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Some people say that a preacher won't steal. But he will do more stealin' then I get regular meals - Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe, Preacher's Blues

Author Topic: Train Station Blues - lyrics I'm working on  (Read 2075 times)

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Offline a2tom

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Train Station Blues - lyrics I'm working on
« on: July 09, 2005, 06:37:00 AM »
Hey all - I really enjoyed Duke's post putting his work-in-progress lyrics out there.  Thought I'd try it with this tune. 

This is the 8-bar blues in E that I mentioned in another thread.  The shell of this has been around for a year, but I never could make it work right.  JohnMs post made me realize I was approaching it wrong.  So, I've totally rephrased it, as well as made the lyrics much more terse to fit into the 8-bar form.  I realize you don't have tune, but you could sing this using the melodic form of Crow Jane or probably any other favorite 8-bar.  I've marked out where beat 1 of the first 6 chords/measures lands - the sung line nearly always starts on beat 4.  There are then 2 more bars of E E/B (or more with an extended turnaround).


   E             B
My train hit the station
     A               A
Miss Molly she was waiting
     E
Lord lord lord
     B                  E
That woman she wasn't alone


I don't want to say  too much about "what this is about" since the idea is - how do you react to the lyrics as you hear/see them?  Like most blues the intent is not to have a true linear story, but perhaps to hint at one without resolving it, leave you a bit open to complete the thoughts from your personal blues.  Maybe I'll give my bigger sense of  the story after people look at it, maybe not, it really ought not be important, the lyrics should speak for themselves.  I'd really appreciate any comments - especially if there are places that you find stilted or sqaure or forced or whatever.  Places where you have some better word choices?  I'm not afraid to pull in "classic blues lines" if they fit.  This is very much a work-in-progress, so don't be shy - I'm not married to any of these words.


Train Station Blues

My train hit the station
Miss Molly she was waiting
Lord lord lord
That woman she wasn't alone

Now I've got her picture
On the inside of my hat
Lord lord lord
Molly isn't wearing much in that

She's three times seven
She knows just what she wants
Lord lord lord
Why's she standing there with a man

I've got me a pistol
As long as it is black
Lord lord lord
It's itching Molly take me back

I'm troubled with my choosing
How to chase away these blues
Lord lord lord
Can't someone show me what to do

That bittersweet religion
Has me hanging by a thread
Lord lord lord
I hear the voices in my head

My train left the station
Miss Molly no more to see
Lord lord lord
That woman mean so much to me

Offline dj

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Re: Train Station Blues - lyrics I'm working on
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2005, 08:25:49 AM »
Good lyrics.  I love the open-endedness of the situation. 

If I could make a suggestion, it would be to slightly change the third verse.  If you want to preserve the rhyme, you could change the second line to something like "She gets away with what she can".  But what I'd really do is to change "standing there with a man" to "standing there with that man", as the "that" points to the specific man, rather than just some man who happened to be there. 

I'm not quite sure how I feel about "bittersweet" in the seventh verse.  I like it on one reading and then I don't on the next.  I guess I like the meaning it conveys but I don't think it's exactly the right word to use there.  Sorry, but I can't think of a better one to suggest.  (I note from Michael Taft's Blues Concordance that no one used bittersweet in the songs he transcribed  ;D)

Online Johnm

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Re: Train Station Blues - lyrics I'm working on
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2005, 04:04:17 PM »
Hi Tom,
Congratulations on posting a work in progress--that's bold!  I like the direction you are going with the phrasing/scansion on this.  In the early reading, the one phrase I had a hard time getting to fit was the "Lord, Lord, Lord", but I think I have it figured out now.

Like dj I have some question about the word "bittersweet", but it is as much the question of meaning as the word itself; I'm not sure what "bittersweet religion" means in this context.  So much of whether a particular word works in a lyric is a function of the execution in performance.  After all, Furry Lewis used the word "passionate" in a blues, Peg Leg Howell used "disobedient", Charley Turner used "despicable", et al.  There are many instances of musicians using words that are not bluesy.  Maybe it helps to think of whether "bittersweet religion" sounds like it's coming from the same narrative voice as the other verses.  To the extent that it jars the sense of narrative voice and flow, it may be problematic.

You're on a good track here, I think.  Lyrics are tough, tough, tough for me.  I think you are wise to take technical considerations of phrasing into account as you put them together, too.  It really can help avoid some problems down the line.
All best,
Johnm

Offline a2tom

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Re: Train Station Blues - lyrics I'm working on
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2005, 05:07:08 AM »
scansion - wow, had to look that one up! = "analysis of verse into metrical patterns".

Honestly, I'm not sure what "bittersweet religion" means exactly either.  The word religion is the one that bothers me more - doesn't really have the meaning I want, maybe I'm note sure what meaning I want there yet - at this point it just hit the meter exactly.  With bittersweet the idea is that something may feel really right and really wrong and the same time, part of the conflict of our narrator.  Funny that you guys keyed on that verse because it was a very recent and not terribly thought out addition.  And I think the whole verse is much more "modern" that most country blues lyrics and does sort of stand out.  This is a whole topic to me - why do contemporary words sound so bad in the country blues?  Or perhaps its just that "complicated" words don't generally work as well?

I do like the change to "that man" - gives a biting immediacy and literalness.  I'm not too concerned about rhyming - in the past it didn't rhyme, but when I rewrote the whole thing most verses actually fell into a rhyme.  Weak rhymes don't always seem to be that much of a problem in the blues (?)..

If I get a few minutes I'll try to post a verse of this with guitar.  It isn't performance ready - still struggling with it, but I bet I can get through a verse.  I think the "lords" might make more sense if you hear it - the emphasis is on the second sort of drawn out lord.

Thanks,

Tom

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