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It was just before I went into the army about 40, 42 I think, I heard of a guy called T-Bone Walker and that was the first electric guitar I'd ever heard... and I went crazy, I went completely nutty... I think that he had the clearest touch of anybody I'd ever heard on guitar then - B.B King on T-Bone Walker, from Giles Oakley's The Devil's Music, BBC

Author Topic: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics  (Read 21209 times)

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Offline MTJ3

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #45 on: November 19, 2005, 07:38:04 PM »
A few suggestions on "Suitcase Full of Blues"

1.  In the third line of the first verse, replace "mother" with "good girl" such that the line is:

"Lord, my good girl quit me, catch that mornin' train."

2.  In the first line of the sixth verse, insert "Lord" after "walkin'" such that the line is:

"Gonna leave here walkin', Lord,  and talkin' to myself, to myself, Lord."

3.  In the third line of the sixth verse, replace the "and I'll" with "or" such that the line is:

"I'm gonna take my baby or carry somebody else."

4.  I hear the third line in the last verse (with a velar initial in the last word, such that it can't reconcile "job") as:

"There's another woman, another man got your gal."

I would like "there's" to be "get," but I can't completely justify it phonetically.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #46 on: November 20, 2005, 12:30:02 AM »
Hi MTJ3,
Thanks for the finds on "Suitcase Full Of Blues", you have some good ones there.? There definitely was a "Lord" missing from the first line of the next-to last verse.? Likewise, I think the "and" in the last line of the next-to-last verse is an "or", as you say (and it makes better sense), though I still hear it followed by a semi-swallowed "I'll".? "Gal" as the last word in the last verse sounds dead on the money, and also makes better sense.?
As weird as it is in the context, I definitely think "mother" is the right word in the last line of the first verse.? Bracey uses the phrase "good girl" clearly in the last line of the fourth verse and it sounds nothing like the two syllables in question in the first verse.? I originally had "mama" in this place in the first verse, and was told that the Blues Concordance had the lyric in question as "mother", which I thought was nuts.? I went back and listened, and felt, "You know, he is saying "mother", though it is strange here."
Those are excellent corrections, it's really difficult working with such a whupped record. I sure wish Bracey had recorded more in Spanish, because this is a terrific song.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 20, 2005, 01:17:28 PM by Johnm »

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #47 on: November 20, 2005, 01:06:29 PM »
Johnm,

Re:  Suitcase Full of Blues

I'm as whupped trying to figure this out as the record sounds.  Here was my thinking on "good girl" in the first verse.  True that he sings "good girl" later on in the song; I didn't hear the pronunciation as different, but the articulation of the words certainly is (the first being, to be charitable, more "indistinct" than the second). I do not hear a bilabial or a dental fricative as the consonants in the "mother" word. The consonants are so mangled that it's hard to tell what they are, but I wouldn't rule out a velar.  The final does not sound to me like a "pure" "r," but more like a retroflexed "r" that you would hear in an "rl" combination. 

OK, until someone re-issues an E of this one, I'm finished with it (or it's finished me), except to say that (1) this is a really powerful song, in terms of both the music (vocal and instrumental performance, tuning oddities aside) and the lyrics, and (2) it's such a good idea--especially for an instrumentalist--to transcribe lyrics to appreciate the "whole package" of the artist and the song.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #48 on: November 20, 2005, 01:22:27 PM »
Hi MTJ3,
I couldn't agree more with your concluding points.  There were a lot of uninspired blues lyrics out there, but when they are good, they can be so good.  And of course, they are the reason why a song does what it does in terms of phrasing.  I'm having a lot of fun trying to hear them, that's for sure, and can use all the help I can get.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #49 on: November 21, 2005, 08:49:30 AM »
I'm with MTJ3 on the "good girl" in the first verse of "Suitcase Full Of Blues". There's too much of a break between the syllables for the word to be "mother" or "mama".  On my Document CD, there's a particularly nasty bit of noise over the first syllable, but I think the second syllable starts with a hard sound that's much more like a "g" than a "th" or an "m".  I like the "gal" at the end of the last line, though it sounds more like "gol" to me!  I agree that the first word in the last line SHOULD be "Get", though I really think I hear an "r" in it.

I guess if Paramount couldn't be bothered to keep the sawdust from their furniture making out of their record shellac, we really can't expect them to have done a second take of a song because the performer didn't enunciate some of the words clearly.  Hey, I'm mighty impressed that we now have a transcription of the lyrics that's at least 98% correct.  Given the strong regional dialect of the performer, the primitive recording conditions, the lack of care Paramount showed in their recording and manufacturing, and all these records have gone through in the last 75 years, it's amazing we can get that far.

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #50 on: November 22, 2005, 10:33:42 PM »
Leavin' Town Blues Take 2

Comparing the lyrics of takes 1 and 2 is instructive. According to B&GR, take 2 was the issued take. He starts both takes with an instrumental break. The break toward the end of take 1 is not played in take 2. The first, second and fifth verses of take 2 are substantially identical to those of take 1. In verse 3 of take 2, Ishmon stumbles a bit and forgets the line. Verse 6 of take 2 is substantially the same as verse 4 of take 1. In verse seven of take 2, Ishmon substitutes "evening" for "rising" (in verse 6 of take 1); the imagery of the setting sun is, to my mind, more appealing for that verse.

Ishmon's use of diminished chords in this piece (although mitigated by McCoy's playing, which I generally admire greatly) makes it, IMO, as "weird" as anything Skip James ever recorded. If the recording values had been better on these sides, it would be less work to get to the meat of Ishmon's music, and he would probably be much more highly regarded.



Leavin' Town Blues-2

[Instrumental break]

Now, tell you, mama, now, I'm sure gonna leave this town.
Mmm, tell you, mama, now, I'm sure gonna leave this town.
'Cause I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down.

Now, you don't believe I'm leavin', just watch the train I'm on. (2x)
Now, you don't believe I'm ducking, just count the days I'm gone.

Now, I got me ????.she's already trained.
Now, I got two ponies, and they's already trained.
All you have to do is just tighten up on the reins.

Now, I love my sugar, now, I tell the world I do. (2x)
Now, I believe sometime that fool's gotta [gonna?] love me too.

Now, Lord, oh, Lord, oh, oh Lord, oh, Lord, oh, Lord.
Mmm, Lord, oh, Lord, oh, oh Lord, oh, Lord, oh, Lord.
Now, the woman I'm lovin' treat me like a mangy dog.

Now, 'fore I stay here, mama, 'n' be treated this a way.
Mmm, 'fore I stay here, mama, be treated this a way.
Now, I let some freight train stow me every day.

Mmm, look a yonder, honey, that evenin' sun done gone.
Mmm, look a yonder, honey, mama, honey that evenin' sun done gone.
I came way over here, mama, a long ways from my home.

Modified November 26, 2005
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 10:00:54 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #51 on: November 23, 2005, 08:08:18 AM »
Just listening to Suitcase Full of Blues again. I'm hearing "something girl" in the first verse, but not "good girl". It does sound like it begins with an "m" and if I was to simply transcribe what I'm hearing with no regard for sense, I'd hazard a guess at "must girl". That made me think it's possibly "best girl" but I don't hear the "b" sound. Perhaps he started saying "mama" but switched to "best girl" at the last moment. (!!? :P)

I'm also hearing in the last line of the last verse:

"There's a no good woman, another man got your gal" or possibly "Says a no good woman..."

Apologies, MTJ3, if I've sent you back to the tune by commenting late on this one.? ;D? I agree - it's a real powerful song. It also sounds relatively easy to learn. I'm going to give it a shot.

Re: Leavin' Town take 2:

In the stumble in verse 3 it sounds like he says "Now I got me a woman..."?

In the last verse I hear:

Mmm, looky yonder mama where that, that evenin' sun gone down.
Mmm, looky yonder mama where that, that evenin' sun gone down.
I [came?] way over here mama, a long ways to my home

Also an amazing tune. I think I need to figure this one out as well, as it is just too cool, but it's trickier...
« Last Edit: November 23, 2005, 08:09:29 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #52 on: November 23, 2005, 10:39:26 AM »
Hi all,
Great work, MTJ3 and Uncle Bud!? The transcription of "Leavin' Town Blues, Take 2" looks pretty much spot on, MTJ3, the only difference I hear is another "mama, honey" in the first line of the last verse.? Re Bracey's use of the partial diminished seventh, you're right, it certainly sounds gnarly in the context.? It reminds me of how Lonnie Johnson and Blake use the chord sometimes:? as a vehicle for slightly colored chord melody passages, with the melody on the first string, rather than filling any kind of harmonic function normally associated with diminished seventh chords.

I think you've got the front end of the last line in "Suitcase Full Of Blues" right, Andrew.? "Says a no good woman" sounds right to me and makes better sense than "There's another woman".? Amazing!? I finally heard "girl" in the first line, though I still hear it preceded by a word beginning with "m".? I've made the changes.? "Mother" never made any sense there, anyway.
I realized yesterday that part of the magic of this tune is in the way Bracey phrases the first line and transitions to the second.? Without showing all the lyrics, he does it as follows.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?, Lord,
|? ? ? I? ? ? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? I + 2 beats? ?|

Bracey precedes the interjectory "Lord" at the end of the first phrase with a litle pause, and then sings it right across the bar line transitioning into the second phrase.? He is perfectly consistent in his phrasing of this throughout the song, and his placement of that "Lord" creates a tremendous rhythmic impetus and tug into the second line.? Genius!? This is in a class with Lemon's phrasing in "Bad Luck Blues", I think.? What a treat.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 06, 2005, 10:22:39 AM by Johnm »

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #53 on: November 26, 2005, 09:23:59 AM »
Johnm and Uncle Bud, Thanks for the corrections to Take 2 of Leavin' Town Blues.

UB, I have several guesses as to what I think Ishmon was saying or intended to say in his "mystery caesura," but I just can't hear anything sufficiently definite there.  I'll keep listening.

Regards

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #54 on: November 28, 2005, 10:24:40 PM »
"Brown Mama Blues"--Take 2



Won't you tell me, mama, mama, what have I said or done? (2x)
Woman, you treat me like my trouble just begun.

Now, mama, mama, there's something really worryin' me.
Mmm, mama, mama, mama, something worryin' me.
I ain't care none of my best woman, it's my old time used to be.

Now you sun went down, mama, left me lonesome here.
See the sun went down, now left me so lonesome here.
Ah, the sun went down, left me so lonesome here.

Now, I ain't gonna be teasin' brown no more.
Mama, and I ain't gonna be your teasin' brown no more.
Mama, and the way you do me, sure gonna make me go.

Now, it's hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.
And it's hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.
I didn't know my rider would treat me this a way.

[Instrumental break]

Take 2 was, according to B&GR, the issued take.  The first two verses of Take 2  are substantially the same as those of Take 1.  The third verse pf Take 2 is similar to the fourth verse in Take 1.  The fourth verse in Take 2 is similar to the third verse of Take 1 of "Leavin' Town Blues."  Both takes of this song end in an instrumental break. 

More anon.

Regards.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 10:01:41 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #55 on: December 06, 2005, 10:45:38 AM »
Hi all,
"Jake Liquor Blues" was recorded by Ishmon Bracey with Charley Taylor and Kid Ernest Michall, the "New Orleans Nehi Boys", on piano and clarinet, respectively. Unlike the other songs recorded with this line-up, Bracey's vocal and the song's lyrics assume a more featured role here. Bracey is playing out of C, in standard tuning, and gets some terrific bends into the C note that is normally played at the first fret of the second string, much like those of Blind Blake on "Seaboard Stomp". Since you can't really bend a note that is already at pitch and have it stay at pitch, it seems most likely that Bracey (and Blake) were using unwound third strings and bending the fourth fret of the third string up to the C pitch. It is a great sound, and is one of the very few ways to get a really low-down sound in C, standard tuning.
The song's lyrics refer to the potential after-effects of having drunk adulterated Jake liquor. Apart from the characteristic skittering sort of hopping limp ("Jake leg"), Jake could also cause impotence. There is a thread deep in the Jam Session on this that references an article that appeared in "The New Yorker" a couple of years ago, and that dealt with the Jake scare in detail. The article was fascinating, and actually identified the Boston-area gangsters who were responsible for the bad Jake.

Like all of the songs with this personnel, lyrics are really hard to hear, and I would sure appreciate some help to clear up a few of the places. As usual, lyrics or patches I have a question about are enclosed in bent brackets. In verse three, I believe Ishmon pronounces "numbness", "numbness".




Jake liquor, Jake liquor, what in the world you tryin' to do? (2)
Everybody in the city messed up on account of drinkin' you

I drank so much Jake, it settled all in my head
I've drank so much Jake, until it settled all in my head
I rushed for my lovin', my baby turned her back to me

That's the doggoned diseases, ever heard since I been born (2)
You have numbiness [sic] in front of your body, you can't carry any lovin' on

Aunt Jane she come a-runnin', tellin' everybody in the neighborhood
Aunt Jane, she come runnin' and screamin', tellin' everybody in the neighborhood
That man of mine got the limber trouble, and his lovin' can't do me any good

The doctor told me to tell you somethin', for your own cravin' on this Jake (2)
If you don't quit drinkin' that poison Jake you're drinkin', it's gon' leave you with the limber leg

Edited to pick up corrections from dj, 12/6

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 10:03:57 AM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #56 on: December 06, 2005, 11:10:52 AM »
The song's lyrics refer to the potential after-effects of having drunk adulterated Jake liquor.? Apart from the characteristic skittering sort of hopping limp ("Jake leg"), Jake could also cause impotence.? There is a thread deep in the Jam Session on this that references an article that appeared in "The New Yorker" a couple of years ago, and that dealt with the Jake scare in detail.? The article was fascinating, and actually identified the Boston-area gangsters who were responsible for the bad Jake.
Was indeed fascinating here's the bibliographic reference:

Baum, Dan. ?Jake Leg: How The Blues Diagnosed A Medical Mystery? The New Yorker (15 Sep 2003), 50-

and fwiw a few earlier writings on the subject:

Harder, Kelsie B. ?The Jake Leg? Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin v27 n3 (Sep 1961), 45-47

Morgan, John P.; Tulloss, Thomas C. ?The Jake Walk Blues: A Toxicologic Tragedy
Mirrored In American Popular Music? Annals Of Internal Medicine v85 n6 (Dec
1976), 804-808. Reprinted in JEMF Quarterly v13 n47 (Autumn 1977), 122-126.
Reprinted in Old Time Music v28 (1978), 17-24

Morgan, John P. Jake Walk Blues. USA: Stash ST-110, 1977

Cohen, Norman. ?Jake Walk Blues? JEMF Quarterly v15 n55 (Fall 1979), 191

Offline dj

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #57 on: December 06, 2005, 01:51:34 PM »
Hi, John.  What a great set of lyrics!  Here's what I hear:

Verse 3:
   You have numbness in front of your body, and you can't carry any lovin' on

Verse 4:
   That man of mine got the limber trouble,...

The other bracketed parts I think you've got right.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2005, 03:08:45 PM »
Hi David,
Thanks for the help!  It is a great set of lyrics, and Ishmon really delivered them with some power.  I sure wish he had recorded more, either in the '20s or '30s or the '60s.  Perhaps those '60s recordings he did for Gayle Dean Wardlow may come out some day.  I believe that like Rev. Wilkins, he recorded only religious material in the '60s.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Ishmon Bracey's Lyrics
« Reply #59 on: December 09, 2005, 02:06:09 PM »
Quote
I sure wish he had recorded more, either in the '20s or '30s or the '60s.

   It seems that Bracey probably did record more, at least in the '20s and '30s.  I was just paging through Gayle Dean Wardlow's Chasin' That Devil Music, and noticed that Wardlow quotes Bracey as saying that he recorded a total of 18 songs during his Paramount sessions.  Six were vocal backed only by Bracey's guitar.  Two of these were issued, so four titles, including "Doodleville Blues", may yet be found someday as white label test pressings in someone's attic, or even as issued records, since I believe there are still a few Paramount record numbers from late 1929 through the company's demise that have never been found and whose artist/titles remain unknown.  That means there were 12 songs recorded with the New Orleans Nehi Boys of which four were issued, leaving eight "to be discovered".

   Bracey also claimed to have recorded three sides around 1932.  The titles included "Oh Lordy Mama" and "Come On In, Ain't Nobody Home But Me".  The company that did the recording remains unknown, though Vocalion did do a field trip to Jackson Mississippi in 1935.

   We can only dream...

 


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