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Don't listen for the changes, feel for the changes - Muddy Waters

Author Topic: Robert Wilkins Lyrics  (Read 13022 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« on: January 04, 2006, 03:44:18 PM »
[NOTE: This thread has been created by merging existing threads dealing with Wilkins lyrics - UB]

Hi all,
I had occasion to listen to "New Stockyard Blues" recently after a long lay-off and realized that I really like this song.  It is one of Robert Wilkins's later early recordings, done in 1935, with Little Son Joe on second guitar and "Kid Spoons" on spoons.  Lyrically, it amounts to a testimonial or advertisement, along the lines of Sleepy John Estes's "Brownsville Blues" or Smokey Babe's "Hottest Brand Goin'".  For whatever reason, I particularly like all of these songs where bluesmen are touting their friends or places of employment.  Wilkins' phrasing is inventive, as always; he squashes a tremendous number of words over the first four bars of the 12-bar form, and then splits the repetition of the line he's already sung between the two remaining four-bar phrases.  There are no instrumental fireworks here:  both guitars sound to be played out of A position in standard tuning in the "boom-chick" style, whether flat-picked or not.  That having been said, the very strong ''straight-up-and-down" sound of Wilkins's timing here is terrific, as is his vocal.  This song would make a great vocal duet, too.



   Listen here, men, what I got to say, Monday 'nd Tuesday's auction day, said
   Listen here, men, what I got to say
   Monday and Tuesday's Mr. Owens' auction day

   Get your money in your hand and don't be long, can't buy from a better man than Mr. Owens
   Get your money in your hand and don't be long
   Can't buy from a better man than Mr. Owens

   He's the man that sells, he's the man that buys, I bet you my life he will treat you right
   He's the man that sells, and he's the man that buys
   I bet you my life that he will treat you right

   When you wake up Monday morning with the Stockyard Blues, come and talk to Mr. Owens about his good-looking mules
   When you wake up Monday morning with those Stockyard Blues
   Come and talk to Mr. Owens about his good-looking mules

   SPOKEN:  [Wilkins]  Come on, men.  C'mon, buy these mules!  Ah, bid on that mare, don't it look good?  [little Son Joe]  Yeah, I know it do!

   I know he's good, he's nice and kind, have a talk with him before you starts a-buyin'
   I know he's good, I know he's nice and kind
   Have a talk with him before you starts a-buyin'

   The Union Stockyard's a good place to go, not for so much talk but to spend your dough
   The Union Stockyard is a good place to go
   Not for so much talk, but to spend your dough

   I want you to understand every word I say, Monday and Tuesday's auction day
   I want you to understand every word I said
   That Monday and Tuesday's Mr. Owens' auction day

   I want all of you men to meet me there, speak to Mr. Kelly, he's the auctioneer
   I want all of you men to meet me there
   And speak to Mr. Kelly, he's the auctioneer.

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:29:46 AM by Johnm »

Offline Montgomery

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Re: Robert Wilkins' "New Stock Yard Blues"
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2006, 02:06:12 PM »
This song may be underrated due to its exlusion from the Yazoo CD.  Like his other '35 recordings, the music is less idiosyncratic than usual for Wilkins, due probably to the band setting, but like you said, the vocal is very inventive.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Wilkins' "New Stock Yard Blues"
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2006, 11:54:40 AM »
Lyrically, it amounts to a testimonial or advertisement, along the lines of Sleepy John Estes's "Brownsville Blues" or Smokey Babe's "Hottest Brand Goin'". 
Possibly a testimonial? He told Dick Spottswood that he worked for a period as a "stockyard clerk" (p. 5, Blues Unlimited 13, July 1964).

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins' "New Stock Yard Blues"
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2006, 01:26:16 AM »
Good on you, Bunker Hill!  I had wondered why Wilkins was touting this establishment.  It sounds like he was trying to drum up some business for his boss.  You've got to love any song that talks about "good-looking mules".
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Wilkins' "New Stock Yard Blues"
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2006, 11:38:30 AM »
You've got to love any song that talks about "good-looking mules".
I've resurrected this because a week ago the subject of this song was raised on Mary Katherine Aldin's pre-war discussion forum and David Evans came up with this concerning the 'Owen' named by Wilkins which, in itself, makes clear the relevance of the reference to mules:

I checked the 1930 and 1935 Memphis City Directory.  In 1930 Owen Bros. Mule Co. was located at 1179 Stock Yards.  These were to the south of W. McLemore Ave., west of Kansas St. (thus near the Mississippi River).  Oren Owen was listed as general manager, residing in the Chisca Hotel (South Main and Linden) with wife Hortense.  In 1935 Oren and Hortense were living at 1371 Gaither Parkway, and he was the general manager of Owen Bros. Horse and Mule Commission Co. located at 1157 Stock Yards.  I couldn't find any brothers under the name Owen connected with this company.  (Maybe he or they had died or withdrawn before 1930.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins' "New Stock Yard Blues"
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2006, 05:51:00 PM »
Thanks Bunker Hill, for passing the info on the Owens Bros. establishment along.  It's great the way the context of the song is enriched by the harder information, sort of like seeing the Conoco station where Smokey Babe worked, that had the "hottest brand goin'".
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2008, 07:23:40 AM »
JohnM's recent mention of Long Train Blues in another thread had me listening to that song recently and when I came back to WeenieCampbell to browse other Wilkins discussions, I realized we did not have a thread for Wilkins lyrics. Since Wilkins is a favourite among many of us, this seems like it needs rectification. There are a couple songs transcribed in individual threads, which I'll either copy or merge here.

Here's what I have for Long Train Blues, which I could have sworn we transcribed previously. The last line of the song in particular rings a bell from previous discussions, but try as I might, I cannot turn up anything in searches.




Long Train Blues - Robert Wilkins

C position

She walked down the yard, caught the longest train she seen
She walked down the yard, caught the longest train she seen
Said she'd ride, she'd ride till the blues way off her be

It's two bullyin' freight trains runnin' side by side
It's two bullyin' freight trains runnin' side by side
They done stole my rider and I guess they satisfied

They rode in the Delta, kept on easin' by
They rode in the Delta, kept on easin' by
Know I feel just like she has said her last goodbye

Friend, she won't write, she won't telephone
Friend, she won't write, she won't telephone
Makes me believe to my soul my rider calls that gone

But if I had wings, friend, like Noah's dove*
Well, if I had wings, friend, like Noah's dove
I would raise and fly, God knows, where my lover was

I lay down at night, I can't sleep at all
I lay down at night, I can't sleep at all
Awful lyin' there wondering if someone rollin' in her arms

Lays my head on my pillow, friend, it be's too high
Laid my head on my pillow, friend, and it be's too high
Take it down, lay me level, I'm gettin' sick and 'bout to die

* pronounced "Norah"

edited to pick up suggestions from dj
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:31:04 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2008, 07:39:09 AM »
Wilkins recorded "Alabama Blues" c. 23 September 1929 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, as he did "Long Train Blues". It's one of his raggy numbers played in C position. I love the way the guitar part takes a weird turn with the dissonance he gets travelling up the neck towards the end of the form. As always, corrections welcome.



Alabama Blues - Robert Wilkins
C position

I'll tell you, girl, I'm gonna tell you now
If you don't want me, please don't dog me around
If you don't want me, don't dog me around

My home ain't here, it's in most any old town
My home ain't here, it's in most any old town
My home ain't here, it's most any old town

I'm goin' up on the mountain and look down on the sea
Saw a bullyin' alligator, she was doin' that shivaree
Saw a bullyin' alligator doin' the shivaree

Tell me, friend, ever since that bullyin' Stack been made
Kansas City, Missouri, has been her regular trade
Kansas City, Missouri, been her regular trade

The Kate's in the bend, the Stack is turnin' around and 'round
The stern wheel knockin', friend, I'm Alabama bound
The stern wheel knockin', I'm Alabama bound

My mama told me, an' old papa told me, too
Said, "Brownskin women, son, gonna be the death of you"
Said, "Brownskin women, gonna be the death of you"

I told mama last night, friends, and papa the night before
"If brownskin women kill me, mama, let me go"
"If brownskin women kill me, mama, let me go"

When I leave you that time, mama, I won't be back no more
When I leave you that time, mama, I won't be back no more
When I leave that time, mama, won't be back no more

I ain't comin' back here to worry you and papa so
I won't be back here to worry you and papa so
I won't be back here to worry you and papa so

I walked off and left my mother standing in the floor
She's cryin' to me, "Son, please son, don't you go"
She's cryin' to me, "Son, please don't you go"
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:31:51 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2008, 08:00:16 AM »
Uncle Bud,

I think the last line of the first verse of "Long Train Blues" is:

"Said she'd ride, she'd ride till the blues way off her be"

I think the last line of the fourth verse is correct as you have it.

Offline doctorpep

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2008, 12:09:24 PM »
Isn't it "till the Blues wear off of me"?  That's what I hear. Uncle Bud, you're right about "Norah". Every Blues singer I've ever heard pronounces "Noah" that way.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 12:10:38 PM by doctorpep »
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2008, 08:18:18 AM »
Wilkins recorded "I'll Go With Her Blues" 21 February, 1930. He played it out of D position. I remember after JohnM's Robert Wilkins instructional video came out, quite a few folks were plunking out the guitar part at Port Townsend, which is fun to play; don't recall anyone actually singing it though. Sure is some great singing from Wilkins. The 3rd verse is a problem. Help needed.



I'll Go With Her - Robert Wilkins

I'll go with her, I'll follow her, I will, to her buryin' place
I'll go with her, I'll follow her, I will, to her buryin' place

Hang my head and cry, friend, I will, mmmm as she passed away
Hang my head and cry, friend, I will, as she passed away

I cried yonder she go, friend, please run, try to call her back
I cried yonder she go, friend, please run, tried to call her back

'Cause that sure is one woman I did mmmm love and like
For that sure is one woman I did, I did love and like

I believe I'll go home, friend, and do this, dress myself in black
I believe I'll go home, friend, and do this, dress myself in black

Show to the world I wants her but I can't mmmmm get her back
Show to the world I wants her but I can't, I can't get her back

Every time I hear that lonesome mmmmm church bell ring
Every time I hear that lonesome church bell ring

Makes me think about that song my baby used to sing
Makes me think about that song my baby used to sing

Mmmmm, Lord have mercy on me


edited for corrections from banjochris
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:32:42 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2008, 12:13:07 PM »
Uncle Bud, that missing bit in the third verse is

I cried yonder she go, friend

Yonder's more like yon', tho.
Chris

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2008, 12:42:50 PM »
Thanks, Chris, that's great.

Offline frankie

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2008, 06:11:27 PM »
'Cause that sure is one woman I did mmmm love and like
For that sure is one woman I did, I did love and like

I think this line is exactly the way it sounds:

'Cause that sure is one woman I did mmmm love and lack
For that sure is one woman I did, I did love and lack

The sense of the word here seems to mean "miss when she's gone."  Ramblin' Thomas uses it in the same sense in Sawmill Moan.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2008, 09:52:33 PM »
Hi Frank,
I'm dubious of the "love and lack" interpretation.  I've never heard anyone say that they "lacked" another person--missed them, yes, or wanted them, but a person is not something that you lack.  In the context of the song, the woman in question is not one that was lacked in the past, in any event, but was the partner of the singer.  I think the line makes a nice distinction between someone you may love, but not like, or vice versa, and the deceased, whom the singer both loved and liked.
All best,
Johnm 

 


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