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One of my regrets is I never did get to record Scrapper and Shirley playing together, and they played very, very well together - Art Rosenbaum talks about Scrapper Blackwell and Shirley Griffith, Big Road Blues radio show, January 2010

Author Topic: Sam Collins Lyrics  (Read 23476 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #75 on: February 18, 2009, 06:29:34 PM »
Hi all,
Sam Collins recorded "Yellow Dog Blues", accompanying himself in Vestapol with a slide.  The song is very, very loose in a formal sense, perhaps the loosest of all of his recorded numbers.  He allows a great deal of time for instrumental responses to his vocal lines, going "long" routinely.  The taglines to his verses often don't bear any obvious relationship to the opening lines, and the final verse is one of his "chain verses", in which the tagline of the previous verse serves as the opening line of the last verse.  There are a number of places in the lyrics that I'm unsure of, and I could sure use some help with the bent bracketed passages, or anything else I have wrong.  Here is "Yellow Dog Blues":



   Be easy, mama, don't you fade away
   Be easy, mama, don't you fade away
   I'm goin' to where the Southern cross the Yella' Dog

   I seed him here when he was fightin' all 'round the horn
   Lord, I seed him in here when they were fightin' all 'round the horn
   And I felt f-rightened and I didn't want to ride no train

   "I want to ride the Yella' Dog", "Well, where did Mary change?"
   "I want to ride the Yella' Dog", "Well, where did Mary change?"
   I set deep in my saddle and I don't reny (sic) my name
   Set deep in my saddle, Lordy, and I don't reny my name
   Just as sure as the train leans around the curve

   OUTRO

Edited, 2/18, to pick up corrections from banjochris
Edited, 2/26, to pick up corrections from dingwall

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 04:44:52 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #76 on: February 18, 2009, 11:01:33 PM »
That "Yellow Dog" is a weird one. I think "hall" is right, but before the second line of that verse there's a "Lord..." And the last verse sounds like he's saying "where did Mary Jane?" or (esp. in the first line) "where did Mary change?" I think the first is more likely, and that he's asking where she went in a very elliptical fashion.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #77 on: February 18, 2009, 11:25:04 PM »
Thanks Chris, that's terrific.  I had "Lord" in my hand-written transcription but missed it when I was posting the lyrics.  I think you are right about it being "Mary change" rather than "Mary Jane".  Until you made that point I hadn't noticed that the consonant sound at the front end of the last word in that line is the hard "ch" sound rather than than softer "j" sound.  Great hearing on your part, as usual. 
That really is an odd song, isn't it?  It has some of that sleep-walking quality of "It Won't Be Long", but hangs together less well, somehow.  Still, there is some beautifully nuanced slide playing and the great singing you'd expect from Sam Collins.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #78 on: February 19, 2009, 06:42:23 AM »
FWIW, the Otis Brothers do this (nice version), and Pat Conte (I think) sings "hall" as well. I'll have to check as it's not cued up in iTunes, but I think he sings about riding the Mary Jane, as if it's a train name too. I don't know that that matches what I'm hearing from Collins, just throwing it out there in case it helps.

edited to add: went and checked the Otis Bros. recording and he sings "I went to ride the Yellow Dog, but, well I ride the Mary Jane." Again, just for what it's worth...
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 08:21:21 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #79 on: February 19, 2009, 10:55:59 PM »
Hi uncle bud,
Thanks for the cross-referencing of the lyric on "Yellow Dog Blues" to the Otis Bros. version.  I've listened to Sam Collins' version of the song many, many times at this point.  I believe that in the verse in question, two people are talking about which train to take.  The first says, "I want to ride the Yellow Dog.", and the second responds, "Well, where did Mary change?", i.e., where did Mary change trains or train lines, the answer to which would affect whether or not the Yellow Dog was a good choice to follow her.  I'm thoroughly convinced the lyric is "Mary change", NOT "Mary Jane", as I had always heard it in the past, partially but not only because I think the two words preceding are "where did".  "Where did Mary change?" makes sense; "Where did Mary Jane?" does not.  I know you weren't necessarily touting "Where did Mary Jane?", I'm just thinking out loud.  The fact that the tagline has nothing to do with either possible interpretation just makes the choice that much more obscure.

Edited to add:  I knew there was a verse in which the opening line consisted of a spoken exchange.  Lemon's "Bad Luck Blues" has such an exchange:
   "Mama, I can't gamble."  "Then son, why don't you quit tryin'?"
I'm sure there must be many others.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 07:19:09 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #80 on: February 25, 2009, 03:00:08 PM »
Hi all,
Sam Collins accompanied himself with a slide in Vestapol on "Lead Me All the Way".  He plays the song with a tremendous driving rhythm and does an admirable job of phrasing the melody instrumentally in unison with his singing.  This is probably one of his most conventionally phrased performances, which is to say, he phrased "Lead Me All The Way" much as any number of other singers doing the same song would have phrased it.  The same can not be said for most of his recorded performances.  Here is "Lead Me All The Way":



   INTRO

   Let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   Let Jesus lead you all the way

   He'll be your Father, he'll be your Father, he'll be your Father all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   He'll be your Father all the way

   He'll lead you right, Lord, He'll lead you right, Lord, He'll lead you right, Lord, all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   He'll lead you right, Lord, all the way

   Let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   Let Jesus lead you all the way

   I have a Father, I have a Father, I have a Father all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   I have a Father all the way

   I have a sister, I have a sister, I have a sister all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   I have a sister all the way

   Let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   Let Jesus lead you all the way

   He'll be your Father, He'll be your Father, He'll be your Father all the way
   All the way from Earth to Heaven
   He'll be your Father all the way

   Let Jesus lead you, let Jesus lead you, (guitar finishes line)

All best,
Johnm

   
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 04:46:35 PM by Johnm »

dingwall

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #81 on: February 26, 2009, 08:22:03 AM »
Just some suggestions on Yellow Dog Blues.   I'm reasonably confident about verse 2, but much less so at 3.1/2.

   1.3 I'm goin' to where THE Southern cross the Yella' Dog

   2.1 I seed HIM here when HE WAS FIRIN' all round the HORN(???)(The 'smokestack lightning' picture??, HIM/HE being the train)
   2.2 Lord, I seed HIM here when HE WAS FIRIN' all round the HORN(???)
   2.3 And I felt FOR RIDIN' and I didn't want to ride no train (Train versus his pony in next verse??)

   3.1 I want to ride the Yella' Dog, WHERE RIDIN' MADE/MAKE ME A?? change(very  tentative.)
   3.2 I WANNA ride the Yella' Dog ---
   3.3 I set DEEP in my saddle and I don't reny (sic) my name (I hear DENY both times)
   3.4 Set DEEP in my saddle, LORD, ----

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #82 on: February 26, 2009, 09:32:07 AM »
Hi dingwall,
Thanks for the suggestions on "Yellow Dog Blues".  Some I am hearing along with you and others not.
   1.3 The vowel sound is the same as the word "that" but there is no concluding "t".  I'll go with your suggestion of "the".
   2.1 and 2.2  I agree with your initial "him" in both lines, and with "horn" as well, but I don't hear "firin'" at all, it seems "fightin'" pretty clearly to me.  In 2.2, I think he changes the line to "they were fightin'"
   2.3 I hear "f-rightened" and think it makes sense as a response to the "fightin'" above.  "Felt for ridin'" is a very awkward locution that I have never heard used in either speaking or singing
   3.3 I agree with "deep" in my saddle, but hear "reny" very clearly both times.
Thanks for your usual close listening, and I will make the changes.
All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: February 26, 2009, 09:39:57 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #83 on: February 26, 2009, 09:47:40 AM »
Hi all,
This post gets the thread back to where it started.  Sam Collins recorded "Slow, Mama, Slow" backing himself with a slide in Vestapol.  This is a very strong performance, vocally and instrumentally, and he accorded a tremendous amount of space for fills, really milking the instrumental responses for all they were worth.  I'd appreciate corroboration/correction on the bent bracketed phrase; I like it, but I'm not at all sure of it, especially the last word.  NOTE,3/4:  The final word in the next-to-last verse is an elided pronunciation of the word "floor".  Here is "Slow, Mama, Slow":



   Take your time, kind mama, I'm gon' do it just as slow as I can
   Take your time, kind mama, I'm doin' it just as slow as I can
   I might start shimmyin', don't let nobody in

   Make your bed up higher, and turn your lamp way low
   Make your bed up higher, turn your lamp way low
   I'm gonna hug and kiss you, ain't comin' here no more

   Pull down your window, lock up on your door
   Lock up on your window, lock it up on your door
   I got ways like a devil, I'm slippin' on the f'oo'

   Make your bed up higher, a-and turn your lamp around
   Make your bed up higher, turn your lamp around
   Look out your back door, see me leave this town

Edited 3/4, to pick up correction from John D.

All best,
Johnm
   
     
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 04:48:02 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #84 on: February 26, 2009, 03:14:01 PM »
Great piece. I think the rest is right. The only alternative for the bent bracketed phrase I could come up with that made any sense was: "I'm sleepin' on a flo'"

Agree it sounds like "slippin'", "sleepin'" is just a theory about pronunciation that also fits with the bed imagery.

Not confident it's right though. Phonetically it sounds like "I'm sleepin' on a phone"
« Last Edit: February 26, 2009, 03:15:42 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #85 on: February 26, 2009, 04:18:25 PM »
I agree with you, Mark, that the last word in the phrase sounds like "phone", and what I have as "slippin'" sounds a hell of a lot like "sleepin'", as you say.  The sense of it is tough to discern with that interpretation, though.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #86 on: February 26, 2009, 06:44:12 PM »
I think it is slippin' on a fo' (slipping on a floor), here is an earlier weenie reference:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=331.msg2127#msg2127

it makes the most sense in the context of making ones bed higher.  What is the other tune with imagery of either the devil or a snake crawling of the floor ... that we had problems deciphering..?  BLJ's Black Snake Dream?


Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #87 on: March 04, 2009, 08:59:56 AM »
Hi John D.,
Sorry to be slow responding to your post, I experienced a temporary Sam Collins burn-out.  After a bunch of listening I'm ready to go with "slipping on the f'o'.  This is an instance in which I think the phonetic-based, rather than meaning-based approach to lyric transcription seems unsatisfactory.  Thanks for the help.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #88 on: March 04, 2009, 05:38:38 PM »
Hi all,
Sam Collins recorded "I Want to be Like Jesus in my Heart" backing himself with a slide in Vestapol.  His accompaniment is excellent here, but his vocal is really unearthly.  After the first verse he does a register change for the subsequent verses, dropping his voice down an octave for the line "In my heart, in my heart", and you find that like Blind Willie Johnson, his voice in repose was really beautiful.  Here is "I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart":



   And I want to be like Jesus in my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   Lord, I want to be like Jesus into my heart

   And I want to live a soldier in my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   Lord, I want to live a soldier into my heart

   And I don't want to be like Judas into my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   And I don't want to be like Judas into my heart

   And I want to die a Christian into my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   And I want to be bapti-zed into my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   Lord, I want to be bapti-zed into my heart

   SOLO

   And I want to die a-Holy into my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   Lord, I want to die a-Holy in my heart

   SOLO

   And I want to be like Jesus into my heart
   In my heart, in my heart
   Lord, I want to be like Jesus into my heart

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 04:49:27 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sam Collins Lyrics
« Reply #89 on: March 07, 2009, 05:41:27 PM »
Hi all,
Sam Collins recorded "Do That Thing", a very wild one-chord tune, accompanying himself with a slide in Vestapol.  This is probably Collins' hottest slide number, and in portions of it he sounds almost like Kokomo Arnold.  He never takes what you would call a solo, but he gives equal space or more to his instrumental fills than he does to his vocals, so you could almost describe the performance as an instrumental solo with incidental vocal accompaniment.  Hearing this tune made me feel as though Sam Collins must really have been fun to see in person.  And if he busked with a female dancer on this number, they would have done very well, I reckon.   When he first comes in singing, the "Oohhhhh" he hits makes the microphone groan and beg for mercy.  No one I've heard plays anything like this any more and it's really a shame.  Here is "Do That Thing":



   Ohhh, can't you do that thing?

   We--ll, do that thing, do that thing
   Gal, can't you do that thing?

   Well, peoples comin' from miles around
   Just to see you do that thing

   She's long and tall, don't wear the diamond ring
   But she can beat anybody doin' that thing
   Oh, can't you do that thing?
   Ah, do that thing

   We--ll, do that thing, can't you do that thing?

   You go to the ground and you rise like a kite
   And throw your backbone clean out of sight
   Can't you do that thing?

   She's a gal of mine and she sure can do that thing
   Ah, do that thing

   Oh, do that thing, ah, do that thing

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 04:50:17 PM by Johnm »

 


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