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Stop look and listen - I hear somebody calling me. It's the voice of the blues calling me back to my used to be - Irene Scruggs, Voice of the Blues

Author Topic: Charlie Patton lyrics  (Read 45047 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Charlie Patton lyrics
« on: June 19, 2005, 08:56:44 PM »
I've been attempting to listen to this one lately - it's in pretty rough shape and no sign of a cleaner copy yet from the likes of Yazoo et al. I think underneath all that surface noise is a pretty cool song. It sounds a bit like a cross between Green River Blues and the accompaniment Willie Brown plays in Moon Going Down. I haven't started on the guitar part yet, so could be way off base. Anyway, I'm foolishly taking a stab at the lyrics. Help!

Joe Kirby Blues

Said I'll be your monkey baby, don't wanna be your dog
I said I'll be your monkey baby, don't wanna be your dog
'fore I stand your doggin', I'll stay in a hollow log

Some people say baby them Kirby blues ain't bad
Some people say now baby them Joe Kirby blues ain't bad
Well it must not a been them Joe Kirby blues I had

Just like a doggone rabbit, lordy, got no doggone den
I'm just like rabbit I ain't got no doggone den
I been in trouble lord ever since here I been

I was standin' (in) Clack's crossroads, biddin' my rider goodbye
I was standing at the crossroads, bid my rider goodbye
It blowed for the crossroad, lord, she started to fly

Well I'm goin' where the Green River do sink down
I'm goin' where the Green River do run down
But the woman I love lordy, she live in Robin(son)ville town

Hey well where was my baby, now tell me what's on your mind
Hey just tell me now mama lordy, tell me what's on your mind
Well you know you got a home baby long as I got mine

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: October 25, 2005, 09:47:12 AM by uncle bud »

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Joe Kirby Blues - Charley Patton
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2005, 04:39:35 PM »
Said I'll be your monkey baby, don't wanna be your dog
I said I'll be your monkey baby, don't wanna be your dog
'fore I stand your doggin', I'll stay in a hollow log

Some people say baby them Kirby blues ain't bad
Some people say now baby them Joe Kirby blues ain't bad
Well it must not a been them Joe Kirby blues I had

Just like a doggone rabbit, lordy, got no doggone den
I'm just like rabbit I ain't got no doggone den
I been in trouble lord ever since here I been

I was standing Clack's the crossroads, kissing my rider goodbye?
I was standing at the crossroads, bid my rider goodbye
It blowed for the crossroad, lord, she started to fly

Well I'm goin' where the Green River do sink down
I'm goin' where the Green River do run down
But the woman I love lordy, she live in Robin(son)ville town

Hey well well well now baby, now tell me what's on your mind
Hey just tell me now mama lordy, tell me what's on your mind
Well you know you got a home baby long as I got mine
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Joe Kirby Blues - Charley Patton
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2005, 01:45:42 PM »
Thanks powerline! Clears up a lot. I had heard something like "Clacks the crossroad," but it made no sense to me, so didn't put it down. It still makes no sense, even though that's what it sounds like. Gotta be something else, no?

Offline dj

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Re: Joe Kirby Blues - Charley Patton
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2005, 02:04:26 PM »
Clack's Store was the store in Robinsonville Mississippi where Son House recorded for the Library of Congress.  Clack's Crossroads must have been the crossroad where the store stood.  Dick Spottswood, in the lyric transcription for the Charley Patton Revenant box, has the Clack's line as:

I was standin' (in) Clack's Crossroads, biddin' my rider goodbye

You can hear a train go by in one of Son House's LoC recordings, so she could have been going by train.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Joe Kirby Blues - Charley Patton
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2005, 01:43:15 AM »
Fancy you not knowing that UB, I thought it was common knowledge hehe!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Joe Kirby Blues - Charley Patton
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2005, 07:42:13 PM »
Fancy you not knowing that UB, I thought it was common knowledge hehe!

Yup, I'm embarrassed ;)

dj, yes I remember the train well in Son's LoC tracks. Hadn't remembered the store name though. Thanks for obscure and illuminating details.

Offline Chezztone

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Charlie Patton lyrics
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2005, 02:11:22 PM »
Normally I prefer to transcribe lyrics myself (you learn a lot from doing it, it's enjoyable, and you have a better chance of getting them right if you don't get someone else's wrong transcription stuck in your head as you're listening). But in this case I'm making an exception and asking for help! Charley Patton's "High Water Everywhere" is of course highly relevant to current events, and someone requested it of me the other day, and I'd especially like to get it together for a Katrina benefit I'm playing this weekend. So...I web-searched and found it on Harry's Blues Lyrics Online or something like that. Pretty good, except for a few rough spots that I'd appreciate help on:
Verse 5, Harry has it as "Charley's town," which doesn't make sense or sound quite right. Could it be "Charleston"? There is a Charleston, Miss., and maybe Charley pronounces it oddly?
In that same verse, last line, Harry has "I'm goin' to Vicksburg for that high of mine." Maybe "a higher mile"? That doesn't really make sense either. Any ideas?
Verse 10 (counting straight through both parts), the bit about taking a trip on a "big ice sled" makes no sense even if it sounds sort of like that. Can anyone come up with a better idea, or an explanation of why he would be riding an ice sled in the Mississippi Delta? Verse after that Harry calls as "I hear the ice", which might be "I hear the voice" with the V for some reason dropped. Thanks! Chezz

Offline waxwing

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2005, 04:31:36 PM »
Hey Steve,

Well, for starters I checked Dick Spottswood's transcriptions in the Revenant set.

Verse 5 he has as "Shaw's(es) town" in the first 2lines and in the last line he has "(on a higher mound)", yeah, his parens. I'm not sure what that means, either Dick is unsure of that part, or, since I'm not listening to it right now, Patton is speaking those sections?

Verse 10 he has "big ice sled", too. Perhaps a reference to a hearse, death? Also, "I hear the ice boat" in the next verse.

Okay, here is the last paragraph from Dick's notes on the song, after discussing other flood songs:

Quote
The Patton account was something else entirely. Unlike Smith, Bob and Wallace [Bessie, Barbecue and Sippie] Charley was there when it happened. Being both a witness and participant, he could let raw emotion replace purely objective narration. No longer just a blues entertainer, he becomes a sanctified preacher delivering an impassioned sermon, with snapped bass strings and thumped guitar box to emphasize the text and underscore the tension. Some of the momentum and passion seem to evolve towards resignation on Part II, as Charley documents flooding across the river in Arkansas and notes the use of ice sleds and boats as rescue vehicles. His struggle to come to terms with the devastation is poignantly revealed in the last line, as he gazes sadly at the empty remains of houses where people had expected to live out their lives.

Well, that sorta makes sense of it. Any help?

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2005, 09:19:05 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2005, 08:48:42 PM »
In the Calt/Wardlow Patton bio, it's transcribed as

Well they tell me the water, done took short little town
"Boy I'm going to Vicksburg!"
Well I'm goin' to Vicksburg, over that higher mound.

The footnote explanation of higher mound reads, "Apparently this phrase (which Booker Miller deciphered) refers to an Indian burial mound."

The authors go on to note, "The basis of this couplet was probably the evacuation of a thousand refugees from the Greenville to the Vicksburg levee, six days before the latter town was overrun by water on April 30th. Most of these refugees were white: a group of Red Cross steamers intended for the removal of blacks was prevented from leaving Greenville by influential planters who feared that their tenants would never return."

Yikes.

C&W also refer to the use of ice sleds as rescue vehicles during the flood.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2005, 08:53:12 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Chezztone

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2005, 07:55:06 PM »
Ooh, yes, I like the "higher mound," very good, thanks Wax. And "Shaw's town" might be right, too, there is a Shaw right in the area that was flooded. I still don't like the "ice sled" bit -- will have to listen harder (or research more to find out why that makes sense)!

Offline lindy

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2005, 08:26:51 PM »
Re: ice sleds.

Those were the days of ice houses, where businesses kept blocks of ice cut and shipped from northern lakes and packed in sawdust to deliver throughout the year to people who had "ice boxes" to keep food cold.  I know for a fact that they used "ice sleds" to move the ice blocks from the lake to the initial storage house, but I agree, it's hard to imagine them using an ice sled for any purpose in Mississippi.

Lindy

Offline Chezztone

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2005, 06:19:04 PM »
Has anyone tried relistening to this, besides just checking others' transcriptions? I'm starting to think maybe Charley headed for the coast. Instead of "I thought I would take a trip, Lord, out on the big ice sled" it might be "I thought I would take a trip, Lord, out on the beach I slept."

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2005, 01:09:30 AM »
Has anyone tried relistening to this, besides just checking others' transcriptions? I'm starting to think maybe Charley headed for the coast. Instead of "I thought I would take a trip, Lord, out on the big ice sled" it might be "I thought I would take a trip, Lord, out on the beach I slept."
I usually stay out of lyric discussions except on point of information. FWIW about 15-20 years ago somebody disected and commented on this song in minute detail, verse by verse. I distinctly remember this couplet which had been tormenting listeners since its first appeance on OJL7 two decades earlier: Whoever was writing suggested that what was sung was far more logical than either Fahey's paperback ("out on the days I slept" ) or the 1970 Yazoo booklet ("out on the big ice sled") made it:

High water always rising, got up in my bed
Lord high water was rolling, got up in my bed
I thought I was taking a trip, Lord, out on the bed where I slept.

Now all I have to do is recall by who, and where, this theory was put forward.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2005, 09:20:22 AM »
I hear this with slight differences as:

The water was rising, got up in my bed
Lord the water it rolling, got up to my bed
I thought I would take a trip, Lord, out on a big ice sled.

I'm not totally sold on the ice sled line, but it sure sounds like that. It's possible we have a goofy metaphor here: the water rising to his bed, bed threatens to start floating away, moving on the water like "a big ice sled."

That said, I do like Bunker Hill's suggestion of "out on the bed where I slept." Makes much sense, although I don't quite hear it and do seem to hear to hard G in big.

lebordo

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2005, 09:48:08 PM »
For what it's worth, I hear the basically the same words Uncle Bud referenced (although I admit I don't hear the "ce" in ice distinct from the the "s" in sled, nor do I hear the "d" in sled, so I actually hear "I sle..." or perhaps "Ice le...".  And like uncle bud, I also hear the "g" in Big, although I admit the "d" in bed would sound similar.  But the vowel sounds more like his "i" sound than his "e" sound to me.

While Bunker Hill's "out on the bed where I slept" sounds tempting, I can guarantee there is nothing between "bed" and "I", so "where" would have to be implied rather than actually sounded, making the line (as sung) ... out on the bed I slept.  Could be, but that's not what I hear.  Granted, if the "pt" sound was dropped from slept, it would sound just like "sled" with the "d" dropped.  But singing the line with both words (sled and slept), it is harder for me to drop the "pt" than to drop the "d".

Oh, and just for the record, the words quoted from Harrys's Blues Lyrics appear identical to those originally printed in the liner notes for Yazoo's circa 1970 double LP L-1020, Charley Patton -- Founder Of The Delta Blues.  In these lyrics, the words in parenthesis are generally spoken, although in a couple of places it seems like this meant they couldn't make out the words, because they clearly don't sound spoken to me, but are difficult to make out.

Tags: Charlie Patton