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Ah whiskey oh whiskey, why do you treat me so? If I ever get sober one more time, ain't gonna get drunk no more - Josh White, Pigmeat and Whiskey Blues

Author Topic: Leadbelly lyrics  (Read 42949 times)

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LoneWolf

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Leadbelly lyrics
« on: November 02, 2007, 07:32:42 AM »
Can anybody please help me with this? This song is pretty repeatitive but there is one line that I can't figure out.




Didn't ol' John cross the water, on his knees? x2
????? ????? ????? ????, face the risin' sun
Didn't ol' John cross the water, water on his knees?

Offline banjochris

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Re: Didn't Ol' John Cross the Water (Leadbelly)
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2007, 01:56:17 PM »
I haven't listened to this in awhile, but just from memory, I think it's something like:
"And we'll all rise together..."

LoneWolf

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Re: Didn't Ol' John Cross the Water (Leadbelly)
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2007, 01:58:34 AM »
No Chris, you're confusing it with a Delta Big Four song...

In his final session he sang it without a choir, so it'll be easier to fugure it out from that version. I can't though.

Offline frankie

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Re: Didn't Ol' John Cross the Water (Leadbelly)
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2007, 07:20:23 AM »
On "Last Sessions" this is what Lead Belly sang:

Didn't old John cross the water, on his knees? x2
Let us all bow down and face the rising sun
Didn't old John cross the water, water on his knees?

Didn't old John swim the water, on his knees? x2
Let us all bow down, good Lord, and face the rising sun
Didn't old John swim the water, water on his knees?

Didn't old John walk the water, on his knees? x2
Let us all bow down, good Lord, and face the rising sun
Didn't old John walk the water, water on his knees?


LoneWolf

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Re: Didn't Ol' John Cross the Water (Leadbelly)
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2007, 08:22:55 AM »
T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U

Offline Rivers

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Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2009, 08:16:58 PM »
No Lead in weeniepedia yet, hint hint. Maybe focusing on the first recordings would be a good place to start.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 09:31:57 PM »
[edit: now added to weeniepedia]

Here's Shorty George. This is a great tune for Lead's signature runs on the I, IV and V in C position. The melody is really strong and the ending is a hoot. If you tend to keep your 12 tuned down to C in standard you'll be perfectly in tune with the recording. I got this from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Blues N' Roots, please feel free to correct or comment.

Shorty George - Leadbelly
5 February 1935 New York City
ARC 16814-1 unissued

C position standard, 12 string is tuned down two whole steps to C so actual pitch is A flat

[Intro 9 bars]

Well Shorty George, he's no friend of mine <ref>Lornell and Wolfe in the Leadbelly bio report Shorty George "is about a short train that ran out of the farm from Houston. On Sundays it brought wives, families, and lovers to the men at Sugerland"</ref>
Yes a' Shorty George, he's no friend of mine
He keeps a takin' all the women, leavin' the men behind

I went to the depot, looked up on the sign
Yes I went to the depot, looked up on the sign
Oh the train she ride, still marked up on time

When I asked the captain, "captain have you don't care?"
When I asked the captain, "captain have you don't care?"
I would take my baby, and bring her right back here

I'm the poor old boy, long way from home
He's a poor old boy, long way from home
Lord I want you captain, to go on my bond ???

Aw Shorty George, travelin' through the land
Yes a' Shorty George, travelin' through the land
Don't take all the women, takes young women's man ???

[Instrumental verse]

Some has got six months, some's got two and three years
Yes a' some has got six months, some's got two and three years
But there's so many good men, got a lifetime here

Well a Shorty George, done been here and gone
Yes a Shorty George, done been here and gone
There's so many good men, a long ways from home

[Outro, end suddenly on the V]

[edited to add in-line note on the origins of the name per UB]
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 04:58:39 PM by Rivers »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2009, 01:06:13 PM »
[edit: now added to weeniepedia]

Kansas City Papa is a variation on the old Jim Jackson tune. This version is from the Root 'N' Blues release Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar. It's simple and effective and a lot of fun to play.

Leadbelly plays a greasy riff down through the D7 E7 with descending single bar versions of it whining away in 3 different octaves, easiest to hear in the breaks. There's a great little boogie on the IV and the V is often subtle, implied by playing through the change with a lick rather than a full chord. The lyric morphs into The Dozens, the insult game, and other folklore images.

Somebody please listen and tell me what he sings in the last line of each verse. My theory is total gibberish. I've translated as close as I can get to it. It sounds like it might be a mangled 'Believe I'm 'bout blow my line', and 'blow my line' is also clear in verse 2 line 1. But on the tag lines he sings 'low my line'.  ??? And what does 'blow my line' mean anyway, or is that a dumb question?

Kansas City Papa - Leadbelly
24 January 1935 NYC
ARC 16697-2 unissued

E position standard, 12 string is tuned down three whole steps to A flat so actual pitch is B flat

[Intro, two instrumental lines]
...Kansas City, ain't it a pity
Kansas City, b'lieve 'm 'bout to low' my line <ref>Clearly he says "low" which we believe is a contraction of "lower" and a fishing reference, he's casting his line out for the Kansas City women</ref>

When I get to Kansas City I'm gonna blow my line <ref>At variance with the tag lines, he clearly says "blow my line". Cab Calloway reports "line" means money in the Hepster's Dictionary</ref>
I get to Kansas City I'll be hard to find
In Kansas City, ain't it a pity
Kansas City, believe 'm bout to low' my line

[spoken] Two women was jivin' with one another one day

"You keep on talkin' til you make me think
Your daddy was a bulldog and your mammy was a man"
In Kansas City, wadn't it a pity
Kansas City, b'lieve 'm 'bout to low' my line

"You keep on talkin' til you make me mad
I tell you 'bout the puppies that your sister had"
In Kansas City, wadn't that a pity
Kansas City, b'lieve 'm 'bout to low' my line

[Instrumental verse]

Women in Tennessee Lord, doin' the Turkey Trot
The women in Louisiana doing the Eagle Rock
In Kansas City, wadn't it a pity
Kansas City, b'lieve 'm bout to low' my line

The funniest thing that I ever seen
A tom cat stitchin' on a sewin' machine
In Kansas City, wadn't it a pity
Kansas City, b'lieve 'm bout to low' my line

The funniest thing that I ever did see
S'a polecat climbin' up a 'simmon tree
In Kansas City, wadn't it a pity
Kansas City, b'lieve 'm 'bout to low' my line

[Instrumental verse]

[Instrumental verse outro]

[edited to reflect Chris & Cheapfeet's suggestions re. "low'" as a contraction for "lower", kept the "blow" in verse 2. Both are in there, my guess is he might be playing around with words and meanings. I've used in-line <ref> and </ref> tags since it saves editing in weeniepedia, that's the syntax for triggering those cool little notes at the bottom.]

[edited to correct played out of E not D and tuned-down another whole step]
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 05:02:13 PM by Rivers »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2009, 03:10:48 PM »
Cab Calloway's Hepster's Dictionary to the rescue: LINE (n.): Cost, price, money. Ex., "What is the line on this drape" (How much does this suit cost)? "Have you got the line in the mouse" (do you have the cash in your pocket)? Also, in replying, all figures are doubled. Ex., "This drape is line forty" (this suit costs twenty dollars).

Now it makes sense.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2009, 03:47:07 PM »
Rivers -- another possibility -- It sounds to me like he's saying "Believe I'm got to low my line" -- low as in "lower," and that it's a fishing reference, and he's casting his line out for the Kansas City women.
Chris

Offline CF

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2009, 04:21:51 PM »
Quote
Rivers -- another possibility -- It sounds to me like he's saying "Believe I'm got to low my line" -- low as in "lower," and that it's a fishing reference, and he's casting his line out for the Kansas City women.
Chris

For what it's worth, this is how I always heard it as well.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2009, 04:24:57 PM »
Good thinking Chris. Hmm... I'll have to weigh that one, he's definitely singing 'low' in the taglines and 'blow' in that one verse line.

Re. Shorty George, if you ever wondered, like me, about who that might have been, check out this bio on a pioneer of the Lindy Hop: http://www.savoystyle.com/shorty_george.html ...is he the Shorty George in the song?
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 04:40:11 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2009, 05:45:24 PM »
I believe Shorty George was a train that brought visitors to and from the prison - in this case, women visitors, leaving the men prisoners behind.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2009, 05:48:03 PM »
Checked the Leadbelly book and you are correct sir. Now I'm wondering if they named the train after the Lindy Hopper... not likely since Huddie was in Sugarland from 1920. But the dancer was too early to have copped the name from the song since it wasn't released til 1935. Most mysterious.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 05:57:02 PM by Rivers »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2009, 05:44:50 PM »
[edit: now added to weeniepedia]

This is another from producer Larry Cohn's excellent comp Columbia Roots 'N' Blues "Leadbelly King of the 12 String Guitar"

The opening line is one of the great ones in blues and its tag line is even better. The word "Deadville" never made it into common use, or did it? Sackheim has "Denver" but I believe I'm correct. As usual it was educational listening to the lyrics closely for the first time. For example I hadn't realized T.B. can attack the feet, and thought of Lemon obviously though I'm not aware of any evidence he had it.

Leadbelly pulls all the strings on this one. The heroine puts her high heels on her TB-ravaged feet, staggers round to her mothers house, collapses, says a couple of departing words and kicks the bucket. Gives new meaning to the phrase "my feet are killing me".

I'm pretty sure of most of it but doubts are marked ??? and any help or comments with any of it much appreciated.

T.B. Woman Blues - Leadbelly
25 March 1935 NYC
ARC 17180-1 unissued

A position standard, 12 string tuned down 3 half steps so actual pitch F#

It's too late, too late, too late, too late, too late
It's too late, too late, too late, too late, too late
I'm on my way to Deadville and mama must I hesitate

[holler]She was runnin' with 25 or 30 men. And one man in the bus, she liked bestest of them all.
He was a sweetback man. And the mens was comin' around, they asks her what she want.
She didn't want nothin' from them then.
But when her sweetback man come around to ask her for one dime, you didn't see her no more.
Her mama walked up and said "Darlin' don't you worry".
She looked at her mama and here' what she said:[/holler]

T.B.'s alright to have if your friends'd treat you so low down
T.B.'s alright to have, friends'd treat you so low down
Don't you ask 'em for no favors, they even stop a-comin' around

[holler]Mama said "Daughter don't you worry", she looked at her mama, here' what she said:[/holler]

Mmmmmm... the T.B.'s killin' me
Mmmmmm... the T.B.'s killin' me
I'm a-like a prisoner, I'm always a-workin' this [chain] ???

[holler]Her mama walked up to her daughter and said "Don't you worry".
She began to think about it but she was on her feet.
Wearin' her high-heel slippers and her drop-stitch hose
She walked around to her mama, here' what she said:[/holler]

And it's on my feet, couldn' even but walk down the street
Where the men a-lookin' at me, from my head to my feet
But it's late now, that T.B.s killin' me
I want my body buried, in the deep blue sea

[holler]These are the last few words she said.
Her mama walked up, looked down in her daughter's face, and here' what her daughter said:[/holler]

Mmmmmmmmmm
MmmmmmmmmmmmmMmmm
I've got a-too-bercolosis, consumption is killin' me

[Outro]

[edited to pick up Chris's corrections]
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 05:03:12 PM by Rivers »

 


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