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"Can you play B.B. King?" "Yeah, if you put some strings on him, I'll play him" - Yank Rachell, Blues Mandolin Man

Author Topic: Teddy Darby's Lyrics  (Read 24636 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2005, 11:43:32 PM »
Hi all,
That is pretty tantalizing information, Bunker Hill.? I would sure be interested to know the basis upon which Pete Welding chose not to release his 1960s Teddy Darby recordings.? It's hard to believe it could have been because of disappointing guitar-playing, since he chose to release the George Mitchell recordings of Peg Leg Howell, who had not played in almost thirty years and was terribly rusty.? And even if Darby was not in prime playing shape, why not record him with a piano accompanist?? Perhaps his singing was not up to par at that point either.? In any case, if the music really was not up to snuff, I applaud Pete Welding's decision not to release it.? I don't think artists are done any favor when recordings of them that were made essentially long after they had quit playing music are released.? That having been said, it would be neat to know whether Teddy Darby's version of Stackerlee is an old one, like John Hurt's, Furry Lewis's, or Long Cleve Reed and Papa Harvey Hull's, or a cover of Lloyd Price's hit from the '50s.
All best,
From the information Welding supplied Mike Leadbitter he only plays guitar ocassionally, Big Joe Williams accompanies him. Recorded as Blind Darby here are the tracks.
Decoration Day blues   
Back South blues   
The right man?s goin? to pay off after while
God moves in the wind   
My house burned down   
Vee-eight Ford blues   
Don?t watch your enemies like you watch your bosom friend
Deceiving blues   
Pokino blues   
Rollin? and tumblin? [incomplete]
Lordy Lordy worried blues
She thinks she?s sick   
Heart trouble blues   
Stackolee   
Trouble in mind   
I'll unearth Blues World 31 and see if Welding mentions anything about these in his article.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2005, 11:22:44 AM »
I would sure be interested to know the basis upon which Pete Welding chose not to release his 1960s Teddy Darby recordings.? It's hard to believe it could have been because of disappointing guitar-playing, since he chose to release the George Mitchell recordings of Peg Leg Howell, who had not played in almost thirty years and was terribly rusty.?
Veering from topic, somewhere in my attic I have a tape of the entire Peg Leg Howell "sessions" which were done by Mitchell over a period of days. You'll just have to take my word for it that what Welding and Mitchell chose to release was the best of? very sad. The whole listening experience (including the discussions) is extremely painful to listen to...Howell was not in good shape at all. The interview portions - which appeared in Blues Unlimted and on the LP sleeve - were carefully knitted into some form of coherent prose. I seem to recall reading that Welding had hoped to put some money Howell's way by releasing the LP. In the end it sold so few copies that Welding put his hand in his own pocket for Howell.

Offline dj

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2005, 01:18:08 PM »
Quote
Teddy Darby recorded "Low Mellow" in a 1933 session in which he is backed by piano and guitar.  The release I have lacks session information, so I do not know who the pianist and guitarist are--I assume the guitar is not being played by Darby himself.

Low Mellow and She Ain't No Girl Of Mine were both recorded at the same session, on December 9th, 1933.  Darby was recording as Blind Squire Turner.  The notes to BDCD 6042 quote Darby:

   "Squire was a good old friend of mine.  He wanted to be popular with the girls and so he said, 'Darby, make a record and name it after me.'"

Both Blues and Gospel Records and the notes to BDCD 6042 agree that Teddy Darby is playing the guitar, with Tom Webb on the piano.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2005, 02:54:53 PM »
Hi all,
Your information on the Peg Leg Howell George Mitchell session corroborates all I had ever heard about it, Bunker Hill.  I recently heard the album for the first time.  I was actually surprised at how well Peg Leg sang, but the over-all effect was pretty dire, and he sounded very unwell.  I remember Nick Perls saying it was the only record he ever heard that made him cry.  It was very decent of Pete Welding to try and help him out.

Thanks very much for the session information on Teddy Darby, dj.  It actually makes him a bit more mysterious, for the playing is absolutely nothing like all his previous playing I had heard on record, like "Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues", "Built Right On The Ground", "Deceiving Blues", "My Laona" and "Pitty Pat".  I wonder if B & G chumped this attribution, for the guitarist on "Low Mellow" and "She Ain't No Gal Of Mine" really sounds like a different musician than Teddy Darby.  The right hand touch and tone are completely different.  I have no idea who it might be if it is not Teddy Darby.  Hmmm.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2005, 05:08:14 AM »
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It actually makes him a bit more mysterious, for the playing is absolutely nothing like all his previous playing I had heard on record, like "Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues", "Built Right On The Ground", "Deceiving Blues", "My Laona" and "Pitty Pat".

Both of my sources attribute the guitar on Darby's records, when present, to Darby himself, except for on Pokino Blues, where it's played by Casey Bill Weldon.

All the songs you cite, John, except for Pitty Pat, were recorded in 1929 or 1931.  To my uneducated ears, the guitar on Darby's records recorded in 1933 and 1935 sounds like it's flat-picked, with the possible exception of Don't Like The Way You Do and Pitty Pat.  If that's correct, I guess it's possible that sometime between 1931 and 1933 Teddy Darby started using a flatpick.  Alternatively, it could be someone else entirely.  One of the few drawbacks of Blues & Gospel Records is that there's no chronological index, so it's hard to look at who was in the studio in a given city around the time of any certain session to aid in speculation on the identity of "mystery players".  Maybe on the DVD version...  ;)

By the way, is it just me, or are there some similarities to Lane Hardin's Hard Time Blues in the guitar when they hit the tempo in the intro to Pitty Pat?  Once I learned that song I started hearing the same playing positions a lot in other St. Louis guitar players.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2005, 07:50:13 AM »
Hi David,
I agree with you that the guitar on "Low Mellow" and "She Ain't No Girl Of Mine" is being flat-picked.  One thing I have been noticing lately is that a lot of the players who first recorded in the '20s as finger-picking soloists sound as though they switched to a flat pick when working with pianists in the '30s and '40s.  Bill Broonzy is a prime example--I think a great deal of his ensemble playing from the mid-'30s into the '40s was flat-picked.

There are some similarities in the left-hand positions Teddy Darby used for "Pitty Pat" to those Lane Hardin used in "Hard Times Blues".  They also sound quite a lot like Charley Jordan.  It seems like the St. Louis guitarists of that period were working a lot of the same musical territory, especially in E standard tuning.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2005, 12:29:50 PM »
Hi all,
The discographical information I have (of which I am becoming increasingly skeptical) has Teddy Darby recording "Meat And Bread Blues " ("Relief Blues") in Chicago, on March 25, 1935, backed by Peetie Wheatstraw on piano and Casey Bill Weldon on guitar.  There is nothing about the guitar-playing, either in terms of tone or signature licks that would seem to indicate that Casey Bill was the player, but I am not real familiar with his material from this period, so he could be the guitarist.  I am not well enough acquainted with Peetie Wheatstraw's sound as a pianist to have an opinion on whether he was the pianist on this song. 
The lyrics on this one are interesting.  Teddy plans to start out pleading, but then may resort to sterner measures to gain the help he needs.  His outlook at the end is not optimistic.  The lyrics in verse four gibe with Henry Townsend's recollection of Teddy Darby as a truculent individual who was not averse to employing violence to settle disputes.  Here is "Meat And Bread Blues":



   Now, my meat is gone, no more flour in my barrels
   All my meat is gone, no more flour in my barrel
   And if I don't get me some groceries, I'm sure gonna lose my gal

   Now, I'm goin' up to the Relief, I want a order today
   SPOKEN:  I sure do, boy!
   I'm goin' up to the Relief, I want a order today
   But if I don't get some groceries, my babe gon' run away

   Now, Uncle Sam is helping millions, seem like he'd help poor me
   Uncle Sam is helping millions, seem like he'd help poor me
   Now, I'm goin' down there tomorrow and ask for sympathy

   Now if they deny me and they won't help me none (2)
   I'm going to help myself with my .32-20 and my .41

   And then it will be too late, too late, to call on the Chief of Police
   And it'll be too late, too late, to call on the Chief of Police
   But I've got to have some groceries and I'll be denied by the Relief

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 10:51:25 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2005, 02:03:38 PM »
Hi, John.  Regarding the discographical information you have for "Meat And Bread Blues", I think we can say that's definitely not Casey Bill Weldon on guitar.  I say this because on March 26, 1935, Peetie Wheatstraw recorded two titles, "More Good Whiskey Blues" and "Letter Writing Blues" accompanied by Casey Bill Weldon on his familiar lap steel guitar and a second guitarist, who is identified by Blues and Gospel Records as "unknown", and by the notes to DOCD 5242 - Peetie Wheatstraw Volume 2 - as "possibly Teddy Darby".  This second guitarist is flatpicking very much in the style of the guitarist on "Meat And Bread Blues".  For that matter, he's very much in the style of most of Teddy Darby's guitar accompaniments from 1933 and 1935.

   The pianist on "Meat And Bread Blues" is either Peetie Wheatstraw or a darned good imitation of him.  That opening piano figure on "Meat And Bread Blues" was one of Peetie's signatures - he used it on the majority of the recordings on which he played piano. 

   Peetie Wheatstraw - another St. Louis blues singer who could write a darned good lyric from time to time!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2005, 02:33:18 PM »
Hi David,
Thanks very much for the discographical information.  It's beginning to look more and more to me as though Teddy Darby did acquire some skills as a flat-picker along the way, because I agree with you that the playing on "Meat And Bread Blues" sounds like the same player as on "Low Mellow".  My record collection is woefully scanty in the Peetie Wheatstraw department.  I need to remedy that.  Is the Document 2-CD  "Essential Peetie Wheatstraw" a good set?
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2005, 02:59:35 PM »
John:

A while back Uncle Bud posted a link to Daedalus Books which was having a clearance sale of the "Essential" series. I checked and its still going with the Peetie Wheatstraw set among the offerings. Here's the link:

http://www.daedalusbooks.com/Products/Search/QuickSearchResult.asp?Page=1&Search=The%20Essential&Media=Music&ItemPerPage=10&Sort=&Thumnail=Y

For a link to the other clearance items, refer to UB's post.

Offline dj

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2005, 03:47:55 PM »
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Is the Document 2-CD  "Essential Peetie Wheatstraw" a good set?

One can quibble with any "best of" set, and "The Essential Peetie Wheatstraw" is no different.  For one thing it's only got 36 tracks, when there's room for 50.  And on any collection like this, there are bound to be some of one's favorite songs that don't make the cut (What? No "Cake Alley"?).  But is is a thoughtfully put together collection, with something from Peetie's first session and a few titles from his last.  It includes solo piano sides, solo guitar sides, examples of Peetie's work with virtually every guitarist he ever recorded with - Charlie McCoy, Charlie Jordan, Casey Bill Weldon, Kokomo Arnold, Lonnie Johnson, Teddy Bunn, and Unknown.  It's got a good selection of songs from Peetie's last few years, when he was accompanied by pianists other than himself, including Sammy Price and Lil Armstrong, a few cuts with trumpet or sax, and two with Robert Lee McCoy on harmonica.  It's got the three great Stomps Peetie recorded.  They're such joyful up-tempo songs, I just can't figure why he only recorded three of them.  And it's got "More Good Whiskey Blues", with that flatpicked second guitar that may be Teddy Darby.  Go for it!  Especially since the only alternative these days would seem to be dropping $125 for all 7 volumes (164 songs) of Peetie's complete works  :D.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2005, 05:00:42 PM »
Thanks very much for the information, Stu and David.  It does sound like a good sampling of Peetie Wheatstraw's music, and it would be tough to beat the price currently in effect at Daedalus.  There's no way I am going to buy the 7 Document volumes of his music.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2006, 06:07:12 PM »
Hi all,
Teddy Darby appears to have recorded "Bought A Bottle Of Gin" with Tom Webb on piano; the same duo performed "Pitty Pat Blues".  The minor mystery of the guitar-playing on a number of Darby's cuts of this vintage remains, for the playing here does not sound like either his earlier playing of the "Lawdy Lawdy Worried blues" era or the flat-picking on some of his songs of this period.  Played out of E in standard tuning capoed up, the playing sounds more like Scrapper Blackwell than anyone else, or perhaps Scrapper crossed with Charley Jordan.  If the guitar was indeed played by Teddy Darby, he is one of the exceptionally few blues players whose playing continued to develop and change after reaching maturity.
As with "Built Right On The Ground" and "My Laona Blues", the title phrase goes unmentioned in the lyrics to "Bought a Bottle of Gin".  It's sort of a weird trend.  Any help with the line in bent brackets would be greatly appreciated.  I hesitate to put what I have for it, because it doesn't make a bit of sense.  In the hope that it sparks a more accurate hearing of the lyric, I'll post it.  Here is "Bought A Bottle Of Gin":



   These daggone times have brought about a change (2)
   I used to have dollars, now I ain't got spending change

   Now, me and my babe, we just can't get along
   Me and my babe, we just can't get along
   That's every since, this [paint brush] I've been on

   This old Depression droven many good men and women wrong
   This old Depression have droven many good men and women wrong
   Forced them to do things against they will, to try and get along

   Sometime, sometime, I just don't know
   Sometime, sometime, baby, I just don't know
   Sometimes I think I'll stay, again I b'lieve I'll go

Edited 6/9/20 to catch correction from Johnm

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 11:36:04 AM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2006, 06:18:24 PM »
Tough one.

Quote
[After every cent, this paint brush I've been on]

I hear: has every cent, I be bresh I de no.   :D

well at least "has every cent" makes sense.

Offline dj

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Re: Teddy Darby's Lyrics
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2006, 04:01:24 AM »
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After every cent, this paint brush I've been on

That's a tough one.  It really does sound like what John's come up with.  A few thoughts:

Could "After every cent" be "After every sand", as in raisin' sand, i.e. squabbling, arguing, so that the first half of the line would translate to "After every argument"?

"I've been on" could be "I've been knowin'".

So that the line could be "After every sand, this [paint] brush I've been knowin'", meaning that after every argument, Darby's "babe" hits him with a brush, possibly a paint brush, though possibly some other kind of brush.

This is absolutely pure speculation.  But at least it makes more sense than "After every cent, this paint brush I've been on".     

John M, does your Teddy Darby CD have "Don't Like The Way You Do"?  It's got Darby playing in yet a different guitar style, and has some great lyrics.

 


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