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I took my baby to meet that mornin' train, and the blues come down, baby, like showers of rain - Charlie Patton, Pony Blues

Author Topic: Blind Lemon Jefferson lyrics  (Read 160831 times)

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Offline cmr

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Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #60 on: September 19, 2005, 09:06:39 PM »
Hi all

I was wondering if anyone has transcribed the lyrics for the Blind Lemon Jefferson's "One Dime Blues".  I am learning how to play the song and have been counting out beats, but would rather learn the lyrics too.  It's a classic 16 bar blues song.



   Thanks, Charlie R.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2020, 09:56:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #61 on: September 20, 2005, 05:09:18 AM »
Ari has done a fine job with it, you might want to request it on the juke. Here's what I have. Please feel free anyone to correct / suggest:

One Dime Blues ? Blind Lemon Jefferson
(Key of F; E chord capo 1)

I'm broke and I ain't got a dime (x3)
Everybody gets it(?) hard luck sometime

I was standing on East Cairo Street one day (x3)
One dime was all I had

(Instrumental verse, demon picking break)

Mama don't treat your daughter mean (x3)
Thats the meanest woman a man most ever seen

You want your friend to be bad like Jesse James (x3)
Get two six shooters, highway some passenger train (?)

(Instrumental verse; picking break)

One dime was all I had (x3)
Try'n to be a sportin' lad

I bought that morning news (x3)
Then I bought a cigar too (?)

Offline cmr

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #62 on: September 20, 2005, 09:11:13 AM »
Thanks for the lyrics.  Ari's version of "One Dime Blues" is wonderful.  I requested Ari's version and BLJ's original version on the juke.   

The hardest part to learn is getting the transitions exactly on the beat and making a seamless transition from the last E-chord hammer-on to the A-position slide.  It works if I play it slowly and becomes awkward when I try to go faster.  I have to resist the temptation to go to fast.  Cheers, Charlie

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #63 on: September 21, 2005, 09:16:47 AM »
Ari's version is astonishing to me for capturing that timing which, though I haven't A-B'd with Lemon's, sounds extremely Lemoniferous (thanks for the term frankie). I detect a bit more boogie woogie in Ari's at one point, guess he couldn't resist it and it does work.

Alvin Hart observed at a Port T workshop on Texas blues "you don't just learn a Lemon song, you have to live with it everyday for  months", or words to that effect. Wish I had the time to devote to it!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #64 on: September 21, 2005, 09:32:25 AM »
Alvin Hart observed at a Port T workshop on Texas blues "you don't just learn a Lemon song, you have to live with it everyday for? months", or words to that effect. Wish I had the time to devote to it!
This is a good enough reason to invite Alvin back IMO. Wise words and my exact experience with trying to play Lemon tunes. In Alvin's case it may be months, in mine it seems to be more like years.

Edited to add:
For that first verse, it does sort of sound like Lemon says "gets it hard luck some time" but I think it is "gets in hard luck".
« Last Edit: September 21, 2005, 09:38:48 AM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #65 on: September 21, 2005, 09:50:20 AM »
For some reason when playing One Dime Blues, my brain seizes up in the solo, where, after alternating the bass between the 6th and 3rd strings through the verses, Lemon switches to the 6th and open 4th string and plays those rhythmically complicated treble riffs over top. I end up missing the 4th string and going to the 3rd all too often. It's strange, since from a muscle memory perspective, alternating from 6 to 4 would be by far the most familiar pattern.

Offline cmr

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #66 on: September 21, 2005, 10:08:36 AM »
This is one of the first songs that I have learned without using written music.  Its a compelling melody.  I look forward to figuring out the break after I am more fluent with the song.   I need to get some software that slows down BLJ's or Ari's version of "One Dime Blues".  Its hard to believe that after a one hour lesson w/John Miller and daily practice that I can begin to play a Blind Lemon Jefferson song.  Cheers, Charlie

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lyrics for One Dime Blues
« Reply #67 on: September 25, 2005, 07:46:15 AM »
For some reason when playing One Dime Blues, my brain seizes up in the solo, where, after alternating the bass between the 6th and 3rd strings through the verses, Lemon switches to the 6th and open 4th string and plays those rhythmically complicated treble riffs over top. I end up missing the 4th string and going to the 3rd all too often. It's strange, since from a muscle memory perspective, alternating from 6 to 4 would be by far the most familiar pattern.

Exactly. But if it was easy everyone'd be doin' it! Of course, we all experience that problem. Recently I was working on a Travis tune (Cannonball Rag) which has a few places where the thumb has to do some educated shifting across string pairs while transitioning through the chords. After some frustration I shelved worrying about the thumb and just worked on nailing the changes. Once that was solid my previously overworked brain had more space to process and interject the thumb.

If I were to analyze it, in a complicated passage I (eventually) try to unbundle all the elements, figure out where I'm relaxed and where I'm struggling then find the line of least resistance (the easier bits), then solidify as much as possible before overlaying the harder aspects. Learning counterpoint, bass .v. treble, stuff is particularly excruciating because there is no 'easier bits'!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Wartime Blues
« Reply #68 on: November 17, 2005, 09:00:11 AM »
Digging this thread up because I just noticed something in the Blues Images 2006 calendar, which includes the Wartime Blues ad artwork for the month of August and which also includes little lyric snippets to go with the ad reproductions. The last problem line of the third verse is transcribed as "If I don't find poor Caesar, gonna jump overboard and drown." Not sure what "poor Caesar" would refer to. And I still think I hear an "n", not an "s". But thought I'd toss this out there.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Wartime Blues
« Reply #69 on: November 17, 2005, 11:44:17 AM »
FWIW (which ain't much) back in the 60s Bob Groom in his Blues World Magazine ran a 14 part series (The Legacy Of Blind Lemon). Wartime Blues was one transcribed and discussed.? He came up with Francine or Francina - can't recall which. Also I think Groom proposed something about section foreman not treating the railroad right. But I'm too damned lazy to unearth my set of BW. :(

Offline Rivers

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Re: Wartime Blues
« Reply #70 on: November 19, 2005, 06:51:48 AM »
Obviously "poor Caeser" was Lemon's beloved English Springer Spaniel. Little known fact:  Apart from being able to distinguish dollar bill denominations by feel he (Lemon) was also a very good shot. The verse relates to "goin' to the river" duck hunting with "poor Caeser", who disappeared after going out to retrieve a downed mallard. Blues historians believe Caeser was taken by a large alligator that was reported in the area in 1917.

In case this finds its way into the Country Blues Encyclopaedia of Duff Gen., sorry. I was just idly eating breakfast, speculating...

Offline uncle bud

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Blind Lemon Jefferson lyrics
« Reply #71 on: December 04, 2005, 09:14:44 PM »
I thought I'd start a thread for Lemon Jefferson lyrics, along the lines of what JohnM has done in the Sleepy John Estes and Ishmon Bracey threads, but with less insight  :P. Lemon is a bit of an obsession of mine, and his lyrics are often of a high quality IMO, if occasionally hard to decipher, between the quality of the recordings and the sometimes unusual turns of phrase. I'll no doubt need help.

Figured I'd start with one I've been listening to a lot lately. "Dry Southern Blues" was recorded at Lemon's second session in March 1926, the first session where he recorded actual blues. It's played out of a C position, pitched a half step low at B, and it uses several of riffs common to Lemon's C position tunes but is given a rather different uptempo treatment.

Lines in several verses are best guesses, unclear bits in square brackets as usual, and help is most welcome.



Dry Southern Blues - Blind Lemon Jefferson

My mind leads me to take a trip down south
Well, my mind leads me to take a trip down south
Take a trip down south and [stuff the fatmouth out?]

One train left the depot with the red and blue light behind
Train left the depot with the red and blue light beee-hind
Well the blue light's the blues, the red light's a worried mind

I hate to tell you, sugar, it t'ain't nobody there
Well I hate to tell you, it t'ain't nobody there
If a man stay here, he stay most anywhere

I got up this mornin' ramblin' for my dues/shoes
I got up this mornin' ramblin' for my dues/shoes
The little woman [served] me a saucerful of worried blues

Uncle Sam was no woman but didn't he draft your man
I didn?t say he was no woman but didn't he draft your man
Tell me them good lookin' womens on the border raisin' sand

Well, women on the border drinkin' over the water trough
I said women on the border drinkin' over the water trough
I wished Uncle Sam would hurry up and pay these soldiers off

I can't drink coffee and the woman won't make no tea
Man, I can't drink coffee and the woman won't make no tea
I believe to my soul sweet mama gonna hoodoo me

Asked the girl did she love me, said, "Lemon, I don't know how"
Asked that girl if she love me, said, "Lemon, I don't know how"
Cause of me commentatin' "Yes, I love you sky high"

She had feet like a monkey, head like a teddy bear
Feet like a monkey, head like a teddy bear
And a mouth full of Levi Garrett [pieces] everywhere.

I got a girl in Cub-ay, I got a girl in Spain
I got a girl in Cub-ay, I got a girl in Spain
I got a brown yonder in Dallas and [afraid to call her name]  (or possibly [crazy ?bout her man] )

Edited to incorporate changes from Bunker Hill, BanjoChris and Baird
« Last Edit: July 19, 2020, 11:34:05 AM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blind Lemon Jefferson lyrics
« Reply #72 on: December 04, 2005, 09:23:43 PM »
"Easy Rider Blues" is one we've dealt with separately on these boards, but I'm tossing this updated version into this thread. Recorded in April 1927, this is played out of a G position, and I find that to play it and get that signature sliding treble riff, I prefer to fret the bass with a wraparound thumb. 

Easy Rider Blues ? Blind Lemon Jefferson

Now tell me where my easy rider?s gone
Won?t you tell me where my easy rider?s gone
[My easy ridin? women] always in the wrong

Well easy rider died on the road
And the easy rider died on the road
I?m a poor boy here ?n? ain?t got nowhere to go

There is gonna be the time that a woman don?t need no man
Well there?s gonna be a time when a woman don?t need no man
Said baby shut your mouth and don?t be raisin? sand

Train I ride don?t burn no coal at all
Train I ride don?t burn no coal at all
The coal I's burnin' everybody says [is] the cannonball

I went to the depot?
I mean I went to the depot sat my suitcase down
Them blues overtake me and tears come rollin? down

The woman I love she must be out of town
Woman I love, man she?s out of town
She left me this morning with her face in a terrible frown

I got a gal cross town, she crochets all the time
I got a gal cross town, crochets all the time
Sugar, if you don?t quit crocheting, you goin? to lose your mind

Said fair brown, what?s the matter now
Said fair brown, what?s the matter now
You tryin? your best to quit me, woman, and you don?t know how

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blind Lemon Jefferson lyrics
« Reply #73 on: December 04, 2005, 10:01:40 PM »
Here's another one we'd worked on awhile back. Recorded in May 1926, "Chock House Blues" is played out of a C position. It's a smokin' guitar part, with a little Black Horse Blues thrown in, and I'm still working on it  :P. Bits of the guitar part are hard to hear when he's singing, and I used other Lemon tunes with this kind of C accompaniment for insight into what he might be playing.

Still no luck getting the "some ox from dawn" line. Perhaps some fresh ears will help.

Chock House Blues

So many wagons, it have cut that good road down
I said so many wagons have cut that good road down
And the girl I love, her mama don't want me around

Baby I can't drink whiskey but I'm a fool 'bout my homemade wine
Baby I can't drink whiskey but I'm a fool 'bout my homemade wine
Ain't no sense in leavin' Dallas they makes it there all the time

These here women want these men to act like [some ox from dawn]
I said these women want these men to act like [some ox from dawn]
Grab a pick and shovel and roll from sun to sun

I got a girl for Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday too
I got a girl for Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday too
I'm gonna sweeten up on the Saturday, what the women through the week goin'a do

Don't look for me on Sunday, I wanna take pigmeat to Sunday school
Don't look for me on Sunday, I wanna take pigmeat to Sunday school
She's a fine-looking fair brown but she ain't never learned Lemon's rule

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blind Lemon Jefferson lyrics
« Reply #74 on: December 04, 2005, 11:43:31 PM »
The little woman [ ??? ] me [I saw it?s the Fort Worth blues]
and
Caught me [commentatin'?] "Yes, I love you sky high"
What I can hear in my head for these are:

The little woman said to me "it's all the world weary blues"
and
 'cause of me commentatin' etc etc

but will need to refresh my memory by playing,

 


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