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Oh the blues ain't nothin' but a slow achin' heart disease. Just like consumption, it kills you by degrees - Georgia White, Blues Ain't Nothin'

Author Topic: The Boll Weevil  (Read 17592 times)

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Offline Willie Poor Boy

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2014, 06:41:14 AM »
Thanks for those leads--I don't have copies of those songs in full but managed just now to listen to 30 second samples at least for "Boll Weavil" on Yazoo's Hard Times Come Again No More Vol 2 and "Bloody War" on the Tompkins Sq compilation Bloody War: Songs 1924 - 1939.  The other two references I couldn't track down but it sounds like Lindsey and Conder's "In That War" has never seen the light of day.

At any rate, with the linkages you point to it seems indisputable that this version of the Boll Weavil song is derived from an earlier war song. 

The sample on amazon didn't allow for much context but do you know if "That Blood War" relates to the Spanish American War?  Thanks again!
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 07:52:52 AM by Willie Poor Boy »

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #61 on: May 11, 2014, 05:54:27 PM »
Hi all,
Ma Rainey's version of "Boll Weevil Blues" seems to have been the model for the various versions of "Boll Weevil" which relate to the boll weevil as a lover rather than as an agricultural pest, like Oscar Woods' version and Bessie Smith's.  Ma's version here is truncated before the final lyric break is brought to a conclusion.



Hey, hey, boll weevil, don't sing them blues no more
Hey, hey, boll weevil, don't sing them blues no more
Boll Weevil's here, boll weevil's everywhere you go

I'm a long boll weevil, been out a great long time
I'm a long boll weevil, been out a great long time
I'm gonna sing these blues, to ease a boll weevil's lonesome mind

I don't want no man to put no sugar in my tea
I don't want no man to put no sugar in my tea
Some of 'em is so evil, I'm 'fraid he might poison me

Lord, I went downtown, and bought me a hat
I bought it back home and laid it on the shelf
Looked at my bed, I'm gettin' tired, sleepin' by myself

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 08:34:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #62 on: May 31, 2014, 06:10:44 PM »
Hi all,
There have been some different versions of "Boll Weevil" put up at YouTube since I last looked.  Here's one by Guitar Welch, recorded at Angola Penitentiary by Dr. Harry Oster.  Welch accompanied himself out of Spanish, and his version is a real guitar showpiece, with just about as much space devoted to solos as to verses.  Dr. Oster certainly recorded a lot of stellar music.  I get the same feeling listening to the recordings he made as I do listening to those George Mitchell made:  that the people he recorded were comfortable and did their best while the tape was rolling.



SOLO

Boll weevil's here, baby, boll weevil's everywhere
Boll weevil's here, mama, boll weevil's everywhere
Well, I could go to Arkansas City, Lord, boll weevil's over there

Boll weevils, boll weevil done cut down all of my cotton and corn
Hey, boll weevil done cut down all of my cotton and corn
Well, I'm gonna change my mind, baby, and down the road I'm goin'

SOLO

You know, my baby got ways, Lord, I just can't understand
Yes, my baby got ways, Lord, that I just can't understand
Well, she mistreat me, Lordy, Lord, and found her another man

SOLO

I'm gonna pack my suitcase, baby, and down the road I'm goin'
Hey, I'm gonna pack my suitcase, baby, and down the road I'm goin'
Whoa, mister boll weevil cuttin' down all of my cotton and corn

SOLO

Edited 6/2 to pick up corrections from mr mando

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 07:09:20 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #63 on: May 31, 2014, 06:12:56 PM »
Hi all,
And here's one from Gid Tanner.  Evidently it was the first song he ever recorded.  Lyrically, this is an epic version, and one I especially enjoy.  I find Gid Tanner's enunciation really tough to hear in a couple of places and would really appreciate help with the bent bracketed passages.



The farmer said to the boll weevil, "You're right up on this square."
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "My whole family's there.
I have a home, I have a home."

You get out your barrel of poison, scatter it upon the row
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "You scatter your poison, though,
I have a home, I have a home."

Gonna ease you up to my parcel, gonna cover the grubs all up
Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I doodle myself right up,
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the lightnin' bug, "Can I get up a trade with you?
If I was  lightnin' bug I'd work the whole night through,
All night long, all night long."

"Yes, don't you see us creatuhs now have done you wrong"
"Boll weevil's got my cotton and the merchant's got my corn,
Shall I do?  I've got the blues."

Boll weevil said to the merchant, "Better drink your cold lemonade.
When I get through with you, gwine drag you out of that shade.
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "You'll fly a Ford machine
When I get through with the farmer, can't buy no gasoline."
"What shall I do?  Boll weevil blues"

Boll weevil said to the doctor, "You gotta pull out all of them pills.
When I get through with the farmer, can't pay no doctor bills,
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the preacher, "You better pull up your tent show.
When I get through with the farmer, can't pay no preacher no more,
I have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to the farmer, "I set you on the gate.
When I get through with the farmer, he sell the Cadillac 8,
To have a home, I have a home."

Boll weevil said to his wife, "You got to stand up on your feet.
Look-a-way down here in Georgy, is the cotton we've got to eat,
All night long, all day, too."

SOLO

The farmer said to the boll weevil, "I wish you all's well."
The farmer said to the boll weevil, "I wish you all ------"
I have a home, I have a home

Edited 6/2 to pick up corrections from Pan
Edited 6/2 to pick up correction from ScottN
Edited 8/21 to pick up lyrics from banjochris
Edited 9/3 to pick up lyric from dj


All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 03, 2014, 05:34:46 PM by Johnm »

Offline mr mando

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #64 on: June 02, 2014, 02:43:29 AM »
Here's one by Guitar Welch, recorded at Angola Penitentiary by Dr. Harry Oster.

Boll weevil's here, baby, boll weevil's everywhere
Boll weevil's here, mama, boll weevil's everywhere
Well, I could go to Arkansas City, Lord, boll weevil's everywhere

Wow, hadn't heard that before, great recording. Thanks for pointing it out!!

In 1.3, I think I hear: "Well, I would go to Arkansas City, Lord, boll weevil's over there

In 3.3, I'm not sure if I don't hear something between "Well" and "she", maybe a garbled "the way"?

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #65 on: June 02, 2014, 07:12:14 AM »
Thanks very much for the catches, mr mando.  I transcribed 1.3 correctly but entered it wrong, something I do way too often.  In 3.3, the first "Lord" should have been "Lordy".  I don't think he put anything between "Well" and "she", I think he just drawls a bit.  I have made the changes.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #66 on: June 02, 2014, 11:39:51 AM »
Hi all,
Here are a couple of field recordings of different versions of "Boll Weevil", both sung a capella.  The first, "Boll Weevil Been Here", is sung by Willie Williams.  I'd very much appreciate help with the bent bracketed place in the first line of the third verse:



Boll weevil's been here, done bored his hole and gone
Boll weevil's been here, done bored his hole and gone
You can tell by that, boll weevil won't be here long

Boll weevil's been here, he bored his hole and gone
Boll weevil's been here, he done bored his hole and gone
You can tell by that, boll weevil won't be here long

If I could sing like a sea lark in the air
I would be like boll weevil, fly from town to town

Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Looked in my meal bin and boll weevil, he was there

Boll weevil's flew up, he took a circle 'round the moon
Boll weevil's flew up, he took a circle 'round the moon
Said, "Goodbye, farmers, I see you another year."

Edited 6/2 to pick up corrections from Waxwing, dj and Johnm

The second version, called simply "Boll Weevil" is sung by Albertine King.  It's the only version of the song I've encountered that makes mention of New York.



First time I saw boll weevil, I saw him in New York
Next time I saw boll weevil, he were climbin' up a cotton stalk
Tell me how long the bullyin' boll weevil been gone

The farmer went to his merchant
Say, "All I want was meats and meal."
And the merchant said to the farmer,
"Got boll weevils in your field."
Tell me how long the bullyin' boll weevil been gone

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 02:25:46 PM by Johnm »

Offline waxwing

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #67 on: June 02, 2014, 12:24:59 PM »
Sounds to me Willie Wilson is singing "sea lark", Johnm. There are two birds common to most of the South, particularly farm fields, that he might be referring to, the horned lark and the eastern meadowlark, neither of which have much connection to the sea, so perhaps he is singing "see" or "seeing" or possibly even "singing lark" and muffing it a bit? The meadowlark is know for its call, and the western meadowlark, which has an even more melodious call, does come as far east as western Mississippi in winter. If we knew which part of the south he was from it might narrow it down. Of course, he could be referring to another bird altogether and "lark" is just a local designation.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline waxwing

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #68 on: June 02, 2014, 12:59:27 PM »
I think the idea that he may have muffed that line is supported further by the fact that he sings "If I could sing" when he surely meant "If I could FLY" because the answering line is "I would be like boll weevil, FLY from town to town". Having muffed there he may have then stumbled with the modifier of the lark's name and then chose not to repeat the line at all for the AAB form so as not to have to chose between correcting or repeating the error. Just sayin'...

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline dj

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #69 on: June 02, 2014, 01:01:22 PM »
I think it's "singin' lark".

Also, you missed the fourth verse:

Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Boll weevil here, boll weevil everywhere
Looked in my mirror, and boll weevil he was there

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #70 on: June 02, 2014, 02:28:28 PM »
Thanks very much for the help, waxwing and dj.  I think you're right with "sea lark", waxwing, that sounds right on to me.  Thanks for catching a missed verse, too, dj.  I transcribed it and missed it when I was entering the song.  I think he sings "meal bin" in that verse.  Thanks guys!
If either of you or anyone else is in the mood for deciphering more lyrics, I got a good start on Gid Tanner's "Boll Weevil Blues" a few posts back, but there are several pretty big blank spots, I could sure use some help with.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 02:30:28 PM by Johnm »

Offline Pan

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #71 on: June 02, 2014, 02:54:46 PM »
If either of you or anyone else is in the mood for deciphering more lyrics, I got a good start on Gid Tanner's "Boll Weevil Blues" a few posts back, but there are several pretty big blank spots, I could sure use some help with.
All best,
Johnm

Hi John

I can't help you with the blank spots, but I hear some other parts slightly differently. Perhaps they are just typos, or I'm just imagining things?

I think the 5th verse ends up with "I've got the blues", instead of "Boll weevil blues".

On the 8th verse you start with "Boll weevil said to the farmer", as in the previous verse, when you might have meant "Boll weevil said to the doctor"?

Cheers

Pan

Edited to add: And thanks for another great thread!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 02:56:00 PM by Pan »

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #72 on: June 02, 2014, 03:05:22 PM »
Thanks for the fixes, Pan, you are correct in both instances.  I think I'm going for a new world record in data entry screw-ups today!  I made the changes you suggested.  I'm glad you're enjoying the thread.  There are a lot of great versions yet to be posted. 
All best,
Johnm 

Offline ScottN

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #73 on: June 02, 2014, 04:14:52 PM »
Hi John,

Sorry I'm not of more help but in Gid Tanner's version, I think verse 7 includes "Ford machine."

Thanks,
           Scott

Offline dj

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Re: The Boll Weevil
« Reply #74 on: June 02, 2014, 04:26:47 PM »
Quote
I think he sings "meal bin" in that verse.

Yep, that's it.  Dang, looking in the mirror and seeing the boll weevil there sounded so cool!
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 03:42:23 AM by dj »

 


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