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That's the way the mop flops - Bernie, owner of the Nightshift Tavern, Bremerton

Author Topic: Furry Lewis Lyrics  (Read 25145 times)

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Offline frankie

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Furry Lewis Lyrics
« on: December 05, 2003, 05:44:31 PM »
I think I have most of this, but would welcome dissenting opinions.  You can hear the tune at:

 http://www.donegone.net/sounds/black_gipsy_blues.mp3

--
Black Gypsy Blues - Furry Lewis

My woman must be a black gypsy
Knows every place I go
Woman must be a black gypsy
She knows every place I go
She met me this morning
With a brand new .44

When you used to be my gypsy
Done just so and so
When you used to be my gypsy
You done just so and so
Now I got another baby
Can't use you no more

Eagle Rock me mama,
Sally Long me too
Eagle Rock me mama,
Sally Long me too
Ain't nobody in town
Can Eagle Rock like you

My woman got a mouth
Like a lighthouse in the sea
Woman got a mouth
Like a lighthouse in the sea
Every time she smiles
She shine her light on me

Had the blues all of '28
Lord and again in '29
Had the blues all of '28
And start again in '29
They tell me New York Central
Is a nickel plated line

Lord, I asked for cabbage
She brought me turnip greens
Asked for cabbage
She brought me turnip greens
I asked her for water
And she brought me gasoline
--

In the second verse:  "Done just so and so" - Sounds pretty clearly like what he says, but...  huh?

In the fifth verse:  "They tell me New York Central / Is a nickel plated line".  Again, I'm pretty sure that's what he's saying but.....

Offline Johnm

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Re:Black Gypsy Blues - Furry Lewis
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2003, 03:24:49 PM »
Hi Frank,
The lyrics seem dead on to me.  Perhaps the implication with "done just so and so" is that a lackluster performance inspired a search for somebody else.  Now that someone else has been found, "just so and so" won't cut it anymore.  "Nickel-plated line" is clearly what Furry says--a reference to the imagined wealth of the North?  
I had never heard the term "Sally Long" used before.  Very interesting because Sam McGee had an instrumental on his first Folkways record called "Sally Long", which is the closest thing to John Hurt's solo on "Candyman" that I have heard.  Sam's tune was an instrumental.
"Black Gypsy" is a lot like Furry's "Rock Island Blues" which I transcribed for the instructional video.  I found it to be one of the most difficult tunes I did for the videos in terms of getting the flow and forward rhythmic motion sounding natural.  It's really challenging stuff for me to play.
All best,
John    

Offline frankie

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Re:Black Gypsy Blues - Furry Lewis
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2003, 04:55:35 PM »
Quote
Perhaps the implication with "done just so and so" is that a lackluster performance inspired a search for somebody else.  Now that someone else has been found, "just so and so" won't cut it anymore.

That sounds good - I'm thinking that the first two verses are about the first (gypsy) woman.  Then, the next two verses show Furry singing the praises of his newfound love - can't back this up, but I remember the Eagle Rock as the name of a dance and something tells me Sally Long is too - neither would it surprise me that both of these were euphemisms for sex.  Not only does Furry's new woman have a lovely smile (lighthouse on the sea), but she's a great lover (go Furry!).

By the last verse, the new woman is maybe even worse than the gypsy woman - the new one is out to kill him!

Quote
"Nickel-plated line" is clearly what Furry says--a reference to the imagined wealth of the North?  

A little digging turned up that "Nickel Plate" was a nickname for the New York, Chicago, and St. Louis railroad in about 1882.  The NY, C & L (The Nickel Plate) eventually seems to have become part of the the New York Central about 1902 or so.  In 1916, NY Central sold the Nickel Plate, so by 1928, the NY Central was no longer a nickel-plated line...  weird...

References can be found here:

http://www.vmt.org/Collections/nkp_number763.htm
http://members.aol.com/ARHF/timeline.htm

Quote
I had never heard the term "Sally Long" used before.  Very interesting because Sam McGee had an instrumental on his first Folkways record called "Sally Long", which is the closest thing to John Hurt's solo on "Candyman" that I have heard.  Sam's tune was an instrumental.

Interesting - like I said before, my inner bluesman tells me that Sally Long was a dance, but I have nothing really to back it up.

Quote
"Black Gypsy" is a lot like Furry's "Rock Island Blues" which I transcribed for the instructional video.  I found it to be one of the most difficult tunes I did for the videos in terms of getting the flow and forward rhythmic motion sounding natural.  It's really challenging stuff for me to play.

It seems to me that the bass in Black Gypsy is a little more regular than Rock Island, where it seems to be in a more engaged dialogue with the treble.  It does have a very cool lick at the 12th fret that doesn't appear in Rock Island (or at least that I don't remember) that I like very much.  A lot of the licks are similar, though - it is challenging to play, especially to get the feel right.

Offline Johnm

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Furry Lewis--"Creeper's Blues"
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2005, 04:36:38 PM »
Hi all,
I posted about this song's accompaniment, in which Furry plays a slide fill in standard tuning, over on the Main Forum in the Slide Playing thread.  Perhaps even more remarkable than Furry's instrumental feat on this number are its lyrics, which are nutty even by Furry's exacting standards of nuttiness.
   
   I woke up this morning, I looked up against the wall (2)
   Roaches and the bedbugs playing a game of ball

   Score was twenty--nothing, the roaches was ahead (2)
   Roaches got to fightin' and kicked me out of bed

   Bedbugs so bad, pulled the pillow from under my head (2)
   They got a Winchester rifle and try to kill me dead

   When I woke up this morning, I looked down on the floor (2)
   Bedbug had been in my pocket and pulled out all my dough

   Mama, get your hatchet, kill the fly on your baby's head (2)
   Mama, get your hatchet and run here to my bed

   Please, bedbug, please, I done begged you twice (2)
   You done taken all my money now you want to take my life

Furry's accompaniment is extremely active behind his singing; in fact, what he is playing would be very sporting to play as an instrumental.  As an accompaniment for singing, it has seldom been equalled for complexity.  It is great to have such a high-concept accompaniment working in support of such a crazy lyric.  That's Furry, I guess.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Furry Lewis--"Creeper's Blues"
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2005, 02:16:06 AM »
I love that song, so surreal. I've always thought it apt that its first outing on LP should have been on a compilation entitled Frank Stokes' Dream. Bizarre thought processes at work, especially the verse about the fly which doesn't really seem to fit the bedbug theme. Wonder if it was intended as a parody of the 1927 Lonnie Johnson song which Lewis himself recorded that year.

Offline cmr

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lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2005, 11:49:17 PM »
Hi all,
Does anyone have the lyrics for Furry Lewis's "Dry Land Blues"? "  I've requested the song on the juke, but I have not be able to transcribe all the words.  Its a beautiful and subtle song.  Many thanks, Charlie R.

Yves

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2005, 01:38:25 AM »
As far as I remember they are on the "country blues" oak publication by S. Grossman

Offline MTJ3

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2005, 09:22:48 AM »
"Dry Land Blues"?
Furry Lewis (Memphis, TN, 28 August 1928)

I can look through muddy water, baby, and spy dry land.
If you don't want me, honey, let's take hand in hand.

I'm going so far, I can't hear your rooster crow.
I'm going so far, can't hear your rooster crow.?

This is my last time ever knocking at your door.
My last time ever knocking at your door.

[Instrumental break]

You won't cook me no dinner, baby, you won't iron me no clothes.
You won't do nothing but walk the Horn Lake Road.

Man, if you love your old woman better mess it in her cup.
So if she have not quit you, boy, won't leave you in tough luck.

[Instrumental break.]

Man, you can take my woman, but you ain't done nothing smart,
For I got more than one woman playing in my backyard.

Windstorm come and it blowed my house away.
I'm a good old boy, but I ain't got nowhere to stay.

And it's trouble here, and it's trouble everywhere.
So much trouble floating in the air.

[Instrumental break]

What you going to do when your trouble get like mine?
What you going to do your trouble get like mine?.

[Instrumental break]

Notes:

Verse 4. I have been unable to locate anything that sounds or looks like "Hornlick Road" on 1911 and 1920 maps of Memphis.? Bengt Olsson's transcription of the song in Memphis Blues does not resolve the meaning of this phrase, and he did field work there in 1969 and appears to have known Lewis.

Verse 5. Olsson transcribes "mess" as "measure." I am inclined to go along with that.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2005, 04:28:59 PM by MTJ3 »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2005, 10:00:42 AM »
I'm gratified to see that two phrases which have baffled the hell out of me for 35+ years are still doing the same today - the name of the road and what sounds like "mess it in a cup" which I've seen transcribed as "message in a cup" but possibly "measure it (i.e love) in a cup" makes more meaningful sense.

I always expect to hear an end line to that final verse of:

Take a mouthful of sugar and drink a bottle of turpentine

 :)

Offline MTJ3

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2005, 12:05:20 PM »
1.  I like "measure" better than "mess" because if you listen very carefully the final is, without going into the details, voiced as a "z" is rather than an "s," in which case something was more than likely elided from the end of the word, and "measure" makes some measure of (sorry) of sense for a couple of reasons.

2.  A cup is more than a spoonful.  Anyone interested can readily work out the rest of that metaphor themselves. 

Offline Rivers

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2005, 12:43:05 PM »
It's actually 98% probability "Horn Lake Road" which is apparently a major road in Memphis. We figured it out in a "Eureka" moment on the previous incarnation of the list. Further research showed it was reknowned for its, um, night life back in the day, hence she has to "walk the Horn Lake Road". Go here to see it:

http://www.google.com/maps?q=Horn+Lake+Rd,+Memphis,+TN+38109&spn=0.031123,0.101353&iwloc=A&hl=en

I'll see if I can find the original thread on the Yahoo list and post it here.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2005, 12:45:24 PM by Rivers »

Offline Slack

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2005, 01:16:22 PM »
Rivers is too modest, _he_ figured  out Horn Lake Road.... by googling 'sound alike' words from New Zealand!  It was a high moment in weeniedom.  :P

I've seen Horn Lake Raod in Memphis -- it is a major road.

Offline Rivers

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2005, 01:32:34 PM »
Of course the obvious question to ask is "and what were you doing in that part of town?"

Can't find that thread on the yahoo group. Strange.

Offline Slack

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2005, 02:49:51 PM »
Quote
Of course the obvious question to ask is "and what were you doing in that part of town?"

It was my birthday.   >:D

Offline MTJ3

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Re: lyrics for Dry Land Blues
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2005, 04:27:48 PM »
I think Rivers has nailed it.  Great ear, great work!  It would, therefore, be the road between Memphis and Horn Lake, MS, which in 1928 would likely have begun on the southern outskirts or at least in the southern suburbs.  See www.wdbj.net/shelby/goodspeed/history/history2.htm ("The Memphis & Horn Lake Road was chartered by W. L. Lundy, John Arnold, W. Mathews, H. D. Small and S. Bailey on January 28, 1854, with a capital stock of $50,000.")  I will emend the transcription according.