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Ability to play the banjo soon places one in a social position to pick and choose from scores of social invitations. Everywhere, the banjoist is assured of a hearty welcome - Anon., from THE BANJO, a 1927 pamphlet published by Gibson Inc

Author Topic: Mystery Titles  (Read 9573 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #30 on: May 10, 2007, 04:13:27 PM »
Good point there mmpresti re booster shots. I'll transcribe Booster Blues later and see if the theory may fit.

mmpresti

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #31 on: June 02, 2007, 02:19:42 AM »
I've been surveying all the songs I can find that have "Something's Going on Wrong" in them as well as all the "I think you need a shot" songs.

As far as I can tell, "Booster" is just slang for a thief. In Jack Ranger's "Thieving Blues" and in Hambone Willie Newbern's "Down on My Bended Knee", they both refer to the theme:

I love my baby, that's why we couldn't get along (2x)
Everything I do, looks like something's going on wrong

all the time praying to a house thieving man, which in Dan Pickett's "Something Gone Wrong", is also the coalman, the iceman, the grocery boy, etc.

In Texas superstitions that Lemon is singing about in his "Booster Blues", and in Doctor Clayton and Howlin' Wolf the right hand itching means that someone will pay you money or you will shake hands with a stranger. Both meanings together sound like an unfair exchange.

I'm still looking for the missing link between this theme and "I think you need a shot", but it wouldn't surprise me, because it seems to be the cross-roads for a lot of other standard lines like, "when you see two women running hand in hand", "down on my bended knee", "I can tell the wind is blowing by the leaves shaking on the tree", Santa Claus, etc.

to boost (v). to wrongfullly steal something and to go along with it. To take it away and not give it back to the rightful owner. To thieve.
i.e. Blind Lemon Jefferson's, "Booster Blues".

"he boosted it right out of my house"

dingwall

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2007, 09:45:01 AM »
Re Sleepy John Estes' 'Milk Cow Blues' (the 1930 version), John Lee (Sonny Boy No 1) Williamson had a cover called 'Blues That Made Me Drunk'.   The verses are more or less alike in the two titles.

It is my opinion that when asked what the title was, Sleepy John told the scribe, "This is my 'Alcohol Blues'".   The scribe dutifully rendered this as 'Milk Cow Blues'.   

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2007, 11:38:39 AM »
It is my opinion that when asked what the title was, Sleepy John told the scribe, "This is my 'Alcohol Blues'".   The scribe dutifully rendered this as 'Milk Cow Blues'. 
Ah, welcome "Dingwall". If you are who I think then you've had more experience of listening to and transcribing blues lyrics than anybody on this planet. Am I right or am I right? Don't answer that. I'll spare your blushes. ;)

bobo

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2007, 09:04:05 AM »
How about Eddie And Oscar - "Nok-Em-All". Should be "Alcohol".

mmpresti

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2007, 08:29:19 PM »
Nice, Dingwall, I never thought of that. The only version of this song I know that has the "milk cow" in it, is Jackson Joe Williams' "Never Saw No Whiskey" recorded with Sonny Boy 1 and Yank Rachell, in 1938.

If you see my milk cow, rider, in your stall,
said I aint had no 'ssistance, sense way last fall

I guess they worked in the "milk cow", if no one else has heard a version with "milk cow" in it.

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2007, 12:54:13 AM »
It is my opinion that when asked what the title was, Sleepy John told the scribe, "This is my 'Alcohol Blues'".   The scribe dutifully rendered this as 'Milk Cow Blues'.   

Brilliant theory!  I'd subscribe to that.  I first encountered the track on "The Rural Blues" box set and assumed the title was a record company mistake, i.e. they'd listed the wrong track altogether, rather than misheard Sleepy John, as was undoubtedly the case with Patton's "Hammer Blues" which should have read "Hammock Blues" (I guess that's another one for the list...).
« Last Edit: June 08, 2007, 12:59:27 AM by Parlor Picker »
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2007, 05:13:54 PM »
D,G & R lists one earlier Milk Cow Blues, Freddy Spruell 25 June 1926, OKeh. I just listened to it and it's a completely different song. Estes' Victor recording was 13 May 1930. Estes' does mention booze of course in the classic line, '...I ain't seen no whiskey, the blues got me sloppy drunk'. So yes, I reckon it's possible.

I've always wondered why Estes' song was called Milk Cow Blues since there are no references to bovine agriculture or dairy products. Spruell's song on the other hand is definitely about cows, mentions a 'Jersey' at one point.

Didn't Memphis Minnie mention a "milk cow and calf" in a tune of another name or am I misremembering?
« Last Edit: June 08, 2007, 05:19:42 PM by Rivers »

Offline dj

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2007, 04:45:14 PM »
An interesting example of a "mystery title" is Sam Collins' "My Road Is Rough And Rocky (How Long, How Long)".  While the title is the second line of the refrain used at the end of every verse, the subtitle appears nowhere in the lyrics.  Since the song was unissued at the time of its recording, the subtitle wasn't just stuck on in hopes of reeling in a few Leroy Carr fans.  I wonder why it's there.  Is there a related tune with that title?

Offline fictioneer

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2007, 10:06:37 PM »
My impression with the Collins piece is that there is a test pressing of it but it's not properly labeled and nobody is sure which unissued title in his 10/1931 session this song actually is.  DGR identify it as "Toenail Flang Dang," though noting that the ARC files show the latter as a gtr solo, and refer to its issuance with "How Long" as an alternate title.

The following are the unissued titles from Collins' session of 10/1931, according to DGR.  None of the titles is very suggestive as to = "My Road is Rough and Rocky." 

10835-3, Broken House Blues
10838-2, Atlanta Fire
10840-2, Troubled in Mind
10843-2, Toenail Flang Dang (gtr solo)
10845-2, Flat Top Blues
10846-3, Careless Love
10847-2, Do That Thing
10848-2, How Long, How Long
10849-2, I Believe I'll Get Dirty
10850-3, Sad and Lonesome
10851- , Maybe Next Week Sometime
10852-3, Mojo Blues
10853-2, Lonesome Night Blues
10854-2, Blue Heaven Blues
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 10:23:46 PM by fictioneer »

Offline dj

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #40 on: June 21, 2007, 03:50:56 AM »
Thanks for clearing that up, fictioneer.  I was working from the Document CD and didn't think to look up the song in Blues & Gospel Records to see what further information they had on the record.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #41 on: December 29, 2007, 02:15:15 PM »
Hi all,
Another Country Blues song in which I think the title was arrived at via a misunderstanding of what was being sung is the Down Home Boys (Papa Harvey Hull and Long "Cleve" Reed) recording, "Two Little Tommie Blues".  I've been listening to this one quite a lot lately, and the lead singer (Hull?) is definitely not saying "tommie" or "tommies".  The consonant sound in the middle of the word is an "n" sound, and the vowel sound in the first syllable is a long "o" sound, as in the word "roast".  Moreover, Hull never sings the word in the singular.  In terms of context, the thing that makes the most sense is that Hull is singing, "Got two little toneys, can't hardly tell 'em apart", with "toneys" being a plural variant version of "doney".  This makes perfect sense in the way Hull uses it, and in the repetition of the line, he sounds like he is saying "doneys".
All best,
Johnm   

Offline Stuart

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #42 on: December 30, 2007, 08:15:36 AM »
...In terms of context, the thing that makes the most sense is that Hull is singing, "Got two little toneys, can't hardly tell 'em apart", with "toneys" being a plural variant version of "doney".  This makes perfect sense in the way Hull uses it, and in the repetition of the line, he sounds like he is saying "doneys"....

The point of articulation is the same for "d" and "t"--the difference is aspiration. Hull probably heard and/or pronounced the two initial consonants so that they were indistinguishable. Context clarified the meaning.

Well done, John.

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #43 on: February 09, 2008, 07:19:38 AM »
Another misheard (?) title: Blind Willie Johnson's "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time."  Johnson clearly (heh, heh) sings "motherless children."  When Son House recorded this in the 60s it was properly titled "Motherless Children."

On an odd note, in the liner notes for the Catfish CD The Roots of Taj Mahal, we read: "Willie Johnson also sang a version of the quasi-religious 'Motherless Children,' performed here by Atlanta's ace of the twelve-string Barbecue Bob."

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see how anyone familiar with both could possibly think that Barbecue Bob's "Motherless Child" and Blind Willie Johnson's "Motherless Children" are the same song.  Sigh.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mystery Titles
« Reply #44 on: February 09, 2008, 08:08:32 AM »
On an odd note, in the liner notes for the Catfish CD The Roots of Taj Mahal, we read: "Willie Johnson also sang a version of the quasi-religious 'Motherless Children,' performed here by Atlanta's ace of the twelve-string Barbecue Bob."

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see how anyone familiar with both could possibly think that Barbecue Bob's "Motherless Child" and Blind Willie Johnson's "Motherless Children" are the same song.  Sigh.
Not just you. A more caustic observation was made in review at the time of release. Catfish launched a "Roots Of" series - Canned Heat, Van Morrison, Ry Cooder, Lonnie Donegan ("Lonney" on CD spine) - the booklets of which left much to be desired.  :(
« Last Edit: February 09, 2008, 08:35:02 AM by Bunker Hill »

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