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Preacher told me God'll forgive a black man most anything he do. I ain't black, but I'm dark complexioned - J.T. Funny Papa Smith, Howlin' Wolf Blues

Author Topic: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics  (Read 13899 times)

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Offline GhostRider

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J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« on: March 15, 2006, 12:34:55 PM »
Howdy:

I am such a fan of Funny Papa Smith, a guitarist and singer out of Oklahoma who recorded 22 sides 1930-31 and more (all unreleased) in 1935.

FPS was a great, great composer of original blues lyrics and a terrific singer, with great phrasing (necessary to sing the word-rich verses he was so fond of composing).

As well he was a very inventive guitar player with a terrific flair for improvisation, especially in the Key of A Standard.

FPS's first recording was the two sided "Howling Wolf Blues", recorded in Sept., 1930. From what I've read this was a significant hit and gave FPS the nickname the Howlin' Wolf (long before that-other-guy grabbed the nickname).

Howling Wolf Blues - No. 1
1930
Standard Tuning, Key of A
Capo I (Bb)

Spoken Intro:
Well, here I am, got the blues about little old Victoria, the Howlin' Wolf.
Guess I'll drop a few lines.

1) I'm that wolf that everybody been tryin' to find out where in the world I prowl (x2)
Nobody ever gets a chance to see me, but they all hear me when I howl

2) (Now) I howl to my baby with her mother standing by her side (x2)
And that's the reason I'm howlin', I'm tryin' to be satisfied.

3) I even prowled for you baby, when you was down and couldn't stand up on your feet (x2)
Now you walk by the Lone Wolf and act like you don't want to speak

4) What made you quit me (baby), I love you and I did three years ago. (x2)
Take me back and I'll quit prowlin' and I won't ever howl no more.

5)(Aww) Preacher told me (that) God would give a black man most anything he do (x2)
I ain't black but I'm dark complexioned, look like He ought to forgive me too.

6) (Looks, Seems) like God don't treat me like I'm a human kind. (x2)
Seems like he wants me to be a prowler and a Howlin' Wolf all the time.

Coda

Alex
« Last Edit: March 20, 2006, 01:36:13 PM by Pyrochlore »

Offline GhostRider

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Howling Wolf Blues #2
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2006, 01:02:42 PM »
Hi:

The other side of FPS's first release is:

Howling Wolf Blues - No. 2
1930
Standard tuning, Key of A
Capo I (Bb)

Instrumental introduction

1) Baby here I am, down on my bended knee (x2)
Ask you take me back and forgive me, do that for me if you please.

2) (And) When you hear me howlin' mama, (I mean) howlin' at your door (x2)
Come on and give me what I want, mama, then you won't hear me howl no more.

3) Ever since you quit me me mama I ain't wanted nobody else (x2)
'Fore I'd rather be with nobody than I'd rather be howlin' by myself.

4) (Now) I done howled and howled 'till I (wore, made) my tonsils sore (x2)
And when I howl this time mama, I never will howl no more.

5) (Now) Here I am in Chicago, doin' the best I can (x2)
If I hear from my baby, I like to fool and go howlin' back south again.

6) Ahhhh, mama listen at me howl. (x2)
Watch the roads dark at night and you liable to see me prowl.

Coda

Love that last line!

Alex
« Last Edit: March 20, 2006, 01:36:48 PM by Pyrochlore »

Offline GhostRider

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Heart Bleeding Blues
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2006, 02:06:08 PM »
Felicitations:

Funny Papa Smith recorded "Heart Bleeding Blues" the day after he recorded "Howling Wolf Blues"

This is an incredibly sharp saga of heartbreak and despair. The last two verses remind me of Lonnie Johnson-type evil woman tunes.

Heart Bleeding Blues
1930
Standard tuning, Key of C
Capo I (C#)

Instrumental introduction

1) My heart is bleeding (baby) and it's all on account of you. (x2)
And your the one who stopped the bleeding, what in the world are you going to do?

2) (Baby) You told me that you love me (and, 'cus I know) you have been nice and kind. (x2)
And I've asked the Lord above me to change your evil mind.

3) No one knows how much trouble and how much help they need (x2)
Until the woman they love foresakes them and leave them with a heart to bleed.

4) Ever since I found you, I loved you from the start (x2)
'Cus I know you can't see me bleedin' 'cus I'm bleedin' down in my heart.

5) If my heart keep on bleedin' I'll buy me a shotgun and some shells (x2)
Anywhere I find you and your lover that's where we all three falls in Hell.

6) All I've got to do is kill you and go off and hide somewhere (x2)
I know your going straight to hell, I hope to meet you over there.

Coda

Dark!

Alex
« Last Edit: October 20, 2006, 10:17:27 AM by GhostRider »

Online Johnm

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2006, 04:15:59 PM »
Hi Alex,
Good on you for getting the ball rolling with J. T. Smith's lyrics!  As we've often observed, he was an exceptionally strong and inventive lyricist.  I'm particularly a fan of "Fool's Blues" and "Seven Sisters Blues", which has some really creepy verses.  Keep up the good work!
All best,
Johnm

Offline GhostRider

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Good Coffee Blues
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2006, 03:26:42 PM »
Greetings:

J.T. Smith recorded "Good Coffee Blues" the same day as "Heart Bleeding Blues"; this was the last song he recorded at this first "session" (he would return to the studio 5 weeks later).

"Good Coffee Blues" is double (single) entendre tune with lots of grindin'. As Slack would say, one for the wimin.

FPS usual good diction falls down a bit here and there and some of these lyrics I can't get. Help would be appreciated.

Good Coffee Blues
1930
Standard tuning, Key of D
Slightly sharp.

Instrumental introduction.

1) (I) Heard you say this mornin', (mama), that your head was throbbin' through and through. (x2)
Come on let me make you some coffee, let me show you what my cof' 'ill do.

2) Pull off your house shoes mama (and) lay down on the bed. (x2)
I won't be but a few minutes w'I'll kill that old headache dead.

3) Don't rise, take your time lady, go down easy 'n' slow (x2)
Then when you have a headache again, come back to me baby and I'll give you some more.

4) Instrumental verse
Spoken: Your coffee-grindin' papa's in town. Lord that good coffee.

5) Now  Folger makes coffee, Maxwell makes coffee, White Swan makes coffee, Arbuckle he makes coffee.
But I make coffee so good, it will make you bite your tongue.
Been all over the world grindin' coffee mama, come on let me grind you some.

6) (Now) When your friend want coffee (please) send (all) your friends to me (x2)
I swear I give them good coffee and won't give 'em no rotten tea.

Coda

FPS was obviously no Englishman.

Alex

Note: Editted to reflect dj and BJ comments below.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2007, 08:39:08 PM by uncle bud »

Offline GhostRider

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Hard Luck Man Blues
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2006, 01:32:23 PM »
Salut:

"Hard Luck Man Blues" is the only surviving track (why would someone record only 1 song) recorded in early November 1930.

The guitar reminds me of some of Big Bill Broonzy's work in E, especially over the IV chord.

This is the second tune in a row where FPS includes a "list" in one verse (here verse 5), rather than a repeated first stanza. He did the same thing in the 5th verse of "Good Coffee Blues". Sort of a vocal bridge.

Hard Luck Man Blues
1930

Standard tuning, Key of E
Capo I (F)

Instrumental introduction

1) I'm a hard luck man, I don't see the reason why. (x2)
I'm like a broken-hearted woman, can't do nothing but wring my hands and cry.

2) Hello Mr. Trouble, please tell me what have I done. (x2)
When you ain't got me in trouble you turn me over to your hard luck son.

3) I've got a woman in Seymour, one in Tyler, (don't) you know I'm feelin' blue (x2)
I've got to leave but I'm in jail now on Chicago Avenue

4) I'm a hard luck man, I've been in hard luck so long. (x2)
Anyway it seems now seem like I'll be in hard luck from now on.

5) I've been in jail in Texas, been in jail in Alabama, been in jail in Louisiana, been in jail in Indiana.
Actin' a fool about women, goin' jail down in Tennessee.
But the Chicago Avenue jail is too much jail for me.

6)I'm free one more time (and) I'm going to write to my best girlfriend. (x2)
And tell her 'bout all my troubles, jailhouses I've been in.

Boy that would have been a fun lettre to read.

Alex

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: January 31, 2007, 10:37:05 AM by GhostRider »

Offline dj

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2006, 02:06:49 PM »
Hi, Alex,

Great thread, thanks!  Might I suggest for verse 2 of Good Coffee Blues...

Pull off your high shoes mama, (and) lay down on the bed,
I won't be but a few minutes, w'I'll kill that old headache dead.

...where w'I'll is a contraction of "well I'll".

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2006, 02:28:24 PM »
Hi Alex,
"Hard Luck Man Blues" is played out of E in standard tuning as you have figured it.  It is pitched at F, though, and with so many of J. T. Smith's songs that you have looked at so far being pitched one half step above the position in which they are played, I'd say it was a very good bet that J. T. Smith, like John Hurt at some points of his career, routinely tuned his guitar a half-step high.  It's hard to imagine him playing with a capo on the first fret all the time.
All best,
Johnm

Offline waxwing

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2006, 02:40:28 PM »
Yeah, good thread, Alex,

At the end of the 1st verse I think it's "let me show you what my coffee'll do". said very quickly.

I think it's "house shoes" (it is morning after all-G-)


I think dj is right on with the next.

And then I think it's "easy'n slow"

Finally, I broke down and checked Bob McLeod and he has "Arbuckle, he makes coffee." Sounds good.

Keep it up.

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

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline GhostRider

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2006, 03:05:37 PM »
dj and BJ:

I like all the edits to Good Coffee Blues, I'll make the changes.

John:

About tune up vs capo I, you play too many good guitars! I've owned a few that because of worn nuts or bad action were far more playable with a capo on. The poor man's neck reset.

And thank you very much for you input into guitar keys and capo positions for all the tunes in this thread so far.

Alex
« Last Edit: March 17, 2006, 03:06:56 PM by Pyrochlore »

Offline dj

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2006, 05:51:56 AM »
It's amazing how a bunch of seemingly random syllables becomes "Arbuckle" once you know what to listen for!  It turns out the Arbuckle Coffee company is still in business.  Excuse me for sidetracking this thread just a bit, but I thought this quote from the company history might be mildly interesting:

"Up until the close of the Civil War, coffee was sold green. It had to be roasted on a wood stove or in a skillet over a campfire before it could be ground and brewed. One burned bean ruined all; there was no consistency. In 1865, John Arbuckle and his brother Charles, partners in a Pittsburgh grocery business, changed all this by patenting a process for roasting and coating coffee beans with an egg and sugar glaze to seal in the flavor and aroma. Marketed under the name ARBUCKLES' ARIOSA COFFEE, in patented, airtight, one pound packages, the new coffee was an instant success with chuck wagon cooks in the west faced with the task of keeping Cowboys supplied with plenty of hot coffee out on the range."

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2006, 06:51:31 AM »
... "Seven Sisters Blues", which has some really creepy verses. 
FWIW a discussion of the Seven Sisters role in New Orleans and FPS's song in general can be found about halfway down the page of the link below:

http://www.luckymojo.com/number7.html

Offline GhostRider

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Mama's Quittin' and Leavin' - Part 1
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2006, 02:07:50 PM »
Ladies and Gentlemen and Unkie Bud:

This tune is one of my ten favorite CB tunes. FPS really gits ta goin' on this one.

The song is a two part vocal duet with Magnolia Harris (but for another possible identity of her, see Bunker Hills J.T. Smith thread).

FPS plays a relatively normal guitar accompanyment during his vocal verses, but really imbellishes when it's Magnolia's verse.

This tune is a source of dozens of riffs and runs in A Standard tuning and along with the similar "Howling Wolf Blues" and "Tell It to the Judge", provides a terrific study of blues in A.

Who's excited!!?

S. Grossman TAB'd out the first verse of this tune in his Oak instructional book "Texas Blues Guitar". Unfortunately  the first verse is rather atypical.

Magnolia sings verses 1, 3 and 5.

A couple of vocal trouble spots remain. Weenies help (one and all) would be appreciated. A .mp3 low fi copy of this tune is appended.

And BTW, if anyone (anyone) else would like to transcribe and post a J.T. Smith tune here, please feel free. This is a tour de FPS not a tour de Pyrochlore.

Mama's Quittin' and Leavin' - Part 1
1930
Key of A, Standard tuning
Capo II (B)

Instrumental introduction

1) I feel bluer this morning then I ever felt before (x2)
I'm changin' friends and men and I won't be blue no more

2) Talkin' 'bout changin' men, (mama). you been singin' that stuff all over town. (x2)
But I'm liable to take my '45 mama, and turn you upside down.

3) I know you 'buked and dogged me baby with your '45. (x2)
And I couldn't do nothin' but wring my hands and cry.

4) (Mama), When I talk to you (mama) God above know I don't mean no harm (x2)
But It's just because I love you and I'm tryin' to teach you right from wrong.

5) Though you try to be mean baby and use me as a child (x2)
But it's goin' to hurt you to your heart when I leave you for a while.

6) (Mama), Ain't no need to leavin' me, ('cus) your gonna be mistreated by someone else (x2)
And rather than to see someone else mistreat you, I'd ruther keep you and mistreat you myself.

Coda.

How 'bout that Verse 6. What a silver-tongued devil!

Note: every one of FPS tunes so far has had six verses. 666 666. And the attached .mp3 is 666 Kb! Coincidence, I think not !

Alex

Note: edited to reflect Unkie Bud's and BJ's comments below.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2007, 06:02:50 PM by GhostRider »

Offline waxwing

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Re: J.T."Funny Papa" Smith's Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2006, 02:46:08 PM »
Here's what I get, Alex. I think " 'buked " is short for rebuked and I believe was used by Patton in the this form as well.

3) I know you 'buked and dog me baby with your '45. (x2)
And I couldn't do nothin' but wring my hands and cry.

5) Oh you try to be mean babe and use me as a child
Know you try 'n beat me baby and use me as a child
But it's goin' to hurt you to your heart when I leave you for a while.

Yeah, I think she sings the first two lines of v.5 differently. But either line could go either way. Tough call. Leave it open for a while and see what others think.

You're right, great licks in A!

All for now
John C.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2006, 02:52:37 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mama's Quittin' and Leavin' - Part 1
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2006, 11:47:53 AM »
The song is a two part vocal duet with Magnolia Harris (but for another posible identity of her see Bunker Hills J.T. Smith thread).
After years of certain folkdismissing Spivey's claims that it was her pseudonym, it's interesting to note that B&GR4 grudgingly acknowledge that "there is a certain aural similarity".

 


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