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"You think you been livin' but you just been campin' out." - Ben Curry, "Hot Dog"

Author Topic: Son House Lyrics  (Read 8967 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Son House Lyrics
« on: April 04, 2006, 07:56:16 AM »
Chris Smith has transcribed the lyrics for the two new Son House tracks (Yazoo release date is today! Anyone got it yet? ;) ). Here they are with a correction or two.

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY FARM BLUES

Wish I was a babe in my mama's arms,
Wish I was a babe in my mama's arms,
Wish I was a baby in my mama's arms,
Wouldn't-a been here working on the County Farm.

I'd rather be broke and out of doors,
I'd rather be broke and out of doors,
I'd rather be broke, lord, and out of doors,
Than to be here working on the police roll.

Some got six months and some a year,
Some got six months and some a year,
Some got six months, lord, and some a year,
Poor me, poor me got lifetime here.

They put me in jail, wouldn't let me be,
They put me in jail, wouldn't let me be,
Put me in jail, would not let me be,
They said I killed old Leroy Lee.

(Moaning)

Yeah, lord, oh lordy lord,
Oh lord, oh lord, lordy lord,
Oh lord, oh lord, oh lordy lord,
The gal I love treat me like a dog.

(Moaning)

And I hate to hear that big bell dong,
I hate to hear that big bell dong,
I hate to hear, lord, that big bell dong,
'Poor boy, poor boy, you're going on.'


CLARKSDALE MOAN

Clarksdale's in the South, and lays heavy on my mind,
Clarksdale's in the South, lays heavy on my mind,
I can have a good time there, if I ain't got but one lousy dime.

Clarksdale, Mississippi always gonn' be my home,
Clarksdale, Mississippi always gonn' be my home,
That's the reason you hear me set right here and moan.

(Moaning)

Every day in the week, I goes to Midtown Drugs,
Every day in the week, I goes to Midtown Drugs,
And get me a bottle o' snuff, and a bottle o' Alcorub.

Nobody knows Clarksdale like I do,
Nobody knows Clarksdale like I do,
And the reason I know it, I follows it through and through.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2006, 11:51:46 PM »
I've heard the two tracks -- they're both excellent. County Farm is particularly good -- he plays so fast and mutes all the strings so he gets a really sharp sound.

Also worth noting:

None of the lyrics, IIRC, in Miss. County Farm pop up in the LOC recording.

Also, I'm about 99.9% sure that Clarksdale Moan is in open E minor tuning. What does everyone else think? That slide ending after the whole track w/o slide is just great.

Chris

Online Johnm

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2006, 09:50:20 PM »
Hi all,
I just picked up these recordings today, wow!  I've listened very hard to "Clarksdale Moan", and I don't think it is in open E minor, Chris.  I can hear Son House hitting the low IV note on the fifth string throughout the song, which wouldn't be available in open E minor.  What I cannot hear is any note other than the root on the fourth string.  I couldn't hear him playing any major VII or flat VII notes on the fourth string at all.  And with the main accompaniment figure moving rapidly from the seventh fret of the first string with the bent eighth fret of the second string down to the base of the neck and a hammer to the first fret of the third string, for him to keep the I note an octave above the sixth string going the way he does, he would have to be franticly moving that octave note from the seventh fret of the fifth string to the second fret of the fourth string.  I don't see that as being technically feasible.  For that reason, I think this song is a great candidate for the tuning you cited on the Furry Lewis--"Creeper's Blues" thread:  EAEGBE.  With that tuning, you get the low IV note in the bass, and you also get the octave I note that you don't have to fret, along with the hammer to the major third at the first fret of the third string.  I think "Clarksdale Moan" is the best bet for this tuning of any pre-War Country Blues recording I have ever heard--even more than the Furry tunes for which it has been suggested.
All best,
Johnm

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2006, 11:12:31 PM »
I'd rather be broke and out of doors,
I'd rather be broke and out of doors,
I'd rather be broke, lord, and out of doors,
Than to be here working for my board and clothes.

I'm pretty sure that's what I hear
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline banjochris

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2006, 11:28:51 PM »
John, listening again I think you may be right; although the only time he really plays a IV chord is in the second sung verse, I think I can hear a little of the A along with the low E when he hits it. This of course, makes the tune even more of a curiosity. By the way, speaking of that Furry Lewis thing, I think I read that about EAEGBE in the liner notes to the Yazoo Lewis album, which unfortunately I lent to a friend and never got back. Maybe someone with that album can look and see if my memory is playing tricks on me...
Chris

Offline frankie

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2006, 11:57:01 PM »
By the way, speaking of that Furry Lewis thing, I think I read that about EAEGBE in the liner notes to the Yazoo Lewis album, which unfortunately I lent to a friend and never got back. Maybe someone with that album can look and see if my memory is playing tricks on me...

I have an LP copy of that record.  Calt says (incorrectly) in the liner notes that Mean Old Bedbug & Jellyroll are both played out of "open E" tuning.  Maybe it was revised when it was released on CD?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2006, 12:35:49 AM »
There is discussion on the Pre War Blues List, coming mostly from our friend David Evans, that there are two guitars, and that Willie Brown (clearly not Patton) is playing the bulk of the arrangement (in standard E position) with House playing primarily bass notes, then coming in for the slide tag at the end. Apparently House stated in an interview that Willie backed him on this recording. Here's the discussion:
Quote from: David Evans on PWBL
Am I crazy, or does "Clarksdale Moan" appear to have a second guitar on it
(Willie Brown)?  It sounds like something Son put together rather hastily.
He seems to be working with guitar ideas that he would later solidify in his
version of "Pony Blues," playing some slide, as he always did on his
Paramounts.  The other guitar would be in standard tuning, playing the
frequently heard "hammering" figure in E position.  Both guitars sound
pretty sparse, as if they hadn't really worked out the arrangement, but it
comes off quite well, much better than the two-guitar work on the test
pressing that has been titled "Walking Blues," where I think the second
guitar was Patton, not Brown.

These are some initial impressions that I might be inclined to revise later.
Quote from: Patrice Champarou on PWBL
I listened again (and again) but could not hear one. Several details make
the accompaniment unusual compared to the later "Poney Blues", there seems
to be some strong and regular foot-tapping which mostly doubles the bass and
can still be heard behind the ending slide notes, but the most unexpected
one is the appogiature on the the G string which makes me think he's using
standard tuning! There is even a short and hesitating change to A7 at one
time (the bass is not clearly A but I suppose he does not use a minor open E
;)

Just impressions, of course... these tunes will keep my ears busy for a
while!
Quote from: David Evans on PWBL
I still think I hear two guitars on "Clarksdale Moan."  The difficulty in
just one guitar is in reconciling Son's use of slide technique (at the end)
with his hammered lick on the third (G) string (what Patrice calls
appoggiatura).  Son played slide in open G/A or D/E tuning, whereas this
lick would have to be played in standard tuning E position or open D/E minor
tuning.  Bukka White in his rediscovery career played slide in this minor
tuning, but he's the only one to have done so, as far as I know.  Son never
used the minor tuning in his rediscovery career.  Alan Balfour notified me
that in Son's interview with Julius Lester (Sing Out, July 1965, p. 41) he
stated that Willie Brown accompanied him on "Clarksdale Moan."  It's a
strange fact to recall, since Son couldn't remember the song itself, but it
does add weight to my thought that there are two guitars on the track.
Quote from: Patrice Champarou on PWBL
I've just found that you were right, there are at least two slide
notes played on the G string and also one very discrete G/G#
played on the D. This means open E like in Poney Blues, and also that
most of the accompaniment is probably performed by Willie Brown (who else?).
Unless they achieve a perfect unison I wonder what's left for Son to be
playing until the end.
Quote from: David Evans on PWBL
Yes, I think Brown is providing most of the accompaniment.  Possibly Son is
just keeping time by playing bass notes or light chords until he
unexpectedly comes in at the end with his slide figure.  In any case, the
two guitarists pretty much keep out of one another's way.  It reminds me a
bit of the pieces by Ishman Bracey with Charlie McCoy on second guitar,
where the two artists seem to alternate in their playing.  I really suspect
Son composed this piece in Grafton.  He had the singing together but doesn't
seem to have worked out the accompaniment and may have requested Brown's
help.  I don't hear any of Patton's characteristic guitar playing here, by
the way, so if there is a second guitar, it must be Brown.

Boy, that's the most discussion of the playing I can ever remember on the PWBL. Thought you guys would like to hear what they had to say.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2006, 12:38:21 AM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2006, 02:30:48 AM »
Apparently House stated in an interview that Willie backed him on this recording.
The interview in Sing Out is entitled "I Can Make My Own Songs" and covers 8 pages (36-44). It is published as one long monologue but I'm guessing it's had all the questions extracted to make it flow. On page 41 House talks about his Paramount recordings saying that "I recorded Preachin' Blues, Black Mama, Mississippi County Farm and Clarksdale Moan. Willie Brown and I played that last one together. I think that's about all. Close as I can get to it. It's been so long"

Offline banjochris

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2006, 03:20:33 AM »
I have an LP copy of that record.  Calt says (incorrectly) in the liner notes that Mean Old Bedbug & Jellyroll are both played out of "open E" tuning.  Maybe it was revised when it was released on CD?

I guess my memory is playing tricks. I know I didn't imagine it. I don't even necessarily hold that Furry's playing in that weird tuning. I just want to remember where I read it.

As for the idea of a second guitar on "Clarksdale Moan," let's remember that Son is the same man who "remembered" meeting Blind Lemon Jefferson six months after his death. I also think Evans is wrong about "Walking Blues," because the backing on that sounds a lot like Brown's backing of House on the Library of Congress sides. If House remembered playing with Brown on a tune he may understandably be mixing up titles.
Chris
« Last Edit: April 09, 2006, 12:09:36 PM by banjochris »

Online Johnm

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2006, 10:29:42 AM »
Hi all,
I agree with Chris that "Clarksdale Moan" is a solo piece.  If Willie Brown is playing, what the heck is he playing?  Son is just raking his bass strings when he plays.  Often when he hits his upbeats on the fourth string he gets a lot of the fifth string in his attack as well.  It's in the raking of the bass that I am most often hearing the low IV note, not so much that Son goes to a IV chord in any regular sort of way--he barely suggests it.  And at the point when Son launches into the slide playing, where does Willie Brown go?  Did they arrange in advance for him to drop out there?  When Willie Brown seconded someone, at least on the cuts where we know with certainty that he was playing, there were two real parts, not some kind of "stick in a note here, now stick in a note there, now drop out".
After having heard this piece, I am amazed at some of the early reports on the performance suggesting that it was second-tier Son House in some way.  I think it is right up there with everything else he did for Paramount.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Mississippi County Farm Blues and Clarksdale Moan
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2006, 08:00:13 PM »
After listening to the piece, I agree that there's one guitar, and I'm just about sure that Son is playing in std. tuning.  For one thing, when he's playing the bass notes, it sounds like he's double-thumbing - rolling from the 6th string to the 5th/4th string.  The chord he's playing through most of the piece is a partial E chord in 1st position, not fingering the 5th string at the 2nd fret, but leaving it open.  The result is not exactly dissonant, but gives a weird, unresolved feel.  The rule here is that rhythm takes precedence over harmony - you can hear an example of the same kind of thing in Lemon's 'Lectric Chair Blues.

Since Son is playing mostly in 1st position, he's fretting the 4th string at the 2nd fret (and 3rd string at the 1st fret).  He rolls from the 6th to a brush across the 5th and 4th strings, and that tends to pull your ear back to the tonic.  Sometimes he plants a big fat bass pulse by brushing across the open 6th and 5th strings.  It's definitely a weird effect - rhythmically, you know exactly where the beat is, but your ear just kind of has to assume "E."

If I were to try and play this, I think that's the kind of thing I'd want to keep in the tune.  I like the way it totally avoids tying up the harmonic "loose ends."  It's possible that he's using the EAEGBE tuning, I guess, but I'd put my money on std.  At any rate, it's a tuning that has the 5th string tuned to a 4th relative to the 6th string and the tonic of the piece.  There's only a whiff of a IV chord in the song, but that IV note is all over the place, just not where you'd expect it.

The slide break at the end is just great!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2006, 09:30:15 PM by frankie »

Offline dj

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Son House Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2006, 09:50:25 AM »
I don't have the recording handy at the moment, but I've always heard it (and used to sing it) as "a brownskin woman will make a rabbit move to town", keeping the animal analogy with the mule in the second line.  And the reverend would be living in town already, but rabbits wouldn't be likely to.
 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Son House Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2006, 10:48:48 AM »

I got the blues so bad until it hurt my tongue to talk (2)
I had the walkin' blues, ah & it hurt my feet to walk

I woke up this mornin' feelin' 'round for my shoes (2)
Ya oughtta know by that people I musta got the walkin' blues

I woke up this mornin' just 'bout the break o' day (2)
Huggin' the pillow where my good gal use to lay

& I started to walkin', I'm gonna walk from town to town (2)
I ain't gonna quit walkin' until my . . . . . (?)
My only listening source for this is the 1988 Document LP on which it first appeared (Delta Blues vol.1, DLP 532) but what I hear is:

I'VE got the blues so bad TILL it hurtS my tongue to talk (2)
IF I had the walkin' blues, SWEAR IT'LL hurt my feet to walk

and

I woke up this mornin' feelin' 'round for my shoes
I GOT up this mornin' feelin' 'round, ooo, ooo, for my shoes
Ya oughtta know by that people I must HAVE got the walkin' blues

and

I woke up this mornin' just 'bout the break o' day
I GOT up this mornin' just 'bout the break o' day
I WAS huggin' the pillow where my good gal usta to lay

and

When I start to walkin', I'm gonna walk from sun to sun (2)
Ain't gonna quit walkin' until my journey's done

Make of all that what you will.... ;D

Offline banjochris

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Son House Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2006, 01:22:38 PM »
I don't have access to the record at the moment, but

Oh my woman's so black she *?shades a part of this town*?
can't nothin' go when the po' girl is around (2)

I think is "stays apart of this town" -- lives outside town
Chris

Offline Richard

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Son House Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2006, 01:12:44 PM »
I must admiit to not having really followed this threard, but part of the Walking Blues lyrics were used by Tampa Red, I can't rmemeber which song though, errr..... umm......, maybe it's time for another drink I think !!!!!!
(That's enough of that. Ed)

 


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