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I woke up and remember having to go into my room to get some clothes or something out of my chest of drawers. I was very quiet, as I could hear Rev snoring and didn't want to wake him. Well, I got whatever it was and I was headed toward the door when I heard in a commanding voice,"Don't move or you're dead!". I turned around to see Rev with a .38 revolver in his hand pointed in my general direction, but sort of moving around so as to cover a wider target area. I remember screaming something to the effect of, "No--don't shoot." Rev replied, "One wrong move and you're dead." Well, then I started talking a mile a minute..."Rev, it's me, it's Barry, don't shoot Rev...I was only getting something from my chest of drawers..." Finally, Rev said, "Is that you, Barry?" The incident was soon over, and I had escaped with me life. I guess, from his perspective, it must have been kind of weird to be alone, blind, on the road 3,000 miles from home and rooming with a bunch of lunatic young musicians many years his junior. But to this day, the picture of Reverend Gary Davis that sticks in my mind the most is early in the morning, half-awake and blind as a bat, with a .38 in his hand pointed in my general direction. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life - Barry Melton

Author Topic: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.  (Read 8349 times)

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arbiter

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Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« on: January 12, 2007, 07:57:36 AM »
We are planning to issue an anthology of early guitarists, including unpublished recordings by Rev. Gary Davis & Leadbelly, and our new hero - Ramblin' Thomas, with lyrics. Some have stumped experts and one wishes for the most accurate transcription possible. Any leads would be credited, a CD sent in homage, with karmic hosannas:
Enigma #1: Buddy Boy Hawkins' A Rag: "I call it an a____ed position (?) rag, or that A Rag";
"That's what you call that 'chock-all'? [One listener from Arkansas insists it has to be 'chock-full', an academic hears 'Chaconne' (a baroque dance in triple meter - impossible!!).
Enigma #2: William Moore: Raggin' the Blues: "Out (got?) on the (corn) where [t]his bread was on that box."
Enigma #3: Patton: Miss. Boll Weevil Blues: "Boll weevil (near the wife?)'We'll sit down on the hay, Lordy, Boll weevil told his wife 'Let's take this forty a[cres], Lordy. . ." (I believe the reference is to forty acres, the land alotted to emancipated slaves. The beginning of the first line is daunting.
Enigma #4: Rube Lacy's Ham Hound Crave: "And all us (his?) children, (Poppa's) trying to sing my song." Doesn't make sense in the context of the wavering from a normal active church to the commotion caused by the deacon swiping his girlfriend amidst an upcoming song. S.O.S.!

Offline Slack

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2007, 08:12:12 AM »
Hi Arbiter, welcome to Weenie Campbell!  Nice website and projects you have going (folks, check out http://arbiterrecords.com/ )

We love to figure out lyrics -- so I'm sure some folks will give those tunes a listen and provide some help.  When is your anthology targeted for release?

arbiter

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2007, 09:46:13 AM »
We plan an anthology for March or April. The main reasons (as there are so many CDs in orbit) was to use a transfer technology we've developed: while not reducing the noise caused by the shellac, there is a way of honing in on the signal to bring out the music trapped in the grooves. Also we were given access to Harry Smith's own archive at the NY Public Library, and will follow this next year with a Gospel anthology (which has even more daunting words to decipher).
As a pupil of Rev. Davis, it was a thrill to find more of his session tapes from 1956, which have a few new works and familiar solo pieces played with interesting variants. Couldn't resist, and the lyrics must be palpable to show the poetry, metaphor, and substance of the artists' world.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2007, 10:25:06 AM »
Welcome arbiter!

Our own Banjochris transcribed William Moore's Raggin' the Blues here: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=108&topic=2330.0

He had this section as "Jazz 'em boy, jazz 'em. All over that box Barber Bill, it's a box. Not on the comb or the brush but on that box."

I haven't checked against the recording. But if you use this, credit and CDs should go to Chris!

arbiter

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2007, 11:37:52 AM »
Banjochris is right! Excellent listening.
Many thanks.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2007, 12:46:56 PM »
Hi arbiter. Glad Chris is right!

Re. Ham Hound Crave (or Ham Hocks and Gravy as the title was probably meant to be):

I think the line in question is "And all his children are, papa, tryin' to sing my song."

With "tryin' to" sung a bit like "tryin'-a".

Compare to the first verse of Luke Jordan's "Church Bells Blues":

The church bells ringin', secretary singin',
The preacher's preachin', can't you hear the sisters shouting
Children in the pulpit, mama, trying to learn my song
Now that low down dirty Deacon done stole my gal and gone

Cheers,
uncle bud
« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 01:06:34 PM by uncle bud »

Offline dj

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2007, 02:34:39 PM »
For "A Rag", I hear:

"I call it man you play this here rag, or that A Rag".  I'm fairly certain this is correct.  Lot's of emphasis on "play".
 
and

"That's called that sharp hog".  I'd swear to the first 4 words here, but hog may or may not be right.  Coming right after a bit af a guitar flourish, it may be "sharp haul" or something like that.

arbiter

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2007, 07:14:39 PM »
Uncle Bud,

Yes, the reference to Luke Jordan solved the awkward word. Performers often shared lyrics.
 
DJ: The new restoration finds the phrase sounding like a word ending with "-ition", like 'position'. The other trap sounds more like shock, or chock. We must either find an analogous expression or someone familiar with this as a local idiom (if anyone is still alive and kicking).

Your suggestions have been invaluable.

Last but not least, one further enigma:

Ramblin' Thomas: Hard Dallas Blues:
"Before I would stand to see my baby go down,
I would [suck?!!] all of my clothes and walk the streets in my morning gown."

It sounds very much like 'suck', not 'stuff'. Trouble hearing this word. It is meaningless with 'suck', unless it was slang for stashing away, throwing away, taking off, . . .

The context also suggested 'mourning gown' but a TS Eliot poem reminds that it is 'morning'.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2007, 12:01:41 AM »
Here's my take on "A Rag."

Now this here's the A Rag I'm playin'. This here's my rag. I brought it all the way from Jackson, Mississippi. Some people don't know what this rag is,  after all then they can play this here rag, call it A Rag. Here(s) where I make the Jackson girls shimmy-wobble. That's what you call that ?. Here's what make all the girls feel good. Listen here. (Lem)me do this here. This... this run. Now let's hear again. That's what they call that terrible rag, we got now, got off that other rag. Here(s) where they get happy now. Gettin' happy. Just call that... Jackson A Rag.

The part that sounds like "-tion" is the "this here," which sounds like "sheer"

I think the missing word, going back and listening to it slowed down, might be a playfully exaggerated "shuffle" --
"shuh -- foh".

Also, the only reading that would make sense to me in "Hard Dallas" is "I would soak all of my clothes..."

And finally, the missing words from the beginning of the "Mississippi Bo Weavil" line are "Boll weevil and his-a wife..."
Chris

Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2007, 01:44:49 AM »
Surely Ramblin' Thomas sings:

"Before I would stand to see my baby go down,
I would shuck all of my clothes and walk the streets in my morning gown."

Offline Slack

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2007, 07:45:38 AM »
Quote
I would shuck all of my clothes and walk the streets in my morning gown."

Excellent!  I listened to this and it never occured to me.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2007, 08:27:59 AM »
I listened to both takes of Hard Dallas and I'm hearing an "-unk" sound in both, as much as I like shuck.

Playing with the EQ, I think I almost hear a "t" sound at the start of the word, rather than an "s" or a "sh" and I'm wondering whether it is:

"I would trunk all of my clothes and walk the streets in my morning gown."

Offline dj

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2007, 10:14:36 AM »
Going back and listening some more to "A Rag", I think the first line in question is:

"Some people don't know what this rag is, ah for all them they can play this here rag, call it A Rag."

With "for" pronounced "fer", the sense being that while the uninitiated don't know what to call this rag, those that can play it call it "A Rag".

"Shuffle" makes a lot of sense in the context of the second line in question, but when I slow down the track to 30% or so of nominal speed, I hear an "ar" followed by a full close of the lips at the end of the first syllable, followed by an aspiration at the start of the second syllable.  Try as I can, I just can't get "shuffle" to sound like that.  I'd go with either "sharp haul", referring to the guitar interlude immediately preceeding the sopken phrase, or better yet "sharp ball", referring to good shimmy-wobble dancing.   

Edited to add: 

After more listening, I've become convinced that the first line in question is:

"Some people don't know what this rag is, I'm the only man can play this here rag, call it A Rag."

"I'm" is pronounced "Ah'm", and "man" is pretty mangled, but it's the kind of thing that once I hear it, everything falls into place.  Kind of a "Eureka" moment.

Unfortunately, I haven't had such a moment with the second line in question.  At this point I'm leaning towards "that's what they call that sharp ball", but I could still be swayed to accept another interpretation.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 10:31:59 AM by dj »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2007, 10:30:09 AM »
Yeah, DJ, those 2 lines are tough in A Rag. I'll give my ears a rest on it for a day or so and come back and see if I can hear anything else on it -- it could be "ah for all them they" as easily as "after all then they".

On "Hard Dallas," I agree that "shuck" would make sense, but I don't hear a "sh" at all in either take. As I was listening to it, I was thinking that a REALLY good first verse would have been:

Before I would stand to see my gravy go down,
I would suck all my clothes and walk the streets in my morning gown.

Mmmmm...clothes gravy.

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2007, 10:42:19 AM »
I think "trunk" is the way to go on "Hard Dallas Blues".  It's a bit ambiguous on take 2 but more obvious on take 4.
 

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2007, 11:45:35 AM »
DJ--
I got your message -- I think I must have posted my last thing at the same time you were editing your post. You definitely have that right with the "I'm the only man" -- good work.
Chris

arbiter

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2007, 11:15:54 AM »
Thanks everyone for such attentive listening. The disc should appear in March or April (latest) and I'll post info then.

Offline dj

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Re: Lyrics by BB Hawkins, Patton, etc.
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2007, 12:24:26 PM »
I've just spent a lot of time listenint to the "That's called that ..." section of "A Rag", trying it at different speeds and with different EQs, and I'm 90% convinced that the full phrase is "That's called that sharp ball."  I'd had an idea that it might be "sharp balling", with the "i" sort of swallowed and the "g" dropped so it was pronounced "sharp balln", but I just can't find an "n" on the end of the phrase.

Then it occurred to me, in a bit of a "D'oh!" moment, that "A Rag" is on the Revenant Charley Patton boxed set, so its lyrics are transcribed there.  Dick Spottswood and crew agree with "I'm the only man can play this here rag, call it "A Rag"", but unfortunately give the line currently in question as "That's called that "shocko".", with "shocko" presumably carrying the definition: "Darned if we can tell, but it sounds like this".  Not a lot of help!

So unless someone convinces me otherwise, I'll live out the rest of my days hearing "That's called that sharp ball".
       

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