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I ain't gon' get no job, 'cause I ain't starving - Blind Blake

Author Topic: Blind Willie McTell lyrics  (Read 53541 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #120 on: January 26, 2009, 06:00:59 PM »
Also, on first listen I thought I heard "crawled across the tin". Then I thought tin might be slang for money, which it is. So the image could be crawling across the money on the ground at a crap game, to get away from the bust. And no doubt grab a few spondoolicks on the way... see "I Got Mine" for the same scene.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #121 on: January 27, 2009, 07:14:25 AM »
uncle bud, I gave Razor Ball a few listens w/ phones and slower, and here's my take fwiw:
First sung line:  given sounds w/ a long e sound, sounds like 'even' but given makes more sense

Yup, and I had it transcribed as "even" for awhile, but on closer listening I confirmed "given", the hard G, plus it's very clear in the Sara Martin version.

Quote
Line 7 Sounds like 'Mighty Chuck Charlie' to me, really hard to discern.  I also know 'chuck' is a derogatory term applied by black folk to white folk, but probably doesn't apply in the context of this song.

Yes, sounded a bit like that to me as well. However, Rivers' "Manchester Charlie" had me go back and slow things down and I'm definitely hearing "-chester" in there and agree with Riv that it is pronounced a bit more like "my-chester". This is as close as anyone's got before I think, so a nice breakthrough. "Manchester Charlie shot his automatic twin" also echoes the "Winchester Charlie shot Automatic Slim" from the Sara Martin version. Whether McTell deliberately rewrites the lyrics or screws them up, who knows. We don't even know for certain that he got it from Sara Martin I suppose. Will change lyric to Manchester Charlie. I need to ponder "crawled across the tin" some more. I don't exactly hear a "the" in there, but there's room for it.

Quote
The high sheriff took the [couple] and double-crossed ten:  'couple' sounds pretty clear to me and so does 'crossed off ten' rather than double crossed ten

I'm hearing the the extra syllable from double in "double-crossed ten", not to mention the D and BL. I am not sure of the meaning of this line, which would perhaps help.

Quote
And in the last refrain (or whatever you call the repeated lines) the second one sounds clearly to be not just 'they made love' .. I hear an 's' in there between they and made, like 'where they's made love'

Yes, it sounds like something in between those words. I'm not getting an 'S'. Perhaps THEY'VE?

Quote
Cool song! .. simple guitar part, but, a few years ago, when I tried to sing along, I couldn't put the voice part and guitar part together..but this one's on my bucket list ! 

Yes, lots of fun. I've started putting it together though need to work on my attitude.  :P

Thanks for the help, guys.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:32:28 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #122 on: January 27, 2009, 07:21:34 PM »
Now you come to mention it, "automatic twin" is an amazing cartoonesque image, I pictured Daffy Duck with some serious hardware. Thanks for the background on that one.

Also, re. the Sara Martin version, turns out there is also a Winchester, GA, not too far from Manchester:

I think we can assume McTell was really into getting just the right number of syllables into his lines, the "tip light" verse being the extreme example of him playing with the language in this way. Maybe there are others to be found.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:42:56 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #123 on: January 27, 2009, 09:04:23 PM »
Sara Martin came out of Louisville, Kentucky. I'd imagine the original "Winchester Charlie" moniker referred to the weapon, not the Georgia town.

Paul Oliver discusses the emergence of various rough and tumble Ball songs in his essay "Lookin' for the Bully". Mamie Smith recorded "The Jazzbo Ball" in 1921, which features a character named Razor Jim. Razor Jim, and his rules and regulations for the ball, recurs in Edith Wilson/Johnny Dunn's "Rules and Regulations Signed Razor Jim" (1921 or '22):

Every Friday night Razor Jim give a ball
Before you dance in that hall
You have to read them
Rules and Regulations on the wall, that's all.

[snipped lyrics]
If you break these rules, Jim'll cut your hide
Don't none of you brothers get out on that limb
Rules and Regulations, signed Razor Jim

The songs have characters with names like Pistol Pete, Sluefoot Joe, etc. Oliver also transcribes "At The Bootlegger's Ball" by Eddie Hunter. Similar scenes of mayhem, nicknames again, Bob the Barber, Sneaky Steve, Slapstick Sam:

Every human there got either hit, cut or shot
Everybody enjoyed themselves quite a lot

!!

Re. syllables. Dunno that they have much to do with it. I think McTell just changes the lyrics, either by misunderstanding, a different source version of the song or, like James Joyce, to keep us puzzling over them for years...


Offline Rivers

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #124 on: January 28, 2009, 03:58:29 PM »
Thanks, I enjoyed that. The syllable comment was a disconnected observation. You'd have to admit he was on the complex side wrt syllables. Many of his songs are dense with them, the Big 80 verse in Statesboro Blues, Crapshooter, many more examples. I mean compared to most other lyricists in the genre he tends to pack them in.

I noticed the other day the syllable count in the 'tip light' line, 17, though it might turn out to be 16 or 18 etc when we finally nail it. That qualifies that single line as a complete zen koan.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2009, 04:13:42 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #125 on: January 28, 2009, 05:08:45 PM »
Hi all,
It's true that Willie McTell liked to pack the syllables in, and it's impressive that in so doing, he didn't allow his scansion to be thrown off, for the most part.  I checked a couple of lines from Louis "Jelly Belly" Hayes, and found ones of 23 and 29 (!) syllables, but in all fairness, Jelly Belly liked to go long in his phrasing, and if you're willing to do that ( or prefer it), you'll always be able to fit more words in.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 29, 2009, 04:31:56 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #126 on: January 28, 2009, 11:58:05 PM »
To digress back to the "Broke Down Engine" mystery line -- I always thought McTell says "snake-lovin'." I think the "tap it flat" and "tip light 'cross your floor" are right. The last part, particularly, is enunciated quite clearly by McTell in the later version of "Broke Down Engine" on Vol. 2 of the JSP set -- he even says "across your floor."

I think the meaning of the line is: he gets on his belly like a snake -- "tap it flat" means like Yank Rachell's "Tappin' that Thing" (in this case completing coitus to both partners' satisfaction) -- and then sneaks out with no one the wiser.

I also think Buddy Moss is imitating the line phonetically without really knowing what McTell sang -- in take 2 of "Broke Down Engine No. 2" he loses it and just stutters for a bit.

To go back to "Razor Ball," I think that McTell sometimes would sing nonsense words if he didn't remember or learned the song imperfectly in the first place. For example, on the Last Session he does this in "Beedle Um Bum" and "That Will Never Happen No More." This isn't uncommon ("the pale and the leader" in "Wildwood Flower") -- Charlie Poole is another one who does this. This is just a long-winded way of saying that there might not be anything completely logical to decipher in some of these verses.
Chris

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #127 on: January 29, 2009, 04:25:45 PM »
I'm sticking with 'arsenic'!  ;)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #128 on: February 15, 2009, 02:32:40 PM »
[edit: added to weenipedia]

I started transcribing Dying Crapshooter, couldn't decide which version, so I did all three.
"Sweet Lorena" doesn't make an appearance in the first version, and there are other minor differences throughout.

Funny thing, he says "I guess I ought to know, how're I want(s) to go" in all three, which also reminded me of the recent discussion on Ft. Worth & Dallas Blues where Leadbelly also clearly says, "I'm doin' fairly well, baby how'ra you". Earth-shattering stuff, I know.  :P



Dying Crapshooter's Blues, Blind Willie McTell
5 November 1940, Atlanta, LoC session
Complete Library of Congress Recordings (1940) (Document BDCD-6001)
Legendary Library of Congress Session (Elektra 301)
Deep River of Song - Georgia (Rounder 11661-1828-2)
The Classic Years (JSP box set, JSP7711)

[Intro]

Little Jesse was a gambler, night and day
He used crooked cards and dice
He was a sinful boy, good hearted but had no soul
His heart was hard and cold like ice

Little Jesse was a wild, reckless gambler, won a gang of change
And many a-gambler's heart he left in pain
Little Jessie begin to lose his money but he was all alone
And his heart had even turned to stone

The police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down
Said "Boys I got to die today"
He had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers at his bedside
But here are the words he had to say

I guess I ought to know
How're I wants to go

(How you wanna go, Jesse?)

I wants eight crapshooters for my pallbearers
Let 'em all be dressed there in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard
But only eight mens comin' back

I wants a gang of gamblers gathered around my coffin side
With a crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters'll never grieve over me
My life been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
High sheriff playin' blackjack, lead the parade

I want the judge and solic'ter who jailed me 14 times
Put a pair of dice in my shoes
Let a deck of cards be my tombstone
I got the dyin' crapshooter's blues

I want sixteen real good crapshooters
Sixteen bootleggers to sing a song
Sixteen buck-riders gamblin'
With a couple tends bar while I'm rollin' along

He wanted 22 womens outta the Hampton Hotel
26 off-a South Bell
29 women outta North Atlanta
Know that little Jesse didn't pass out so swell

His head was achin', heart was thumpin'
Little Jesse went down bouncin' and jumpin'
Folks don't be standin' around ole Jesse cryin'
He wants everybody to do the Charleston whilst he dyin'

One foot up, a toenail dragging
Throw my buddy Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze
He's got the dyin' crapshooter's, passin' out
Well the dyin' crapshooter's blues

====================================================================
Dying Crapshooter's Blues, Blind Willie McTell
1949, Atlanta
Atlanta Twelve String (Atlantic 82366-2)



[Intro]

Little Jesse was a gambler, night and day
Well, he used crooked cards and dice
Sinful boy, good hearted but had no soul
Heart was hard and cold like ice

Little Jesse was a wild, reckless gambler, and won a gang of change
And many a-gambler's heart he led in pain
When he began to spend and lose his money he began to be blue and all alone
But boy his heart had even turned to stone

What broke Jesse's heart while he was blue and all alone
Sweet Lorena packed up and gone
Police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down
Boys I got to die today

He had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers at his bedside
Here are the words he had to say

I guess I ought to know
Exactly how're I want to go

(How you wanna go, Jesse?)

Eight crapshooters to be my pallbearers
Let 'em be veiled down in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard, buddy
And eight men comin' back

I wants a gang of gamblers gathered 'round my coffin-side
A crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters'll never grieve over me
My life been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
High sheriff playin' blackjack, lead the parade

I want the judge and solic'ter who jailed me 14 times
Put a pair of dice in my shoes (and what else?)
Let a deck of cards be my tombstone, buddy
I got the dyin' crapshooter's blues

Sixteen real good crapshooters
Sixteen bootleggers to sing a song
Sixteen racket men gamblin'
Couple tend bar while I'm rollin' along

He wanted 22 womens outta the Hampton Hotel
26 off-a South Bell
29 women outta North Atlanta
Know that Jesse didn't pass out so swell

Ah his head was achin', heart was thumpin'
Little Jesse went down bouncin' and jumpin'
Folks, don't be standin' around ole Jesse cryin'
He wants everybody to do the Charleston whilst he dyin'

One foot up and a toenail dragging
Throw my friend Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze
The dyin' crapshooter's, blues I mean
The dyin' crapshooter's blues

====================================================================
The Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues, Blind Willie McTell
September 1956, Atlanta
Last Session (Prestige/Bluesville OBCCD-517-2 82366-2)



[Intro]

Little Jesse was a gambler, night and day
He used crooked cards and dice
Sinful guy, good hearted but had no soul
Heart was hard and cold like ice

Jesse was a wild reckless gambler, won a gang of change
Although many gambler's heart he led in pain
Began to spend and lose his money, began to be blue
Sad and all alone his heart had even turned to stone

What broke Jesse's heart while he was blue and all alone
Sweet Lorena packed up and gone
Police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down
Boys I got to die today

He had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers at his bedside
Here are the words he had to say

I guess I ought to know
Exactly how're I want to go

(How you wanna go, Jesse?)

Eight crapshooters to be my pallbearers
Let 'em be veiled down in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard, bubba
And eight men comin' back

I wants a gang of gamblers gathered 'round my coffin-side
Crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters'll never grieve over me
My life been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
High sheriff playin' blackjack, lead the parade

I want the judge and solic'ter who jailed me 14 times
Put a pair of dice in my shoes (then what?)
Let a deck of cards be my tombstone
I got the dyin' crapshooter's blues

Sixteen real good crapshooters
Sixteen bootleggers to sing a song
Sixteen racket men gamblin'
Couple tend bar while I'm rollin' along

He wanted 22 womens outta the Hampton Hotel
26 off-a South Bell
29 women outta North Atlanta
No, little Jesse didn't pass out so swell

His head was achin', heart was thumpin'
Little Jesse went to hell bouncin' and jumpin'
Folks, don't be standin' around ole Jesse cryin'
He wants everybody to do the Charleston whilst he dyin'

One foot up, a toenail dragging
Throw my buddy Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze
The dyin' crapshooter's, leavin' the world
The dyin' crapshooter's, goin' down slow
With the dyin' crapshooter's blues
« Last Edit: July 16, 2020, 05:38:20 PM by Johnm »

Censio

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #129 on: February 19, 2009, 02:07:56 AM »
Hello!!

does someone have the murderer's home blues lyrics?
And if someone know who was this Delia? All I found  in my town library is that Delia was a girl shot by a man called ?Coony/Kenny? one christmas eve because she refused to married him.
If you know this, mctell me it  ;D



thank you!!
« Last Edit: July 16, 2020, 05:39:10 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #130 on: February 19, 2009, 02:40:57 AM »
And if someone know who was this Delia? All I found  in my town library is that Delia was a girl shot by a man called ?Coony/Kenny? one christmas eve because she refused to married him.
If you know this, mctell me it  ;D
thank you!!
I thought this had been discussed here in the past. If all else fails there is a passable potted history of the Delia-Cooney tale in Michael Gray's McTell book.

Offline Pan

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #131 on: February 19, 2009, 03:52:48 AM »
And if someone know who was this Delia? All I found  in my town library is that Delia was a girl shot by a man called ?Coony/Kenny? one christmas eve because she refused to married him.
If you know this, mctell me it  ;D
thank you!!
I thought this had been discussed here in the past. If all else fails there is a passable potted history of the Delia-Cooney tale in Michael Gray's McTell book.

Sorry, can't help with the lyrics, but here's one thread discussing Delia: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=4397.0

You'll find others, if you use the search function.

Cheers

Pan

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #132 on: February 19, 2009, 09:42:28 AM »
And if someone know who was this Delia? All I found  in my town library is that Delia was a girl shot by a man called ?Coony/Kenny? one christmas eve because she refused to married him.
If you know this, mctell me it  ;D
thank you!!
I thought this had been discussed here in the past. If all else fails there is a passable potted history of the Delia-Cooney tale in Michael Gray's McTell book.
Sorry, can't help with the lyrics, but here's one thread discussing Delia: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=4397.0
Pan
Good Lord and I started the discussion too. The little grey cells ain't what they were and to prove it the above link shows me telling folk the it was Gray's Dylan book which contains the discussion, long before the McT was published. Duh, perhaps I should be put out to grass with the rest of the nags!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 09:43:39 AM by Bunker Hill »

Censio

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #133 on: February 19, 2009, 12:19:56 PM »
Thank you very much!
That is really really really interesting.
For the murderer's home blues lyrics it's very difficult for me because I speack French that's why I need some help!

Thanks a lot!!!!!!!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blind Willie McTell lyrics
« Reply #134 on: February 19, 2009, 12:20:31 PM »
My first question to people in general about the lyrics of Murderer's Home Blues would be does McTell sing "Murderer's Home" or "Murderous Home". C.f. below:




« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 12:22:03 PM by uncle bud »

 


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