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Blackfoot singers, for example, know that in Blackfoot cosmology music was given to humans to help them solve the problems they must face in life - Richard Crawford, from America's Musical Life: A History

Author Topic: 'A World Unknown'  (Read 22351 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2007, 10:50:54 AM »
Wax, you're putting words in my mouth.

I hear that last "somethin'" -- pronounced like "find that tumthin'", that-umthin', that umtin etc. -- based on my own listening, though I have some vague memory of seeing it transcribed that way somewhere. It is another spot we could debate endlessly and where I think there is no definitive answer. But it is based first and foremost on what I hear, and then on what I think logically fits, and even fits poetically, not on some other text.

I am not basing my interpretation on a traditional verse. I don't know whether one even exists. I wish I knew. Maybe ask David Evans. I do know that in Low Down Mojo Blues (in 1928), Blind Lemon sang:

She tryin' to fool her daddy, she better keep that mojo hid,
She tryin' to fool her daddy, keep that mojo hid,
But papa's got somethin', for to find that mojo with.

This is from Lemon's later period, where his lyrics were less and less based on traditional verses. Is this a traditional verse? I have no real clue, though its general theme would seem to be. Maybe someone else has a clue. I'm sure there are other lyrics with similar thematic structures out there that I don't know, or, like Alberto Gonzalez, can't recall. Did Patton hear Lemon's record before he himself began recording in 1929? Who knows. Down the Dirt Road is such a masterpiece that it seems to me Charley had been playing it for a long time and any influences on his song would be old, not new.

My comment about some of Patton's lyrics having other origins was meant only generally -- it had nothing to do with the first two verses of Down the Dirt Road -- and was a comment directed to Rivers, who was citing various examples of Charley's poetic flair. I was just saying some of what we might call Patton's poetry has its origins in other sources and did not spring from nowhere. As seems to be the case with some of the early Lemon lyrics, which are also great. Some of Patton's material might be from traditional verses, some of it from Ma Rainey or Sophie Tucker etc. I agree, Patton takes many of the elements he works with and gives them his own twist. It's just one part of his genius.


Offline Pan

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2007, 11:50:47 AM »
Hi

This is getting interesting.  :)

Although "to find that something with" would make perfect sense, with the "mojo" explanation in mind, as UB points out, I never could hear that either.

What I'm hearing (purely phonetically) is something like:

"to find there at the house through with",

which of course, doesn't make any sense at all. Will this give anybody any new ideas?
Oh, well, maybe he just messed up "to find that something with"?

Just a thought, sorry I'm off... carry on :P

Pan

Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2007, 04:30:35 PM »
Lest anyone think I'm a 'world unknown' guy in my mind it's clearly, well maybe not so clearly, 'Illinois', with a mispronounced ending. 'World unknown' has always seemed just plain silly, IMNSHO.

I just put my spoke in to defend Charley's poetic virtue which seemed to me to be in danger of getting written-off at the tap of a keyboard. Steamboats and railroad whistles, the moon, images of a flooded delta, it's endless.

And when you compare his output with most of his peers, well, when you get down to it, he didn't really have any peers lyrically, did he?

Offline waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2007, 04:42:57 PM »
Sorry then, UB. I thought you said as much when we discussed the "bastid" line, and others, on IGS. And I know I've heard it since, "I got somethin', to find that somethin' with", as well as the rest of the verse, but I couldn't say where. When I heard it I thought, "Oh, that's what UB is talkin' 'bout." But I guess I was wrong. I'll let you know when I hear it again.

Sometimes I think slowing things down too much can cause problems. It becomes very easy to think that a singer can suddenly sing 5 words in the blink of an eye.-G-

For instance, in the original line being debated here, I think you could possibly make a case for "where don't know" pronounced "wheda know" but how one could even hear the faint suggestion of a "whe-a-da know" at anything close to normal speed beats me. And I think slowing down accentuates the soft tap of an "L" sound by isolating it to the point where it can be construed as the hard tap of a "D". Just my opinion.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2007, 07:48:03 PM »
Rivers, I hope you didn't think Charley's virtue was in danger from me. Gawd!  :P I just think "world unknown" sounds lame. And I don't even think he sang it! I do however think Patton has some peers lyrically - like Lemon. There are exceptions/standouts of course. High Water Everywhere being the obvious, stunning example.

And while I know that on this board at least, I come off as a bit of a Lemonhead, I can say with certainty that I listen to Patton much more, play more of his songs myself, and am at least as obsessed with him as I am with Lemon, and probably more, depending on what day it is.

Wax, we'd discussed it (can't recall where, perhaps on the phone) but I don't recall ever citing a line that duplicated Patton's, only that there were other similarly structured verses (like Lemon's). As for "whe-a-da know" vs. "wheda know", ain't much difference, sort of a diphthong, and even in a purely hypothetical case would not be hard to hear, or not hard to miss, IMO. Patton barely pronounces words so often, offering only the barest bones of them, that this doesn't seem a mystery to me.

Offline Stuart

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2007, 12:02:49 AM »
From the Yazoo LP (L-1020): "Notes & Lyrics: Stephen Calt, Jerry Epstein, John Fahey, Don Kent, Nick Perls, Michael Stewart, Alan Wilson"--I doesn't detail who was responsible for what.

On page 56 of the Revenant set, Dick Spottswood, in his preamble, more or less says that transcribing the lyrics is a work in progress. On page 95 there's a list of transcriptions. (Approaching the truth by successive approximations.)

After listening again, what I hear is closer to "to where I don't know." I think that I hear an "L" in there, however. But the evidence supports "world unknown." So now what?

Here's a quote from one of my profs from my undergrad days: "The only people who really understand it are those who say they don't understand it, because in places it is virtually unintelligible." He was talking about Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind.

Its been over 35 years and I haven't reread The Phenomenology of Mind, but Charley never gets old. The genius that captures life with the obviousness of pre-philosophic thought, and in ways that I can truly relate to.



Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2007, 05:06:39 AM »
My copy of it, on a Black Swan double CD, must be clearer than y'all's, because I can hear 'Illinois'. Instead ofthe 'oy' sound or 'oys' there a characteristic Patton extension of the last vowel. There are many places where he does this, I will list them later when i get a chance to listen.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2007, 07:25:49 AM »
Rivers, want to swap files for educational purposes? I'd be surprised if the Black Swan (issued 1995) is clearer than the latest Yazoo (Best of Charlie Patton, Yazoo 2069, issued 2003) with the newly remastered version which has received raves, specifically for this song. I'd be delighted too, but surprised. Besides I think the problem with this line is Charley's fault, not Paramount's or the 78s. And of course the listeners.

Offline dj

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2007, 07:49:12 AM »
I've been listening to the Revenant CD while trying to decipher the line.  I don't think that anything Patton sings in the first two lines of "Down The Dirt Road" is obscured by surface noise.  Or at least not more obscured than any other verse on any other Paramount record.  But Uncle Bud raises an interesting point.  I don't know anything about the Black Swan release, but both the Revenant and Yazoo disks were remastered from 78s.  I wonder if it was the same 78 in both cases.
 

Offline dj

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2007, 08:47:49 AM »
I was just listening to the first disk of the Revenant Patton set here at work.  Actually, half  listening.  And when "Down the Dirt Road" came on, I'll be darned if my brain didn't get hauled from work to the music for a second with the thought "You know, he could be singing 'Illino'".  Though my conscious mind still insists on "where (I) don' know". 

Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2007, 08:40:44 PM »
OK Andrew, good project. I'll rip it outside of iTunes, I have Audacity, that should be able to make a fairly accurate .WAV of just verse 1, eh? I'll rip the whole song at lower res as well. Won't be until tomorrow or Saturday though.

I've always liked the sound of the Black Swan CDs and that might explain why I've never felt the urge to rush out and buy the Revenant or JSP sets. For a reality check I'll also compare it with the other copy I have, Yazoo.

DJ, hold that thought! It could well be 'Illinooooooo....'

Offline Stuart

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2007, 09:39:51 PM »
Hey Rivers:

Put me on the list, if possible. If it is going to Uncle Bud directly, then UB, could you forward it to me at my Yahoo address?

It crossed my mind last night when I was listening that it might be a variant of what we've been focusing on, so I'd like to listen to the Black Swan rip. It might be possible that I've been predisposed by the transcriptions of the experts.

Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2007, 05:12:37 PM »
Sorry I dropped the ball on making some audio snips, will try and get it done. Actually having A-B'd them since I don't think it's much more audible than the old Yazoo. Certainly it's from a different source recording, that can be enough to confirm a transcription.

Now. I had a theory strike me today. What the hell is this song about?

We have Illinois, "Illinooo...". Chicago, blah blah. No! It's not the state, it's the Indian tribe.

"I've been to the Nation..."

"Feel like choppin', chips flyin' everywhere...", think tomahawks, totem poles.

Finally I've never been happy with that "some people say the overseas blues ain't bad" transcription. Of course that's completely wrong. Listen again! It's 'O.C. Blues', common abbreviation for Oklahoma City. And where, he asked rhetorically, were the tribal territories a.k.a. 'the Nation?' Oklahoma.

The whole song is Charley's longing to go and hang out with his Indian relatives a long way from Dockery Farms.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 05:34:09 PM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2007, 06:53:01 PM »
Well, I agree with you on some points, Riv, but I don't think the Illinois tribe were anywhere near the Oklahoma Nation. They were from up around the Great Lakes. I believe the "Indians" kept on the Oklahoma reservation were from the South eastern states, like Seminole, Cherokee and Choctaw, a product of the Indian Removal.

But, yeah, in the "Nation" line and, also the OC line (I agree about not really buying the "over sea" transcription and I don't think OK came into popular use until the Post Office standardized 2 letter abreviations for the states, perhaps in the '60s? But doesn't he say, "Lord, but I couldn't stay there" at the end of the "Nation" line, going on to say they give him the "OC blues", I guess implying that's no solution to his present worries?

So, what do you get for the last few words of the second verse? Andrew and I have been arguing that one for a while, so give a listen, without me predisposing you and tell us what you get.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2007, 07:02:53 PM »
Au contraire, my dear Waxwing. My research shows they ended up in Oklahoma, what was left of them. As a tribe they really suffered.

Received knowledge is Patton was part Cherokee. We'd have to get to the original source of that statement to pass an opinion either way on its accuracy. And even so, if Patton had had a major time and connected with one particular tribe... I don't see this as at all a stretch.

Re. "I couldn't stay there". These songs are full of contradictions. Longing for a place yet having had a less than perfect time there is reality. we're all nostalgic for times and places gone by. Selective memory paints a rosy picture, though a little voice cuts in and reminds you of the reality. Like, the entire 1960s/early 70s for example!
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 07:10:25 PM by Rivers »

 


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