collapse

* Member Info

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

* Like Us on Facebook

The sky is crying, look at the tears roll down the street. I'm waiting in tears for my baby, and I wonder where can she be? - Elmore James, The Sky Is Crying

Author Topic: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material  (Read 14378 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6955
  • I like chicken pie
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #45 on: April 02, 2007, 08:53:52 PM »
Don't get me started on this whole topic...  ;)

OF COURSE the blues was around long before recorded music. Since McCluhan was totally correct in observing that the medium is the message of course the paradigm shifted, not only for the people of the time but certainly for anyone studying the topic in latter days, it's a total no brainer.

Some folks to this day believe that Delta blues is older than Piedmont blues. No, actually delta blues was the punk scene of the Twenties. It just sounds older. My point? I don't have one, except for possibly let's take all this as read.

The point of the thread is contained in the original post, I respectfully suggest posters refer to page 1  >:D

 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2007, 09:33:54 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11254
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2008, 12:23:13 AM »
Hi all,
I was just listening to the cuts that Honeyboy Edwards recorded for Alan Lomax in 1942, included on the JSP set, "Big Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues", and found a performance that suits the pre-blues category to a T:  Honeyboy's version of "Stagolee".  Played in D position in standard tuning, as were the versions recorded by the Down Home Boys and John Hurt approximately fifteen years earlier, Honeyboy's version of "Stagolee" makes those earlier versions sound urbane by comparison.  He hits a drony shifting monotonic bass, sometimes landing on chord tones and sometimes not.  When the vocal enters, he appears to be phrasing in 6/4, but it turns out that there is pulse but no consistent meter.  Both melody and lyrics are minimal, almost to the point of sounding like chanting.
   Stagolee. . . . . . Stagolee . . . . . Stagolee . . .oh Stagolee . . . oh Stagolee and they killed old Stagolee
   Stagolee was a man . . .Stagolee, he was a man . . . and they killed poor Stagolee

For a song that is usually presented as a blues ballad with an involved narrative content, this is a unique treatment.  Its effect is all the more striking for being played by one of the flashiest practitioners of Mississippi blues at the time it was recorded, and it flies in the face of most of the rest of the material Honeyboy recorded at the session.  This is substantially the most "country" version of Stagolee I've ever heard, and sounds almost like Honeyboy had only the vaguest idea of the story of Stagolee.  This one is worth digging up if you haven't heard it.
All best,
Johnm   

Offline CF

  • Member
  • Posts: 889
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2008, 06:56:23 AM »
Hey John thanks for the heads up on this tune I just got this JSP set in the mail. This will be my first encounter with Honeyboy's recorded work, can't wait.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #48 on: January 23, 2008, 11:29:06 AM »
Honeyboy's version of "Stagolee" makes those earlier versions sound urbane by comparison.  He hits a drony shifting monotonic bass, sometimes landing on chord tones and sometimes not.  When the vocal enters, he appears to be phrasing in 6/4, but it turns out that there is pulse but no consistent meter.  Both melody and lyrics are minimal, almost to the point of sounding like chanting.
   Stagolee. . . . . . Stagolee . . . . . Stagolee . . .oh Stagolee . . . oh Stagolee and they killed old Stagolee
   Stagolee was a man . . .Stagolee, he was a man . . . and they killed poor Stagolee
I've only got this on the 1993 Indigo CD it first appeared on but from memory there it's only about a minute long and at the time reminded me of perhaps being in answer to one of Alan Lomax's "do you know such-and-such a song?" and that's all Edwards could come up with at such short notice.

Is the number any longer on JSP?

Offline CF

  • Member
  • Posts: 889
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #49 on: January 23, 2008, 07:25:00 PM »
Nope, it's a minute long on the JSP too. 'Stagolee' is followed by an almost equally sparse version of 'Spoonful'. I agree BH, sounds like Lomax was asking for some trad material & Honeyboy just knew fragments.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11254
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #50 on: January 24, 2008, 10:39:04 AM »
I agree with you, Bunker Hill and cheapfeet, that what Honeyboy did on "Stagolee" and "Spoonful" at the session in question may have been the result of trying to honor a request from Lomax for songs that were not a regular part of his repertoire.  The two versions are so "low tech" compared to everything else Honeyboy played in those sessions. 
They also make me wonder if Honeyboy ever heard John Hurt.  The tag he sings, "They killed poor Stagolee" is very close melodically to John Hurt's tag, "that cruel Stackerlee".  Also Honeyboy's "Spoonful" bears some melodic resemblance to John Hurt's "Coffee Blues" and is unlike any commercially available recording of "Spoonful" available at that time that I have heard.  If Honeyboy was indeed influenced by John Hurt, it is one of the only instances I can think of where there is any evidence of a Mississippi musician even having heard John Hurt.
EDITED TO ADD, 1/25: I should have made clear that if Honeyboy was influenced in any way through John Hurt's renditions of "Stackerlee" and "Coffee Blues", I think it would have been through seeing him play live rather than hearing the recordings, both because it was so long in 1942 since John Hurt had made his Okeh recordings and also because I don't believe he ever recorded "Coffee Blues" until the '60s.  Considering the fact that John Hurt seemed to stick pretty close to home, it may be a long shot that Honeyboy ever saw him play.
All best,
Johnm   
« Last Edit: January 25, 2008, 10:00:19 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11254
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: The Persistence of Pre-Blues Material
« Reply #51 on: January 27, 2013, 04:49:02 PM »
Hi all,
I was just listening to Roosevelt Holts on the "Roosevelt Holts & Friends--The Franklinton Muscatel Society" CD, and he does a very pretty version of "Corina" out of C position in the record that very much falls into this category.
All best,
Johnm

 


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal