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When Woody Guthrie was singing hillbilly songs on a little Los Angeles radio station in the late 1930s he used to mail out a small mimeographed songbook to listeners who wanted the words to his songs. On the bottom of one page appeared the following: This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of our'n, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do - Pete Seeger, on Woody, June 67

Author Topic: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics  (Read 21208 times)

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Offline a2tom

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2005, 06:34:05 AM »
Woman Woman is a great song - the falsetto is very effective, and the free/minimalist guitar-behind-singing works great.  My favorite lines are "got a good woman, and every time she smile, lightning's everywhere".   Great imagery - can't help but look, aware (afraid?) of the raw power ...

tom

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2005, 10:18:27 AM »
Hi all,
Yes, I agree with you Tom and Frank, for me, "Woman, Woman" is about as good as it gets in Country Blues.  I would really be fascinated to know how Bracey got his vocal sound--the placement of that buzzy head tone is just amazing--like he kept singing with his mouth shut, but still able to enunciate--how?  The guitar interlude is kind of terrifying, too.  Thanks for the lyric help, too, Frank.  I think "Now got a woman" is definitely correct as is "ain't a thing".  I made the changes in my post.
This is one of the performances you encounter from time to time that makes me reflect on how unbelievably fortunate we are that this music was recorded and that copies of the recordings have survived into our time.  What were the odds?  Of course, there were many outstanding musicians who were never recorded (and that is still the case), but the legacy of those who did make it onto records is incredibly rich.  When I hear a song like this, or Lemon singing "Right Of Way", or Garfield Akers doing "Cottonfields", I just feel lucky.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2005, 05:55:02 PM »
Hi all,
"Left Alone Blues" is a duet Ishmon Bracey did with Charlie McCoy playing guitar.  It was recorded the same day they recorded the great and much-covered "Saturday Blues".  On "Left Alone Blues", both Bracey and McCoy are playing out of G position in standard tuning.  Bracey keeps his accompaniment pretty close to the same basic pass throughout the rendition, and McCoy takes a much more free-form approach in his accompaniment, moving from bass runs to tremolo in the treble strings, using a flat-pick to achieve many mandolinistic effects.  Bracey's vocal is terrific; on the last verse he gets a kind of bleating effect that has to be heard to be believed.  What a great, expressive singer!



   (Instrumental opening line)
   I say the woman I'm lovin' caught that train and gone
   Got the lowdown blues, and I sure won't be here long

   Now I went to the station, fold my arms and moan
   I say I went to the station, fold my arms and moan
   Ask the operator, Lord, "Long my rider been gone?"

   Let me tell you what that Southern train will do (2)
   Take your last dollar, Lord, blow black smoke on you

   Ain't got no special, got no triflin' kid
   I ain't got no special, ain't no triflin' kid
   Ain't got nobody, mama, be a-bothered with

   Lord, take me, rider, train me to your hand
   Please take me rider, train me to your hand
   Slip me in your darkest corner, woman, hide me from your man

   You don't want me, rider, please don't dog me 'round (2)
   Just like you found me you sure can put me down

   Ask you to forgive me, rider, now if you please (2)
   Mama, if that don't do I fall down on my knees

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 09:45:45 AM by Johnm »

Offline GerryC

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2005, 11:17:51 PM »
Hi everyone. This has been a great thread and I've learned a great deal about two of my favourite artists. Johnm, you should do a DVD about these guys! I've always thought that neither Bracey nor Tommy Johnson are as 'popular' [ within the modern country blues community ] as they deserve to be from the quality of their playing and singing; although songs such as Big Road Blues, Canned Heat and Saturday Blues are in most enthusisasts' repertoire, their more obscure songs do deserve to be better known: I'll be going back to them after this weeked (which will largely be taken up with a celebration of my son's graduation from university) with added vigour...

I know what you mean by getting exasperated with Charlie McCoy [ he became a much better musician when he took up harmonica  ;D ].For years I've been trying to work out the guitar part to one of my all-time favourite blues, TJ's Cool Drink of Water but McCoy's work keeps getting in the way. Incidentally, I keep searching the net to see if there's TAB available for this song and there doesn't seem to be any - surprising when you consider what an influence it's been, at least lyrically. Anybody got any? Pretty please!

Best to all,

Gerry C
I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these...

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2005, 12:04:27 AM »
Hi Gerry,
Thanks for the good words.  The thread has been fun for me, too.  For many years, I didn't place lyrics very high on the scale of interesting aspects of Country Blues, but paying more attention to them has been really rewarding.  It's interesting to me how Ishmon Bracey moved so fluidly between common lyric conventions and truly individual expressions within the style.  As for an instructional video, I'm afraid Bracey might be a kind of tough sell.  He was a wonderful musician but perhaps of a kind that resists popularization (though I will do my best).  Tommy Johnson is a good candidate for an instructional video, I think.  It has been a long time since I listened to "Cool Drink Of Water" with an ear toward playing it, but I will give it a listen and see what comes of that.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2005, 12:26:15 AM »
Hi all,
The last solo number that Ishmon Bracey recorded was "Suitcase Full Of Blues", recorded on the same day as "Woman, Woman Blues". "Suitcase Full Of Blues" was played in Spanish, and as noted on the "Adventures in Spanish" thread, it combines a similarity to Teddy Darby's "Built Right On the Ground" in its first four bars with a similarity to "I Will Turn Your Money Green" in the latter part of the form. It's phrasing employs a "stammering" archetype. It's hard to believe that Bracey only recorded four solo tunes: "Trouble Hearted Blues, "Four Day Blues", "Woman, Woman Blues" and "Suitcase Full Of Blues", though there are two takes of "Trouble Hearted" and "Four Day". Every re-issued version of "Suitcase Full of Blues" that I have heard is whupped, and it still sounds great. I would be interested to know how many copies of it are in the hands of collectors; maybe it is one of those records of which only one copy has been recovered. Any help with the last verse would be greatly appreciated. It is really tough to hear, and I am pretty much stymied.



Hand me down my suitcase and reach my walkin' cane, walkin' cane, Lord,
Down my suitcase, reach my walkin' cane
Lord, my [ ? ] girl quit me, catch that mornin' train

Now I thought I'd write, but I b'lieve I'll telephone, telephone, Lord,
Thought I'd write, b'lieve I'll telephone
Lord, I thought I'd write but I b'lieve I'll telephone

Now if you catch me stealin', please don't tell on me, tell on me, Lord,
Catch me stealin', please don't tell on me
'Cause I'm stealin' to my regular used-to-be

I woke up this mornin' had the blues all 'round my bed, 'round my bed, Lord,
Up this morning, blues all 'round my bed
I couldn't help but to think 'bout what my good girl said

I got a house full of trouble and got a suitcase full of blues, full of blues, Lord,
House full of trouble, suitcase full of blues
I never seen no trouble, see, 'til I start with you

Gonna leave here walkin', Lord, and talkin' to myself, to myself, Lord
Leave here walkin', talkin' to myself
I'm gonna take my baby or I'll carry somebody else

It's hard, hard, hard, I say, it's hard, hard, it's hard, Lord
Hard it's hard,babe, say it's hard, it's hard
Says a no good woman, another man got your gal

Edited 11/17/05, to pick up lines from dj
Edited 11/19/05 to pick up lines from MTJ3
Edited 11/23/05 to pick up lyrics from Uncle Bud

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 09:48:51 AM by Johnm »

Offline phhawk

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2005, 05:06:23 AM »
Hello Johnm,

 According to No., 78 Quarterly, 1989, there were 4 known copies of "Woman Woman Blues/Suitcase Full Of Blues" on Paramount 12970, the best being a E- copy owned by Steve LaVere. I don't know if the E- copy ever got reissued, but as you know, even E+ Paramounts can sound pretty rough. Maybe others have turned up since that have not been reissued, but certainly not too many.

Phil


Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2005, 09:24:12 AM »
Hi Phil,
Thanks for the information.  I've been thinking recently that it might be really interesting to do a census on the rarest old country blues 78s, how many of them there are, who has them, etc., but I suppose there are probably some collectors who are kind of flying under the radar.  That would make such a project difficult or ineffective.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2005, 03:07:23 PM »
Here is the Concordance
take on 'Suitcase Full of Blues"  -- he struggles like the rest of us mortals.

 Suitcase Full of Blues

         Grafton, Wis., c. Mar. 1930

         (L‑240‑1) Pm‑12970 Her H‑201

Hand me down my suitcase : *reach* my walking cane

*Know* my mother *treat me* : catch that morning train

Well I thought I'd write : but I believe I'll telephone

Now if you catch me stealing : please don't tell on me

Because I'm stealing : to my doggone used‑to‑be

I woke up this morning : had the blues all around my bed

I couldn't help but to think : about what my good gal said

Now I got a heart full of trouble : and a suitcase full of blues

I never seen no trouble : babe till I *stopped* with you

I'm going to leave here walking Lord : and talking to myself

I'm going to take my baby : or carry somebody else

It's hard it's hard : it's hard *to get out of this* town

*Get* another ??? :

Offline phhawk

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2005, 11:05:49 PM »
Hi Phil,
Thanks for the information.? I've been thinking recently that it might be really interesting to do a census on the rarest old country blues 78s, how many of them there are, who has them, etc., but I suppose there are probably some collectors who are kind of flying under the radar.? That would make such a project difficult or ineffective.
All best,
Johnm

Hello again Johm, Actually 78 Quarterly? magazine has been doing a census of the rarest 78's? from A to Z over about the last 20 years or so from many of the best known collectors in a few areas such as Country Blues, Jazz, Piano, Skiffle, etc. It's been a highly imperfect and controversial census but nonetheless a lot of fun to follow. Since they started many years ago with A thru C and just recently finishing with W thru Z, many of the records have changed hands and many other copies of certain rare records have turned up and some that were thought to be rare are probably not so rare. Still the standard for a rare record is pretty high (maybe 10? or less known copies) and even scarce records (say, maybe 50 known copies or less) certainly don't turn up very often. I look for 78's all the time at garage sales, flea markets, and auctions and almost never find anything that comes close to being a rare record.

There are a relatively small group of pioneer collectors of 78's (myself not included, as I'm a relative Johnny come lately) that I think, whose contribution has been highly underrated, regarding the preservation and discovery of the great 20's and 30's music that we hear on Weenie Campbell? and that you guys like to play. Most of this music is drawn from reissues that are made from dubs from these collectors records. And back when these guys started collecting, they had to learn from long hard experience and dedication, as there wasn't the mountain of reference material that the modern collector has at his disposal today. And another thing about 78 collecting; you can't dismiss anybody. There are Sons Of The Pioneers instrumentals that will knock your socks off. So, you really have to listen to about everything.

My personal mentor is a guy named Bill Thompson, who I think started collecting before 1950 . He never ceases to amaze me with the records he has or knows about. Anyway, when people listen to these records on Weenie Campbell, they should not only appreciate the great musicians they hear, but give a little nod to those pioneer collectors that have helped keep this music alive.

Phil? ? ? ? ?

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2005, 10:07:07 PM »
Hi all,
I've been away a little while, and am continuing to tweak earlier lyric transcriptions with minor changes to "Woman, Woman Blues" and "Suitcase Full Of Blues". Thanks for the lyrics heads up on "Suitcase", John D., I got one good word out of it. I agree with you, Phil, on the thanks we owe the early collectors. It must have really been exciting tracking these records down before anybody knew what all had been recorded. As far as that goes, I'm sure it is still really exciting to turn up a recording by a favorite musician.
Probably Ishmon Bracey's best-known number was "Saturday Blues", a duet with Charlie McCoy on guitar that was recorded at his first session. Both guitars are played in E, standard tuning, and Bracey's guitar part was especially outstanding, with a very unusually syncopated use of the thumb in the right hand. Mississippian bluesman transplanted to Indianapolis, Shirley Griffith, also did a great cover of this song in which he re-worked the registration of Bracey's guitar part by transferring his bass runs to the treble.
The lyrics to "Saturday Blues" have a complicated system of scansion. The tune with lyrics that seem to work most closely to those of "Saturday Blues" is Charlie Jordan's "Hunkie Tunkie Blues", though I'm sure there are others that I haven't thought of or heard. I don't know of any other song that makes reference to the cosmetics of the era like verse five does, either.



Now you tell me, mama, do you think that's right, you're with your kid all day and run to me at night
With your kid all day and run to me at night
With your kid all day and run to me at night

Now, my regular woman totes my pocket change and my sometime woman wants to do the same, and you
Better not let my regular catch you here
Don't never let my regular catch you here

"Cause there t'ain't no tellin, what she might do now, she might cut you and she might shoot you too, now,
She might cut you, she might shoot you, too
Lord, she might cut you, she might shoot you, too

Now, she's the meanest woman that I ever seen, and when I asked for water gaveme gasoline, now
Asked her for water, gave me gasoline
Lord, asked for water, gave me gasoline

Now, if you want your woman to look like the rest you buy her high brown powderand Palmer's Skin Success, you buy her
High brown powder, Palmer's Skin Success
Buy her high brown powder, Palmer's Skin Success

Now, I've got 4 or 5 puppies and got one shaggy hound, it takes all them dogs to run my women down, it takes
All them dogs to run my women down, takes
All them dogs to run my women down

Repeat last verse.

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 09:52:23 AM by Johnm »

Offline a2tom

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2005, 06:33:24 AM »
I am working up Woman Woman and have listened to it many times recently.  Comments on the lyrics:

Weird as it is, I also hear "crazy baby" very clearly.  "'Cause the way" makes much more sense, but there is no way this is what he's saying (too many syllables).

First word in the 3rd verse does not sound like "now" to me at all.  Compare it to how he sings the word "now" within the 2nd verse - not at all similar.  What I hear in the 3rd verse is "Don't got a woman".  I realize everywhere else he does got a woman, so why now don't he a got a woman?  But he follows it up by saying "she ain't a thing but a stavin' chain" - so it actually makes sense to say "don't got a woman", meaning "I don't have a woman, what I have is a stavin' chain". 

The 4th verse, the word you have as "let" is really tricky.  Doesn't really sound like "let" to me, even though that works.  My best hearing is actually "learn", but I could also put "love" there.  I realize neither of those make sense...  The last word could either be " 'round" or "out" - not way to decide.  Basically, I would probably just leave this verse as you have - good as anyone could do, I suspsect. 

The last verse I hear  " 'til these blues",  not "the blues".  Minor point.  I also hear "kept up on me".  As in many places in the song "crept" obviously makes more sense, but I don't hear an "r" sound.  Probably he is saying "crept" - I point it out just in case someone else out there knows that the phrase "kept up on me" was common idiom or something!

tom

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2005, 07:54:49 AM »
Hi Tom,
Thanks for the input.  I have listened so much to this tune, it is getting pretty deep in there.  I agree--the first word in the third verse does not sound like "now" to me.  It sounds more like "Yond'", as in short for "yonder", which is what I thought it was in the first place.  He definitely does not say "yonder", though, and it sounds more like "don't" than "now".  In the fourth verse, I previously had "love", but "let" fits the back-end consonant sound better, though the vowel sound is weird.  In the last verse, I hear no concluding "s" sound between "the" and "blues", and can hear "crept" pretty clearly, though he swallows the "r" a bit.  I think when you get as close as these lyrics are now (or even less close) you can choose to opt either for sense over what seems phonetically most accurate, or vice versa.  Even in the realm of what makes most sense there would seem to be a lot of room for different interpretations.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2005, 12:52:46 PM »
Hi all,
On "Bust Up Blues", Ishmon Bracey is joined by clarinetist Kid Ernest Michall and pianist Charlie ".44" Taylor. Together they made up the New Orleans Nehi Boys.? Bracey indicated a deep respect for the musicianship of both Michall and Taylor in his interviews with Gayle Dean Wardlow in "Chasin' That Devil Music". Both players are very strongly featured (much more than Bracey) on "Bust Up Blues", with each playing several choruses. Kid Ernest's big speciality, according to Bracey, was imitating laughter, which the crowds they played for really loved, but he also shows off some slick slap-tonguing. Charlie Taylor sounds like a technically accomplished player (Bracey rated him higher than Little Brother Montgomery), particularly fond of repeated octave runs. His time has a sort of "nervous" feel, somewhat akin to Skip James's on piano, though less pronounced. Bracey is himself very hard to hear on the cut, but he sounds to be playing out of a C position in standard tuning (the song is in Eflat), and gets off some nifty bass runs. Bracey also refers to a "yo-yo dress" in the novelty number, "Too Damp To Be Wet", that he did with Charlie Taylor. I am not at all certain I have the tail end of the first line of the last verse right--it's awfully hard to hear. Any help would be appreciated.



Woke up this morning, couldn't even walk in my shoes (2)
My best girl quit me, she left me with those Bust Up Blues

When you see two women runnin' hand in hand so long (2)
Bet your BVDs, something is goin' on wrong

Bought you a yo-yo dress, brought pantses, hose and shoes
Bought you a yo-yo dress, baby, brought pantses, hose and shoes
That's the thanks you give me, you left me with those Bust Up Blues

Bracey's vocal on this is a far cry from his singing on "Trouble Hearted Blues" or "Woman Woman Blues".  On "Bust Up Blues", he may almost be said to be crooning.  Of course, with Kid Ernest and Charlie Taylor, the sound is more uptown altogether.

Edited 9/6 to pick up lyric changes from dj and John C.

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 09:54:34 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2005, 06:12:56 AM »
John M,

We're really running in parallel this weekend - I was listening to this in the car last night while going to pick up a pizza, trying to really hear the lyrics on this and the rest of Bracey's Paramount sides.  It's pretty rough going.   

I think you've got the words mostly right.  I wouldn't have believed the "yoyo dress" if it hadn't been repeated in Too Damp To Be Wet.  The one part I hear differently from you is the first two lines of the last verse.  I hear "Bought you a yoyo dress, [?] patches on your shoes"

 


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