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"Did your gun go rootie, toot, toot?" asked Baker's attorney. "No," she replied. "It went TOOT. I just shot him once" - Frankie Baker, possibly the original Frankie, explaining how she dealt with Johnny, in the course of an unsuccessful lawsuit to collect damages over Republic Pictures' movie Frankie and Johnny. From the notes to When the Sun Goes Down Vol 1, Walk Right In

Author Topic: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"  (Read 462 times)

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Offline Johnm

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July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« on: July 01, 2019, 06:37:32 AM »
Hi all,
The Song of the Month selection for July, 2019 is "Pony Blues".  Certainly the most famous version at this point is Charlie Patton's, which has been written about at length in a variety of places, including this forum.  Here is Charlie Patton's "Pony Blues":



Charlie was later to record the song as "Stone Pony Blues", a version that is usually discussed as though it is obviously lesser than his original recording.  It seems pretty darn good to me.  Here it is:



Son House recorded "Pony Blues" for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress in 1942, accompanying himself in Vestapol, as opposed to the E position in standard tuning that Charlie Patton had utilized for his accompaniments.  Here is Son's version:



Big Joe Williams recorded the song, first as "My Grey Pony Blues" and later, simply as "Pony Blues".  He accompanied his version out of Spanish tuning, which he used for the rest of his repertoire, too.  Here is Big Joe's "Pony Blues":



Honeyboy Edwards put the song back in the E position that Patton had used.  Here is his version:



Johnny Young did a terrific version in E in standard tuning that we listened to in the Miller's Breakdown thread.  Here it is:



I'll stop there and leave plenty of other versions for folks to find and post--one or two versions at a time only please, so more people get to have a say and contribute.

All best,
Johnm

Offline Lignite

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2019, 08:59:25 AM »
I always found this to be one of Wolf's most mysterious recorded pieces. It was recorded early in his recording career and based on his mentor Charley Patton's Pony Blues. Why does it suddenly seem to come to an abrupt ending? Who is the terrible harmonica player who is not Wolf? I always heard it was a young James Cotton.Somehow it seems like an out-take not intended for release but I do own an original 78 pressing on Chess.


Offline jpeters609

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2019, 09:12:40 AM »
Who is the terrible harmonica player who is not Wolf? I always heard it was a young James Cotton.


James Cotton is often credited with playing harp on this recording (it doesn't sound like him), but I have read that the harp player was actually Willie Johnson ó who as a harmonica player was a tremendously exciting guitarist.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 02:01:19 PM by jpeters609 »
Jeff

Offline jpeters609

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2019, 09:25:25 AM »
Floyd Jones slowed it down a bit with "Early Morning" on Chess from 1952:




Jeff

Offline Johnm

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2019, 11:13:50 AM »
Thanks Lightnin' and Jeff for posting those versions.  The Howling' Wolf one really is odd, I'd not heard that before.  He phrases everything short in the front end of the rendition and it sounds like it might have befuddled the rest of the band, or they just might not have noticed.  The Floyd Jones almost sounds more like a cover of Tommy Johnson's "Cool Drink of Water".  It's neat to have two versions that were unfamiliar.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2019, 11:40:52 AM »
Not an old version but I have long been very fond of how Alvin Hart plays this one.

https://youtu.be/tf3HJvLALR0?t=55

Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2019, 02:05:10 PM »
Love this version from Hayes McMullen




Offline Rivers

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2019, 07:48:12 PM »
Re. the Wolf recording, too much vino I reckon. It probably goes without saying most guitar players don't play good harp and vice versa. Both instruments require a lot from a player, dedication and physical fitness help. Wolf killed it, good move.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 07:57:41 PM by Rivers »

Offline Rivers

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2019, 07:55:35 PM »
Not an old version but I have long been very fond of how Alvin Hart plays this one.

https://youtu.be/tf3HJvLALR0?t=55


Yeah, alright!

Offline blueshome

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2019, 12:45:33 PM »
James de Shay had a hypnotic version filmed in the Devils Music. Canít locate the track on YouTube- it plays as Dust My Broom.

Offline Johnm

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2019, 06:39:35 AM »
Hi all,
Here is a version, played in Spanish tuning, by Johnny Shines:



All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2019, 07:31:49 PM »
Still working on which of the three Son House versions I'm aware of that I like the best.

While I figure it out here's Arthur Crudup's version, supposedly from 1941 for Bluebird, which, imho, has some truly great lyrics, for example "I curled her mane, I put streamline shoes on her feet". Love the voice and guitar playing. Joe McCoy credited on "imb", some kind of bass instrument:



From the pristine sound of it I find it unlikely it was the 1941 version but maybe it was.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 08:07:27 PM by Rivers »

Offline alyoung

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2019, 02:52:35 AM »


From the pristine sound of it I find it unlikely it was the 1941 version but maybe it was.

Yep, September 11, 1941. By the late 1930s-early 40s, recording technology had advanced to the point where there's little difference between a 1938 recording and a 1958 (or later) recording if the older one is in good condition. For a good illustration of this, have a listen to the issues on the Australian label Swaggie of Sleepy John Estes and Lonnie Johnson, taken from Decca masters. Coulda been done yesterday.

Offline Rivers

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2019, 04:56:02 AM »
Thanks for confirming that Alan.

Offline jpeters609

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Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2019, 01:56:34 PM »
The Howling' Wolf one really is odd, I'd not heard that before.  He phrases everything short in the front end of the rendition and it sounds like it might have befuddled the rest of the band, or they just might not have noticed.

Wolf also recorded another song in Sam Phillips' studio where he played the guitar and used the "Pony Blues" approach: "Dorothy Mae" (takes 1 and 2). Sounds to me like the same harmonica player as on "Saddle My Pony," probably his regular guitarist at the time, Willie Johnson.





Jeff

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