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[We played in] restaurants, taverns, and gangster hangouts. Played... Italian music, German music, we played polka music... we'd play blues, too... we played wherever the dancers was - Roosevelt Scott, on the life of a bluesman in Chicago in the 1940s. From an interview with Jim O'Neal in the notes to Document 5413

Author Topic: Bees and honey in country blues songs?  (Read 5966 times)

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Emma Lee

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Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« on: August 23, 2006, 10:42:40 PM »
Hey Weenies --

Do you know of any country blues songs about bees and/or honey? I know Memphis Minnie did at least one. I love the topic because I've always loved honey and also now have a hive of honeybees in the backyard. They are amazing and wonderful creatures and have a fascinating role in the history of humans on every continent, besides being great subjects of literature and poetry and all sorts of double entendre in the blues. Funnily enough, blues lyrics are often a bit entomologically incorrect about bees... there are no "king" bees, bees can't really sting twice, only female bees make honey, etc. But so be it... What country blues songs do you know of about bees and honey? 

Thanks!!
Emma Lee

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2006, 11:28:14 PM »
The mention of "bees" immediately brings to my mind the sublime "Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice" by an equally sublime Rabbit Brown. I can hear it playing in my head as I type. :)

Yves

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2006, 12:45:32 AM »
I'm a king bee (Slim Harpo) also a great DVD version by the blues bros'



Yves "the froggy"

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2006, 01:14:51 AM »
There must be quite a few, but the first that comes to mind is Bo Carter's "Im An Old Bumble Bee", recently covered by Roger Hubbard on his "Danger Deep Mud" CD (on the Juke).  In that song the bee has a "... stinger longer than his arm".

Seem to remember Taj Mahal has a song that starts "Sweeter than a honey bee..." and good old Muddy sang about a honey bee as well.

Can't think of any blues songs about wasps - maybe an enterprising Weenie will write one...
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline a2tom

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2006, 05:09:37 AM »
William Moore's Tillie Lee (my yellow honey bee...).  Not strictly about bees, but great lyrics.

then there's John Lee Hooker (a bit of genre,yes) Queen Bee, stinger as long as my right arm, same line as Memphis Minnie's Bumble Bee.

In the past, Slack taught me the trick of just doing a word search in the Juke for "bee" and "honey" - I'm sure there are many more - I stink at thinking of songs off my head.

tom

Offline waxwing

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2006, 08:29:39 AM »
Hey Emma Lee,

Go to Document Records and use the "Search Tracks by Key Words" function. I got 81 hits for Honey. Sure there's Honey This Must Be Love and others to weed thru but there's also Roosevelt Sykes' The Honeydripper. Unfortunately searching for "bee" returns 200 hits but a lot of songs with "been" in the title. Didn't try "Honeybee".

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

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2006, 09:49:29 AM »
Hi Emma Lee,
Rev. Davis, in "Samson and Delilah", says,"and the bees made honey in that lion's head".  Also there is Bertha Lee singing "Yellow Bee", accompanied by Charlie Patton.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2006, 11:55:46 AM »
I realise this is stretching it a bit, but there's a charming 1927 rendition of the old gospel number "Honey In The Rock" by A C & Blind Mamie Forehand with guitar and finger cymbal accompaniment.

Offline Richard

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2006, 12:15:20 PM »
Casey Bill gives honey bee a mention, can't remember what song though!

And there's also......... uummmm.. I'll be thinking of this all night now till I remeber  :-\
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 02:22:39 PM »
Howdy:

The origin song for all the "bumblebee" songs which followed it was the string of "Bumble Bee" tunes, beginning May 29, 1930, by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe. Lots of "stinging" and "making better honey" in those! My favorite is "New Bumble Bee", which I gather was the hit version.

Alex

Emma Lee

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2006, 08:12:27 PM »
Thanks all!!

Memphis Minnie's lyrics for her songs entitled Bumble Bee:

[Columbia]
Bumble bee, bumble bee, please come back to me 2x
He got the best old stinger any bumble bee that I ever seen
He stung me this morning, I been looking for him all day long 2x
Lord, it got me to the place, hate to see my bumble bee leave home
Bumble bee, bumble bee, don't be gone so long 2x
You's my bumble bee and you're needed here at home
I can't stand to hear him buzz, buzz, buzz
Come in, bumble bee, want you to stop your fuss
You're my bumble bee and you know your stuff
Oh, sting me, bumble bee, until I get enough
Bumble bee, bumble bee, don't be gone so long 2x
You's my bumble bee and you're needed here at home
I don't mind you going, ain't going to stay so long
Don't mind you going, don't be gone so long
You's my bumble bee and you're needed here at home
I can't stand to hear him buzz, buzz, buzz
Come in, bumble bee, I want you to stop your fuss
You's my bumble bee and you know your stuff
Oh, sting me bumble bee, until I get enough

[Vocalion]
Bumble bee, bumble bee, won't you please come back to me 2x
He got the best ol' stinger any bumble bee that I ever seen
He stung me this morning, I been looking for him all day long 2x
He had me to the place once, I hate to see my bumble bee leave home
I can't stand to hear him buzz, buzz, buzz
Come in, bumble bee, I want you to stop your fuss
You're my bumble bee and you know your stuff
Oh, sting me, bumble bee, until I get enough
Hmmm, stinger long as my right arm 2x
He stung me this morning, I been looking for him all day long
Sometimes he makes me happy, then sometimes he makes me cry 2x
He had me to the place once, I wish to God that I could die

[No. 2]
Bumble bee, bumble bee, where you been so long 2x
You stung me this morning, I been restless all day long
I met my bumble bee this morning as he flying in the door 2x
And the way he stung me, he made me cry for more
Hmmmm, don't stay so long from me 2x
You is my bumble bee, you got something that I really need
I'm gonna build me a bungalow just for me and my bumble bee 2x
Then I won't worry, I will have all the honey I need
He makes my honey, even now makes my comb 2x
It's all I want now my bumble bee just to stay at home

More bee and honey songs from Document Records track keyword search per Waxwing's suggestion:

Bumble bee blues - Memphis Jug Band with Memphis Minnie
Bumble bee - David 'Honey :-) Boy' Edwards
Never let the same bee sting you twice - Richard 'Rabbit' Brown
Yellow bee - Charley Patton (Bertha Lee, vocal)
Black biting bee blues - Blind Blake (Leola B. Wilson, vocal)
Bumble bee (2 versions), Bumble bee no. 2, New bumble bee - Memphis Minnie
Honey bee blues - Sonny Boy Williamson
Bumble bee blues - Tampa Red (guitar solo)
I'm an old bumble bee - Bo Carter
Queen bee - Bo Carter
Sweet honey bee - Big Bill Broonzy
Queen bee blues - Bumble Bee Slim :-) :-)
Honey bee blues - Bumble Bee Slim
Bumble bee's new Muddy Water - Bumble Bee Slim
Bumble bee no. 2 - Piano Blues vol. 5
Honey bee - Monkey Joe (George Jefferson, vocal)
Little bee - Rare 1930's & '40s Blues vol. 3
Honey bee - Ollie Shepard
Stinging bee blues - Margaret Johnson
Black biting bee blues - [Coot] Grant & [Kid] Wilson Vol. 1
Whistlebee - Dr D D Hollis on Alabama String Bands
When the bees are in the hive - Roy Harvey - hillbilly artist
A bee hunt on hill for sartin creek (parts 1 and 2) - The Skillet-Lickers
The dog the flea and the bumble bee - Archie Harrod on Too Late Too Late vol. 13
Honey blues - J T (Funny Paper) Smith
Sweet honey hole - Blind Boy Fuller
Honey stealin' blues - Doctor (Peter) Clayton
Jesus is sweeter than honey in the comb - Rev Edward W Claybron
Honey dripping papa - Kid Prince Moore
Honey blues (take 2) - Elzadie Robinson Vol. 2

Sweet! Thanks again,

Emma Lee

Rosalyn

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2006, 12:21:17 AM »
Every honeybee fills with jealousy
When they see you out with me
I dont blame them....goodness knows
Honeysuckle rose

When Im taking sips...from your tasty lips
Seems the honey fairly drips
Youre confection.....goodness knows
Honeysuckle rose.

I know the words to this song because on Friday in Port Townsend there was an enchanting porch jam.....with Don Vappie and one of the Jelly Roller dudes doing that fancy guitar strummin', Lauren and Suzy Thompson pickin some delightful mandolin, Maria Muldaur playing really delicate and sweet violin. Does anyone know the name of the girl standing  by Don in the backporch pix? (loaded unto the Pt Gallery). She really added a beautiful noise. Made me wanna cry it was all so sweet.

That jam created a bee buzzin round my head singin all the time... Honeysuckle Rose - and since I don't sing like Farren or Temple or Jan ...I've downloaded 7 artists recordings in an effort to bring back that very special moment.......Sarah Vaughn, Ella, Louis and of course Fats Waller (the author). Earl "Fatha" Hines (who's he?) and Stephan Grapelli are my favorite versions.

Who has the chord progression anyway?


Thanks for bringing up the subject Emma Lee!

roz






« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 12:49:28 AM by Rosalyn »

Offline Pan

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2006, 02:32:26 AM »
Hi Rosalyn!

The chord progression to "Honeysuckle Rose" is roughly the following, in the key of F major:

A-part
[|:  Gm7  C7 |  Gm7  C7 |  Gm7  C7 |  Gm7  C7 |
                                 1st ending
|  F6   F/A  |  Bb6  C7  |  F    Bb7 |    Am7  Ab7 :|] (repeat)
2nd ending
|  F  C7 |  F    |]

B -part
[| Cm7  |   F7  |  Bb6 |  Bb6  |

|  G7   |   G7  |  Gm7  |  C7 |] (back to A-part)

The song structure is AABA.


Everyone should absolutely check the Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli Quintette du Hot Club  de France version. I think some (gypsy?) musicians might play a slightly different variation to the A-part:

[|:  Gm7  C7 |  Gm7  C7 |  Gm7  C7 |  Gm7  C7 |
                                 1st ending
|  F6    |  Gm7  C7  |  F6  Gm7  |    Am7  Ab7 :|] (repeat)
2nd ending
|  F  C7 |  F    |]

Hope this helps

Yours

Pan

« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 04:45:15 PM by Pan »

Rosalyn

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2006, 11:42:47 AM »
Thank you Pan.
I'm gonna give it a go.

roz

boots

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2006, 11:30:10 AM »
Unfortunately searching for "bee" returns 200 hits but a lot of songs with "been" in the title. Didn't try "Honeybee".

Make the search "bee " and it will cut it down to 36.  8)

Offline Dr. G

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2006, 06:51:28 AM »
I had the same inspiration as johnm: the Blind Willie Johnson number "If I Had My Way" , later done by Reverend Gary Davis as "Samson and Delilah". However, I think the actual line is: "The bee made honey in the lion's EAR" (not "head"). This image has always intrigued me -- I assume it's from the Bible -- but not being much of a Bible scholar, I'd appreciate it if someone else could enlighten me/us on this point.

Dr. G

Offline Pan

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Re: Bees and honey in country blues songs?
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2006, 08:52:27 AM »
FWIW I don't think Mance Lipscomb's version of Memphis Minnie's "Bumble Bee Blues" has been mentioned. It's on the Reprise CD "Trouble in Mind" (only on the CD though, not on the original LP).

Pan

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