own. "cemetery buggy" is usually rendered as "Singletary".

Still not had time to get to listen yet.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2014, 12:07:56 PM »
thanks for this, I wasn't really exposed to him before this topic.  Awesome!!!!!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2014, 01:24:51 PM »
Hi all,
Riley Puckett, on banjo and vocal, and Gid Tanner, on fiddle, recorded their version of "Railroad Bill" very early, in 1924, the earliest recorded version we've encountered thus far.  Of course, Riley was better known as a guitar player, but his banjo playing here has a beautiful smooth flow to it.  He certainly sang pretty, too, really a sweet tone.  Melodically, the duo's version is probably closest to Will Bennett's version, maybe because it is not tied to a finger-picked accompaniment in C.  This track really has a "trip back in time" sort of feel to it for me, that I especially like. 
I'd appreciate help with the lyrics in two places.  In verse two, Riley sounds like he sings "Dunny".  The word that sounds closest to that that you normally find in Country Blues lyrics is "doney", but that doesn't make a lot of sense here.  Any thoughts?



Railroad Bill, mighty bad man
Shot the lantern from a brakeman's hand
Oh honey, it's ride, ride, ride

Some folks say the dummy can't run
Just let me tell you what the dummy done
Oh honey, it's ride, ride, ride

Left Atlanta, half past one
Got to Chattanoogy at the settin' of the sun
Well, it's ride, ride ride

Railroad Bill lived on the hill
He wouldn't work, Lord, and he hever will
Oh well it's ride, ride ride

Kill those chickens, save me the heads
Thinks I'm a-workin', I'm at home in my bed
Oh well it's ride, ride ride

Baby, baby, you needn't fret
I ain't no fool, Lord, 'bout you yet
Oh well it's ride, ride, ride

Kill those chickens, save me the wings
Thinks I'm a-workin', Lord, I ain't doin' a thing
Oh, it's ride, ride ride

Railroad Bill, mighty bad man
Shot the lantern from a brakeman's hand
Well it's ride, ride ride

Kill those chickens, save me the feet
Thinks I'm a-workin', I'm a-walkin' the street
Well it's ride, ride ride

Edited 5/6 to pick up correction from banjochris
Edited 5/7 to pick up correction from dj

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 06:00:29 AM by Johnm »

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2014, 01:35:01 PM »
It sounds to me like dunny refers to the name of a train but which train?

EDIT something on the L&N perhaps - that ran between Atlanta and Chattanooga
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 01:50:47 PM by Gumbo »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2014, 03:25:43 PM »
It's got to be "dummy" -- same verse pops up in "I Ain't Bothered A Bit," just recently discussed on the Leadbelly lyrics thread.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_dummy

Offline Johnm

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2014, 05:21:32 PM »
Thanks for the help, Chris.  "Dummy" it is.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2014, 09:39:44 PM »
Hi all,
I had never heard this version before.  When you have Vera Hall singing a melody like this, what a gift it is to have no chords, no accompaniment. 



Railroad Bill, he goin' 'round that curve
Go 'round there, you better raise your nerve
REFRAIN: I'm scared of Railroad Bill
I'm scared of Railroad Bill, young man,
I'm scared of Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill, he was a-mighty mean
Wouldn't wear nothin' but the big-leg jeans
REFRAIN: I'm scared of Railroad Bill
I'm scared of Railroad Bill, young man,
I'm scared of Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill, he was a mighty big fool
Wouldn't ride nothin' but a mustang mule
REFRAIN: I'm scared of Railroad Bill
I'm scared of Railroad Bill, young man,
I'm scared of Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill, he mighty big fool
Couldn't tell his track a-from a horse or a mule
REFRAIN: I'm scared of Railroad Bill
I'm scared of Railroad Bill, young man,
I'm scared of Railroad Bill

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 06:44:20 PM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2014, 04:24:54 AM »
I think verse 6 of Riley Puckett's version of railroad Bill is

Baby, baby, you needn't fret
I ain't no fool, Lord, 'BOUT you yet

Offline Johnm

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Re: Railroad Bill
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2014, 06:01:53 AM »
Thanks for the catch, dj, I have made the change.
All best,
Johnm

 


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