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It's a bad wind that never change - Blind Lemon Jefferson

Author Topic: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby  (Read 1278 times)

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Offline frankie

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SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« on: October 23, 2015, 02:52:36 PM »
Come Back Baby has something of a celebrated status as a guitar piece in the canon of revivalist country blues. Of course, it didn't quite start this way, but we'll see that blues and R&B artists alike found a lot to like in the song, and guitarists in particular seemed to gravitate towards it. In the present, the popularity of this song and the guitar arrangement that accompanies the vocal stems almost uniformly from one revivalist source, which we'll see later.

In the beginning, there was Walter Davis:



Walter Davis made a lot of records, and one can't help but wonder if he would have been surprised at the legs this one grew.

It's an 8-bar blues:

I - I7 - IV - IVm
I - V7 - IV - I

Expressed in the key of E, the key component is the descending line occurring over the first four bars: E - D - C# - C. This could also be expressed as part of a chord voicing, like so: E - E7 - A/C# - Am/C OR: E - E7 - A/C# - C. He recorded it in 1940, and it must have done well for him as he recorded a later "New Come Back Baby" (apologies if this can't be viewed outside the US):



By 1949, Lowell Fulson had recorded it in the context of an electric combo:



This is a lovely simmer of a recording, and the sparse playing on it is a wonder - well worth listening to if you've not heard it before. Fulson's guitar is tends to answer the vocal, letting the piano and drums carry the accompaniment. In general, the chordal outline of the Davis original is retained.

In 1954, we find this recording by John Lee Hooker:



Hooker's guitar is typically sparse and primitive and the accompaniment eschews the IVm chord, sticking with a IV7 chord. In a couple of instances, the 2nd guitar player plays the IV chord as a IV7b9... interesting. The break is phrased as a 12-bar blues before Hooker returns to the vocal theme. The pace and phrasing on the recording is no less amazing than the Fulson record. Such space!

A little detour into R&B - Ray Charles had a go at the song, too...  this is, of course is far afield from the blues recordings we've listened to so far. In fact, it's fair to say that this is a Ray Charles song - only the initial verse is drawn from Davis, and the harmony is TOTALLY different.  I've included it here because one of the verses that does not appear in the Davis original appears in later versions...  interesting!



Ray's is a deep, R&B accompaniment - chords separated by "|" get two beats. I can't think of anyone that can play as slow as Ray Charles!

I - I - IV - II | IV7
I | VI7 - II | V7 - I | IV - I | V7

Moving on to 1961, we get this from Lightnin' Hopkins, and by this time, you should start to hear echoes of the arrangement that, as revivalists yourselves, you should recognize. Lightnin' plays the song out of A position -  a key that the song has been associated with ever since. Similar to Fulson and Hooker, he does away with the IVm chord, returning early to the I chord:



It's all Lightnin', so of COURSE it's cool.

Which brings us to this 1963 recording from Dave Van Ronk:



This is IT. Just about EVERY revivalist recording of this song from this point forward is a cover of or riff on this arrangement. There's a lot to like about it - his movement of the I to the I7 using a moveable D shape at the 9th and 7th frets is all his own. He certainly quotes a few of Lightnin's A blues ideas, but re-introduces some of the harmonic sophistication of the Davis original, notably the flat VI chord - a stand in for the IVm chord. He also pulls the "holler like a mountain jack" verse from the Ray Charles recording! This also ends up being a mainstay in later revivalist recordings.

There's a Stefan Grossman recording featuring Jo Ann Kelly's vocals - the guitar is a direct quote of Van Ronk:



Here's a cover by Weenie contributor Waxwing John Cowan:



Orville Johnson adds some slide in standard tuning, but owes substantial credit to Van Ronk's setting:



This Eric Bibb performance is a near direct quote of Van Ronk's arrangement, but adds some nice touches:



I would NEVER have thought I could find this song played on autoharp, but Patrick Couton actually does a nice job of capturing the spirit of the Van Ronk accompaniment:



Interestingly, Guy Davis's recording actually has far less Van Ronk in it than any of the other recordings:



Well - there it is...  you can certainly find more examples on youtube. I threw this topic together fairly quickly - if any of you know of any compelling antecedents of the Davis recording, I'd love to hear them.  I'd also be VERY interested in covers of the Davis recording done between 1940 and 1950.

To close, I sort of backed into a way of playing this song, mainly as a singing exercise...  there's no arrangement, per se - just a way that I like to play. Maybe you'll like it:

« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 02:56:03 PM by frankie »

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2015, 03:47:49 PM »
Funny, I was digging Snooks Eaglin's New Orleans Street Singer this very morning with breakfast. Like all things Snooks, his version of Come Back Baby is really good.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 03:49:23 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 05:04:27 PM »
Great SOTM choice, Frank, and I enjoyed your own take on the song--that IV minor voicing is really nice.  Neat to see and hear Wax and Orville's versions, too.  Here's a different take on "Come Back, Baby", with apologies to European Weenies who may not be able to watch the video.



All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 05:16:10 PM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2015, 08:29:26 PM »
Good call, Rivers!



John, I was going to post Aretha's version so I'm happy you did. Totally different.

And thanks for listening to my take on it. I'm kind of stuck on that minor M7 chord...  Only just now realized that using cross note, I can voice the M7 of that chord on the 4th string for a slightly darker sound - I'll have to try that.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2015, 04:50:01 AM »
Great song and a great choice for SOTM. Of all these versions, my first exposure was to the Snooks Eaglin take on the song, and I just about wore out the grooves of the LP it was on. Every track on that LP is a winner, and Come Back Baby stands out. This song also featured prominently in the folk clubs here in the '60s, largely due to the versions sung by Bert Jansch and by Wizz Jones. Their versions can be found on youtube. Loved your crossnote version - it's a fine arrangement, and great singing too! A recent version I like is by Tom Doughty and Adam Palma:


Here's a lame piano version I had a go at this afternoon.
https://soundcloud.com/aj0347/come-back-baby-prof-scratchy
« Last Edit: October 24, 2015, 09:11:53 AM by Prof Scratchy »

Offline joe paul

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2015, 10:03:14 AM »
Good choice, lots of versions to be listening to, especially yours, Frank, thanks.
One I've always liked is Mance Lipscomb's take on it, from 1964 I think :
 

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2015, 05:38:34 PM »
Gorgeous version Frank, maybe your best vocal to date, and that Gibson sings great too!
Also nice version from Wax, Orville and others. Of course I grew up on the van Ronk version which was an absolutely required piece for any aspiring Blues fingerpicker to learn here in NYC in the 60's. Still like it, but boy, Lightnin's hard to beat anytime..What a killer singer he is!
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Offline frankie

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2015, 06:05:41 PM »
Still like it, but boy, Lightnin's hard to beat anytime..What a killer singer he is!

I think even Snooks would agree with you!

Offline EddieD

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2015, 11:35:24 PM »
Frankie, I LOVE your performance of this song. I could listen to it all day. Thanks for sharing.

Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2015, 04:00:57 PM »
I finally got around listening to all the great versions of this song.

Great topic again, and Frankie's version gives me the goosebumps!

Cheers

Pan

Offline frankie

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2015, 04:17:52 AM »
Thanks Pan and Eddie.

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2015, 05:06:37 PM »
I've been thinking about this song. There's a lot to like about it musically, as noted. Personally I always pick up on the turnaround, final bar, naturally going to a higher voicing of the I chord instead of a predictable V. It imparts a lot of gravity to the root of the song, brings it home and sets up the next verse just right.

Offline waxwing

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2015, 06:53:33 PM »
Wow. Thanks much for the honorable mention, Frank. And I love how you capture the harmonic feel of Davis's original. I think it's worth mentioning (and I'm sorry I can't cite where I read it) that this was Davis's take on Leroy Carr's How Long, How Long Blues. But Davis sure put a big imprint on it with his chilling harmonic sense, creating an equally influential song in it's own right, and that's sayin' something.

Come Back Baby was probably the first blues I ever learned, back when I was about 15 and playing primarily folk stuff, like Gordon Lightfoot, early Donovan and PPM. I started playing with a woman who was about 7-8 years my senior who taught me CBB having learned it from a fellow student at what is now Rowan College in South Jersey. He told her he had taken lessons from Van Ronk. I gave up the guitar for many years, but CBB was one of the few songs I would continue to play from time to time, and when I started getting back to playing, it was CBB that led me to play old country blues. I guess my playing of it changed a bit over the years, but the basics were in my fingers for several decades now.

Great choice for SOTM.

Wax
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Offline ArthurBlake

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Re: SOTM 23-Oct-2015: Come Back Baby
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2015, 11:43:29 PM »
I have only watched and listened to one video here so far Frankie and that is your version, I must applaud it, it is really good and slick as well, great ideas and classic riffs... just love it Frankie..... fabulous blues.
I met a woman she was a pigmeat some
Big fat mouth, I followed her home
She pulled a gun and broke my jaw
Didnt leave me hard on, I didnt get sore

Tags: Walter Davis SOTM