collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

* Support Weenie!

Shop on Amazon using these search boxes and Weenie earns a small commission:
USA
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

United Kingdom
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

Canada
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

* Weenie's CD!

Stay down sunshine, you don't know what tomorrow may bring - "Poor Bill" White, A Hundred Women

Author Topic: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom  (Read 1285 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« on: December 01, 2018, 04:59:33 AM »
Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom

Attempting to answer the questions "who recorded it first and who covered it” I kept track of the early recordings I could find from the Thirties and kept going into the Forties.

Here’s the current list in chronological order. It shows the song’s early popularity and who were the first to record it. We can add more titles as they come up.

Recordings 1933 - 1949

Session Date
Y-M-D
ArtistTitleAccompanistsCommentB&GR page#
1933-09-18Curly WeaverOh Lordy MamaARC unissued999
1934-08-08Buddy MossOh Lordy Mama668
1935-04-23Curly WeaverOh Lawdy MamaBlind Willie Mctell g.1000
1935-07-08Bumble Bee SlimHey Lawdy MamaDorothy Rice p.; Scrapper Blackwell g.Decca 7126235
1935-08-21Buddy MossOh Lordy Mama No. 2Josh White g.669
1936-10-21Bill GaitherTee-Ninecy Mama (Little Sweet Mama)283
1936-11-04Bumble Bee SlimMeet Me At The Landingprob. Broonzy g.; Black Bob p.238
1937-02-08Bind Boy FullerBoots And ShoesFloyd Dipper Boy Council g.278
1939-07-21Sonny Boy WilliamsonTell Me BabyWalter Davis, p.; Broonzy, eg.1045
1940-10-08Oscar Buddy WoodsLook Here Baby, One Thing I Got To SayLC1061
1941Louis ArmstrongHey Lawdy MamaHot 7Blues Foxtrot baby
1941-03-27Joe WilliamsMeet Me Around The CornerWilliam Mitchell, imb.1039
1941-05-16Josh WhiteShe's A Married Womancl., sb., d., bass vocalCO unissued1023
1943June RichmondHey Lawdy MamaAndy Kirk & His 12 Clouds Of Joy#4 Billboard charts
1944June RichmondHey Lawdy MamaRoy Milton and his Band
1949Joe WilliamsShe's A Married Woman

Musical format: The layout is usually a more or less modified 12 bar blues with some swing. It lends itself to both a monotonic bass treatment and also a spacious, jazzy feel.

The famous “Hey lawdy mama, great God almighty” refrain contributes to its catchiness. A common characteristic is the bugle call intro lick, first heard in Curley Weaver and Buddy Moss’s versions.

There are a couple of Frankenstinian rearrangements out there. The most famous is the Howlin’ Wolf one. Willie Dixon grafts chunks of the lyrics onto the tune, beat and licks of Rolling And Tumbling, and Wolf plays it for laughs. Another genetic mutation is the Oscar Buddy Woods song for the LoC


Early days: Pink Anderson mentioned he had first heard it “just after the first World War” according to Samuel B. Charter’s notes for Carolina Bluesman, Vol.1 (1961), Prestige/Bluesville. If anyone knows more let us know, perhaps Pink elaborated further and it didn’t hit the notes.

Curley Weaver’s unissued ARC recording in 1933 is the earliest session documented in B&GR that I could find. To date no masters or pressed examples have come to light. Curley recorded it again in 1935 and we do have that one.

His pal Buddy Moss got the first record out though.


The first three surviving recordings

Buddy Moss - Oh Lordy Mama (1934): This is the earliest version with an extant recording, at least that I can find. It set the scene and a high bar for most of the songs that followed.

The intro lick reminds me of a bugle call, perhaps the Reveille. Having woken us up Moss plays expertly and sparingly, walking selected strings to land on partial chords voiced for the melody. His time is solid while leaving ample space in the music.



See this post for the lyrics, and also for a link to a discussion of the song’s vocal phrasing.

Curley Weaver - Oh Lawdy Mama (1935): While we don't have his first recording from 1933 we do have Curley's second one for ARC. Blind Willie McTell accompanies him on a guitar, not sure how many strings on it. It's nice, but their mutual Atlanta friend Buddy Moss's recording the previous year is a hard act to follow.



We might wonder what Weaver thought about Moss getting his record released first, despite the older man recording it the year before. We know Moss was playing with Weaver regularly that year. If it was an older song, from “just after the first World War”, no big deal, both were cribbing.

Bumble Bee Slim - Hey Lawdy Mama (1935): Dorothy Rice and Scrapper Blackwell split the backup out into piano and guitar parts, Amos sings. It’s interesting to compare with the Buddy Moss version and has grown on me.



For more background on Decca 7126, and a less whupped sound file of the 78, see this page on the Old Time Blues website. Dot Rice was a name unfamiliar to me so I did some further digging and found more sessions with Scrapper. She was a very talented player, we should have heard more from her.


Resources: Here are some more links.

wikipedia Hey Lawdy Mama song page
Stefan's Buddy Moss discography
Stefan's Curley Weaver discography
wikipedia Buddy Moss biography
wikipedia Curley Weaver biography


Next up: There are many more versions out there from the early days and the revival. I look forward to seeing what comes up and will duck back in and post some more as we go.

Cordialmente,

Rivers

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10204
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2018, 05:58:00 AM »
Thanks for your Song of the Month choice and the research that went into your initial post, Rivers.  Here's a version of the song I've always loved.  It's fun to play, too.



All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2018, 06:56:47 AM »
Beautiful. That ending is especially perfect. I'm struck by his independence in the thumb picking, like in Moss's version.

Offline Lastfirstface

  • Member
  • Posts: 377
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2018, 09:02:56 AM »
The later George Mitchell recording of Buddy Moss playing it is great in its own right. He was still in fine form in both playing and singing.


Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2018, 09:21:53 AM »
Absolutely. Johnm put it well in his work on the George Mitchell Collection "Buddy Moss sounds absolutely magisterial here, singing and playing with utter authority"

Offline Lignite

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2018, 10:28:12 AM »
Here's a little more modern version by little known bluesman George Herbert Moore of Burgaw, N.C. recorded live in 1998. I love how he consistently slides to the IV chord earlier than most of the other versions.  https://soundcloud.com/mlightninw/oh-lordy-mama/s-kk4gD

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2018, 10:58:36 PM »
Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
 We can add more titles as they come up.
Here's some extra data up to 1952


Session
Date
Y-M-D
ArtistTitleAccompanistsCommentB&GR
page#
1936-07-08Bumble Bee SlimMeet Me At The Bottom   
(Hey Lawdy Mama)
Peetie Wheatstraw
Unknown pno
De 717023
1938-09-11    Count BasieHey Lawdy Mama?Walter Page
?Freddy Green
De 2722
Fancourt & McGrath
page #
1944-07-06Miss RhapsodyHey Lawdy MamaJune Cole's Orchestra     Sav 5511397
1937-06-21Gene PhilipsHey Lawdy MamaHis Rhythm AcesMod 20-572       
Mod 20-527
440
1951-Ralph WillisTell Me Pretty BabyBrownie McGheeSignal 1006594
1952-03-03Brownie McGhee   Bottom Blues  Sonny TerrySav 844370


I've got some reissue details if you'd like them.   

From the 1960s there's another Big Joe recording and great versions by Mance Lipscomb and Pink Anderson.
I have a version by Freddy King and I know of one by Junior Wells.

POSTSCRIPT
Edited for incorrect title for Ralph Willis record.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2018, 05:50:44 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2018, 05:47:12 AM »
Yep that's all good David, thanks.

I only published the entries I found up to 1949 in my initial post since I was keen to show the sheer number of releases after Moss's. I did keep records of everything I came across up to the early Sixties, intending to publish them later, along with anything I'd missed from the early canon. By the end of this the table will be much longer.

Also, I was aware I'd probably missed a few from the early catalog, so good spotting there. Since we've started on it there's no reason we can't make this definitive.

I don't think reissue details are required in the SOTM context. We're primarily interested in hearing the original published (or rediscovered unissued master) takes. The recording date, or year anyway, gives it some historical context. If you don't know the date it doesn't matter, I can run that down.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2018, 06:06:55 AM by Rivers »

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2018, 05:57:08 AM »
From 1960, Mance Lipscombe's Foggy Bottom Blues.



And from 1961, Pink Anderson's Meet Me In The Bottom


Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10204
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2018, 08:47:59 AM »
Hi all,
We just had a discussion with the moderators and have concluded that in the future it would be best not to post lists from reference books of versions of the Song of the Month.  Part of the fun of the threads is people searching out, discovering and posting different versions of the song.  If all or even most of the versions of the song are listed on the thread, that aspect of the threads is effectively squelched.  So . . . no quoting from DG&R or other blues reference books in the Song of the Month threads in the future, please.  And after the initial post in a Song of the Month thread, if you've posted two versions of the song, please don't post any more until someone else has posted at least one.  Let's create space for more people to participate in the Song of the Month threads.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2018, 05:34:28 AM »
Here's Buddy Moss's 2nd crack at it in 1935, Oh Lordy Mama No. 2, with Josh White on 2nd guitar.


Offline Lignite

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2018, 08:09:13 AM »
Boots And Shoes is Blind Boy Fuller's adaptation without the Hey Lordy Mama! refrain. Anybody know who's playing the second guitar on this one?


Offline Lignite

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2018, 08:29:21 AM »
Found it! Second guitar in Boots and Shoes was Floyd "Dipper Boy" Council. Recorded in 1937.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2018, 06:29:06 AM »
Many of the later recordings use verses found in the five 1953-36 recordings by Buddy Moss (2) Curly Weaver, and Bumble Bee Slim (2). Even Louis Armstrong sings two of Curly Weaver's verses — including the one with his woman in Cincinnati. And Pink Anderson sings a verse found elsewhere only in Bumble Bee Slim's Hey Lawdy Mama — the one with his woman's shoe and waist sizes.

Four of the five have been posted. Here's the fifth: Bumble Bee's second version Meet Me In The Bottom (Hey Lawny Mama).



I'm still working on the lyrics. Meanwhile here's an important omission: Big Joe Williams. He recorded it in 196i as Meet Me In The Bottom, having precviously recorded it 1949 as She's A Married's Woman and here in 1941 as Meet Me Around The Corner. Mostly he sang verses that fitted into others of his songs, but he must have been listening to other people — at one point he borrows Bill Gaither's refrain Tee-ninecy Mama. (I had to look this up in Steve Calt's Barrelhouse Words; it means 'tiny'.)

« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 06:32:48 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2018, 06:11:41 AM »
Musicians learned it as a great tune with a great refrain. They could have put any old words to it, or invented new ones — which many did.

But there's a body of verses that turn up again and again. Taken as a whole they're incoherent, even contradictory, often in the same recording. There's a lot of leaving, possibly by rail, but is the singer leaving his woman or is she leaving him? In some records they both leave. There's sometimes parental advice, and often a celebration of the singer's woman.

It's tempting to think that later singers took ideas from Bumble Bee Slim, and that he had taken ideas from Buddy Moss and Curley Weaver. But that's probably much too simple. My guess is that the song was hugely popular in 1936 with musicians all listening to each other and some of them listening to those three singers on record or in person.

Here are the lyrics of Buddy Moss's  first recording as transcribed by Johnm

Quote from: Buddy Moss Hey Lawdy Mama
  Meet me down at the river, you can bring me my shoes and clothes, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
   Said, meet me down at the river, bring me my shoes and clothes
   Says, I ain't got so many but I got so far to go

   Woman I love, she done caught that Southern train, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
   Said, the woman I love, she caught that Southern train
   Now, she left me here, heart just an aching pain
 
   Goin' away to leave you 'cause you' cryin' ain't gonna make me stay, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
   Said, I'm goin' and leave you 'cause your cryin' won't make me stay
   I may be back in June, may be the first of May

   Woman I love, says, she right down on the ground, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
   Said now, the woman I love, right down on the ground
   Now, she's a tailor-made woman, ain't no hand-me-down

   Tell me what time do that train leave your town, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
   Said now, tell me what time do that train leave your town
   Said now, "One leave at 8:00, one leave at quarter past 9:00."

   Seaboard goes south at 8:00, babe, Southern goes north at 9:00, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
   Said now, Seaboard goes south at 8:00, babe, Southern goes north at 9:00
   Says, I just got one hour, talk with that gal of mine

Curley Weaver's surviving recording has the same opening verse and his third verse is the same as  Moss's fourth. In between he sings

Quote from: Curley WeaverHey Lawdy Mama
Woman I love, woman I crave to see, Lordy mama, great God almighty
She's in Cincinnati, won't write to me

Woman I love got a mouth chock full of good gold, Lordy mama, great God almighty
Every time she hug and kiss me, make my boogyin' blood rune cold

Weaver then sings Moss's two final where the singer and his woman are travelling in different directions, meeting for just an hour. This rather contradicts verses in which the singer is leaving, his woman is leaving, his woman lives in Cincinnati and won't even write.  None of the versions I've heard copy this pair of verses, which sit slightly more easily at the start of Blind Lemon's Black Horse Blues.

Weaver then sings Moss's fourth verse and a variant of his third. He's now leaving the woman who left him back in his verse 3.

Quote from: Curley Weaver Hey Lawdy Mama
Woman I love, she's right down on the ground, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Now, she's a tailor-made woman, not no hand-me-down

Goin' away to leave you, cryin' won't make me stay, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
I may be back in June, may be back in the first of May

Buddy Moss's Hey Lawdy Mama No 2 is largely composed of Woman I love  verses — one of them corresponding to Curley Weaver's  woman I crave to see verse, except that she lives Atlanta, and another half-echoing the mouth full of gold verse. There's also a 'parents advice' verse, which turns up in later versions.

Quote from: Buddy Moss Hey Lawdy Mama No 2
Woman I love, dead and I her grave, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
And the woman I hate, Isee her every day

If I would have listened, what my mama said, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
I would have been at home, sleepin' in my mama's bed

Woman I love she got a mole just below her nose, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Every time she hug and kiss me, make my love run cold

Woman I love, woman I crave to see, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Now she lives in Atlanta, and she won't write to me

Woman I love, mouth chock full of gold, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Now she got something to satisfy my soul

She twists and turns, she rolls all over the bed, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
She got something make me talk out of my head

Bumble Bee Slim's Hey Lawdy Mama has only the singer leaving, thrown out by his woman, and he changes the details of the opening Meet me verse. He extends the parental advice with a verse copied in later recordings — let your women come here to you. Like the other two singers, he has a right down on the ground verse. He also has a woman I crave to see verse, although his woman lives in California — but hasn't she just thrown him out? And as I posted before he lists his woman's shoe and waist sizes.

Quote from: Bumble Bee Slim Hey Lawdy Mama
Meet me round the corner, bring my shoes and clothes, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Well the woman I love done put me out of doors

I've got to go now, can't come back no more oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Well I don't mind leavin', but I got so far to go

If I would have listened, what my mama said, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
I would have been at home sleepin' in my mama's bed

Mama told me, Papa told me too, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Son you stay at home, let your women come here to you

Woman I love, right down on the ground, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Every time she kiss me, makes my love come down

Woman I love woman I crave to see, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Well she livin in California, but she won't write to me

She wears a number four shoe, she's twenty-five in the waist, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
I can't find nobody to take that woman's place

Slim's next version Meet Me In The Bottom (Hey Lawdy Mama) starts with a different opening line, which became favourite in later recordings:

Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes

Other verses don't seem to have been shared or copied, although he seems to have used half-lines from other singers to make new verses. His woman has left, not for the first time, which allows the line Every time she leaves me, makes my blood run warm —unlike Curley Weaver's woman with the mouth full of gold who makes my blood run cold. Another part-share with other versions is the half-line right down on the ground. He also sings what became Big Joe Williams's favourite verse — not to give his wife a job.

Quote from: Bumble Bee Slim Meet Me In The Bottom (Hey Lawny Mama)
Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
I've got to leave this town I ain't got no time to lose

Woman I love she done gone back home, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Every time she leaves me, she makes my blood run warm

She caught that seven-o-eleven, I stood looking down, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
I couldn't stand to see my woman leave this town

She got coal black eyes, long black curly hair, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Well she got something feed me anywhere

White folks please don't give that girl no job, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
She's a married woman, I don't wan her to work too hard

She got dimples in her jaw, right down on the ground, oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
She got a way of loving make a rabbit hug a hound
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 06:13:11 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10204
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2018, 09:40:48 AM »
Hi all,
I think what really made "Hey Lordy Mama/Meet Me In The Bottom" catch on and become a blues standard was not a function of the lyrics, per se, or their meaning, but rather the rhythm of the phrasing in which they were sung.  The way the lyrics employ a repetition in the third and fourth bars of the first four-bar phrase of each verse is very catchy and distinctive, and I think it is really the hook to the song.  It's like a ritualized response in a church litany.

  Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes, hey Lordy, mama, Great God almighty

With that bold section arriving at the tail end of the first line in every verse, it has a very punchy rhythmic feel that is pretty irresistible, both to hear and to sing, and the repetition that occurs over the course of the song reinforces its effect.

This sort of "response archetype" is discussed in the "Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing" thread at:  https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=924.msg7419#msg7419 .
All best,
Johnm   
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 10:06:41 AM by Johnm »

Offline Lignite

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2018, 10:57:17 AM »
While hanging out with South Carolina bluesman Cootie Stark, he taught me a verse that I hadn't heard yet (but have since heard in one of the Buddy Moss versions.) It went;
"The woman I love got a mole beneath her nose. Hey Lordy mama, Great God-almighty!. Every time she kiss me she makes my blood run cold."
He said that he and his school mates in S.C. used to sing it together on the school grounds during recess. I just always envision and hear in my mind a chorus of pre-pubescent kids singing it with their high voices every time I sing that verse and I also remember Cootie.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 10:59:33 AM by Lignite »

Offline alyoung

  • Member
  • Posts: 314
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2018, 02:46:25 PM »
And now for something completely different.... issued by Blues Unlimited (UK magazine) in 1967 (it's not a Texas label as another YouTube posting of this track says).


Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2018, 04:34:32 PM »
I think what really made "Hey Lordy Mama/Meet Me In The Bottom" catch on and become a blues standard was not a function of the lyrics, per se, or their meaning, but rather the rhythm of the phrasing in which they were sung. 

You're absolutely right, John. The lyrics are very much secondary. Nevertheless, the choice of verses that singers made after 1936 was not (usually) random. Certain verses, verse-fragments and verse-types sound good with that tune. Singers remembered them and copied them.

The structure of the song delays the final line (in the text, not in in the melody), so that it comes as more of a surprise. But this is true of any verse sung to the tune.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 05:37:45 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2018, 05:44:08 PM »
It's like a ritualized response in a church litany.

When Josh White recorded the song, somebody thought that it was a good idea to have bass gospel singer performing it as a response. The singer, Sam Gary, seems to have been member of the Almanac Singers folk group (Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie etc), who recorded with White around that date. So Gary may not have been a gospel singer, but someone trying to impersonate one.

It's an interesting record, but I prefer it when a bluesman sings the refrain.



And at the speed they take it, we rather miss what John calls

Quote from: Johnm
a very punchy rhythmic feel that is pretty irresistible

Yes  they swing, but (to my taste)  that isn't really the point.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 05:46:12 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline alyoung

  • Member
  • Posts: 314
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2018, 12:18:41 AM »
I posted not so long ago on Sam (Samuel) Gary in another topic ... he was an Almanac Singer, and was also a member of Josh White and His Carolinians, a group that can probably be defined by the fact that it had a conductor, Leonard de Paur (probably best known for leading the Leonard Paur Infantry Chorus). In 1955, Gary made an album for the British Esquire label (Esquire 32-017), backed by Josh White on guitar and BVs. It was mainly bog-standard gospel pieces, delivered in bog-standard non-swinging formal singing style ... it has to be said that Gary is not listed in the standard discography (Laughton & Hayes) of post-war black gospel.


Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2018, 06:11:33 AM »
Many, many thanks alyoung for the clarification. Sam Gary is closer to 'authentic' than I expected, and clearly sincere.

His participation on She's A Married Woman was (in my view) a mistake on someone's part — but  well intentioned.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2018, 06:29:08 PM »
Here are Sonny & Brownie in 1960, Meet Me Down The Bottom. I believe this was their second released recording of it. I like it a lot!



Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2018, 06:55:21 PM »
The Sonny & Brownie link doesn't work in the UK, but I think this is the same recording



Same or not, it's a great version, much better (to my taste) than their Bottom Blues of 1946. It sounds as if Brownie decided to distance himself from Buddy Moss both in guitar licks and vocal melody — but then changed his mind.

Here's Bottom Blues. Does anybody prefer it?


« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 07:09:53 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2018, 07:27:03 PM »
I for one prefer the second version on the Midnight Special LP. Not only because I'm sentimentally attached to that album, it just seems to me to be more mature musically and artistically.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 07:38:44 PM by Rivers »

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2018, 08:28:39 PM »
it just seems to me to be more mature musically and artistically.

Agreed, but is Brownie just reverting to how he sang and played the song when he first learned it? (Sonny sounds consistently good.)

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2018, 05:37:37 AM »
Quite likely reverting, it has the Buddy Moss signature lick in the breaks, played his own way but unmistakable. Whether that was how he first learned it or a later decision to embrace Moss's version we'll probably never know, either are possible.

Offline Lignite

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2018, 02:37:37 PM »
I think Brownie's basing his early version on the Blind Boy Fuller recording even copying some of Floyd Council's second guitar boogie-woogie type licks. The later version seems like his own take on the Buddy Moss version. Being in his musical orbit and being billed as Blind Boy fuller #2 I'll bet his first exposure to the song was the Fuller version.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2018, 06:49:44 PM »
Good point Lightnin', I think you're right there.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2018, 07:08:29 AM »
I'm not convinced, The only similarities between Fullers arrangement and Brownie's are the boogie base and the dropping of the Oh Lawny Mama response. Melodically, Fuller stays pretty close to the rhythmic feel and melody of the previous hits, while Brownie takes both in a direction that ends in 'jump blues' arrangements such as Gene Phillipss 1947version.

Of the recordings I've heard, Brownie's Bottom Blues, Josh White's She's A Married Woman and Sam Price's Oh Lawdy Mama seem to mark a turning away from the tuneful 'country ragtime' feel that I find so appealing.

Big Joe Williams and Sonny Boy Williamson also take the song in another direction, but it's still jaunty, not hard driving.

The jazzmen Louis Armstrong and Count Basie are much more respectful of the melody and rhythmic feel of the early recordings.

Some musicians just felt that the public expected change. I think the boogie craze was a major factor. The saddest (for me) recording of all is Bumble Bee Slim's 1962 mutated version of the song he'd sung so well as a young man.

Offline Lignite

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2018, 06:36:42 PM »
So do you think Brownie on the earlier version was going through his period of doing the electric band driven R&B tunes for the different independent labels in NYC without Sonny and it might of rubbed off on this cut? Later when he and Sonny got established as a traditional blues music duo with the folk music crowd, he may have decided to go back to a more authentic traditional presentation with his personal interpretation of the Buddy Moss version.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2018, 07:12:44 AM »
I posted not so long ago on Sam (Samuel) Gary in another topic
Can you give a link to your post, alyoung? I've found some more information, but don't want to duplicate.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2018, 08:13:24 AM »
I posted not so long ago on Sam (Samuel) Gary in another topic
Can you give a link to your post, alyoung? I've found some more information, but don't want to duplicate.

Here you go. I posted it to the How did that get recorded? thread in November after it turned up while doing my homework on the song: https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=708.msg105475#msg105475
« Last Edit: December 13, 2018, 08:14:58 AM by Rivers »

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2018, 12:01:57 PM »
Here you go. I posted it to the How did that get recorded? thread in November after it turned up while doing my homework on the song: https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=708.msg105475#msg105475

Thanks, Rivers. I've done some looking up and posted a reply on that other thread.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2018, 05:48:46 AM »
A while back, Rivers asked me for a link to the Ralph Willis recording I listed. I couldn't find one, and I now see why.

I have an iTunes playlist with all my versions of Hey Lawdy Mama. One is by Ralph Willis, but I wrote it up too quickly — not noticing that Willis's title is Tell Me Pretty Baby.



I'll make the due alteration to the table I posted.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2018, 04:14:59 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2018, 09:50:04 AM »
Wow, a western swing version! I like it.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2019, 06:19:59 AM »
I've long  been puzzled by the image of somebody leaving from a river bottom, but then travelling exclusively by train. I've just found an explanation in Max Haymes' Railroading Some.

Haymes believes the reference is to the M&O Bottoms — the adjacent land almost on a level with the Warrior River, along which part of the M&O Railroad ran.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10204
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2019, 08:45:28 AM »
Hi David,
The notion that the lyric refers to a particular bottom is extremely doubtful to me.  What makes the lyric work is its universality.  There is nothing in the lyric to suggest that the train leaves from the bottom, rather that it is just the meeting place to pick up the shoes and clothes, boots and shoes, whatever.  Moreover, the word "bottom" does not just refer to low ground adjacent to a river, it can also refer to a neighborhood of a town, generally thought of as the wrong side of the tracks.  Why should the lyric be referring to the "M & O Bottoms", when nothing else in the lyric refers to the M & O? 
All best,
Johnm

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #38 on: January 08, 2019, 06:09:07 PM »
John,

Haymes' argument is that the terms Bottoms frequently applied to the terraces at three different heights along the Warrior River, and that the regions like this were called Bottomlands.

This particular bottomland was called the M&O Bottoms by Big Joe Williams, although his version of the song in question has Meet me round the corner.

Harriet McClintock, a singer who had lived and picked cotton in the Warrior River Bottoms, sang for John Lomax

Quote from: Aunt Harriet McClintock
Way down in the Bottom
All the cotton so rotten
You won't get your hundred here today

Her bottom would have been the 'first terrace' — the lowest and most likely to flood.

Here is Haymes' attempt to square the geography:

Quote from: Railroading Some
...it is likely that the various versions of 'Meet Me In The Bottom/Lawdy Mama' were learnt from records, although the oral tradition would have helped the spread of this song from Georgia to North Carolina to Mississippi. Indeed, the M&O Bottoms would have seen sea-going commerce, as the Warrior River is navigable as high as Tuscaloosa, thereby stimulating an international cultural exchange, in much the same way as Mobile, New Orleans and other ports on the Eastern Seaboard. The Tuscaloosa branch of the M&O itself continued on to Montgomery, Ala., where its tracks shared the Union Station with the L&N, the Western Railway of Alabama, the ACL and the Central of Georgia. All these railroads fanned out over the South, acting as a conduit for the oral transmission of the blues


OK, it's not entirely convincing, but it's an interesting argument. And it just might be the case.

Haymes cites earlier records which identify the Black Bottom as an area. The trouble is that early records deliberately confused the area, the dance and the woman's backside.

However, I've found a song where Bottoms definitely refers to land liable to flood — Bottoms Blues by Texas Alexander.

Quote from: Bottoms Blues
Take me out of these Bottoms before the high water rise
Take me out of these Bottom, people, before the high water rise
You know I ain't no Christian man, and I don't want to be baptised

Aha! Mance Lipscomb sings the same verse in Foggy Bottom Blues. — complete with Lawdy Mama, Great God Almighty.

And Georgia Tom sings in Mississippi Bottom Blues:

Quote from: Mississippi Bottom Blues
Mississippi Bottom, where the water rises high
Them women they got something, hold you till the day you die

Mississippi Bottom, filled with mud and clay
Mississippi woman, she stole my heart away

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #39 on: January 08, 2019, 06:32:36 PM »
Living in Austin for ten years I came to think of the bottom lands as the low lying areas inland from the actual river mouth. I seem to remember some discussion of that in Lornell/Wolfe Leadbelly bio but my memory may be deceiving me. Time to read it again, what a terrible chore, one of my favorite books.

I think it likely that the setting for some versions of the song was a jailbreak. Prisons are seldom located on prime real estate land. Not all versions, just some. "Bring my shoes and clothes, when I come out the window..." etc
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 06:39:22 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10204
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #40 on: January 08, 2019, 06:38:52 PM »
My point is, what was the Warrior River to Buddy Moss?  What was the Warrior River to Shirley Griffith, to Bumble Bee Slim?  I'd venture to say that most of the people who covered the song never heard of the Warrior River.  I think such an interpretation of the lyrics is trying to get to a particularity of intent in the original lyric that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how Blues lyrics work and evolve.
 

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2019, 06:43:13 PM »
On the detail, I do agree with you, no way of telling and not at all relevant.

I think it's a very old joke among ex cons, set to music. Moss actually recorded his before getting seriously sent to prison though, looking at the dates.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 124
  • Howdy!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #42 on: January 09, 2019, 07:29:03 AM »
I think it's a very old joke among ex cons, set to music. Moss actually recorded his before getting seriously sent to prison though, looking at the dates.
Yes, I used to think it was a joke. What changed my mind was the realisation that so many verses in so many versions were about leaving a lover by rail.

Incidentally, what Buddy Moss and Curley Weaver sang was Meet me at the river — which to me sounds less like an escape. A trivial point — don't hold me to it.

What interests me about this song (among others) is the interplay between composition and transmission.

The Blues records we enjoy listening to are practically all compositions — in the sense that the performance has been planned to last approximately three minutes. Outside the Vaudeville and Jazz idioms, singers hadn't  learnt them from written texts. Some were essentially original compositions, but many were based on hearing performances by other singers. Historically, such oral transmission has promoted variation. The twentieth century recording industry made it much easier for singers to learn and copy from repeated listening to the same performance. Songs like Meet Me In The Bottom illustrate composition using all three processes — pure invention, oral transmission with variation, and copying of recorded performances.

As Jeff Taft has shown, even original Blues verses may resemble the product of oral transmission in that they're often constructed with formulas, typically half-lines sung to a two-bar musical phrase, which are widely shared in the tradition.

I concede John's point that many Blues compositions are fairly random collections of verses. But what interests me is the way that some tunes and formats attract and cling on to verses and formulas which are rarely if ever used in other Blues songs. Hey Lawdy Mama/Meet Me In The Bottom is both a tune and a format. And the records are rich in repetition of verses and formulas, many of them unheard or seldom heard in other songs.

The Taft concordance is currently off line, so I can't check. But I believe that the phrase Meet me in the Bottom is not used to any significant extent in other Blues songs. If I'm right, then this is central to the song — not just a case of everybody copying Bumble Bee Slim. Weaver and Moss didn't sing exactly this, but they did sing something with a similar meaning:  Meet me at the river.

Haymes' argument depends on two propositions
  • The phrase Meet me in the Bottom was essential to the song from the start.
  • In its earliest version, Bottom  referred to the M&O Bottoms
.
I reckon the first is quite likely true. The second is more tenuous — but not as ridiculous as John implies. Singers located far from The Warrior River could quite easily identify the Bottom as some local Bottom that they were familiar with.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 08:20:36 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10204
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #43 on: January 09, 2019, 08:52:35 AM »
Hi David,
My primary quibble with the theory that the song originally referred to the Warrior River Bottoms is that not a single version of the song that I'm aware of even mentions the Warrior River or the M & O.  Blues singers were perfectly capable of mentioning place names explicitly in their lyrics when they wanted to do so--blues lyrics abound in verses with explicit place name references.  The Max Haymes notion that the lyric originally referred to the Warrior River bottoms is an example of a hypothesis playing fast and loose with the evidence available in the lyrics themselves, which is close to nil.  Put another way, he is trying to pour five gallons of significance into a pint container of content.
All best,
Johnm 
   
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 09:20:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2442
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2019, 08:59:01 AM »
As Jeff Taft has shown, even original Blues verses may resemble the product of oral transmission in that they're often constructed with formulas, typically half-lines sung to a two-bar musical phrase, which are widely shared in the tradition.

cf. The work of Millman Parry and his student, Albert Lord.

My teacher, C.H. Wang, applied their ideas to the earliest extant Chinese poetry in his diss at Berkeley which was reworked into The Bell and The Drum.

So I guess we're looking at and listening to a specific manifestation of an ongoing human phenomenon. (What else is new?  ;) )

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6802
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2019, 09:44:36 AM »
I'm with Johnm on this.

Also, the whole picture changes when you consider the Howlin' Wolf/Dixon arrangement. Clearly they morphed the whole tale into a classic "back door man" story!

"When I come out the window, I got no time to lose", and "She's got a mean ol' man, and I'm too young to die". Very funny. You can argue about whether they misunderstood the original story, or knowingly played it for laughs. No way of knowing. Certainly it shatters any imaginary line of "tradition". This is folk music, folks, academia plays only a supporting role where useful; the analogies and connections eventually run out or get ignored.

« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 09:46:42 AM by Rivers »

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2442
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #46 on: January 10, 2019, 07:10:06 PM »
Didn't see this one posted:



Offline lindy

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1000
  • I'm a llama!
Re: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom
« Reply #47 on: January 11, 2019, 03:33:07 PM »
Wonderful version from Paul Geremia.


 


anything