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Author Topic: SOTM December 2018 Hey Lordy Mama / Meet Me In The Bottom  (Read 1376 times)

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Offline Johnm

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.