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Author Topic: 'A World Unknown'  (Read 22350 times)

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Offline dj

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #75 on: October 25, 2007, 12:00:20 PM »
Quote
Which I suspect originally came from Fahey's transcription

Good point.  In all this discussion of "Down The Dirt Road", I never thought to look at Fahey's transcription of the song.  I'll have to compare that against both Taft's and what we've come up with here.

Offline dj

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #76 on: October 25, 2007, 01:24:05 PM »
I just checked.  Taft's lyrics for "Down The Dirt Road" are Fahey's. 

Thanks for the tip, Bunker Hill.  If I could only remember half as much as what you remember...
 


Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #77 on: December 15, 2007, 08:07:26 AM »
Wax, while filling out lyrics in the "name that CB artist" topic I just noticed a similar verse to Patton's "keep it hid" in another song. McTell in Scarey Day Blues sings:

My baby got a mojo, she try to keep it hid // But Georgia Bill got somethin' to find that mojo with

Offline uncle bud

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #78 on: December 15, 2007, 12:46:29 PM »
Wax, while filling out lyrics in the "name that CB artist" topic I just noticed a similar verse to Patton's "keep it hid" in another song. McTell in Scarey Day Blues sings:

My baby got a mojo, she try to keep it hid // But Georgia Bill got somethin' to find that mojo with

There are others. If you'll indulge me for numerous moments, I've been preparing a book-length (OK, article-length :P) analysis of the roots, branches and meanings of Down the Dirt Road Blues for fun, and partly as a result of this thread and other discussions of the song occurring elsewhere. It is a song that certainly provokes all sorts of responses as to its meaning, though I personally think it's reasonably simple lyrically, built largely out of lyric formulas.

Here's what I had for the second verse so far. You'll forgive the repetition of one or two elements from earlier in the thread. Is there a windbag tag for our forum software? Consider it turned on:


My rider got somethin?, she tryin?a keep it hid
My rider got somethin?, she?s tryin?a keep it hid
Lord, I got somethin? to find that somethin? with


This verse follows a formula that normally uses the phrases got a mojo/find that mojo, rather than Patton?s got somethin?/find somethin?. In ?Low Down Mojo Blues? (1928), Blind Lemon sang:

My rider?s got a mojo, and she won?t let me see,
My rider?s got a mojo, and she won?t let me see,
Every time I start to lovin?, she ease that thing on me.

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.


Blind Willie McTell used the verse even earlier in ?Talkin? to Myself? (17 April, 1927):

My mama she got a mojo, believe she trying to keep it hid
Papa Samuel got something to find that mojo with

Then later in ?Scarey Day Blues? (23 October, 1931):

My good gal got a mojo, she?s trying to keep it hid
My good woman?s got a mojo, she?s trying to keep it hid
But Georgia Bill got something to find that mojo with

And in ?Ticket Agent Blues? (25 April, 1935):

My baby she got a mojo, I believe she trying to keep it hid
McTell got something to find that mojo with

Blind Boy Fuller would also use it in ?Stingy Mama? and ?Mojo Hidin? Woman? (Sept 1937), the same song recorded under different titles:

Says my babe got a mojo and she won?t let me see
Says my babe got a mojo, she won?t let me see
One morning ?bout 4 o?clock she eased that old thing on me

Now mama, mama, you can?t keep that mojo hid
I say, hey, hey, mama, can?t keep that mojo hid
?Cause I got something, mama, just to find that mojo with

And Curly Weaver used it in ?Fried Pie Blues? (23 April, 1935), in which he also has a verse from the ?Big Road Blues? school of big road/dark road/dirt road/long road formulas. (The second verse of this song included below is also found in variant form in McTell?s ?Scarey Day Blues? which, as mentioned, also features the mojo verse.)

I ain?t going down baby that long road by myself (x2)
If I can?t carry you baby, carry somebody else

Can I wait around here baby, till your fried pies get done (x2)
If I have any money, I will buy me some

My baby she got a mojo trying to keep it hid
Papa Weaver got something find that mojo with

Patton?s verse replaces mojo with somethin? in a bit of repetitive wordplay (?my rider got somethin?, she tryin?a keep it hid/Lord, I got somethin? to find that somethin? with?). The repetition of somethin? has a structural balance that echoes the more common verse and the meaning is the same. The mojo verse formula clearly features a double entendre, and Patton?s variation on it features the same double entendre. A mojo hand, as explained by Cat Yronwode on her Lucky Mojo site (http://www.luckymojo.com/mojo.html), was often worn under a woman?s skirt:

?The concealment of the mojo hand is what has led to confusion about the meaning of the word. Many acoustic rural blues songs of the 1920s-30s refer to mojos, among them a dozen that carry a floating verse about ?keeping a mojo hid.?

?Mojos made for an individual are usually carried on the person, always out of sight. They are very rarely worn on a string around the neck, fairly commonly pinned inside a woman?s brassiere, and much more commonly pinned to the clothes below the waist or carried in a pants pocket.

?Since the least conspicuous way for a woman to wear a hidden mojo is hanging from a string under her skirt -- or, as Coot Grant put it, above her knee ? a male blues singer is making a double entendre when he declares he?s going to find that mojo.?

Blind Lemon Jefferson had a couple hoodoo references in his lyrics, in which he?s worried about his woman putting spells on him, but he still seems to be using the mojo verse as a double entendre. McTell, Weaver and Fuller certainly are, and I think Patton clearly intended this as well.

Entertaining for a moment the possibility that it is something else being hidden and found in Patton?s verse, one could maybe make a case for this being a variation of the numerous ?kid man? formulas, one example of which can be heard in Patton?s ?It Won?t Be Long?:

She?s got a man on her man, got a kid on her kid, baby (x2)
Done got so bold, Lord, she won?t keep it hid

Clifford Gibson uses another version of this formula in ?Don?t Put That Thing On Me?:

I asked a married woman to let me be her kid,
She said she?d swear she?d put that thing on me
And I couldn?t keep it hid

I couldn?t keep it hid, I couldn?t keep it hid,
She said she?d swear she?d put that thing on me
And I couldn?t keep it hid

But in both these examples, ?won?t keep it hid? seems to be a reference to open promiscuity and sexuality, and in Gibson?s case, perhaps partly a joke about arousal. It is not the kid man who is being hidden. It is the sexual activity that is not being hidden. Sleepy John Estes and Charley Jordan use similar verses to Gibson?s, as do others, no doubt.

(windbag off)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2007, 12:50:33 PM by andrew »

Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #79 on: December 15, 2007, 05:15:18 PM »
Great collection and research Andrew, and all around one verse. I had no idea there were so many instances it. I like "somethin'" even more now, repeated in the first two lines and the last line.

Offline waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #80 on: December 15, 2007, 06:04:08 PM »
I still don't "hear" it.-G- And if Patton changes mojo to somethin', he's just as likely to.....

If you start a collection of lines using "world unknown", Leadbelly uses it in Shorty George.

All for now.
John C.
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Offline waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #81 on: December 15, 2007, 06:30:39 PM »
BTW, Andrew Rose, of Pristine, the creator of the  XR remasterings of RJ posted on IGS so I asked him if he was gonna do Patton next. I stopped short of actually requesting DTDRB.-G- Knowing that vintage Classical recordings have about as much of a market as pre-war blues, I told him I suspected the RJ issues were meant to raise funds for more Classical remasterings, but hoped I was wrong.

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 waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #82 on: April 10, 2009, 08:00:38 PM »
Woo hoo! Let's bring this one back.

Of course, Andrew, you saw Elijah's post on the Pre War List a while back?

Quote from: Elijah Wald
down that dirt road yet again

While we're reviving ancient lyrical discussions:
I hear:
My rider got something, she trying to keep it hid
Lord, I've got something to find that *bastard* with...

Unfortunately no further discussion....

But on to the first line. I've been listening to Rattlesnake Blues a bunch lately and suddenly I realized he was singing that he was gonna eat supper in Shelby, a world unknown. Hunh? Well, you call it? I'll post two excerpts.

Wax



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"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 Stuart

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #83 on: April 10, 2009, 09:45:50 PM »
Of course, Andrew, you saw Elijah's post on the Pre War List a while back?

Quote from: Elijah Wald
down that dirt road yet again

While we're reviving ancient lyrical discussions:
I hear:
My rider got something, she trying to keep it hid
Lord, I've got something to find that *bastard* with...

Unfortunately no further discussion....

What is this--bait Andrew night? A bunch of us saw it, so maybe the consensus was just a case of "Two wrongs don't make a right!"

But on to the first line. I've been listening to Rattlesnake Blues a bunch lately and suddenly I realized he was singing that he was gonna eat supper in Shelby, a world unknown. Hunh? Well, you call it? I'll post two excerpts.

Wax

That's Shelbyville, Illinois, my friend. It's right there on the map. Read Fahey's and Spottwood's notes, why don't yez! Realized?? What kind of realization is this?? The same kind like when you realized "world unknown" was "Illinois??!!" Realized?? Realized?? Maybe "unrealized" is more like it!

Now the tables are turned--it's bait Waxy night. Let's see how you like it, Pal! ;D  You're the one who wanted to bring it back!

Jeez, you must really think we don't know a trick question when we hear one!

TICingly Yours,

Uncle Stuie (aka Mr. Know-It-All)

Offline waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #84 on: April 10, 2009, 11:21:31 PM »
Well, having just read the entire thread (man, we really got out there) I can assure you that UB has more asides addressed to me than I do to him. He and I have been going at it on this one on more than one forum (on the IGS board he questioned what I was smoking) as well as by cell phone (where I assured him the term "high" refers to heightened senses) since long before this thread.

OOHHH! "TICingly Yours," Guess I'm a little dense tonight.

OK, your right, Shelbyville is on the map, but I don't really hear Patton singing the "ville". I'm sure folks commonly left it off. The "ill" I'm hearing after "Shelby" is the beginning of Illinois. I don't think folks pronounced the state "Enois", do you? He definitely doesn't sing "Shelbyville, Illinois."

Anyway, did you listen to the clips. I mean, there is certainly a strong similarity in the pronunciation. It's especially telling that in this case he is rhyming with "boy" yet he still barely hints at the E sound in the middle of the long drawn out O sound, just as he does in DtDRB. Well, that is, if you hear that like I do.

Wax
"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 Stuart

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #85 on: April 11, 2009, 07:55:26 AM »
John:

I listened to the Rattlesnake several time last night right after reading your post, but it was to the mp3 files on the computer through the computer speakers. Later today I'll give put the CD in the stereo system and use the headphones when I have more time. From what I was able to hear (--"not hear" is more like it) last night, I agree that this is a tough one. Spottswood and Fahey both have "Shelby" in their transcriptions, not Shelbyville. Spottswood notes, "[Shelbyville] lay on the Illinois Central route between New Orleans and Madison, Wisconsin." (p. 63 of the Screamin' and Hollerin' set.)

I was just having a little fun last night. We all know how difficult it is to actually come up with a definitive transcription for many of these songs. As I mentioned in my post to your other thread, we can go toe-to-toe when disagreeing about what we think we hear re: some specific lyric, but then loosen up and appreciate artistic license and interpretation when listening to our contemporaries perform the same song. I take the music and the process of arriving at accurate transcriptions very seriously, but at the same time I try not to take myself too seriously. Life doesn't get any easier if one loses one's sense of humor.

I'll get back to you later after I get a chance to go under the headphones.

Stuart
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 08:00:04 AM by Stuart »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #86 on: April 11, 2009, 09:46:57 AM »
Wax, you and Elijah both eating moldy bread doesn't make the hallucinations real.  ;D

In Rattlesnake, I hear "Shelby, Illinois", quite clearly. If one can use that word with Patton. It's like the word pronunciation, in that regard. Takes on a whole new meaning.

edited to add: I forgot, I did come across the use of "a world unknown" in a prewar blues-ish song somewhere recently, but can't remember what. A female singer I think, pretty early. Might be wrong. One of those moments where I was busy with something else and didn't stop like I should have. I'll have to retrace my steps, but those can go all over the place...
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 09:51:37 AM by uncle bud »

Offline waxwing

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #87 on: April 11, 2009, 12:08:18 PM »
Sure, UB, weren't there several instances of others singing the line "a world unknown" given in the PWBL discussion of the hymn containing the line? But what we need is an example of Patton singing it. I've found an example, for comparison, of Patton singing what everybody seems to believe is "Illinois" in Rattlesnake Blues. I don't believe this has been presented before in any of the various discussions. But from your silence I guess you all don't think they sound anything alike? Okay, fine. I was just offering it up for your examination. But examples of others singing it don't really help us here, at least, I don't see how they do. Lots of people sang "Illinois", too, but I don't see that that proves anything either.

Stu, my concern here is purely from the "getting the transcription as close as possible" point of view, out of personal interest, not to mention it seems to be a preoccupation of this site. But I keep getting a sort of "we'll never know so any evidence is moot" feeling here, which is very frustrating. Perhaps it's a big joke that I think we can get closer? Okay, humor is fine, I was trying to be funny, too, but is the topic under serious discussion or not?

My point here has nothing to do with Shelby or Shelbyville, it is merely to compare the sound of the accepted word "Illinois" in Rattlesnake Blues with that of the disputed word or words in DtDRB. To me it sounds like the same word in both instances, but, of course, it is evidence supporting what has been my theory all along so I guess we just chalk it up to wishful thinking?

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline Rivers

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #88 on: April 11, 2009, 12:59:30 PM »
Could somebody please summarize the competing theories in an impartial manner, I've completely lost the plot at this point despite having read through the latter part twice. I'm not party to the convo on IGS so maybe that's why I can't make head nor tail of what everybody's arguing about. Thank 'ee!

Offline dj

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Re: 'A World Unknown'
« Reply #89 on: April 11, 2009, 01:08:46 PM »
Well, I hear Illinois in Rattlesnake Blues, and, hearing it and paying attention to what I hear, I'd like to retract everything I've previously said about Down The Dirt Road, and say that I now think Patton is going away to Illinois.

This doesn't mean that I don't like "a world unknown".  In fact, if I were ever going to perform either song, I'd likely use "a world unknown".  

Quote
But I keep getting a sort of "we'll never know so any evidence is moot" feeling here, which is very frustrating.

I have very conflicted feelings in cases like this.  On the one hand, I really do think "We'll likely never know for certain", and on the other, I think "But if we could just get enough people listening closely enough..."  I have to admit that I've seen a lot of lyrics by the likes of Patton, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Ishmon Bracey, Sleepy John Estes, etc. nailed here - stuff that I never thought would ever be deciphered - that hope springs eternal.  Sometimes, though, it seems like listing three different interpretations and letting the reader/listener take his pick is the best we're ever going to do, at least for the present.    


 


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