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One of my regrets is I never did get to record Scrapper and Shirley playing together, and they played very, very well together - Art Rosenbaum talks about Scrapper Blackwell and Shirley Griffith, Big Road Blues radio show, January 2010

Author Topic: Robert Wilkins Lyrics  (Read 12969 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #30 on: April 05, 2012, 07:56:39 PM »
It's on the "Masters of Memphis Blues" set on JSP, Mark, and also on the Wilkins on Document, DOCD-5014.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #31 on: April 05, 2012, 08:01:16 PM »
Thanks, I will seek it out.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #32 on: April 05, 2012, 09:14:41 PM »
Hi all,
I was listening to Robert Wilkins' "Black Rat Blues" today, and it sounded like he sang "kill" at the end of the first line of the first verse, and changed it to "live" at the end of the second line of the first verse.  If anyone cares to give it a listen, I'd be interested to hear how you're hearing it.

I'm still hearing "live" clearly at the end of the first two lines.
Chris

Offline banjochris

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2012, 09:18:10 PM »
Thought I would post one we didn't have, the great "Falling Down Blues." It's one of my favorites, played out of D position and somewhat similar to "I'll Go With Her," at least the guitar part is. Some weird emotions going on in this one, plus some very peculiar divisions of the vocal line. The commas indicate who he's addressing, not necessarily where he's pausing.



Falling Down Blues

I'm tired of standing on the long lonesome road
I'm tired of standing on the long lonesome road
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and got nowhere to go.

It's fer down the road, friend, as I can see
It's fer down the road, friend, as I can see,
See the woman I love standing, waving after me.

I run to her, friend, fell down at her knee,
I run to her, friend, fell down at her knee,
Crying take me back baby, God knows if you please.

If you don't believe, girl, I'll treat you right,
If you don't believe, girl, I'll treat you right,
Come and walk with me down to my loving shack tonight.

I'll certainly treat you just like you was white,
I'll certainly treat you just like you was white,
That don't satisfy you, girl, I'll take your life.

I love you, girl, I will tell the world I do,
I love you, girl, I will tell the world I do,
And that's the reason you treat me like you do.

But go 'head, girl, that will be all right for you,
But go 'head, girl, that will be all right for you,
I will meet you someday when you down in hard luck too.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:39:24 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #34 on: December 06, 2012, 10:57:59 AM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins recorded "Jail House Blues" on September 8, 1928 in Memphis, the same day he recorded "I Do Blues".  I believe he played both songs out of the EAEGBE tuning, though pitched at D.  He opens with a beautiful solo in which the guitar sounds like it is weeping.  Once he starts singing, his time-keeping is so perfect and "simple"; simple to hear and respond to, yes, but simple to emulate, not so much.  His lyrics are so striking, especially taken in conjunction with his vocal delivery, that he has the effect, for me, of making most other people sound like they're just fooling around.



Ah, look like I can see trouble in the air
Ah, look like I can see trouble in the air
But ain't only here, friend, it's trouble everywhere

Now I wished I'd listened at what my Mother said
Now I wished I'd listened at what my Mother said
I wouldn't have been bound down in this trouble today

Now, I'm lying in jail with my face turned to the wall
Now I'm lying in jail with my face turned to the wall
And that woman I love, friend, she was the cause of it all

Now, the judge gonna sentence me and the clerk's gon' write it down
Now, the judge gonna sentence me and the clerk's gon' write it down
Tell me they 'cused me of stealin', now I'm fixin' to leave your town

I got something to tell you just before I go
I got something to tell you just before I go
Gettin' out of trouble this time, woman, I won't do wrong no more

Ah, the judge gon' give me six months on the road
Ah, the judge gon' give me six months on the road
Woman, I can't stand it, God in Heaven do know it

But I don't mind goin', I'm goin' and leave you here
But I don't mind goin', I'm goin' and leave you here
These men gon' mistreat you, God knows they don't care

I'm gonna tell you this, just before I go
I'm gonna tell you this, just before I go
When I come back here, woman, you gon' have me some more

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:40:19 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2012, 01:24:10 PM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins recorded "Get Away Blues" at a session in Memphis on February 21, 1930, accompanying himself out of A position in standard tuning.  The song is one that very much has the "Hernando A" sound discussed in the following thread:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=3474.0 .  Robert Wilkins' propensity for coming up with original phrasing and composition models for his blues has been noted before.  For "Get Away Blues" he came up with a form that looks like a straight 12-bar blues if you simply read the lyrics, but in the hearing of it, he comes up with a one-off with regard to his phrasing, which works like this.  Assume four beats per measure, unless otherwise noted.

   |    A    |    A    |    A    |    A    |    A (6 beats) |

   |A(6 beats)|    A    |    A    |    A    |
                 | | |     |
   |   D7   |  D7     A|   A (6 beats)  |
Perhaps surprisingly, Robert Wilkins does end up with a 12-bar form, but one in which:
   * The three phrases are progressively five measures, four measures, and three measures long, with a 6-beat measure at the tail end of the first and third phrase and at the beginning of the second phrase.
   * There is no V chord at all
   * The IV7 chord resolves back to I on the fourth beat of the second measure of the third phrase.
   * He phrases to break his lines up after a pronoun in the middle of the line, rather than before the pronoun.
For two of Robert Wilkins' last verses, he goes long in the first phrase, ending up with six measures, each of four beats.  In those instances, he perseverates on a lick, "thriving on a riff".
Wilkins' lyrics are masterful, as usual, and the way he switches from recounting what happened to just saying what he said to his partner is especially effective.  Look for this one if you haven't heard it, or haven't heard it in a while.



I walked down to the station, fold my troubled arms
I walked down to the station, fold my troubled arms
Walked and asked that agent, "Has that train done gone?"

I looked down the track I, seed it in the bend
I looked down the track I, seed it in the bend
Walked and bought me a ticket, all for me and my friend

Told her, "Come on, woman, let us board this train."
Told her, "Come on, woman, let us board this train.
Right here while we get away from your man."

"Woman, you just tell me:  Do you want to go?
Woman, you just tell me:  Do you want to go?
I take you somewhere you, never been before."

"Then I'll give you silver, give you paper and gold.
Then I'll give you silver, give you paper and gold.
I'll give you anything will satisfy your weary soul."

"Woman, if I don't love you, I don't love myself.
Woman, if I don't love you, I don't love myself.
You did something to me I, ain't gon' tell nobody else."

Edited 12/7 to pick up corrections from banjochris

All best,
Johnm     
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:41:07 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2012, 05:58:04 PM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins recorded "That's No Way To Get Along" at a session in Memphis on September 23, 1929, accompanying himself out of Vestapol tuning.  If you've heard this song, you don't need me to tell you how strong it is--it's time capsule stuff, really as good as anything the style has to offer.  Robert Wilkins re-worked the song as Reverend Robert Wilkins, and recorded it more than once as "The Prodigal Son", from the biblical tale, and keeping the same refrain.  His live version from the Newport Folk Festival, with a long spoken intro, is truly epic.



I'm goin' home, friend, set down
And tell my, ah, Mama
Friend, set down, tell my Ma
I'm goin' home, set down and tell my Ma
I'm goin' home, set down and tell my Ma
That that's no way to get along

These low-down, women, Mama
They treated your, ow, poor son wrong
Mama, treated me wrong
These low-down women, Mama, treated your poor son wrong
These low-down women, Mama, treated your poor son wrong
And that's no way for him to get along

They treated me, like my poor heart
Was made of, a rock of stone
Mama, made of a rock of stone
Treated me like my poor heart was made of a rock of stone
Treated me like my poor heart was made of a rock of stone
And that's no way for me to get along

You know that, was enough, Mama
To make your son, wished he's dead and gone
Mama, wished I's dead and gone
That is enough make your son, Mama, wished he's dead and gone
That is enough make your son, Mama, wished he's dead and gone
'Cause that's no way for him to get along

I stood on, the roadside
I cried alone, all by myself
I cried alone, by myself
I stood on the roadside and cried alone by myself
I stood on the roadside and cried alone by myself
Cryin', "That's no way for me to get along."

I's wantin' some, train to come along
And take me, away from here
Friend, take me away from here
Some train come along and take me away from here
Some train come along and take me away from here
And that be new way for me to get along

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:41:49 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #37 on: December 07, 2012, 09:47:21 AM »
Couple of small suggestions on "Get Away," John --

3.3 I think is "Right here WHILE we..."
and
5.3 I think is "I'll give you ANYTHING WILL satisfy..."


A few years ago I sat down and really learned this tune, which is not terribly difficult to play except for that middle line -- it took me a lot of concentration to be able to sing and play that part together. Unfortunately I let it slip out of my "rotation" so I need to go back and learn it again.

One of the greatest things about Wilkins I think is that he takes ideas and licks that sound like they should be simple (and often are when played instrumentally) and then combines them with his vocals in quirky ways. "I'll Go With Her" is not super difficult to execute instrumentally, but add the vocal and you're talking about a very different proposition. This tune, "Rolling Stone" and "I Do" I think all have that going on.

Another unusual thing about this song, I think, is that it's one of the few blues songs with a real dramatic climax. Here it's at the end of the third verse and that riff he plays after "get away from your man" again is simple in concept but not the easiest thing to do and have it sound clean and consistent. What a great performer and songwriter.

Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #38 on: December 07, 2012, 10:31:08 AM »
Thanks very much for the catches, Chris--they were right on the money when I re-listened and scrutinized a bit more carefully.  I very much share your admiration for the way Wilkins worked with his compositional materials and integrated his vocal and guitar parts.  I see what you mean about the second line in "Get Away Blues"; he has that little "dwell" in the guitar part where it almost stops for an instant.  I think making that kind of hesitation a part of an arrangement shows a great deal of confidence on Wilkins' part in his own sense of time.  If you can feel where things stand with regard to the pulse in the midst of hesitations and pauses, there's no need to have some aspect of the accompaniment hammering away at the pulse all the time.  It's there whether you play it or not.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #39 on: December 07, 2012, 02:25:26 PM »
"I'll Go With Her" is not super difficult to execute instrumentally, but add the vocal and you're talking about a very different proposition. This tune, "Rolling Stone" and "I Do" I think all have that going on.

That's for sure. I've taken cracks at all three...  I think "I'll Go With Her" was most intimidating to me in that respect. The instrumentation, I'm pretty sure, can be described as a 12-bar blues (although not quite a standard one - John must have described this better somewhere), but man, is the vocal ever NOT! wow!

Another unusual thing about this song, I think, is that it's one of the few blues songs with a real dramatic climax. Here it's at the end of the third verse and that riff he plays after "get away from your man" again is simple in concept but not the easiest thing to do and have it sound clean and consistent. What a great performer and songwriter.

Agreed on all points, for sure.  Good on you for working it out, Chris. Would love to hear you do it! Would love to do it myself, too!  One of these days...  just crazy about this one.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #40 on: December 07, 2012, 03:55:52 PM »
You're certainly right about "I'll Go With Her", Frank--a 12-bar blues in two 6-bar phrases, you don't see that every day!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #41 on: December 07, 2012, 04:09:25 PM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins recorded "Police Sergeant Blues" in Memphis on or around February 21, 1930, accompanying himself out of C position in standard tuning.  This song, along with "Alabama Blues" and "Long Train Blues" comprises the dancey portion of Robert Wilkins' early solo recorded repertoire.  "Police Sergeant Blues" has always struck me as sounding like a children's song, both in its sing-songy melody and it's taunting, "I ain't a-skeered of you" refrain.  Like Mance Lipscomb and Bo Carter, on occasion, Robert Wilkins wasn't strict about hitting chord tones in the bass as he played this song;  he goes for the melody in the treble and keeps the bass sounding with whatever comes easily to hand.



I'm gon' tell you, baby tell you now
If you don't want me you don't have to dog me around, because
REFRAIN: That old girl's mad with me, friend, but I don't care
'Cause that old girl's mad with me, friend, but I don't care

Oh, look ov' yonder, baby, what I see
A police and a sergeant, baby is comin' after me, because
REFRAIN: That old girl's mad with me, friend, but I don't care

I'm gon' tell you that s'poseded to take the ride
When you see me goin', baby, hang your head and cry, because
REFRAIN: That old girl is mad with me, friend, but I don't care

I'm gon' tell the judge I know that I done wrong
You gon and get some lawyer to come and go my bond, because
REFRAIN: That old girl is mad with me, friend, but I don't care

I know the judge is going to give me thirty long days
I made it up in my mind, babe, to go and stay, because
REFRAIN: That old girl is mad with me, friend, but I don't care

SOLO

I'm goin' out said, work out my time
Because the girl I love, she's not got a dime, oh
REFRAIN: That old girl is mad with me, friend, but I don't care

SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:43:15 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #42 on: December 08, 2012, 10:22:57 AM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins recorded "Old Jim Canaan's" at a session in Jackson, Mississippi on October 12, 1935, accompanying himself out of G position in standard tuning, and was joined on the session by Son Joe on second guitar, also playing out of G position, and "Kid Spoons" on spoons.  I believe the historical character whose establishment is referenced in the song was named Jim Kinane.  Son Joe provides really propulsive flat-picked boom-chang accompaniment. 
The song is unusual in it chorus/verse set-up.  The full chorus goes like so:

   |    IV7    |    IV7    |    V7    |    I    |

   |    IV7    |    IV7    |    V7    |    I    |

   |    IV7    |    IV7    |    V7    |    I    |

   |    IV7    |    IV7    |    V7    |    I    |

The verse rocks back and forth between V7 and I.  Each of the two solos is preceded by the first two lines of the chorus which then move into a transition from IV7 to a long vamp on V7 before resolving to I:

   |    IV7    |    IV7    |    V7    |    V7    |

   |    V7     |     V7     |    V7    |    V7    |

   |    V7     |     V7     |    V7     |   V7    |

   |    V7     |     V7     |      I     |     I      |

The song has a great cut-time, two-step dance feel, and could almost certainly be converted into a rocking Zydeco number.  It is an action-packed 2:54 of music, and Robert Wilkins fits in a lot of lyrics.



CHORUS: I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's
I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's

I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd stand on the corner and wave my hand
Then if you don't b'lieve that I'm a drinkin' man
Just, baby, stop by here with your beer can, because

CHORUS: I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's

SOLO

CHORUS: I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's
I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's

I'm going uptown, buy me Coke and beer
Comin' back then, tell you how these women is
They drink their whiskey, drink their Coke and gin
When you don't play the dozens, they will ease you in, still

CHORUS: I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's

SOLO

CHORUS: I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's
I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's
I'd take my babe back to old Jim Canaan's

These men and women runnin' hand in hand
Going to and fro, to old Jim Canaan's
Drinking their whiskey, sniffin' cocaine
That's the reason why I wished I's back at old Jim Canaan's

I wished I was back at old Jim Canaan's

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:44:03 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2012, 10:42:05 PM »
Hi all,
Robert Wilkins recorded "Dirty Deal Blues" in Jackson, Mississippi on October 10, 1935, and was joined by Son Joe on second guitar and "Kid Spoons" on spoons for the song.  This song is a real vocal showpiece, and Robert Wilkins comes through with one of his most impassioned vocals.  The trio had beautiful straight-up-and-down time, and it sounds like both guitarists were working out of G position in standard tuning, though Son Joe may have been playing out of A position.  I would very much appreciate help with the first half of the tagline to the last verse.  I've never understood what Robert Wilkins was saying there.



Early one morning, baby, something was all on my mind
Early one morning, baby, something was all on my mind
Oh, I was thinkin' about my welfare, and I just couldn't keep from cryin'

Oh, cried one time, mama, your daddy ain't gonna cry no more
Oh, cried one time, mama, your daddy ain't gonna cry no more
Lord, I made up in my mind, pretty mama, honey, it's, Great God, let you go

Good-bye, pretty mama, oh baby, fare thee well
Good-bye, pretty mama, oh baby, fare thee well
Lord, I'm afraid to meet you in that other world somewhere

Oh baby, I'm so glad that this whole round world do know
Oh baby, I'm so glad that this whole round world do know
That every living creature, mmm, reap just what they sow

SOLO

That's the reason why you hear me cryin', "Lord, please have mercy on me."
That's the reason why you hear me cryin', "Lord, please have mercy on me."
Because I don't want my woman, mmmm, reap no bad seed

That's the reason why I keep on tellin' her, papa tell her 'bout her dirty deeds
That's the reason why I keep on tellin' her, papa tell her 'bout her dirty deeds
Because, since you're glad of who you are, babe, man, my woman'll reap rotten seed

Edited 12/11 to pick up correction from dj

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:44:44 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Robert Wilkins Lyrics
« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2012, 10:50:22 AM »
Hi, John,

I think the last line of Dirty Deal Blues is "Because SINCE YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE, BABE , maybe my woman will reap rotten seeds"

 


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