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Having a phonograph without these records is like having pork chops without gravy - Yes indeed - Columbia advertisement for Bessie Smith's Hateful Blues/Frankie Blues

Author Topic: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes  (Read 764 times)

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Offline Lignite

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SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« on: October 01, 2018, 10:30:08 AM »
For the October SOTM I have chosen Mama Don't Tear My Clothes. It is often cited as being related to and emerging from the same song family as Let Me Do It For You/ Chevrolet and Mama Let Me Lay It On You/ Baby Let Me Follow You Down, yet this particular song seems to have had a life of it's own and has stood the test of time by remaining an oft-recorded blues classic for a number of years.                                                                              The song authorship is often credited to Big Bill Broonzy and the initial recording was by his group The State Street Boys in 1935; Big Bill - vocal, guitar, Jazz Gillum - harmonica, Black Bob - piano, Zeb Wright - violin               


It was recorded the following year by his close associate and half-brother Washboard Sam. This version remains my all time favorite for its looseness and exuberant performance. Git on down!


The Locke Brothers Rhythm Orchestra are an unknown Carolina regional band who covered the song for Bluebird records at a recording session in Charlotte in 1936


The popular Harlem Hamfats covered the tune in 1937 adding to even greater exposure


Big Bill recorded a Mama Don't Tear My Clothes no. 2 in 1937 with new lyrics performed by another of his Chicago aggregations called the Chicago Black Swans (2 horn players, Black Bob-piano, Bill Settles-bass)


The song seems to have laid fallow for nearly a decade but made a strong comeback beginning with this version by Smokey Hogg in 1952


The great Snooks Eaglin gave an acoustic reading of the piece in 1958 featuring his 12 string guitar playing (from his classic LP Snooks Eaglin ‎? New Orleans Street Singer)


Followed by a wonderful stripped down version by the irrepressible Lightnin' Hopkins in 1962


Model T Slim (Elmon Mickle) recorded a more updated electric blues version released on the west coast based Kent Records in 1968


Rock n Roll pioneer Little Richard recorded his slinky, funky version of this classic in 1968 in tune with the modern sounds of the day


I had fun examining this truckin' little blues piece. Can anybody think of any more musical versions or shed any more insight?


 
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 03:06:48 PM by Lignite »

Offline Thomas8

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2018, 11:17:30 AM »
Probably completely unrelated but 'ere could be a song that left an impression on a young broonzy. By the man that supposedly taught him. 


Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2018, 11:36:37 AM »
Another different song, but sharing the same tune:


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Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2018, 01:02:12 PM »
Thanks, Lightnin', for your Song of the Month choice and the very thorough and well-researched initial post.  I'm looking forward to hearing all of the versions I've not heard before (which is most of them!).
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2018, 01:06:57 PM »
Great song, great research there Lightnin'

The song authorship is often credited to...

There was an earlier discussion on who was in the SSBs for that recording. I don't think much was agreed for sure but it is an interesting aside. See https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=5652.0

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2018, 04:21:07 PM »
I found an old home recording done with my old cohort Big Boy Henry from around 1989 of Mama Don't Tear My Clothes;    https://soundcloud.com/mlightninw/mama-dont-tear-my-clothes

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2018, 06:10:42 PM »
Someone who didn't think that Mama Don't You Tear My Clothes and Mama Let Me Lay It On You were different songs was Mance Lipscombe:



My guess is that the opening musical phrase was something that had long been around. Big Bill resolved it one way, and Blind Boy Fuller resolved it differently. But then he changed his mind and altered the third-line melody for Mama Let Me Lay It on You No.2. (An improvement, in my view).



That initial musical phrase had been used earlier by Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy in Can I Do It For You ? although they resolved the melody differently again:



The song is obviously related to the folk song Paper of Pins (and earlier British variants). But Minnie and Joe's song is entirely different in tone. Contrast this version of Paper Of Pins which was released on an album called American Folk Songs For Children.



I'm pretty sure that Minnie and Joe started with some bland variant and worked it up on the basis of that musical phrase ? also changing it from a courtship ditty for for children to a gritty song for adults.

It's notable that Part 1 includes the line I'll buy you a diamond ring, which shows up in later recordings of Mama Let Me Lay It On You. And Part 2 includes I'll buy you a Chevrolet ? which was later recorded as a song in itself.

P.S.
I looked up Mama Let Me Lay It On You in Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues. Nothing on Fuller's source for the song, but an interesting note on the harmonica accompaniment on the No.2. record. In 1972 a blind harmonica player called Charles Austin claimed that he'd recorded the song with Fuller. It took a while for Bastin to hear the record, and by that time Austin had caught religion and refused to talk any more about Blues. But in Bastin's opinion the harmonica on Number.2 doesn't sound like Sonny Terry.

By the way, the more I listen to Mama Let Me Lay It On You No.2 the more I believe that Fuller had heard Can I Do It For You or a performance based on it. I don't think this is true of Mama Don't You Tear My Clothes. If Big Bill did hear the Minnie and Joe song, I don't think he copied more than the first few bars of the melody.

P.P.S.
Has anybody else spotted that there was a Don't Tear My Clothes No.3 by Red Nelson? And Etta James recorded a woman's version as Honey Don't Tear My Clothes.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 07:57:42 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2018, 09:00:48 AM »
Re. connections between related songs, I believe ethnomusicologists would call this as a 'song cluster'. That seems to me to be a good description. Melody-wise, I agree with David's analysis that the major differences between the 'Clothes' and 'Lay It On You' occurs during the resolution. Lyricwise, they are fairly interchangeable.

Trying to untangle the threads in a cluster is tempting, as we've seen many times. All we can do is point out where they differ, how they are similar, and live with the song cluster phenomenon.

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 07:06:41 PM »
Here's another song from the "Lay It On You" branch. I love the Rev's picking hand on this:


Offline oddenda

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 10:57:22 PM »
ROY DUNN - he did a harmonica version of "Mama, Don't You Tear My Clothes" which he claimed he learned from hearing by DeFord Bailey on The Op'ry. Got no other versions!

pbl

Offline Suzy T

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2018, 11:04:14 PM »
Then there's this one:  .  I recorded Don't Tear My Clothes with Del Rey a few years back, it's on "Hen Party".  So cool to hear so many related songs!!  Thank you Lightning!

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2018, 04:47:49 PM »
ROY DUNN - he did a harmonica version of "Mama, Don't You Tear My Clothes" which he claimed he learned from hearing by DeFord Bailey on The Op'ry. Got no other versions!

pbl
Here  is Roy Dunn:



Another harmonica solo version was recorded by Harold Courlander in 1950 for his Folk Music of Alabama project. His album notes cast no light on Joe Brown. Perhaps he too learned the piece from DeFord Bailey on the radio.




Offline raingurl

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Re: SOTM October 2018 Mama Don't Tear My Clothes
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2019, 12:16:18 AM »
Someone who didn't think that Mama Don't You Tear My Clothes and Mama Let Me Lay It On You were different songs was Mance Lipscombe:



My guess is that the opening musical phrase was something that had long been around. Big Bill resolved it one way, and Blind Boy Fuller resolved it differently. But then he changed his mind and altered the third-line melody for Mama Let Me Lay It on You No.2. (An improvement, in my view).



That initial musical phrase had been used earlier by Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy in Can I Do It For You ? although they resolved the melody differently again:



The song is obviously related to the folk song Paper of Pins (and earlier British variants). But Minnie and Joe's song is entirely different in tone. Contrast this version of Paper Of Pins which was released on an album called American Folk Songs For Children.



I'm pretty sure that Minnie and Joe started with some bland variant and worked it up on the basis of that musical phrase ? also changing it from a courtship ditty for for children to a gritty song for adults.

It's notable that Part 1 includes the line I'll buy you a diamond ring, which shows up in later recordings of Mama Let Me Lay It On You. And Part 2 includes I'll buy you a Chevrolet ? which was later recorded as a song in itself.

P.S.
I looked up Mama Let Me Lay It On You in Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues. Nothing on Fuller's source for the song, but an interesting note on the harmonica accompaniment on the No.2. record. In 1972 a blind harmonica player called Charles Austin claimed that he'd recorded the song with Fuller. It took a while for Bastin to hear the record, and by that time Austin had caught religion and refused to talk any more about Blues. But in Bastin's opinion the harmonica on Number.2 doesn't sound like Sonny Terry.

By the way, the more I listen to Mama Let Me Lay It On You No.2 the more I believe that Fuller had heard Can I Do It For You or a performance based on it. I don't think this is true of Mama Don't You Tear My Clothes. If Big Bill did hear the Minnie and Joe song, I don't think he copied more than the first few bars of the melody.

P.P.S.
Has anybody else spotted that there was a Don't Tear My Clothes No.3 by Red Nelson? And Etta James recorded a woman's version as Honey Don't Tear My Clothes.
Thank you for sharing all these!
P.S. As a female I feel like "Honey Don't Tear My Clothes" doesn't sound as good when a woman sings it.