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Folk music? I don't know no other kind but folk music. Did you ever hear a horse sing it? - Big Bill Broonzy

Author Topic: Booker White Lyrics  (Read 17999 times)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2011, 06:47:37 PM »
Could be "heat" or he's pronouncing "it" like "hit," which he's doing to a lesser extent in the first two lines. And dj was definitely right on the "Spider" on "Sic 'Em Dogs," LoC version.

Online Johnm

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2011, 08:21:44 PM »
Hi all,
Booker White recorded "Sleepy Man Blues" at his March 7, 1940 session. Like Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain", it is based on Leroy Carr's "In The Evening", and is played out of G position in standard tuning.  Booker's song appears to take depression, in its clinical sense, as its topic.  Once again, Booker is going someplace other than the places frequented by most blues lyricists.  Here is "Sleepy Man Blues":



   When a man gets troubled in mind, he want to sleep all the time
   When a man gets troubled in mind, he want to sleep all the time
   He knows if he can sleep all the time, his trouble won't worry his mind,
   Won't worry his mind

   I'm feelin' worried in mind, and I'm tryin' to keep from cryin'
   I'm feelin' worried in mind, and I'm tryin' to keep from cryin'
   I am standing into sunshine to keep from weaken down
   Keep from weaken down

   I want somewhere to go, but I hate to go to town
   I want somewhere to go to satisfy my mind
   I would go to town, but I hates to stand around
   Hates to stand around

   I wonder what's the matter with my right mind, my mind keep me sleeping all the time
   I wonder what's the matter with my right mind, my mind keep me sleeping all the time
   But when I had plenty money, my friend would come around
   Would come around

   If if had my right mind, I would write my woman a few lines
   If I had my right mind, I would write my woman a few lines
   I will do most any ol' thing to keep from weaken down
   Keep from weakenin' down

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 06:59:44 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2011, 09:01:44 PM »
Thanks for posting "High Fever Blues", uncle bud.  I think the tagline in the first verse might be
   It was about three o'clock, before HEAT would let me be

Thanks John and Chris. I have made the change.

Online Johnm

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2011, 06:10:27 PM »
Hi all,
Booker White recorded "Fixin' To Die Blues" on March 8, 1940, accompanying himself with a slide in Spanish tuning.  The song employs a stammering vocal archetype.  It's such a remarkable song; it's hard to imagine it, but according to people who knew him at the time, Booker had altogether forgotten it at the point at which he was re-discovered in the '60s. Maybe he just didn't feel like doing it as an older man.  I'd appreciate help with the bent bracketed section in the lyrics.  Here is "Fixin' To Die Blues":



   I'm lookin' funny in my eyes and I, b'lieve I'm fixin' to die, b'lieve I'm fixin' to die
   I'm lookin' funny in my eyes and I, b'lieve I'm fixin' to die
   I know I was born to die but I hate to leave my children cryin'

   Just as sure we's livin', I say, sure we's born to die, sure we's born to die
   Just as sure we live, sure we's born to die
   I know I was born to die but I hate to leave my children cryin'

   Your mother treated me, children, like I was her baby child, was her baby child
   Your mother treated me like I was her baby child
   That's why it's I tried so hard to come back home to die

   So many nights at the fireside, how my children's mother would cry, how my children's mother would cry
   So many nights at the fireside, how my children's mother would cry
   'Cause I told thei' mother I had to say good-bye

   Look over yonder, on the buryin' ground, on the buryin' ground
   Look over yonder, on the buryin' ground
   Yonder stand ten thousand, standin' see 'em let me down

   SOLO

   Mother, take my children back, before they let me down, before they let me down
   Mother, take my children back, 'fore they let me down
   Ain't no need of them screamin' and cryin' and on the graveyard ground

   OUTRO

Edited 1/5 to pick up corrections from banjochris and Johnm

All best,
Johnm
     
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 08:22:11 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #34 on: January 05, 2011, 08:12:01 PM »
Booker did record it at least once in the '60s, for Adelphi, but he plays it in cross-note, similar to "Aberdeen," and he doesn't sing it with much confidence. My guess is someone had him relearn it off his old record. I think it's interesting, too, that he never re-recorded this accompaniment or the one for "Pinebluff, Arkansas." The one in Spanish he plays for "Gibson Hill" and others is the closest he gets to it.

On the lyrics, the first line of verse 2 I think should be
Just as sure as we's livin', I SAY, sure we's born to die...

and the bracketed bit I'm 99 44/100% sure he says
STANDIN' SEE 'EM LET ME DOWN

Chris


Online Johnm

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2011, 08:32:40 PM »
Thanks, Chris.  It's really nice to get it right, and I could not hear a crucial part of that line.  There's something about the way Booker voiced and hit his IV chords in both cross-note and Spanish that really kills me.  It's not like it's some big mystery, but it just sounds so great the way he did it.  I was thinking, we have threads for people who played slide in Spanish only, Vestapol only, and both Spanish and Vestapol, but we don't have any thread for people who played slide in Spanish, Vestapol and cross-note.  I reckon of the old-timers, Booker may have been the only one in that category.
All best,
Johnm 

Online Johnm

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #36 on: January 05, 2011, 09:45:12 PM »
Hi all,
"Aberdeen Mississippi Blues" was recorded by Booker White the same day he did "Fixin' To Die Blues".  He played "Aberdeen" out of cross-note tuning with a slide.  The phrasing is really neat, Booker's invention as far as I know, with the tagline of each verse coming right out of the repetition of the opening line like a run-on sentence.  I don't recall hearing any Blues with this phrasing model prior to the songs of Booker's that employ it. Booker occasionally inserted the "r" sound between the vowel sound that concludes "New" and that which begins "Orleans".  Here is "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues":



   I was over in Aberdeen on my way to Newr Orleans
   I was over in Aberdeen on my way to New Orleans, them Aberdeen women told me they would buy my gasoline

   There's two little women that I ain't never seen
   They has two little women that I ain't never seen, these two little women just from Newr Orleans

   Oh, I'm sittin' down in Aberdeen with New Orleans on my mind
   I'm sittin' down in Aberdeen with New Orleans on my mind, but I believe these Aberdeen women gonna make me lose my mind

   SOLO

   Aberdeen is my home but these mens don't want me around
   Aberdeen is my home but the mens don't want me around, they know I would take these women and take them out of town

   Listen you Aberdeen women, you know I ain't got no dime
   Oh-oh, listen you women, you know I ain't got a dime, they been had the poor boy all hobbled down

   SOLO

Edited 1/15 to pick up corrections from banjochris and Johnm

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 08:23:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2011, 08:04:33 AM »
Hi all,
Booker White recorded "Fixin' To Die Blues" on March 8, 1940, accompanying himself with a slide in Spanish tuning.  The song employs a stammering vocal archetype.  It's such a remarkable song; it's hard to imagine it, but according to people who knew him at the time, Booker had altogether forgotten it at the point at which he was re-discovered in the '60s.  Maybe he just didn't feel like doing it as an older man.

John:

I seem to recall on the liner notes to one of his vinyl albums that, when asked about this song, he said that the reason he could not remember it was that he made it up on-the-spot at the recording session, he'd never sung the words before.

Re-f*%#ing-markable!

Alex

Offline Stuart

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #38 on: January 06, 2011, 08:54:51 AM »
...I seem to recall on the liner notes to one of his vinyl albums that, when asked about this song, he said that the reason he could not remember it was that he made it up on-the-spot at the recording session, he'd never sung the words before.

Re-f*%#ing-markable!

Alex

I recall reading the same thing somewhere--I'll have to check the liner notes to my LPs. I also remember reading that prior to Booker's re-discovery, some people conjectured that he was no longer living as they interpreted the song as an authentic farewell piece.

FYI: In the book Tennessee Traditional Singers (ed. by Thomas G. Burton; Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981) there is a section on Booker White by F. Jack Hurley and David Evans.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1572334347/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Used copies available via http://www.bookfinder.com/

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #39 on: January 06, 2011, 10:55:36 AM »
John:

I seem to recall on the liner notes to one of his vinyl albums that, when asked about this song, he said that the reason he could not remember it was that he made it up on-the-spot at the recording session, he'd never sung the words before.

Re-f*%#ing-markable!

Alex
As an aside, Simon Napier in Blues Unlimited 7, December 1963 wrote ""Bukka remembers writing Fixin' To Die upon the death of his mother". Three years later Bukka told David Evans writing for Blues Unlimited that the song was inspired by the coma death of a friend, Flem Smith, in 1938 and said "He [Flem] was looking funny in his eyes. They were all white. I got to wondering how a man feels when he dies".

Online Johnm

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #40 on: January 06, 2011, 04:13:01 PM »
Hi all,
Booker White recorded "District Attorney Blues" on March 8, 1940.  Booker accompanied himself for the song out of E position in standard tuning, tuned a minor third low and sounding in C#.  The low tuning combines with Booker's playing for a very ominous sounding accompaniment and song.  Like "When Can I Change My Clothes", "District Attorney Blues" is a chorus blues, and also like it, "District Attorney Blues" is backed by Booker in the first four bars of the I chord with non-chord tones being sounded in the bass very insistently.  Behind the I chord, E, Booker sounds the following bass notes, striking two per beat until the fourth beat of the fourth measure.  NOTE:  The notes are named as though the guitar was tuned in standard tuning at pitch.  It works so, with the count shown above and the corresponding bass note shown below:

   |1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + |
    A A A D A D A D  A A A D A D A D    A A A D A D A D   A  A A D A D A

With this driving bass line going on while Booker is naggingly bending the third fret of the first string, all while singing, the effect is really tough.  Booker has a 2-bar signature lick that he plays at the end of the second and third vocal phrases.  The lick takes 8 full beats to play out, so he adds two extra beats at the end of the last measure in each of those lines to accommodate the vocal pick-up into the next line.  The only exception is the final chorus, where he shortens the signature lick following the first line of the chorus to four beats and adds on the extra two beats to that.  With the exception of the final verse, the song maps out as follows, assuming four beats per measure except where indicated:

   |    I    |    I    |    I    |    I    |

   |   IV   |   IV   |    I    |    I + 2 beats |

   | V  VI | V  VI  |   I    |    I + 2 beats  |

Lyrically, the song is intense and distinctive as well.  Each verse and each chorus begins with the same line, something I don't recall seeing elsewhere.  Booker pronounced "attorney" "atturnuh".  Here is "District Attorney Blues":

 

   District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He will take a woman's man and leave her cold in hand
   REFRAIN: District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He will take a woman's man and leave her cold in hand

   District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He have caused a many mens to be in some distant land
   REFRAIN: District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He have caused a many women to be cold in hand

   District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   Tain't no woman, but he sure will take a woman's man
   REFRAIN: District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He will take a woman's man and leave her cold in hand

   District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He can tell just as well when he gonna take a woman's man
   REFRAIN: District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   Well, he'll take a woman's man and leave her cold in hand

   District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He taken me from my woman, cause her to love some other man
   REFRAIN: District Attorney, sure is hard on a man
   He will take a woman's man and leave her cold in hand

All best,
Johnm
       
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 08:24:49 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2011, 04:44:12 PM »
It might be interesting to readers of this thread to hear White's account of writing the songs for this session.  Edited from the notes to the Columbia Legacy CD "The Complete Bukka White":

Bukka White showed up with a sheaf of songs which were revamps of current blues hits.  Lester Melrose ... told White he couldn't use this material, but offered him "a meal ticket and a room at a hotel" and two days to come up with something original.  "So help me God", White recalled decades later, "I got down to it."  ... White recalled ... Melrose's reaction to his compositions: "I never had a man, black or white, kiss me dead on the mouth before; but that's what he done.  He say 'Lord, man, you done 100 percent.  I've been on this job thirty-five years and I never seen a man do what you done in two days.'  He said 'Just how the hell did you get it?  Where did it come from?  When you came up here before, you had what all the other folks had.  You was doin' Peetie Wheatstraw and Tampa Red and all the others.  But this stuff is Booker White all the way!"

Online Johnm

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #42 on: January 06, 2011, 04:54:29 PM »
Thanks for that quote, dj, it makes me happy just reading it.  Lester Melrose is pretty harshly judged some times, or at least his effect on the music at the sessions he produced has been, but give him credit for not being willing to record a bunch of covers.  And what Booker did--Good Lord!  I suppose this may illustrate the occasional benefit of working with a deadline, though I expect for most of us no amount of deadlines of whatever degree of intensity would have resulted in the kind of results Booker was able to achieve in this instance.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #43 on: January 08, 2011, 03:06:29 PM »
John, I hear some of the verses of Aberdeen quite a bit differently that what you have here, so I thought I'd post my transcription and you can take a look. In the first verse I think it's possible in the last line that he says "buy all my gasoline" but more likely I think is he's just dragging out "buy" more like "buy-a." I've transcribed it just as "buy."
Chris

I was over in Aberdeen on my way to New Orleans
I was over in Aberdeen on my way to New Orleans, them Aberdeen women told me they would buy my gasoline.

There's two little women, that I ain't never seen
There is two little women, that I ain't never seen, these two little women just from New Orleans.

I'm sittin' down in Aberdeen with New Orleans on my mind
I'm sittin' down here in Aberdeen with New Orleans on my mind, but I believe them Aberdeen women gonna make me lose my mind.

SOLO

Aberdeen's my home but the mens don't want me 'round,
Aberdeen is my home but the mens don't want me 'round, they know I will take these women and take them out of town.

Listen you Aberdeen women, you know I ain't got no dime,
Oh oh listen you women, you know I ain't got no dime, they been had these poor boys all hobbled down.

SOLO


Hi all,
"Aberdeen Mississippi Blues" was recorded by Booker White the same day he did "Fixin' To Die Blues".  He played "Aberdeen" out of cross-note tuning with a slide.  The phrasing is really neat, Booker's invention as far as I know, with the tagline of each verse coming right out of the repetition of the opening line like a run-on sentence.  I don't recall hearing any Blues with this phrasing model prior to the songs of Booker's that employ it. Booker occasionally inserted the "r" sound between the vowel sound that concludes "New" and that which begins "Orleans".

   I was over in Aberdeen on my way to Newr Orleans
   I was over in Aberdeen on my way to Newr Orleans, them Aberdeen women told me, was about my gasoline

   There's two of these women that I ain't never seen
   They has two of these women that I ain't never seen, they stole these women just from Newr Orleans

   Oh, I'm sittin' down in Aberdeen with New Orleans on my mind
   I'm sittin' down in Aberdeen with New Orleans on my mind, but I believe these Aberdeen women gonna make me lose my mind

   SOLO

   Aberdeen is my home but these mens don't want me around
   Aberdeen is my home but the mens don't want me around, they know I would take these womens, take them out of town

   Listen you Aberdeen women, you know I ain't got no dime
   Oh-oh, listen you women, you know I ain't got a dime, they been hurt before, boy, all hobbled down

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm
  

Offline banjochris

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Re: Booker White Lyrics
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2011, 03:51:57 PM »
I thought I'd do one, so here's "Special Stream Line," which may be a record for the sheer number of words on one side of a blues 78. A couple of bits in brackets -- I can't tell if Booker is misspeaking slightly or what. He could play this one just as well in the '60s, too.  Here is "Special Streamline":
Chris




"Special Stream Line"

Spoken: That's that fast Special Streamline leavin' out of Memphis, Tennessee goin' in to New Orleans. She runnin' so fast the hoboes don't fool with this train, just stand on the track with their hat in their hand. I had a friend-girl that mornin' was catchin' that train she got up singing this song.

Sung
Hey, Daddy I'm sorry to leave my home,
Mmmm, mmmmm
Lord, lord, lord, lord

Spoken
She heard that 8:30 local blowin' that morning, she hadn't heard the train in a good while, she thoughted there of that Special Stream Line. She heard that 8:30 local when she's coming to the line to clear it up for that Stream Line blowin' like this:

SOLO

Spoken
She said, "Daddy, is that my train?" I said, "I ain't keepin' up with the train time, I'm tryin' to make a few dimes." She dropped her head and went to singin' and cryin':

Sung
Hey, it's all right how you turned me down,
Mmmm, mmmmm
I ain't got a dime

Spoken
After she called for her ticket she heard this Special Stream Line blowin' thirty-six mile from Memphis, Tennessee. Make it lonesome, now, 'cause I'm a hobo myself sometime.

SOLO

Spoken
Man asked her, "What hour the train?"; she told him she didn't know but if she could hear the bell she could tell him more about it. After she dropped over that hill and dropped off in the valley she heard the bell begin to tone like this:

SOLO - "Bell" passage

Spoken
Make it sound like a church bell talk. Little 'fore she got to that ten-mile trundle she blowed then, throwed on airbrakes.

SOLO
Spoken
Airbrakes. When she got to that ten-mile trundle she was gettin' 'cross she was tippin' across them automatic switch gettin' the water and coal on the fly. You could hear her when she's strikin' that double-iron like this:

SOLO

Spoken
When she run 'cross the last one she squalled then:

SOLO

Spoken
This girl looked out and seen that train she commenced to singing and cryin':

Sung
Hey, daddy I don't want to leave,
Mmmm, mmmmm
I believe I'll lose my mind

Spoken
When that train got a little 'fore she got to New Orleans she went around that curve you could hear her when she's blowin' like this:

SOLO

Spoken
The peoples all was standin' at the station down there to see that train to come in. You could hear her when she squalled:

SOLO

Spoken
Board, everywhere but here.


Edited 1/10 with corrections from JohnM and one from myself
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 08:26:05 AM by Johnm »

 


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