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More bass - Response from Jerry Wexler, producer of hits by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Bob Dylan among others, when asked what he would like to have written on his tombstone

Author Topic: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material  (Read 14240 times)

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Offline Richard

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2006, 01:13:33 PM »
Yes, Frank Huchison has a very diverse talent and quite a musican - it's worth getting the Document CD. 

Sorry, no connection but am laughing having just heard myself do one of those silly links with a fragment of lap steel on the juke.. haha
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2006, 02:29:18 PM »
Hi all,
An interesting performance that falls into this category is J. D. Short's recently re-released "By The Spoonful", which can be found on "The Sonet Blues Story--J. D. Short", Verve B0007206-02.    Accompanying himself on guitar in a boom-chang style and harmonica played off a rack, Short does his version of "Spoonful" in a play-party or "frolic" approach that sounds to be in an older style than the Charlie Patton version recorded more than thirty years earlier.  Short's melody lacks "blue notes', the flat III or flat VII notes, and harmonizes his chant-like song simply, like so:
   Verse:
   |   G    |    G   |   D   |   D   |
   |   D    |    D   |   G   |   G   |
   Chorus:
   |   C    |    C   |   G   |   G   |
   |   D    |    D  |   G    |   G   |
Short accelerates as he makes his way through the song, and the extreme repetitiveness of the lyrics and melody combine for a trance-like sort of feel, somewhat like the Peg Leg Howell song "Please, Ma'am", though the two songs bear no melodic resemblance to each other.  I think Short's song would make a great Cajun or Zydeco dance tune, but it is a great dance tune as is, too.  It is on the Weenie Juke for anyone who cares to hear it.

   I'd kill my Ma, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful, spoonful
   I'd kill my Pa, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful, spoonful

   And all I want, sugar, my babe, just a spoonful, spoonful
   It's all I crave, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful, spoonful

   HARMONICA SOLO

   It's all I crave, sugar, my babe, just a spoonful, spoonful
   It's all I crave, sugar, my baby, carry me to my grave

   I'd kill my Ma, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful, spoonful
   I'd kill my Pa, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful

   It's a spoonful of this, sugar, my babe, it's a spoonful of that
   It's a spoonful of this, sugar, my baby, that killed the cat

   A---ll I want, is a spoonful
   That's all I want, sugar, my baby, that a spoonful

   HARMONICA SOLO

   All I crave, sugar, my baby, carry me to my grave
   That's all I crave, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful

   Hit it all night long, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful (2)

   It's a spoonful of this, and a spoonful of that
   It's a spoonful of this, baby, that killed the cat

   It's all I crave, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful (2)

   Carry me to my grave, carry me to my grave
   That's all I want, sugar, my baby, is a spoonful

   HARMONICA SOLO

   All last night, all last night
   Hit it all last night, I'm worryin' 'bout it, just a spoonful

   I'm kill my Ma, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful
   I'll kill my Pa, sugar my babe, 'bout a spoonful

   It's all I want, just a spoonful
   It's all I want, sugar, my baby, is a spoonful

   It's a spoonful of this, oh, a spoonful of that
   It's a spoonful of this, baby, that I sure do like

   HARMONICA SOLO

   It's late last night, sugar, my baby, it's late last night
   It was late last night, sugar, my babe, I want a spoonful

   It's all I want, sugar, my baby, is a spoonful
   That's all I crave, sugar, my baby, carry me to my grave

All best,
Johnm
   
   
   

   

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2006, 11:22:20 AM »
Hi all,
An interesting performance that falls into this category is J. D. Short's recently re-released "By The Spoonful", which can be found on "The Sonet Blues Story--J. D. Short", Verve B0007206-02.    Accompanying himself on guitar in a boom-chang style and harmonica played off a rack, Short does his version of "Spoonful" in a play-party or "frolic" approach that sounds to be in an older style than the Charlie Patton version recorded more than thirty years earlier.  Short's melody lacks "blue notes', the flat III or flat VII notes, and harmonizes his chant-like song simply, like so:
   Verse:
   |   G    |    G   |   D   |   D   |
   |   D    |    D   |   G   |   G   |
   Chorus:
   |   C    |    C   |   G   |   G   |
   |   D    |    D  |   G    |   G   |
Short accelerates as he makes his way through the song, and the extreme repetitiveness of the lyrics and melody combine for a trance-like sort of feel, somewhat like the Peg Leg Howell song "Please, Ma'am", though the two songs bear no melodic resemblance to each other.  I think Short's song would make a great Cajun or Zydeco dance tune, but it is a great dance tune as is, too.  It is on the Weenie Juke for anyone who cares to hear it.

   I'd kill my Ma, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful, spoonful
   I'd kill my Pa, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful, spoonful

   And all I want, sugar, my babe, just a spoonful, spoonful
   It's all I crave, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful, spoonful

   HARMONICA SOLO

   It's all I crave, sugar, my babe, just a spoonful, spoonful
   It's all I crave, sugar, my baby, carry me to my grave

   I'd kill my Ma, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful, spoonful
   I'd kill my Pa, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful

   It's a spoonful of this, sugar, my babe, it's a spoonful of that
   It's a spoonful of this, sugar, my baby, that killed the cat

   A---ll I want, is a spoonful
   That's all I want, sugar, my baby, that a spoonful

   HARMONICA SOLO

   All I crave, sugar, my baby, carry me to my grave
   That's all I crave, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful

   Hit it all night long, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful (2)

   It's a spoonful of this, and a spoonful of that
   It's a spoonful of this, baby, that killed the cat

   It's all I crave, sugar, my baby, just a spoonful (2)

   Carry me to my grave, carry me to my grave
   That's all I want, sugar, my baby, is a spoonful

   HARMONICA SOLO

   All last night, all last night
   Hit it all last night, I'm worryin' 'bout it, just a spoonful

   I'm kill my Ma, sugar, my babe, 'bout a spoonful
   I'll kill my Pa, sugar my babe, 'bout a spoonful

   It's all I want, just a spoonful
   It's all I want, sugar, my baby, is a spoonful

   It's a spoonful of this, oh, a spoonful of that
   It's a spoonful of this, baby, that I sure do like

   HARMONICA SOLO

   It's late last night, sugar, my baby, it's late last night
   It was late last night, sugar, my babe, I want a spoonful

   It's all I want, sugar, my baby, is a spoonful
   That's all I crave, sugar, my baby, carry me to my grave
John fwiw if you go to http://www.wirz.de/music/shortfrm.htm and scroll to bottom you will see a scan of Bob Groom's discussion-cum-analysis of J.D's lyrics using what was available 30 years ago. Just click on each page to read.

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #33 on: December 29, 2006, 02:13:06 PM »
Thanks very much for the tip, Bunker Hill.  As soon as I get through the holidays I will definitely check out Bob Groom's analysis of Short's lyrics.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2007, 03:41:34 PM »
Hi all,
I recently picked up the JSP set "The Paramount Masters", and one of the cuts that piqued my interest immediately was Sweet Papa Stovepipe's rendition of "Mama's Angel Child".  Musically, it has the sound of the parlor song era of the late 19th century, but its chord progression has surprising elements in common with Ragtime and some circle-of-fifths Blues.  In any event, its sound is arrestingly different from the rest of the material on the set, which is pretty uniformly excellent.  Much of the song's character derives from Sweet Papa Stovepipe's delivery, which communicates so many layers of irony that you feel like you could scratch through them for the rest of your life without coming to the end of them.  When Sweet Papa faux sobs the line, "I'm my mama's baby child", you realize at what a remove the delivery of the lyrics is from their written meaning, taken at face value.
Part of the "parlorish" aspect of the song is its meter, 3/4, which is very infrequently encountered in the work of most Blues players.  Sweet Papa plays the song out of A position in standard tuning, and the progression and bar structure of the song are as follows:

   |  E over B   |   E7 over B   |     D     |     D     |

   |  E over B   |   E7 over B   | A minor |     A     |

   |C# over G# | C#7 over G#| F# minor |   F      |

   |   A over E   |    E7            |     A      |     A     |

Sweet Papa plays both his E over B going to E7 over B and his C# over G# and C#7 over G# out of the long A going to A7 positions on the top four strings, hitting the bass for each chord on the fourth string, and barring the first four strings at the ninth fret for E and E7 and at the sixth fret for C# and C#7.  The two measures of D are played as a descending arpeggio D-A-F# followed by an ascending one, D-F#-A.  The A minor is played as an ascending arpeggio, A-C-E, and the bar of A following it is played out of the F position on the top four strings.  The movement from F# minor to F is particularly nifty and can be played in a couple of places on the neck.  This solution would work:  F# minor:  X-X-4-6-X-5, resolving to F:  X-X-3-5-X-5.
The concluding A over E to E7 to A portion of the progression is played out of the F position fingering the E note at the seventh fret of the fifth string in the bass, playing the E7 out of a C7 shape rooted at the seventh fret of the fifth string and returning to an A played out of an F position.  The progression and melody are really surprising, beautiful and striking, and have been stuck in my head ever since I first heard the song.
Here are the lyrics.  I'm missing one word enclosed by bent brackets and any help would be appreciated.

   Tell me, what have I done?
   Tell me, what have I done?
   Tell me, what have I done?
   I'm my mama's baby child

   Haven't got nobody that I can call my own
   Haven't got nobody that I can call my own
   I haven't got nobody that I can call my own
   I'm my mama's baby child

   SOLO

   Some give me a nickel, some give me a dime
   Some give me a nickel, some give me a dime
   Some give me a nickel and some give me a dime
   I'm my mama's baby child

   Some day you'll feel lonesome (guitar finishes line)
   Some day you'll feel lonesome, when I'm gone far away
   Some day you'll feel lonesome when I'm gone far away
   I'm my mama's baby child

   Knocked on the door and I heard somebody roar
   Knocked on the door, I was out in the rain and snow
   Knocked on the door and I had nowhere to go
   I'm my mama's baby child

   SOLO

   Hacks and those hearses all formed one line
   Hacks and those hearses all formed one line
   Hacks and those hearses all formed a line
   Just to bury the best buddy of mine

   REPEAT VERSE 1

   I'm goin' away, I ain't gon' be gone long
   I'm goin' away, I ain't gon' be gone long
   I'm goin' away, but I ain't goin' to stay
   I'm my mama's baby child

   Tell all, I'm bound to roam
   New York, plumb bound to roam
   Hey, yuh, I'm bound to roam
   I'm my mama's angel child

Edited 3/28 to pick up corrections from banjo chris and dj

All best,
Johnm   

   
       
     
« Last Edit: March 28, 2007, 09:33:12 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #35 on: March 27, 2007, 07:44:04 PM »
John -- I agree, that "Mama's Angel Child" is really one-of-a-kind. I'm not certain of that one line either, but he might be singing "Just to bury this base body of mine" -- although it comes out "blase". I also hear the line before that as "Hacks and those hearses..."

This is such a weird sounding tune, and it also has the slightly surreal touch of one note on the kazoo at the very, very end.

Chris

Offline dj

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #36 on: March 28, 2007, 03:42:32 AM »
I think "Hacks and those hearses all formed one line" is correct.  I hear the final line of that verse as "Just to bury that bes' buddy of mine", though the u of buddy is elongated towards an o sound.

Thanks for pointing this one out, John.   

Offline banjochris

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #37 on: March 28, 2007, 03:50:26 AM »
"Best buddy" would make more sense.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #38 on: March 28, 2007, 09:38:25 AM »
Thanks for the help, banjochris and dj.  "Weird" really is a good description of "Mama's Angel Child".  It takes so long to get to home--the front end of the melody and progression is particularly disorienting.  I found one other thing that I missed on the first try at the lyrics:  in the second line of the last verse, I think Papa Stovepipe says "plumb bound to roam".  I sure like this kind of material.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2007, 08:34:24 AM »
Papa plays the song out of A position in standard tuning, and the progression and bar structure of the song are as follows:

   |  E over B   |   E7 over B   |     D     |     D     |

   |  E over B   |   E7 over B   | A minor |     A     |

   |C# over G# | C#7 over G#| F# minor |   F      |

   |   A over E   |    E7            |     A      |     A     |

Sweet Papa plays both his E over B going to E7 over B and his C# over G# and C#7 over G# out of the long A going to A7 positions on the top four strings, hitting the bass for each chord on the fourth string, and barring the first four strings at the ninth fret for E and E7 and at the sixth fret for C# and C#7.  The two measures of D are played as a descending arpeggio D-A-F# followed by an ascending one, D-F#-A.  The A minor is played as an ascending arpeggio, A-C-E, and the bar of A following it is played out of the F position on the top four strings.  The movement from F# minor to F is particularly nifty and can be played in a couple of places on the neck.  This solution would work:  F# minor:  X-X-4-6-X-5, resolving to F:  X-X-3-5-X-5.
The concluding A over E to E7 to A portion of the progression is played out of the F position fingering the E note at the seventh fret of the fifth string in the bass, playing the E7 out of a C7 shape rooted at the seventh fret of the fifth string and returning to an A played out of an F position.  The progression and melody are really surprising, beautiful and striking, and have been stuck in my head ever since I first heard the song.

Hi John,

I agree this is one weird and wonderful tune. To me, it sounds almost like its roots are in some kind of European folk tradition, as if Papa Stovepipe bumped into some displaced French or Italian street musician and copped this song from them.

Just curious what is meant by the terminology "E over B", "A over E" etc. I'm not familiar with it. Is this the same as E with a B bass (notated sometimes as E/B)?

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #40 on: March 29, 2007, 08:52:56 AM »
Hi Uncle Bud,
You're right--I hadn't thought about it, but both the melody and the chord progression of "Mama's Angel Child" sound like they might have come from one of the mazurkas on the Rounder release, "Italian String Virtuosi" (Rounder CD 1095), a collection of recordings from the '20s, '30s and '40s of Italian mandolinists, guitarists and tenor banjo players.  I'd recommend the CD very highly to fans of the mandolin or people who just enjoy great melodies and stellar musicianship.
You interpreted the terminology "A over E" correctly.  Normally, I would designate such a chord "A/E", but I've gotten in the habit here of using slashes to indicate instances when a bar is split evenly between two chords.  So I've tried to turn the slash into a single-meaning symbol for the purposes of these posts. 
All best,
Johnm

tommersl

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #41 on: March 29, 2007, 12:07:28 PM »
Is the "pre" word about chronological? What if those were just songs with elements that are different from other elements of other songs?

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2007, 03:08:18 PM »
Hi tommer,
Welcome to Weenie Campbell!  Your question is apt, particularly with regard to "Mama's Angel Child".  The term Pre-Blues can be used in a strictly chronological sense, meaning working in a style that pre-dates Blues, as is the case in "Mama's Angel Child".  More often, Pre-Blues is used to describe music that pre-dated Blues and had some qualities that survived in the Blues.  A lot of Henry Thomas's and John Hurt's music would fall into this second category, though some people would contend that what they did did not evolve into Blues, but simply remained a separate style of music.  This all may not help very much in clarifying things; what really moves the discussion forward is talking about separate songs or songs of a type and analyzing their musical characteristics in comparison to those of the various Blues forms.  If you look at the whole thread, it may help.
All best,
Johnm 

tommersl

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #43 on: March 31, 2007, 07:52:07 AM »
John thank you for welcoming me. Interesting thread.

Offline dj

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Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #44 on: March 31, 2007, 08:20:20 AM »
tommersl's post made me go back and reread the earliest posts in the thread.  One part of John's first post jumped out at me:

Quote
Blues is most often described by persons living at the time as having first made an appearance in the first decade of the 20th century.  I can remember Sam Chatmon saying that he could recall the first Blues he ever heard, and when it happened (around 1908).

This struck me because the commonly accepted theory of the origins of the blues is that it arose probably around Mississippi form a common pool of African musical retentions in the Black community, transmitted through and formed via work songs and especially field hollers.  And yet it's really common to come across cases where African Americans, even Mississippians such as Sam Chatmon, recall the first time they heard the blues.  It makes me wonder if the commonly accepted theory is not entirely correct.  Ah, well, another on the long list of life's unanswerable questions... 

 


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