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That woman was tougher than a man - Homesick James on Memphis Minnie, The Blues Collection #76

Author Topic: Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?  (Read 3006 times)

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Dan Gellert

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Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?
« on: August 18, 2006, 12:44:57 PM »
I've known this one for a long time via hillbilly string band recordings, and assumed that it had origins in ragtime or earlier minstrelsy, and that it originally had verses which actually referred to the stealing of chickens. The texts I knew all consist mostly of sexual banter among anthropomorphized domestic fowl.

Now I have the great anthology "Lost Sounds" on Archeophone, which contains 2 wonderful recordings of the song, both made in the 1890's.  The notes on the CD set trace the song to "Who Picked the Lock" (Monroe and Mack, 1893). I tracked the sheet music down-- the tune and chorus are closely related to all the 19th and 20th century recorded versions, and the written verses are indeed about the expected subject.

The two versions on "Lost Sounds", though, have no references at all to chickens which I can hear.  The similar, but very differently-assembled texts of those two seem to be the recounting of a ball recently attended by the first-person protagonist, who is first impressed by the dancing and the food and is then beaten up by several of the other partygoers...

As might be expected on recordings that old, the words are difficult to hear (impossible in places).  Anyone know of other recorded or written sources...???

BTW, if you haven't heard that side by Cousins and DeMoss (or "Poor Mourner", their other known recording) you're in for a shock-- They are a unique anachronism, recorded nearly 30 years before anyone else cut anything remotely approaching their style (and power)!  It has to be the earliest recording we have of an african-american playing a guitar, and it could well be called the first old-time string band recording (black or white).  I hear strong echoes of their style in the 1927-29 records of the Cofer Brothers (who also recorded as the Georgia Crackers)-- yes they were white and from Georgia.... 


Dan
 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2006, 02:39:03 AM »
B&GR4 list on p.859 a Columbia cylinder recording by the Standard Quartet recorded in Washington DC, c.Feb-Mar 1894.

In my head I can hear a 1930's version under a different title by a Bluebird aritst like Casey Bill Weldon or Washboard Sam. The little grey cells ain't working too well at present.

EDIT: The light finally bulb glowed - The Georgia Browns (Weaver-Moss-McMullen aggregation) recorded it in 1933 as Who Stole De Lock? Well I knew there was a "w" in the artist name somewhere.:(
« Last Edit: August 19, 2006, 04:11:27 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Richard

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Re: Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2006, 12:43:01 PM »
CBW recorded "Who changed the Lock on my Door"  which is actually a different song.

BillyBanks with Red Allen recorded a hot jazz version c1932......... somebody else did as well,but me brains gone dead  :-X
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2006, 01:01:38 PM »
CBW recorded "Who changed the Lock on my Door"  which is actually a different song.
Yes, Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door, that's obviously what my mangled mind was attempting to dredge up from its depths. Well done. A 1945 hit for Louis Jordan and for Jack McVea, but never for CBW. Much the same happened with his Move To The Outskirts Of Town...but I'm rambling again!

Offline Richard

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Re: Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2006, 12:02:58 PM »
Ramblin' on my mind.......... was it was a bit obvious!!!

Somebody else did Henhouse as well and it's going to annoy me all night untill I can think who it was!
(That's enough of that. Ed)

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