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Author Topic: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics  (Read 1245 times)

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Offline Harry

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2020, 06:58:10 AM »
It's very hard to hear but I'm leaning towards "a plaintive lie". It's more clear on the second version.

Dictionary; Plaintive = sounding sad and mournful.  Example = "a plaintive cry"

I don't hear GIG's at all in the 3rd stanza.

Offline jtbrown

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2020, 02:15:33 PM »
I wonder if there are other examples of Loften using the "a-this", or "a-that" instead of just saying "telling me plenty of lies"? (I remember you brilliantly parsing the "a-goin'", and "a-fishin'" in HT's "Fishin' Blues")

Wax

This is not an example of "a-prefixing," as in "I'm a-goin' fishin'." Rather, Lofton is simply using the indefinite article before the noun "plenty," in a way that was once quite common and that I believe is still heard in some dialects in the southern United States. (It certainly was in the 1980s; I used to work for a farmer who said "a plenty of [uncountable or plural noun]" all the time.) It's not the sort of thing that makes it into print very often these days, but you can see some usage examples here:

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22a%20plenty%20of%22&tbm=bks&tbs=cdr:1,cd_min:1939,cd_max:2000&lr=lang_en

To me, it seems perfectly natural that Lofton would complain of policy writers telling him "a plenty of lies," and I share John's skepticism that Lofton (or anyone) would use the phrase "a plaintive lie."

Todd


Offline Stuart

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2020, 05:18:49 PM »
I listened to both versions with the headphones several times and I think I hear "all' for "a" in one version--But I admit that could be wrong. "Lies" doesn't exactly rhyme with "five" in the previous line, but exact rhymes have never been a requirement. Are there any words that fit that rhyme with "five?" I'm not hearing "plaintive." I'm not ruling it out, but I just don't hear it.

I don't think it's a flub, because I doubt he would have flubbed the same words in both versions. I think it may be a word or words other than plenty or plaintive. I guess if I was writing the lyrics, I might choose "all baldfaced" or "all the same" lies, but I don't hear either of those, obviously.

Since we hear a word that begins with "p," it might be another word(s) that sound close. Bob had plaintive, but maybe it's "plain-" followed by another syllable or word. I wish I knew the answer.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2020, 07:59:22 PM »
I have to ask, what "lies" are they telling him? They can't lie that he lost, because when the policy number comes out, everyone in Chicago knows what it is. Maybe they tell him he'll win the next time, but he'd really be pathetic if he called that a lie. I think the only lie they could be telling him is that they feel sorry that he lost. Which, I would have to say, is a plaintive lie. I could imagine he might say they are telling him the same lie every time, as Stuart suggests, but there just aren't plenty of lies to tell. "You lost" is not a lie, "You'll win" is hardly a lie, and would be the same lie, not plenty of lies. But "Gee, Crip, so sorry you lost again." is the only lie I can imagine he is talking about, and, it's plaintive.

Lofton was born in a relatively large city in Tennessee and quickly went to Chicago. He was a very complex, sophisticated performer, not some hick. I can imagine he was a very intelligent person also, as in this song he seems to be humorously portraying a somewhat pathetic character, not himself. I don't see why he wouldn't use the word "plaintive", and I'd actually be more surprised to hear him say "a plenty". Policy is a city game, doesn't happen in the country. You know, some black people did get an education, whether formal or not.

As I said, I could hear "a plenty'f lie'" in the early version, as Johnm parsed it. At least I felt it was indistinguishable. But as Harry points out, he couldn't really be garbling it up to come out so clearly "plaintive lie" in the second version.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline Stuart

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2020, 09:46:01 PM »
I agree, Wax--in the sense that I've never been one to place limitations on another person's vocabulary based on my own preconceived notions of what I think their vocabulary should or should not contain. Who am I to say?

But as to these particular words in the lyrics, I simply do not know. This is a tough one, so I'm going to leave it to those better qualified than myself.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 09:47:36 PM by Stuart »

Offline jtbrown

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2020, 11:33:19 AM »
Waxwing and Stuart,

To be clear, NOWHERE in my post did I imply that Lofton wouldn't have known the word "plaintive," or that he wouldn't have used it in some context in which it made sense. My point, rather, is that the use of "plaintive" to modify "lie" is, to me, both unidiomatic and illogical. In the varieties of English with which I am familiar, all sorts of things can be "plaintive," but "lies" are not among them. That's why I wrote that I'm skeptical "that Lofton (or anyone) would use the phrase 'a plaintive lie.'" (And yes, this includes the fanciful scenario Wax has sketched out, which stretches the meaning of "plaintive" well beyond the breaking point.)

I really don't think I can adequately convey how annoyed I am that both of you have seen fit to imply that I was casting aspersions on Lofton's intelligence or vocabulary. I'll do you the favor of assuming this was the result of carelessness rather than willful misrepresentation of what I wrote, but I'll ask that in return you do me the favor of reading anything I may post in the future much more attentively.

As to what the policy writers are lying about, it seems clear that Lofton (or rather the character he's impersonating in his song) is convinced that the game is fixed and he is being unfairly denied his payout. Presumably, he believes that 1) whenever his number comes up, the policy writers lie and tell him it didn't; or 2) his number keeps failing to come up because the game is fixed, but the policy writers keep lying and telling him it's clean. (Note that he specifically refers to Interstate, a wheel-based version of policy that would have been open to charges of fraud.)

Todd

Offline Stuart

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2020, 02:19:48 PM »
Hi Todd:

I wasn't implying that you or anyone else thought that Lofton's or anybody's vocabulary was in someway limited, just that I am conscious not to let my own preconceived notions rule anything out. Song lyrics are such an extremely small sample of an individual's vocabulary and usage that there have been times when this has predisposed me to think that something seemed out of place, when in fact it wasn't. 

Like I wrote, I'm not hearing "plaintive."

Quite honestly, you didn't even cross my mind when I wrote my short note about my own experiences. My sincere apologies for any misunderstanding or confusion.

Stuart

Offline catyron

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2020, 07:40:06 PM »
Here are the things i hear:

V3, L2: *That gig's* gonna come out in the Intersate

V3, L4: *That gig's* gonna fall out tonight

V4, L1: The next day she come around, I *could* tell from her look
[the past tense is discernible to me and it also makes grammatical sense).

And i hear *looky here* for "looka here" every time.

He's tired of playing 4-11-44 -- the washerwoman's gig -- because it is such old hat. See the Wikipedia entry on Four Eleven Forty Four for abundant 19th century data.

More details on decoding songs about Policy here:

http://luckymojo.com/auntsallys.html

And, of course, it is "a plenty of lies." The term "a plenty of" is common in old-timey rural midwestern and southern speech (both black and white) and has been all my life. It is a shortened form of "a plenitude of." It is so common, in fact, that the Grammar Police are trying to eradicate it as Forbidden Plebian Dialect:

https://www.quora.com/Which-one-is-correct-there-is-a-plenty-of-or-there-are-a-plenty-of

I hope that helps...

« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 09:37:14 PM by catyron »

Offline jtbrown

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2020, 09:24:24 AM »
Stuart, thanks very much for the clarification, and I'm sorry to have misunderstood you.

Todd

Offline Stuart

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2020, 12:26:57 PM »
Here are the things i hear:...

And, of course, it is "a plenty of lies." The term "a plenty of" is common in old-timey rural midwestern and southern speech (both black and white) and has been all my life. It is a shortened form of "a plenitude of." It is so common, in fact, that the Grammar Police are trying to eradicate it as Forbidden Plebian Dialect:

https://www.quora.com/Which-one-is-correct-there-is-a-plenty-of-or-there-are-a-plenty-of

I hope that helps...

It does help, Cat. Thank you. There's an entire field devoted to the study of descriptive vs. prescriptive grammar. While prescriptive grammar is usually based on an agreed upon standard of word usage and word order according to how "formally" educated people speak or write (writing being the external representation and record of speech) in a, let's say, more formal setting, descriptive grammar describes a wider range of what people say and how they talk in many different social contexts and settings. What is fascinating is that people who "stray" from formal, prescriptively correct words and their usage have absolutely no trouble communicating their thoughts, ideas and emotions to one another.

There's a plenty of kinds of oppression enough in this world, so we sure don't need no lexical oppression. --Not in the lyrics of Country Blues songs, anyway.

But as our teachers always reminded us, in certain contexts it's best to try to use the right words in the proper word order.

Overeducatedly Yours,
 
Stuart

Offline Harry

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2020, 04:16:15 PM »
Well since the overall opinion goes with "a plenty 'f lie" I'll stick with that. Maybe it's just Lofton's speech/dialect that made it sound like "plaintive" to some ears.
I guess it's finished now (I ain't gonna change looky for looka). Thanks for your help.

Offline Harry

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2020, 03:10:27 PM »
Cripple Clarence Lofton - Streamline Train

Pitched in B but I think Lofton played it in C. Red Nelson may have been the writer of the song.

Red Nelson (Nelson Wilborn) - Vocals
Cripple Clarence Lofton - Piano

Recorded in Chicago, IL. February 4, 1936





Streamline train fastest train that run
Hot water springs ainít goní help you none
Iím gonna leave in the morning baby on that streamline train
Only thing I can say mama get your mind offa this thing

Women in Chicago got like a dollar bill
Ainít fit for nothing get somebody killed
Gonna leave in the morning baby on that streamline train
Only thing I can say mama get your mind offa this man

Going to the union station act just like a child
Ask the call boy mama what train do I ride
Iím gonna leave in the morning baby on that streamline train
Only thing I can say mama get your mind offa this thing

Going out west 'mongst these robbers sleep 'mongst howlin' hounds
My woman sheís so evil always wanna break down
Iím gonna leave in the morning baby on that streamline train
Only thing I can say mama get your mind offa this thing

Sweet mama told me my daddy stood and cried
Some of these low down women goní be the death of my child
Iím gonna leave in the morning baby on that streamline train
Only thing I can say get your mind offa this man

Thereís a cruel old fireman mean old engineer
Thatís the onliest way I can leave you here
Iím gonna leave in the morning baby on that streamline train
Only thing I can say get your mind offa this thing




Cripple Clarence Lofton - Streamline Train

Key of C

Cripple Clarence Lofton - Vocals ?, Piano
1939 in Chicago, IL  ?





Streamline train fast train that run
That fast train took my baby to ruin
Yes I'm leaving you in the morning leaving on that streamline train
Only thing I can tell you get your mind offa that thing

Train blowed for New York half past four
Five o'clock that morning I was banging on my babyís door
She says come in loving daddy where have you done been so long
I ain't had my great loving since my streamline been gone

Train blowed to Birmingham half past six
Half five that morning I try to get it fixed
She says come in loving daddy where have you done have been so long
I ain't had my great loving since my streamline been gone

I'm going out west tomorow I'm gonna marry a indian squaw
Say one of them indian chiefs be my father-in-law
Baby I'm leaving you in the morning leaving on that streamline train
Only thing I can tell you get your mind offa that man


« Last Edit: August 27, 2020, 06:03:07 AM by harry »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2020, 04:51:30 PM »
1936 version

2.1 I hear "got" also

3.2 Ask the CALL boy, mama

4.1 Going out west 'MONGST [THESE] ROBBERS, sleep 'MONGST HOWLIN' HOUNDS

Not sure about "these"
Chris

Offline banjochris

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2020, 04:57:46 PM »
1939 version

1.2 took my baby TO RUIN

2.2 FIVE o'clock and I hear "thinking" also

Add (SPOKEN: In Chicago, mama, in Chicago, in Chicago) between 2.3 and 2.4

3.1 Train BLOWED

SPOKEN: In Chicago, baby, in Chicago.

4.2 SAY ONE OF them...

Chris

Offline waxwing

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Re: Cripple Clarence Lofton Lyrics
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2020, 05:01:00 PM »
I think 4.1 ends with "'mongst howlin' OWLS" but you can probably hear an "nd" sound in there with head phones.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

ďJust because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.Ē
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

 


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