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I don't know much, but what I know, I _really_ know - Alice Stuart, Port Townsend 99

Author Topic: Charlie Patton lyrics  (Read 46923 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2005, 12:09:38 AM »
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".
I was putting forward a published theory and from memory - the "where" may have been square bracketed to denote implication. I've still to locate where this lengthy analysis was published but the suggestion was 'logical' enough to stick in my memory.? Personally what was proposed isn't what I hear but only owning OJL7 and L1020 and no digital format I'm somewhat disadvantage when it come to such discussions. It's for such reasons I steer clear of lyric discussions and perhaps shouldn't have broken my golden and bitten my tongue. Having started this hare running I'm determined to locate said transcription/analysis and pass it on here.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: High Water Everywhere
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2005, 11:50:08 AM »
Having started this hare running I'm determined to locate said transcription/analysis and pass it on here.
Finally located the source of my recollection. It was Robert Macleod in his first volume of lyric transcriptions of Yazoo LPs (Yazoo 1-20, 1988). The analysis/discussion takes place on pages 10-17 whilst the song transcription itself is on pages 286 & 287. I've attempted an OCR scan but it was 'typeset' using what looks like a dot-matrix printer and my software ain't up to it.

What Macleod hears is:

The high water always risin', got up in my bed
Lord the high water was rollin', got up to my bed
I thought I was takin' a trip Lord, out on the bed where I'd slept.

He also lists other known published transcriptions of the song - Fahey (Patton booklet), Robert Palmer (Deep Blues), Eric Sackheim (The Blues Line), Charters (The Bluesmen), Voice Of The Delta (Patton symposium publication) and Yazoo booklet. I have all of these works but I'm off to get a life instead. :)

Offline Buzz

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Charlie Patton lyrics
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2006, 03:43:04 PM »
Hi all!

Thought I would ask any interested Weenies for help..."lend me your ears!" :P

Been listening to Charley Patton: "Elder Greene"take 2 and "Goin' to Move To Alabama", and learning the tunes, and find the lyrics difficult to suss out. Can get a few words like "slough" and "creek" in Alabama,  but can't make sense of a few others here and there.  Got this so far:

Goin to Move to Alabama
Charley Patton,   F,Bb, C

INTRO: first 2 lines of verse intstrumental
I?m goin? to move to Alabam,a,  I?m goin? to move to Alabama,
I?m goin? to move to Alabama, make Georgia be your home.

Ahh?, she long and tall,
She ain?t good for men, makes ?em swear and bawl,           
I have to move to Alabama, I have to move to Alabama,
I have to move to Alabama, to make Georgia be your home

I?m gonna show you common women, how I feel,
Gonna get me ?nother woman, before I leave,
I?m goin? to move to Alabama, said I will move to Alabama,
Said, I will move to Alabama, make Georgia be your home.

Said, Momma got the{ white folks, women got the chairs, }
My brother got the whiskey, momma got the jug,
I?m goin? to move to Alabama, I?m ma? to move to Alabama,
I?ma? to move to Alabama, Make Georgia be your home.

Well, these evil women, sho? make me tired,
Get a handful of beer, Momma, much obliged,
You must ?ve been to Alabama, you must ?ve been to Alabama,
You must ?ve been to Alabama, to make Georgia be your home.

Awww, I got a woman, she long and tall,
But when she wiggles, she makes this man bawl,
She gonna move to Alabama, have you been to Alabama,
Have you been to Alabama, to make Georgia be your home

Say, Momma and Poppa, bawl when you walk,
Let my business, {              }
Well, have you been to Lou?siana, have you been to Alabama,
Have you been to Alabama, to make Georgia be your home

Awww, my momma told me...
?The ol? woman, like to fiddler you
Well, have you been to Alabama, have you been to Alabama,
Have you been to Alabama, to make Georgia be your home

Aww, I got up this morning, my hat in my hand,
Been down {toward Rome, after the mail,}
Well, have you been to Alabama, have you been to Alabama,
Have you been to Alabama, to make Georgia be your home



and

Elder Greene take 2
Charley Patton,   F,Bb, C

INTRO: instrumental

Elder Greene is, Elder Greene is gone,
?Cause when {Darlin? calls} him, with his long coat

With his long coat, with his long coat on,
Oh, when {Darlin? kindness}, with his long coat on.

Aww, let me call a deacon, let?s go down in prayer,
Get the big old deacon at New Orleans, come and let?s go there.

Come, if you got a woman, for raise her to your hand,
Keep away from Momma walkin?, {by the air resolve, by the air}

Why the creek?s all muddy, and the slough?s all dry,
{Havin? one muddy creek milk cow, last Boys?, all the women would.}

Don?t you leave me here, don?t you leave me here,
I don?t care when or where you go, don?t you leave me (here).

I love to fuss and fight, I love to fuss and fight,
Lawdy, get drunk and drink the bottle and bawl and walk the streets all nite.

Walk the streets all nite, and walk the streets all nite,
Lawdy, get sloppy drunk on the bottle, and bawl and walk the streets all nite.

Why the streets all muddy, and the slough?s all dry,
And there?s one by the street, my cow lay, Boy, on the ground and die.

On the road somewhere, on the road somewhere,
To get fiiiiiiine highway robbers, on the road somewhere.

On the road somewhere, on the road somewhere,
To get fiiiiiiine highway robbers, on the road?(somewhere).

Haa, let?s meet your {Leg Deacon}, let?s go down in prayer,
To get fiiiiiine robbers, on the road somewhere.



Any help is appreciated. Once I get the words to make sense, it is easier to sing. I want to learn a mandolin part,  too.  ;D

 Thanks,

Buzz
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline banjochris

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2006, 10:02:13 PM »
Here's how I hear them both -- I didn't bother transcribing the choruses to "Going to Move" 'cause those seem right -- the "If you got a woman" verse of Elder Greene on both takes is probably the hardest thing to understand on any Patton record, IMHO.
Chris

"Going to Move to Alabama"

Ah, she's long and tall
the way she whups her meat'd make a panther squall

I'm gon' show you common women how I feel
Gonna get me 'nother woman fore I leave

Say mama's got the washboard, my friend's got the tub
My brother's got the whiskey and mama's got the jug

Well these evil women sure make me tired
Gotta handful of gimme mouthfulla much obliged

I got a woman she's long and tall
But when she whip it she makes a panther squall

Say mama and papa both went to walk
Left my sister standin at the waterin' trough

My mama told me --
... no one woman like they can't love you

I got up this morning my hat in my hand
Didn't have nowhere to roam, had no man


"Elder Greene" take 2

Elder Greene is (take your time), Elder Greene is gone
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

With his long coat on, with his long coat on
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

Elder Greene told the deacon, let's go down in prayer.
It's a big 'ssociation at New Orleans, come and let's go there.

And if you got a woman, want raise her to your hand,
Keep away from mamma walkin, mamma have been lonesome, mamma ???

Well the creek's all muddy, and the slough's all dry
If it wasn't for the sweet mouth county boys all the women would die

Don't you leave me here, don't you leave me here
Lord I don't care where in world you go, don't you leave me here

I like to fuss and fight, I like to fuss and fight
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

And walk the streets all night, and walk the streets all night
Lordy get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

Well the creek's all muddy, and the slough's all dry
If it wasn't for the sweet mouth county boys all the browns would die

On the road somewhere, on the road somewhere
You can find highway robber, on the road somewhere

On the road somewhere, on the road somewhere
You can find highway robber on the road somewhere

Elder Greene told the deacon, let's go down in prayer.
You can find highway robber on the road somewhere
 

take 1?
Green is, Elder Greene is gone
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

With his long coat on, with his long coat on
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

Elder Greene told the deacon, let's go down in prayer.
It's a big 'ssociation down in New Orleans, come and let's go there.

Come and let's go there, come and let's go there,
It's a big 'ssociation down in New Orleans, come and let's go there.

I like to fuss and fight, I like to fuss and fight
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

And walk the streets all night, and walk the streets all night
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

Elder Greene told the deacon, settle down in prayer
You can take everything I've got but settle down in ...

Ah most anywhere, yeah most anywhere
You can cheat? off someone and walk anywhere

Elder Greene is gone, Elder Greene is gone
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

If you got a woman, want raise her to your hand
Keep away from mamma walkin, mamma have been lonesome, mamma ???

Mamma ???, mamma ????
Keep away from mamma walkin, mamma has a daughter, mamma ???

I like to fuss and fight, I like to fuss and fight,
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night


Offline Buzz

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2006, 10:11:47 PM »
Thanks!

Will give these a listen some time soon and check back in....anyone else got any ideas? ::)

Buzz
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline waxwing

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2006, 11:59:47 PM »
Haven't had a chance to slow these down and give a real deep listen, but I have seen the difficult lines sometimes transcribed as "curling his hair" (maybe "curling her hair"?) and what Chris has as "mamma" is sometimes given as "Molly" or "mommy", particularly "Molly Walker" as if it were a full name.

And yeah, Chris, most transcribers I have seen admit that these lines are among the hardest in all of Patton's songs. The rest of what you have seems pretty good and agrees with the better transcriptions I have seen. I definitely prefer "long coat" over the often given "long clothes".

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2006, 01:29:08 PM »
I agree it could be Molly or Mommy. Purely phonetically, it almost sounds like he's saying "Molly kind and how" or even "Molly Cunningham." I'm pretty sure it's not "curling" (although I've seen that written, too), even allowing for Patton's weird pronunciation.
Chris

Offline dj

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2006, 04:48:02 PM »
My guess at that penultimate verse in "Elder Green" take 2 is:

If you got a woman, wan' raise her to your hand
Keep away from mama walkin', mommy have it lonesome, mama cut it out
Mama cut it out, mama cut it out
Keep away from mommy walkin', mama have it lonesome, mama cut it out

I get the sense that Charley's "mama" is turning tricks, leaving Charley lonesome, and he wants her to stop. 

Offline Dr. G

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2006, 05:54:59 AM »
I've been baffled by some of the "Goin' to Move to Alabama" lyrics -- and especially the tag line of the refrain -- for years. I think that Chris has the lyrics a little closer, Buzz, and I will post my interpretation after a re-listen. HOWEVER: I cannot believe that "Make Georgia be my home" is the final line of the refrain. I agree that it certainly SOUNDS like that -- but, as is typical for Patton, it can "sound" like about 12 other things too...given Patton's proclivity to make the listener wonder....

My problem with "Make Georgia be my home" [and the reason that I dispensed with it myself] is that it simply doesn't make sense. Virtually everything else Patton sings makes sense, once you decipher his vocal styloe (even if it doesn't necessarily rhyme!). Patton certainly knew that Georgia is not Alabama. My current "working" version is "(To) make Georgia be in my heart" -- but I am far from satisfied with it, because I think it a bit too "poetic". [Maybe someone -- anyone -- besides Patton sang some version of this song (which sounds to me like a variant of "Goin' to Move to Kansas City") and delivered this line more clearly.]

I will not rest until I am determined that every word is Patton's own; know what words he may have left out; know where the line came from (if it is more-or-less "standard" (like the "washboard/tub" verse); and know its reason for being included in the song (if it's not more or-less-random). I personally won't necessarily sing it that way myself, but I gotta know!

Unless someone out there can come up with a good justification for "Make Georgia be my home" (besides "it sounds like"), I'm going to keep listening and straining to make sense of that final line, which is a crucial "hook" to the song. I hope that Buzz and Chris will go back to the drawing (listening?) board on this one, and that others who may have a better inspiration will help out!

Dr. G

Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2006, 06:48:42 AM »
I don't hear Georgia either - I hear "graveyard"!

Offline waxwing

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2006, 09:37:13 AM »
Actually, I keep wanting to get an old map of Alabama and see if I can find a place named Lake George so the line could be "Lake George'll be my home".

Buzz and I got together the other night and gave a close listen to Elder Greene take 1 and I really like "Mommy Cunningham".

Also, the second "Mommy" line which Chris has as "has a daughter" I think Patton is singing "have been lonesome" but is slurring everything by changing most of the consonant sounds to a zz sound, so it comes out "Mozzy ha min zonezome" just a theory, but that's really what it sounds like he is saying, phonetically, to me.

Had a few other minor discrpencies from Chris' version (take all summer) as I hear it so here's the whole thing:

Elder Greene, take 1

Green is, Elder Greene is gone
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

With his long coat on, with his long coat on
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

Elder Greene told the deacon, let's go down in prayer.
It's a big 'ssociation in New Orleans, come and let's go there.

Come and let's go there, come and let's go there,
It's a big 'ssociation in New Orleans, come and let's go there.

I like to fuss and fight, I like to fuss and fight
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

And walk the streets all night, and walk the streets all night
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

Elder Greene told the deacon, settle down in prayer
You can take uhh thing I've got but settle down in ...

Ah most anywhere, yeah most anywhere
You can take all summer and walk anywhere

Elder Greene is gone, Elder Greene is gone
Gone way down the country with his long coat on

If you got a woman, want raise her to your hand
Keep away from Mommy walkin, Mommy have been lonesome, Mommy Cunningham

Mommy Cunningham, Mommy Cunningham
Keep away from Mommy walkin, Mommy ha min zonezome, Mommy

I like to fuss and fight, I like to fuss and fight,
Lord and get sloppy drunk offa bottled in bond and walk the streets all night

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:40:25 AM 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 Bunker Hill

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2006, 10:20:31 AM »
I realise that this discussion is concerned with specific lyric and not lineage but, as an aside, John Wesley Work, who died in 1925, collected a song called "Ol' Elder Brown's" (sic). A portion of this was published in "American Negro Songs And Spirituals" (Bonanza, 1940 p.241) thus:

Ol' Elder Brown's in town
Ol' Elder Brown's in town
Ol' Elder Brown's in town
a-with his long coat on

Ol' Elder Brown tol' Griffin
"Don't you think I'll win?"
Goin' back to Shreveport Town
Goin' build my church ag'in

Ol' Elder Brown started his church
An' de storm blowed it down
den Elder sang this song
"I'm all out an' down"

He's on de road somewhere
He's on de road somewhere
A long tall brownskin man
He's on de road somewhere

A fuller examination of the Elder Greene/Alabama Bound song type can be found in Paul Oliver's Songsters & Saints (p.115-117).


Offline uncle bud

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2006, 07:21:29 AM »
With regard to the problem line in Goin' to Move to Alabama, I'm not completely convinced it's "make Georgia be your home", but it certainly sounds that way. (It's "your home" and not "my home" by the way.)

A rationale for this interpretation could go this way:

The lyric for the refrain from Kansas City Blues, to which this song is undoubtedly related, goes

"I'm going to move to Kansas City, honey where they don't allow you."

I.e., getting the hell away from the troublesome woman. Charley Patton, who's definitely singing about women troubles in this tune, could be saying he'll move to Alabama and telling the woman to move to Georgia, i.e., putting a lot of distance between them: I'll move to Alabama, you make Georgia be your home.

I'm hearing "you make Georgia be your home" more than "to make Georgia..." but admit to currently listening on my laptop.


Online Johnm

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2006, 09:55:19 AM »
Hi all,
I just listened to this tune again to hear if what I've understood the lyrics to be still sounded right to me.  I think they do.  What I hear for the last line of the lyric is:
   "To make sure she be your home"
"Sure" is pronounced like "shore" and "she" refers to the state of Alabama itself, I think.  The two syllables in question have never sounded like "Georgia", or even "Georgie" to me.  I hear an "sh" sound at the front end of both syllables, not a "j" sound.  And the chorus sometimes says, "Have you been to Alabama?"  I think he's trying to track the woman down, not avoid her.  What do you think?
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 27, 2006, 11:04:21 AM by Johnm »

Offline Dr. G

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Re: Charley Patton: "Elder Greene" and "Goin' to Move To Alabama"
« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2006, 12:49:24 AM »
Both unclebud's and Johnm's scenarios for the meaning of that final phrase are plausible to me, and a heck of a lot more satisfying than anything I had come up with to date. Can anyone confirm that anyone other than CP might refer to a state as "she" (for example the way a ship is?) Any other such references in song lyrics, or other written or recorded speech, from the region or era?

Dr. G

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