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I passionately hate the idea of being with it; I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time - Orson Welles, 19151985

Author Topic: Guns  (Read 4150 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Guns
« on: January 27, 2007, 08:03:41 AM »
Guns come up so often in country blues you could write a book. Like the Stagolee story guns are potent symbols of the bad man who many singers and their audiences admired or strove to be. So I thought I'd start a thread that reeks of gunpowder and folklore. Here are three I like:

22:20 Blues - Skip James on piano. Hymn to a firearm. Mentions a 44.40 (will do very well), and a .38 special (too light apparently)

99 Year Blues - Julius Daniels. "Bring my pistol, three round balls, I'm gonna shoot everybody I don't like at all..." Surely one of the great opening lines and a very interesting song all round to which you could devote a whole thread.

Stagolee - I like John Hurt's version best. "Boom boom! Boom boom! With a .44... when I spied poor Billy Lyon he's lyin' on the flo'"

Whenever I hear a version of Stack Lee or Frankie & Albert I'm just waiting for that point in the song when the mayhem begins.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guns
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2007, 09:09:12 AM »
Machine Gun Blues - Willie '61' Blackwell which later was adopted by post war artists like Sunnyland Slim. "I feel like snapping, babe, my typewriter in your face" has to be one of the most bizarre lines ever injected into a song concerning machine guns...

Offline Bluesymel

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Re: Guns
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2007, 09:59:57 AM »
How about Dave Van Ronk's Duncan and Brady!

"Duncan blew a whole in Brady's chest"

Mel

Offline Rivers

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Re: Guns
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2007, 10:49:06 AM »
A whole 'what'  Bluesy Mel?  ;)

That "I'm gonna take my pistol, cock it in my baby's face" line is also in Casey Bill's "You Shouldn't Do That".

I once backed up Alan Young at an open mic where we did that song, him on a squareneck tricone and me comping along on my 000-16, wishing I could play those lovely jazzy breaks on the recording.

Alan takes great delight in politically incorrect lyrics and sure enough he sang the un-redacted line and I dutifully hammed it up with <shakes head, tsk tsk> "You shouldn't do that, you shouldn't do that.." Well, you shouldn't, should you.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2007, 10:53:13 AM by Rivers »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guns
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2007, 11:39:52 AM »
Gattling Gun crops up in a few blues. Robert Johnson's 32-20 contains the line "Gonna shoot my pistol, gonna shoot my gattling gun", but there are other occurrences which, for the life of me, I can't bring to mind. Kokomo Arnold perhaps?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Guns
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2007, 12:40:30 PM »
In what I think is the Gary Davis version of Delia, never recorded by him, but by many revivalists, didn't the sheriff shoot her down with his gattlin' gun?

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mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Guns
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2007, 01:00:29 PM »
Mance Lipscomb's "Ella Speed" Focuses On The Shooting Of His Wife.

In Many Songs When They're Wives Cheated On Them They Didn't Divorce Them They Shot 'Em

Offline Johnm

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Re: Guns
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2007, 05:42:50 PM »
Hi all,
In the interest of being a stuffed shirt I just thought that I would point out that Gatling is a proper name (that of the gun's inventor) not a participle.
All best,
Johnm

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Guns
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2007, 08:37:20 AM »
Hi:

Funny Papa Smith had "Forty-Five Blues" about comitting a crime with a '45 and then turning himself in.

In his "Heart Bleeding Blues"  ..."I'll buy me a shotgun and some shells."

In "Mama, Quittin' and Leavin', Part 1" ..."take my '45 mama, and turn you upside down" (which he doesn't in the end do).

Alex

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Guns
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2007, 12:15:28 PM »
Something to think about when you listen to these old songs is that these guys were probably venting frustrations that couldn't be expressed at the time not about their women, but about Jim Crow.  Anyone ever listen to "Blues in The Mississippi Night" with Big Bill, Memphis Slim, and John Lee Williamson?  At one point Big Bill talks about a man yelling at his mule, but he wasn't really angry at the mule, he was angry at the Man.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guns
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2007, 12:22:48 PM »
Anyone ever listen to "Blues in The Mississippi Night" with Big Bill, Memphis Slim, and John Lee Williamson? 
Yes, it was responsible for turning me on to the blues during the school vacation of summer 1962. I still have the LP today and know its content better than I do that of my life! ::)  :(
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 12:24:29 PM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Richard

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Re: Guns
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2007, 12:32:34 PM »
My first blues LP was the  Ace of Hearts, "Out came the Blues", still have it of course but very tatty and then there Vol 2 !  I have feeling Bluehome has a first edition as well  :D
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guns
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2007, 12:39:22 PM »
My first blues LP was the  Ace of Hearts, "Out came the Blues", still have it of course but very tatty and then there Vol 2 !  I have feeling Bluehome has a first edition as well  :D
Nothing tatty about my copy of Blues In Miss Night. :)

It's been in a plastic outer sleeve these past four decades. Here's a not very successful scan, something strange has happened to the blue.

Offline outfidel

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Re: Guns
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2007, 01:44:03 PM »
There's the floating lyric "I'm going to shoot my woman / Just to see her fall"  that appears in a number of tunes:
- "Furry's Blues" by Furry Lewis
- "New Salty Dog" by Sam Collins
- "Blue Yodel No. 1" by Jimmie Rodgers (?I'm going to shoot poor Thelma / Just to see her jump and fall?)

Mississippi John Hurt in "Ain't No Tellin'" puts the weapons in the woman's hands:
"Don't you let my good girl catch you here
She might shoot you may cut you and stab you too
'Tain't no telling what she might do"

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Offline blueshome

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Re: Guns
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2007, 02:08:52 PM »
Don't forget the versions of that great piano blues ".44" - Roosevelt Sykes, Lee Green, Big Maceo (changed the calibre not the song), etc - not mention Howlin' Wolf etc.

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Guns
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2007, 11:54:35 PM »
Man, I love Sykes's "44 Blues."  That bass run he plays kicks ass.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Guns
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2007, 07:28:09 PM »
I agree Slim, one of the foundation blues riffs. It strikes me as being the piano equiv of Roll & Tumble. I looked it up, Sykes recorded it in June 1929, Willie Newbern recorded R&T March 1928. Maybe the first incidence of a '20s piano guy copping a riff from a guitarist and not the other way round?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Guns
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2007, 12:13:03 AM »
I agree Slim, one of the foundation blues riffs. It strikes me as being the piano equiv of Roll & Tumble.
Paul Oliver devoted an entire chapter (37 pages) to examining the lineage of "The Forty-Fours" in Screening The Blues (Cassell, 1968) where, as well as 44 and R&T, he also discusses the Vicksburg Blues element.

Offline dj

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Re: Guns
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2007, 07:28:32 AM »
Jack Kelly and his South Memphis Jug Band, "Red Ripe Tomatoes":  "I've got a 32.20, shoots just like a 45".

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Guns
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2012, 08:24:57 AM »
I have been trying to figure where I heard another reference to Gatling Gun, and it's in Charlie Poole's Shootin' Creek, where he's "Going up to Shootin' Creek, Goin' on a run. Take my razor and my Gatling Gun"

This (and Robert Johnson's reference) is surely some kind of dark humour or sexual bravado, since a Gatling Gun is a horse drawn multi-barrelled machine gun and not something you would see toted everyday!

Offline lindy

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Re: Guns
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2012, 08:41:28 AM »

Lucy Mae Blues, various performances:

My Saturday woman got a gatlin' gun,
Cut you if you stand, she will shoot you if you run.



Offline uncle bud

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Re: Guns
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2012, 05:48:52 PM »
I would guess that Gatling gun was just a way of saying big-ass gun and possibly used as a synonym for machine gun, not as a literal Gatling gun.

Offline lindy

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Re: Guns
« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2012, 09:32:47 AM »
The Gatling gun has a powerful history in the Deep South, where it was considered the "ultimate weapon" during the Civil War (even though they broke down a lot). And there's a famous event in Wilmington, North Carolina in the 1890s where the white minority (3-to-1 black to white population, blacks on the city council, black police officers) "reclaimed" their city by parading a Gatling gun around town and intimidating the black community so it didn't vote in the town election.  A lot of African Americans were killed or run out of town. I forget whether the Gatling gun was actually used, but conventional guns certainly were. That story definitely would have made it into conversations among African Americans throughout the southern states, and likely the reason why Gatling guns show up in some song lyrics.

The only reason I know this stuff is because of two books: The Gun by C.J. Chivers, and A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles. Both recommended, neither has anything to do with blues music.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2012, 09:36:15 AM by lindy »

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Guns
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2012, 05:23:19 AM »
I'ma train my baby to shoot a pistol like a man
and if she can't trip the trigger than she cannot be in my gang - Robert Lockwood Jr
(and Jazz Gillum)

Also I don't know what the song is but the lyrics go something like:
I've a greyhound and a gun, shoot you if you stand still chase you when you run

...any ideas?
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 05:27:57 AM by JohnLeePimp »
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Guns
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2012, 05:33:26 AM »
"I Whistled To My Shotgun, And It Crawled Down Off The Wall"
Guitar Nubbit
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline Pan

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Re: Guns
« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2012, 02:51:00 PM »
Gatling gun mentioned in this otherwise peaceful song.  ;)


Offline railroad steel

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Re: Guns
« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2012, 01:57:29 PM »
How about Floyd "dipper boy" Council in Runaway man blues- "I'm gonna get me a razor now i got a blue steel gun- cut you if you stand shoot you if you run. This cat had a real penchant for violent lyrics!

Offline alyoung

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Re: Guns
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2012, 03:51:19 AM »
How about Floyd "dipper boy" Council in Runaway man blues- "I'm gonna get me a razor now i got a blue steel gun- cut you if you stand shoot you if you run. This cat had a real penchant for violent lyrics!

It's a great line, but it ain't his ... it goes back at least to Bessie Smith and her Black Mountain Blues.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Guns
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2012, 05:23:50 AM »
Agreed.  Though I think that Bessie does the line in reverse (I certainly do when I sing it) - in keeping with the theme of contradiction throughout the song (i.e. women calling for whiskey and little birds singing bass etc): "Shoot if he stands and cut if he runs".

Which suggests to me she was having fun by reversing an older lyrical archetype.  There are doubtless some weenies about who will instantly direct us to earlier examples :D

Offline oddenda

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Re: Guns
« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2012, 09:33:50 PM »
Lightnin' Hopkins had a song or two that would fit here - or maybe versions of the same song!

pbl

Offline Rivers

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Re: Guns
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2012, 10:19:56 PM »
It's such a big topic and we've been ramping-up to get our arms around it for some time. We excluded it from brands, products & services in country blues since references to guns would have naturally tended to take over.

Maybe we need to set some parameters, what makes a really good gun song. Gatling, obviously. Various calibers, certainly. Styles of guns, rifles, shotguns, handguns. Just putting a couple of guns on the table.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 10:25:51 PM by Rivers »

Offline dj

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Re: Guns
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2012, 06:34:59 AM »
Just to clarify Rivers' statement, I think brands of guns, such as Colt, should go into the brands list.  Calibers (.44, .32, etc.), slang names (Does this include Gatling?), and generic terms (shotgun, pistol) obviously should not.

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Guns
« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2012, 11:11:41 AM »
I'm gonna buy me a bulldog cause my pistol's a number 41
I'm gonna shoot you if you stand still mama, I got a doggone dog to catch you if you run

Joe Stone's Back Door Blues

Yeah, got so mad this morning, broke through the wall...
grabbed my shotgun started to mow that woman down

John Lee Hooker's Black Man Blues
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

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