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Hundreds of 'race' singers have flooded the market with what is generally regarded as the worst contribution to the cause of good music ever inflicted on the public. The lyrics of a great many of these 'blues' are worse than the lowest sort of doggerel - Talking Machine Journal, February 1924, plucked from Stephen Calt's Barrelhouse Words

Author Topic: Sam Collins Lyrics  (Read 23477 times)

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Offline bnemerov

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Re: Cryin' Sam Collins: Pork Chop Blues
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2007, 06:42:32 AM »
Thanks banjochris and dj---and dingwall for jumping in first---I hear it now. I agree with dj about "doin' it" rather than the doney reference.
Sure glad there's a Weenie-site!
bruce

Offline Johnm

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Re: Cryin' Sam Collins: Pork Chop Blues
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2007, 10:50:47 AM »
Congratulations to Bruce, dingwall, banjochris and dj for putting this one together.  When Bruce first posed the question, I was dubious of the possibility of a good transcription, for this has always seemed one of the most unintelligible recordings of the early country blues era to me.  Well done, guys!
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Cryin' Sam Collins: Pork Chop Blues
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2007, 08:28:40 PM »
The minor one:  "stew and beans" is pronounced "stew an' beans" by Collins.  While I'd agree that "stew and beans" makes better sense, "stewin' beans" also makes sense in the context and could be what Collins is singing.
Certainly could be. Either would make good sense.

Quote
The major one:  I love the word "doney-in'", but I just don't hear it.  I don't hear any hint of the "y" sound, and the final syllable sounds to me like it cuts off more sharply than an "n" sound would.  So as much as I love the term "doney-in'", I think Collins is singing "doin' it", with "doin'" being pronounced "doan'".     
Going back and listening again, I agree with you, but now I think the line is essentially the same as what the Two Charlies sing -- "If you hadda been doin' it all the time," which also makes more sense. I'll go back and make the changes.

Thanks dj
Chris

Offline dj

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2007, 02:58:43 PM »
The discussion of "Pork Chop Blues" earlier this week made me pull out my Sam Collins CD.  After a few plays through on my way back and forth to work, I decided to try my hand at playing and singing two of his songs.  I present them here because 1: they're interesting lyrics and 2: I'm completely lost in a few places and hope someone with fresh ears can help.   :)

"Lonesome Road Blues" was the first song that Sam Collins recorded at his final session, which was held in New York City on October 8, 1931.  He's playing in C standard, tuned one whole step low, so sounding in Bb.  (Note: I don't mind being corrected on this, too.)  The tune sounds like a variant of the country song "In The Pines".  Verses 9 and 10, with someone getting killed by a streetcar, are reminiscent of Peg Leg Howell's "Coal Man Blues", while the last two verses relate an even more gruesome accident.  I think that verse 11, about going to the water's edge, is the singer contemplating suicide and then deciding against it.     

I'm fairly sure the bracketed words in verses 8 and 10 are correct, but I'm just completely lost in verse 2.  And does anyone have any idea what the "long plank walk" in verse 4 could refer to?

LONESOME ROAD BLUES

I'm walking down that lonesome lane
Hung down my head and cried

I weeped and I cried on the way they treat me 'n'
My fate's the deep blue sea

My mama's dead, papa can't be found
And my brother's on the county road

Says I done been to that long plank walk
And I'm on my way back home

You did cause me to weep you did cause me to moan
You did cause me to leave my home

I cried last night and the night before
And I swore not to cry no more

You did cause me to weep you did cause me to moan
You did cause me to leave my home

I got no money and they call me no honey
I have to weep and moan

In eighteen hundred and ninety nine
He got killed on that streetcar line

They took him down that smoky road
Brought him back on that coolin' board

Instrumental verse

Says I been down to that water's edge
That's as far as I care to go

Then run here mama 'n' fall in your daddy's breast
These blues gonna let me rest

Your fast mail train comin' round the curve
It done killed my little brownskin dead

Her head was ground in that drivin' wheel
And her body have never been seen

Instrumental verse
       
« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 03:36:21 AM by dj »

Offline dj

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2007, 03:19:19 PM »
"My Road Is Rough And Rocky (How Long, How Long)" was the last song Sam Collins ever recorded.  Like "Lonesome Road Blues", it's in C standard tuned a whole step low.  The song was not released on 78, which is astonishing to me, as I think it's Collins' masterpiece.  It has a simply beautiful tune - in the same family as John Hurt's "Louis Collins" - interesting words, and is just an all-around great performance.  Unfortunately, it's not on the Juke yet.  We'll have to see if we can get that fixed.

For my bracketed "zoomin'" in verse 7, I originally had "shootin'", but after a few dozen listens at various speeds, I think that "zoomin'" fits what Collins is singing, even though it's an unusual term to find in a prewar blues.  Does anyone have a better suggestion?

My Road Is Rough And Rocky
(How Long, How Long)

You don't b'lieve I'm travelin' on the road somewhere
Get your book and pencil and count the days I'm gone
I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

You can go to Memphis, find me there
Catch the first train smokin' find me on the road somewhere
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

You've been talkin' 'bout your brick house but you ought to see mine
It ain't pretty but it's built up fine
I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

I got up this mornin' looked at the risin' sun
Can't nobody run me like those bloodhounds done
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

I got up in my stockings, tippin' 'cross the floor
[There] them bloodhounds were rappin' up on my door
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

My chicken's on my back and the hounds on my track
I dropped my hat 'n' I couldn't stop to look back
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

I could hear them pistol balls [zoomin'] by my head
I b'lieve to my soul they gonna kill me dead
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

I got up this mornin' just about the break of day
I could hear them there bloodhounds a comin' down my way
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way

I got up this mornin', fell down 'cross my bed
I could hear somethin' [perchin'] all around my head
And I am gone, I'm long gone
My road is rough and rocky on my way
   
   
« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 10:21:13 AM by dj »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2007, 09:29:31 PM »
dj -- I think Collins is a little confused on that second verse of "Lonesome Road" and ends it differently than perhaps he intended to. However, the first part, which undoubtedly is pronounced and accented very oddly, is "I weeped and I cried on the way they treat[ed] me and" with me and and sung almost as one syllable. The rest sounds like "I be la? deep blue sea." The second part just doesn't make any sense, unless someone else can wring some meaning out of it. Also, the line later should be "I got no money and [they] call me no honey."

I would assume that the long plank walk refers to the construction of a plank road, presumably by convict labor, as in Uncle Dave Macon's "Way Down the Old Plank Road."
Chris

Offline dj

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2007, 03:45:48 AM »
Thanks for that line, Chris.  Great ears, as usual.  I've made the change.  With the first part of the verse in place, the rest of the verse suddenly popped out at me.  Collins is singing "My fate's the deep blue sea", which fits in with the contemplation of suicide theme he brings out later in the song. 

And thanks for picking up my dropping the "no" in "call me no honey".
         

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2007, 09:26:50 AM »
Hi dj,
Those certainly are beautiful tunes you've picked.  I used to think "My Road Is Rough And Rocky" was not released due to Collins being so out of tune, but it is really not worse than many of his other tracks, so it is a mystery why it was held back.  I have always heard the line in the first verse as,
   Get your book and pencil and count the days I'm gone
but am not sure I have that right.  Let me know what you think.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 21, 2007, 01:10:15 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2007, 10:22:49 AM »
Hi, John,

I think your suggestion of "Get your book and pencil" is correct.  Thanks.  I've made the change.   

Offline doctorpep

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2007, 02:35:53 AM »
I've always heard it as "I weeped and I cried under a willow tree".
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline fictioneer

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2007, 12:30:47 AM »
I've always heard it as "I weeped and I cried under a willow tree".

That's what I hear, too.

And the last verse sounds to me like "Her head was found in the driving wheel." (But that is the standard text for this part of the song.)

On "Rough and Rocky," it sounds exactly like "zoomin'" to me.  I tend to think "perchin'" might be "pushin'."  "[There] them bloodhounds were rappin'" is pretty surely "H'year them bloodhounds a-rappin'."  It's the same way he pronounces "hear" elsewhere in the song.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2007, 12:35:01 AM by fictioneer »

dingwall

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2007, 08:52:38 AM »
There's one or two minor points maybe worth considering.


  LONESOME ROAD BLUES   
     
I walkin' down that lonesome lane.
Hung down my head and cried.

I weeped and I cried under a willow tree.
And then I faced the deep blue sea.

My mama's dead, papa can't be found.
And my brother on the County road.

Says I've done been to that long plank walk.
And I'm on my way back home.

You did cause me to weep, you did cause me to moan.
You did cause me to leave my home.

I cried last night and the night before.
And I swore not to cry no more.

You did cause me to weep, you did cause me to moan.
You did cause me to leave my home.

I've got no money, and they call me no honey.
I have to weep and moan.

In eighteen hundred, and add ninety-nine.
He got killed on that streetcar line.

They took him down that smoky road.
Brought him back on that coolin' board.

Says I've been down to that water's edge.
That's far as I care to go.

Said run here mama and fold in your daddy's breast.
These blues gonna let me rest.

The old fast mail train comin' round the curve.
It done killed my little brownie dead.

Her head was found in that driver wheel.
And her body, it have never been seen.


MY ROAD IS ROUGH AND ROCKY

You don't believe I'm travelin' on the road somewhere,
Get your book and pencil and count the days I'm gone.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

You can go to Memphis, find me there.
Catch the first train smokin', find me on the road somewhere.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

You've been talkin' about your brickhouse but you ought to see mine.
It ain't so pretty but it be loved fine.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

I got up this mornin' looked at the risin' sun.
Can't nobody run me like them bloodhounds done.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

I got up in my stockin's, tippin' 'cross the floor.
Heared them bloodhounds a-rappin', Lord, upon my door.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

I have chickens on my back and there's the hounds on my track.
I dropped my head and I couldn't stop to look back.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

I could hear those pistol balls zoomin' about my head.
I believe to my soul they's gonna kill me dead.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

I got up this mornin' just about the break of day.
I could hear a bundle of bloodhounds a-comin' down my way.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.

I got up this mornin', fell down across my bed.
I could hear somethin' perchin' all around my head.
And I am gone, I'm long gone,
My road is rough and rocky on my way.


dingwall

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Re: Cryin' Sam Collins: Pork Chop Blues
« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2007, 10:12:18 AM »
Listening again just to note one word in particular, I think he sings 'porter'.
Porter-house is/was a chop-house serving mutton chops and beefsteaks.
(The porterhouse-steak is a well-known choice item.)   A pork chop porter wouldn't be an unusual phrase for a delicious meal normally out of reach.    However, so be it.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Cryin' Sam Collins: Pork Chop Blues
« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2007, 10:23:17 AM »
Dingwall -- it still sounds like "poultice" to me in Collins' recording, and the Two Charlies definitely sing "poultice." Since it's advice from the doctor to apply a pork chop like medicine, I think that makes sense.
Chris

dingwall

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Re: Cryin' Sam Collins: Pork Chop Blues
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2007, 01:10:41 PM »
banjochris - I've checked The Two Charlies, and yes, I agree that it is 'pork chop poultice'.
 
The more doubtful word in Sam Collins version has to be 'poultice', too.
 
Thanks.

 


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