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Mmm mm, mmm mm mm, mmm mm mm, mm mm mm. Mmm mm mm mm mm, mmm mm, mm mm mm - John Jackson, Red River Blues

Author Topic: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind  (Read 2370 times)

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Offline Pan

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SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« on: November 24, 2016, 07:24:20 PM »
Hi all

My song of the month is ?Trouble in Mind?, by Richard M. Jones.

Jones was a jazz pianist, composer, band leader, and record producer, born in New Orleans in 1892, and moved to Chicago in 1918, where he worked for record companies, such as O?Keh, producing, among other things, Louis Armstrong?s Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings.
A rural country blues artist he was not, so the earlier recordings of his song, which was to become a standard, are mostly done by female classic blues singers and/or jazz bands. It took a while before country blues musicians started to play the tune (or were being recorded doing so), so you?ll need to scroll down some, before you begin to find them on this thread.

The earliest known recording is ?Trouble in Mind Blues? recorded for Paramount in 1924 by Thelma La Vizzo, with the composer Richard M Jones backing her on piano.

Jones starts with an 8 bar piano intro:

|| F | Gm7 | F C7 | F C7 F / |

| F | Fdim7 | F | Fdim7 ||

What follows is a 16 bar verse, which is usually omitted in the later versions:

|| F | Fdim7 | F | F7|

| Bb7 | Bb7 | F | F |

| Bb7 | Bb7| F| F |

| C7 | C7 | F | F ||

Then follows the familiar 8 bar chorus, which is what usually gets to be played with the song. What?s interesting, is that in bar #3 Jones plays the I chord for the 1st beat, then changes to the IV chord on beat two. This bar is usually played either with either a I or a IV chord alone on most later versions.

||: F | C7 | F Bb Bb7 / | Bb7 |

| F | Gm7 C7 | F | F :||

LaVizzo sings the 1st phrase of the chorus so that the melody ends up to the root note (F). On most later versions the melody goes up higher to the major 3rd of the key (A).

Here?s my attempt at the lyrics. I could do with some help on some parts.

Trouble in mind, trouble in mind,
it's just the nervous and blue kind.
Sleep at night ---(?)
all the things I have to go through.
I never had no trouble,
until that black cat crossed my path.
Trouble in mind, I?m blue,
how long will it last?

Trouble in mind,  I?m blue,
but I won?t be blue always,
?cause the sun?s gonna shine
in my backdoor some day.

My left eye keeps-a jumping, (?)
and my heart is thumping low.
Never had so much trouble.
In my life before.

Trouble in mind, I?m blue,
I have almost lost my mind.
Sometimes I feel like living,
sometimes I feel like dying.

I?m gonna to lay my head
on some lonesome railroad line,
let the two-nineteen
satisfy my mind.

Here?s a piano roll by a Jack Pierce, the year isn?t given. It alternates with the 16 bar verse, and the 8 bar chorus. What?s interesting, is that, here too, you can clearly hear the pianist change from the I chord to the IV chord on the 2nd beat of the 3rd bar of the chorus, as in Jones? original recording.

Jones himself returned to the song in 1926 with Bertha ?Chippie? Hill and Louis Armstrong for O?Keh.

They play the 16 bar verse as an intro, with Armstrong soloing. The diminished chord in the verse is replaced by a more conventional IV7.
The 8 bar form is simplified as well, staying on the I chord on bar #3:

||: I | V7 | I | IV |

| I | V7 | I V7 | I :||

Hill sings the opening phrase up to the major 3rd  note, as seems to be the case on most versions of the song from here on.
Armstrong fills behind the vocals, and he often plays the major 3rd of the key against the IV chord, which sounds like a Major 7th of the IV chord, a distinct sound, as most musicians seem to handle the IV chord of the song with a flat 7th.

Here?s another piano roll from 1927, by a ?Sid Laney?, a pseudonym for piano roll artist J. Lawrence Cook. Apart from the 16 bar verse and the 8 bar chorus, he adds quite a few twists and turns of his own to the tune. I get a little exhausted, listening to him, I must confess.

In 1936 Richard M. Jones sung his song himself, with Lee Collins on trumpet; and Bill Owsley on tenor sax, backing him. They stick to the basic 8 bar form this time.

Victoria Spivey did the song as Jane Lucas in 1936, for Vocalion.
The line-up was: Victoria Spivey (v), Arnett Nelson (cl), J.H. Shayne (p), prob. John Lindsay (sb), unknown (g,d)
They play the 8 bar form a little differently, sticking to the I chord instead of the V7, for the 2nd bar, and adding a jazzy I ? VI ? II - V to the end. Many musicians later on, play this variation, with no V chord on bar #two. Staying with the I chord on bar #2 while keeping the original melody note II, makes for the 9th interval against the I7 chord, which is a somewhat more interesting sound, than the 5th against the V chord.

||: I | I7 | IV7 | IV7 |

| I VIm7 | IIm7 V7 | I IV7 | I V7 :||

Richard M. Jones also returned to the studio in 1936 to do a version for Decca, with Georgia White on vocals. What?s noteworthy about this recording, is that it has a young Les Paul on guitar, just starting his recording career!
The line-up: Georgia White (v), Richard M. Jones (p), Les Paul (g), John Lindsay (sb).
After an intro of I - #Idim7 - IIm7 - V7 (played twice), they play an instrumental 12 bar blues before White sings the 8 bar chorus with the familiar I - V7 -I ? IV? changes. .During Les Paul?s solo at the end, the rhythm section plays a variation that has the I7 chord on bar #2, instead of the V7, as in with the previous Victoria Spivey version, , and adds a minor IV chord on bar #4.

|| I | I7 | IV | IVm6 | I | V7 | I IV | I V7||

Jones and White also recorded a ?New Trouble in Mind? and a ?Trouble in Mind Swing? later on the same month. The guitarist on those tracks is listed as ?unknown? on ?Blues and Gospel records?, but to my ear he sounds like he could be Les Paul again. You can hear those songs on Spotify, if you have access to it.

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys recorded a Western Swing version in 1936:

A male vocal group ?The Four Southerners? did an a cappella version, complete with instrument imitations, in 1937. Again, no YouTube, unfortunately, but you can hear it on Spotify:

I couldn?t find the Jelly Roll Morton 1938 Library of Congress version online, listed on the ?..keep on living?? site, much to my chagrin. In fact I didn?t find any mention of it elsewhere either, so I?m wondering if it could be a mistake? Can anyone shed some light on this?

A young Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded a version with the Lucky Millinder band in 1941. As with Victoria Spivey, they stay on the I chord for the 2nd bar of the chorus. A minor IV chord also appears on bar #4.

Speaking of Sister Rosetta, don?t miss this live footage from Chorlton, Manchester, UK, in 1964.

Karl Jones recorded the song in 1945, with Bob Shaffner & His Harlem Hot Shots (Bob Shaffner (tp), "Clarence" (as), Richard Jones (p), Lonnie Johnson (g), unknown (b), Mr. Bates (d)).
What?s strange, is that only Karl Jones is listed as a vocalist, but I think I?m hearing both a male and a female voice in here. At times the male voice sounds a lot like Lonnie Johnson.
Another reason to list this version is that they play and sing the original verse as well, which is something of a rarity in later versions.

If things were getting a little too jazzy for your tastes with the last few versions, you are going to love this one; I don?t know if anyone else could pull a stunt like this, but John Lee Hooker manages to do what is essentially a wonderful one chord version of the tune, in 1949. If I?m not mistaken, he plays out of Spanish tuning, pitched at around C sharp. He throws in a bit of IV (and IV7) chord for a color, I think, but there are really no chord changes to be followed, even if he sings the melody pretty much as the original.

Big Bill Broonzy recorded the song several times in the 50?s. Here?s some live footage of him doing the song. He?s in the I ? I7 ? IV? camp with the changes, and treats the form loosely. Spectacular singing too! Does he sing ??Cause I?m trouble in mind??

Dinah Washington had a Billboard chart #4 hit with her version in 1952. Apart from the vocals, her version is interesting in that it stays ?long? on the I chord, extending it to a 3 whole measures, and reducing the following IV chord for only 1 bar, shared with the #IVdim7. Something like this:

||: I | I7 | I7 | IV7 #IVdim7 |

| I  VI7 | II7 V7 | I VI7| II7 V7 :||

Snooks Eaglin did the song in 1959. He too adds an occasional #IVdim7 to color the song.

Here?s Nina Simone live in Newport in 1960


Mance Lipscomb first recorded Trouble in Mind in his1 961 Reprise album titled with the song. Here he is again doing it in C position in standard tuning, tuned low, recorded in his home in 1964:

Blind Connie Williams  was recorded doing the song in 1961 on his ?Philadelphia Street Singer? ?album. The recently found footage shows him playing with a very short slide in his ring finger, leaving him able to finger the strings conventionally as well, which perhaps explains how he was able to play complex harmonies (apart from being a musical genius, of course), while wearing a slide.
He plays out vestapol tuning as Johnm points out (see a post below), and he really goes through pretty much all the variations of the changes seen so far, adding a few touches of his own.
He has a nifty walk from the I chord to the V; G/B ? Bbdim ? Am7 ? D7, in the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd bar. He also likes to add an extra turnaround to the end; G ? Bbdim7-Am7-D7, adding a measure or two.
Somewhat surprisingly Williams is also chronologically the first musician who I?m hearing to go straight to the IV chord from the V, on bar #3, leaving out the I chord from in between: I ? V7 ? IV ? IV?. I believe many earlier  8-bar blues were played this way. Perhaps it has to do with the melody emphasizing the major 3rd on bar #3 in many versions?

Lightning Hopkins recorded the song in 1960. Here?s a great live version from 1964. As usual, he?s the epitome of cool, and plays his own unique form freely, and goes straight to the V chord from the IV, something like this; I ? I ? I7 ? IV- IV- V7 - IV ? I  .
Check out how he sings the line ?satisfy this mind of mine? at around 2:13!

Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry recorded the song in 1962. I have this version on an old Everest ?Archives of Folk & Jazz music?- LP, and it?s one of the first country blues records I got as a young kid. This is the first version of the song I?ve ever heard, and I?ve always loved McGhee?s singing on this. Playing in E position, standard tuning, they go straight to the IV chord after the V, and Brownie likes to insert a II7 (F#7) chord occasionally on bars #5 & 6.

||: I | V7 | IV7 | IV7 |

| I (II7) | (II7) V7 | I | I V7:||


Here?s Roscoe Holcomb doing a great banjo version on the Smithsonian Folkways album ?High Lonesome Sound? High and lonesome indeed!

Here?s Otis Spann with Lonnie Johnson, in Copenhagen in 1963. This too, I have on an old Everest -LP.

Aretha Franklin managed to turn the song into a convincing soul-blues version in 1965, with a sympathetic quartet featuring Kenny Burrel on guitar.


Sometimes when you explore even the most well-known worn out songs, you come up with a totally surprising new interpretation. Such is for me, the Bud Grant version, recorded by George Mitchell in 1969. It sounds to me like Grant is playing in standard tuning, in A position, tuned about a half-step low, but I could be wrong. He has a very interesting chord progression, staying with the V7 chord for two bars instead of 1, and having the 5th of the chord on bass.

||: A | E7/B | E7/B | D7 |

| E7/B | A/C# E7/B | A E7/B | A :||

The same as chord degrees:

|| I | V7(5th on bass) | V7(5th on bass) | IV7 |

| V7(5th on bass) | I(3rd on bass) V7(5th on bass) | I V7(5th on bass) | I ||

On the end of his rendition, he turns into some more conventional changes we?ve seen elsewhere. Nevertheless, a very personal take!

Here?s Sam Chatmon doing the song in 1978:

Guitar Frank Hovington was recorded doing a nice version in 1980, two years before he died, for the ?Living Country Blues USA? field recordings. He plays the form freely out of C position, and he?s playing reminds me a little of the Mance Lipscomb version, although Hovington adds occasional #IVdim7 and  II7 chords.

A wonderful Mama Yancey and Little Brother Montgomery get-together in 1982! The music starts at around 2:58.

Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor did the song on their 1991 album, ?Back to the Country?, just before Shines died. Hearing this is a bit sad, as Shines had had a stroke in the 80?s, and was no longer able to play the guitar himself; it is the producer and another session musician who play the guitars. Nevertheless you?ll hear Shines sing and Pryor play the harmonica.

Cephas and Wiggins on their ?Homemade? album in 1999.

Larry Johnson recorded the song on his ?Blues for Harlem? Album in 1999. Alas not on YouTube, but here?s a Spotify link:

It shouldn?t come as a surprise, that some of our forum members and their associates have also recorded ?Trouble in Mind? on their releases.

Johnson, Miller & Dermody featured the song on their ?Deceiving Blues? CD, You can hear the song, which has some nice vocal harmonies, here:

Phil Thorne has the song on his 2007 CD ?You Don?t Know My Mind?.You can hear it on his MySpace page.

There must be thousands of versions of ?Trouble in Mind?, so if I left out your favorite one, or if you have a version of your own, please do post on this thread!

Finally, some sources and links which were useful:

Apart Weeniepedia and Stefan Wirz?s discographies I used this Wikipedia article as my source:

The ?Keep on living? page has many versions of the song listed, I only used a fraction on my post:

Richard M. Jones on Wikipedia:

Elijah Wald?s ?songobiography? page, where you can read his thoughts on the matter, and listen to his version of it:

Here?s a YouTube playlist of the tunes mentioned in this thread; I?ll try to remember to update it, when you post additional versions:



Edited to correct the tuning from standard to vestapol, on the Blind Connie Williams version, thanks to Johnm (see his post below).

Lyrics edited as kindly suggested by Davek
« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 06:00:14 AM by Johnm »

Offline Harry

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2016, 05:11:53 AM »
Wow Pan, impressive presentation and in-depth research!

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2016, 08:33:13 AM »
Just spent a pleasant couple of hours listening to all of these! Wonderful selection, Pan. Thanks.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline islandgal

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2016, 08:44:57 AM »
Love the song. Fabulous post with so much detail. I'll be coming back to this post to enjoy more of it over time. Thanks Pan!

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2016, 08:58:18 AM »
Thanks so much for your great job in selecting the Song of the Month, researching it, and ferreting out so many different versions, Pan.  I look forward to working my way through them.
All best,

Offline Stuart

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2016, 09:34:29 AM »
Thanks, Pan. You put a lot of time and effort into this and I look forward to listening to all the versions.

Offline harriet

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2016, 10:31:16 AM »
Thanks Pan, great selections - I look forward to going through the rest though I went through some this am.

Offline joe paul

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2016, 03:13:35 AM »
Wow, good work Pan, thank you.
For the moment I'm stuck, can't get enough of the Blind Connie Williams version, but I'll enjoy listening to the other versions when I get round to it.

Offline blueshome

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2016, 09:25:53 AM »
May be electric but one of my favourite versions:

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2016, 09:28:08 AM »
Hi Pan,
Connie Williams played his version of "Trouble In Mind" out of Vestapol, which he used on all of his songs on which he was recorded playing guitar.  He was unusually sophisticated and harmonically rich playing out of that tuning, and it's always a treat to hear what he did there.
All best,

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2016, 10:19:43 AM »
Outstanding.  Very well done SOTM.  A lot of real good music to listen to....

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

Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2016, 01:27:14 PM »
Hi Pan,
Connie Williams played his version of "Trouble In Mind" out of Vestapol, which he used on all of his songs on which he was recorded playing guitar.  He was unusually sophisticated and harmonically rich playing out of that tuning, and it's always a treat to hear what he did there.
All best,

Wow, thanks for the correction Johnm, I'll edit my post accordingly. Very impressive chord work on vestapol indeed!



Offline Pan

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2016, 01:33:18 PM »
May be electric but one of my favourite versions:

Thanks Phil.

A beautiful version, now added to the playlist.



Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2016, 02:31:27 PM »
Wonderful selection of a wonderful tune.  I've always loved Snooks Eaglin's version but look forward to hearing the others.  Thanks for being so thorough and taking the time to pull this together.

Offline JRO

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Re: SOTM November 2016, Trouble in Mind
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2016, 11:23:31 PM »
Thank you Pan for well done overwiev of Trouble in mind. I'd like to present allthough it owes more to Nat King Cole's and Charles Brown's club blues style with horns than to acoustic country blues.


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