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Author Topic: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues  (Read 613 times)

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Offline Prof Scratchy

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SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« on: August 26, 2016, 01:46:16 AM »
SOTM August 2016  DUPREE BLUES


Willie Walker recorded Dupree Blues in 1930. I first heard this performance in the late sixties, on the Yazoo Records LP compilation East Coast Blues 1926-1935. It has a very classy outro:



INTRO SOLO

Betty told Dupree, "I wants me a diamond ring."  (Oh, baby)
Betty told Dupree, "I wants me a diamond ring."  (Oh, sugar)
"Now listen, mama, your daddy bring you 'most anything."

He had to kill a policeman, and he wound a detective, too  ( Oh, sugar)
Killed a detective, wounded a policeman, too  (Oh, baby)
"See here, mama, what you caused me to do."

Hired him a taxi, said, "Can't you drive me back to Main?"  ( ?)
Then he hired him a taxi, said, "Carry me back to Main?"  (Oh, baby)
"I've done a hangin' crime.  Gal, don't never feel ashamed."

Standin' there wonderin', "Would a matchbox hold my clothes?"  (Oh, baby)
Standin' there wonderin', "Matchbox hold my clothes?" 
Said, "A trunk is too big.  Don't be bothered on the road."

'Rested poor Dupree, placed him in the jail  (Oh, Lord)
'Rested poor Dupree, placed him in the jail  (Oh, baby)
Yes, the mean old judge, went and refused to assign him any bail

Wrote a letter to Betty, and this is the way the letter read  (Oh, baby)
He wrote a letter to Betty, and this is the way the letter read  (Oh, Lord)
"Come home to your daddy.  I'm almost dead."

Betty went to the jailer, cryin', "Mr. Jailer, please."  (Oh, baby)
Betty went to the jailer, cryin', "Jailer, please."  (Oh, Lord)
"Please, Mr. Jailer, let me see my used-to-be."

OUTRO

On the first hearing, the song struck a familiar chord. It took some time to realise that I?d heard it before as  a pop song in the fifties:




UK skiffle king Lonnie Donegan had also had a go at it in 1957, though mercifully this performance was relegated to the B side of the 78.



Returning now to 1930, another version of the song was recorded by piano player Kingfish Bill Tomlin:



In the late 1930s, Georgia White recorded a version that was such a seller that she quickly recorded a follow up version, New Dupree Blues, which featured a young Les Paul on guitar:



In the fifties and sixties, other singers recorded their versions and a selection is listed below:







With the exception of Lonnie Donegan?s, all the above performances have been by African American singers. I always assumed that if this song had been based on fact, then Betty and Dupree would have been African Americans. I don?t know of any white versions of the song (but if there are any, Weenies will probably know)***. I also assumed that the story, if based on true facts, would probably have taken place sometime in the nineteenth century. In fact, Frank Dupr? was a nineteen year old white man of low IQ who was the last person to be hanged in Atlanta, in September 1922, just eight years prior to the Willie Walker and Bill Tomlin recordings.

The true story of Betty and Dupree is a chilling one. An interview with Tom Hughes, the author of the book ?Hanging the Peachtree Bandit?, is available here:

http://news.wabe.org/post/betty-and-dupre-atlanta-murder-case-riveted-nations-attention


So why did this story form the basis of an African American ballad, and why did it enjoy such popularity amongst African American performers over three decades or so? Were there any versions by white  country or folk singers (apart from Lonnie of course)? Finally, just to mention that our very own daddy stovepipe has a fine version of the Willie Walker performance on his youtube channel, so check it out!

***Edited to add: I?ve now found a white version of a song chronicling the Betty and Dupree story. It?s by Vernon Dalhart, recorded in 1927. This is the same story, but a very different song and melody.



Finally, photos of Betty and Dupree:



« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 11:22:10 AM by Johnm »

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2016, 02:34:28 AM »
Just noticed that the full post is unavailable via Tapatalk. Please check main site.

Offline harry

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2016, 11:32:59 AM »
Thanks Prof. Scratchy. Great Topic.

Here's another one.....





TAB for Baby Tate's version.....

http://www.52weeksofblues.com/?song=dupree-blues


Offline ScottN

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2016, 01:33:54 PM »
Thanks Professor - great choice

Dave Van Ronk



Pink Anderson - has my favorite "exchange" with the taxi driver


INTRO SOLO

Betty told Dupree, "Man, I wants a diamond ring."
Betty told Dupree, "I wants a diamond ring."
Dupree told Betty, "I will buy you 'most anything."

Betty didn't know Dupree, didn't know that he didn't have a thing
She didn't know Dupree, she didn't know he didn't have a thing
So he went into a jewelry store, and he stole Betty a diamond ring

Then Dupree called a taxi, "Taxi, take me down on Main."
Dupree called a taxi, "Taxi, please take me down on Main.
Look-a here, Mr. Taxi Driver, I done stoled Betty a diamond ring."

SOLO

He says, "I shot a policeman and I wounded detectives, too.
I shot a policeman, I wounded a detectives, too.
Look-a here, Mr. Taxi Driver, man, I ain't no fool 'bout you."

SOLO

"Don't mistreat me, baby, just because I'm young and wild.
Don't mistreat me, baby, just because I'm young and wild.
I may be your best friend, some sweet day after a while."

Thanks,
           Scott
« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 06:51:57 AM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2016, 05:03:37 PM »
Thanks, Prof, for a great Song of the Month topic.  Here is version of "Betty and Dupree" by Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly, featuring Jelly (Louis Hayes) on the vocal.  Lyrics for this version can be found at:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=5346.msg66520#msg66520 .



All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 07:00:12 AM by Johnm »

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2016, 08:32:32 PM »
LOVE the Brownie McGhee version.  Great stuff.  The Willie Walker original is good, but - hey, Brownie IS Brownie
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline harriet

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 04:26:59 AM »
Wow, great job prof. Thanks.

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2016, 07:52:31 AM »
Hi all,
Here are a couple more:

Buddy Moss with John Jackson seconding him:



INTRO SOLO

Betty told Dupree she wanted a diamond ring
Betty dold Dupree she wanted a diamond ring
Well, Dupree told Betty, "You can get 'most anything."

Yes, he went downtown, and he robbed a jewelry store
He went downtown and he robbed a jewelry store
He said, "Now, I got myself in trouble, and I can't go home no more."

Yes, he grabbed a taxi and he went to Tennessee
He grabbed a taxi and he went to Tennessee
And when they arrested poor Dupree, oh Lord, "What in the world gonna come of me?"

SOLO

He says, "Whiskey I crave.  Bring flowers to my grave."
He says, "Whiskey I crave.  Bring flowers to my grave.
Well now, Betty, I want you to remember, poor Dupree have been your slave."

He said, "Give Mama my clothes, give Betty my diamond ring.
Give baby my clothes, my Mama my diamond ring."
He said, "Tomorrow is Friday, that's the day that I'm going to swing."

Well, Betty brought Dupree coffee, yes, she brought him tea
Yes, she brought him coffee, yes, she brought him tea
Well, she brought Dupree everything, but that old jailhouse key
 
Teddy Grace:



Cow Cow Davenport's version is late, from the 1940s and includes an unusual ritard at its conclusion:



Betty told Dupree she wanted a diamond ring
Betty told Dupree she wanted a diamond ring
Well, little Dupree said, "Betty, I'll give you 'most any old thing."

Dupree, he did not want Betty to know he did not have a thing
He did not want Betty, know he did not have a thing
So he killed that Jewish man, got Betty that diamond ring

Dupree, he bought a Colt pistol, walked in the jewelry store
Bought him a Colt pistol, walked in the jewelry store
"Mr. Jewelry Man, don't you make me sore."

"I don't want your dollar, I don't want your change.
I don't want your dollar, I don't want your change.
But all I want, [honey, fifty stone dollars] diamond ring

Dupree, he caught him a taxi, went to Memphis, Tennessee
He caught him a taxi, went to Memphis, Tennessee
But the time he got there, detectives was waiting for Dupree

Detectives, they taken Dupree, carried him to that Big Rock Jail
Detectives, they taken Dupree, carried him to that Big Rock Jail
He did not have nobody, not a soul to go his bail

He said, "Give Mama my clothes, give Betty the diamond ring.
Give Mama my clothes, Betty the diamond ring.
'Cause tomorrow is Friday, the day I'm goin' to swing."

SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 11:26:04 AM by Johnm »

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2016, 01:05:02 AM »
Thanks for all the additional versions, folks! This song really got around!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM 26 August 2016 Dupree Blues
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2017, 06:40:02 PM »
Here's Josh White at his most mannered:

Personally, I prefer this more measured version for Folkways, reissued on Smithsonian Folkways

Classic African-American Ballads

Low-fi file attached.

Also attached, this piano version by Count Basie? which was playing in a jukebox in Clarksdale on 9 September 1941.

Reissued on
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 07:01:53 PM by DavidCrosbie »

 


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