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...back in the days when you recorded performances instead of performing recordings - Willie Dixon, autobiography

Author Topic: Leadbelly lyrics  (Read 38962 times)

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Offline pete12string

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"How Long" - Leadbelly
« Reply #120 on: February 24, 2011, 07:15:31 PM »
Howdy!

I've been trying to figure out the lyrics to Leadbelly's version of "How Long".  The version I'm listening to is from "LeadBelly-Absolutely The Best".  Here's what I've got.  In the 5th verse, I just can't figure out what the heck the words are.  Any comments, help, etc. are appreciated!

Baby, how long
Baby how long
Have that ev'nin train been gone
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long


Heard the whistle a blowin'
Can't see no train
Way down in my heart I had an achin' pain
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long


Down at the station
With my head hung down
Lookin' at my baby when she leave this town
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long
 

I'm feeling bad
I'm lookin' sad
Thinkin' bout them good times I once have had
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long


Been hollerin'
Like a moanin' Jack
I get a ??? deep down sick feelin’ for my baby back
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long

(Harp solo)

How long
How long
Have that ev'nin train been gone
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long

Feelin' so disgusted
I feel so blue
Sometimes I wonder what in the world I'm gonna' do
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long



Thanks again,
Pete

Offline banjochris

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Re: "How Long" - Leadbelly
« Reply #121 on: February 24, 2011, 08:07:51 PM »
I don't have this version, but the usual lyric is something like:

If I could holler like a mountain jack
I'd go on the mountain and holler my baby back

or some permutation of that.
Chris

Offline pete12string

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Re: "How Long" - Leadbelly
« Reply #122 on: February 25, 2011, 09:43:28 AM »
Hey Chris.

Thanks for the tip.  With that info, this is what I think I now hear in this version for the 5th verse:

Been hollerin'
Like a mountain Jack
I get a moanin’ deep down sick feelin’ for my baby back
Baby, how long, how long, Yeah how long


Thanks again!
Pete

Offline uncle bud

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Re: "How Long" - Leadbelly
« Reply #123 on: February 25, 2011, 11:26:33 AM »
I don't know which version is on Absolutely the Best, but the version I have where Leadbelly sings that verse has Sonny Terry playing harp and singing one verse (Leadbelly also recorded at least one version with both Sonny and Brownie taking verses). It's on Shout On - the Leadbelly Legacy Vol 3. Leadbelly kinda blows the first line but I'd say he sings

...could holler like a mountain jack
I'd get up on the tip-top of this [building] and call my baby back

Offline pete12string

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Re: "How Long" - Leadbelly
« Reply #124 on: February 26, 2011, 07:47:36 PM »
It's a version with Sonny Terry (i think) playing harp.   ;D

Offline frailer24

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Leadbelly- If It Wasn't For Dicky
« Reply #125 on: July 21, 2012, 05:00:31 PM »
Hello, I've been trying unsucessfully, to figure out the words to Leadbelly's "If It Wasn't For Dicky" for a year now. I am still unable to get past the 1st line.

If it wasn't for Dicky, I will tell you right now, 'bout this old man he had but one cow.

That's all I can make out, and it messes me up.

Thanks,

Larry
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly- If It Wasn't For Dicky
« Reply #126 on: July 21, 2012, 05:23:26 PM »
I think I must have a different version, the one I have is from The Essential Leadbelly on Classic Blues.  Beautiful song, very unusual.

The lines of dashes I haven't gotten yet. Wish I knew what the tagline, at the end of each verse, starting 'Oh, -----', was.


Oh, -------------

And that everyone but Dicky I would change you right now
But this old man he had but one cow
He would send her to the field to be fed
And the way they beat old Jemma dropped dead
Oh, -------------

When the old man heard that his cow she was dead
Over hedges and ditches and fields he had fled
Over hedges and ditches and fields that were ploughed
----- visit to the wife til they came to his cow
Oh, -----------------------

When he first saw Jemma she was in the green grass
No --------------------- Jemma so fast
She gave her milk freely without any bill
But the blood of her life spilled out of her pail
Oh, -----------------------

So now I sit down and eat my dry meal
But I have no butter to put in my tea
I have no milk to sup with my bread
--------------------------
Oh, ----------------------

If it wasn't for Dicky I would change you right now
But this old man he had but one cow
He would send her to the field to be fed
And the way they beat old Jemma dropped dead
Oh, ----------------------








« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 05:33:40 PM by Rivers »

Offline frailer24

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Re: Leadbelly- If It Wasn't For Dicky
« Reply #127 on: July 21, 2012, 06:23:20 PM »
The best approximation of the tagline I can come up with is. "Oh, oh Dicky, sweeter than thou."

Hope it helps.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline frailer24

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Re: Leadbelly- If It Wasn't For Dicky
« Reply #128 on: July 21, 2012, 08:58:37 PM »
If it helps, I have the LoC version.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: Leadbelly- If It Wasn't For Dicky
« Reply #129 on: July 22, 2012, 02:51:32 AM »
This is Leadbelly's version of an old Irish song known as Drimmin down, so the cow's name is meant to be Drimmer, not Gemma. As to the rest, I'm sure I've seen a transcription somewhere, maybe in the Leadbelly Songbook.

Here's a more Irish version of the song, for the curious :-

Drimindown / Drimmin Down ( Traditional Irish Ballad )

Offline cru423

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #130 on: March 21, 2013, 09:17:09 PM »
The refrain goes like this: "Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down".
It may make no sense for a cow to be beaten with its own tail, but this was a song that was originally something of an Irish blazon, meaning it was all a national metaphor. Leadbelly didn't like the Sam Kennedy version, it didn't have enough rhythm. The switches weren't beating hard enough, I guess.  :P

Second verse:
Had a visit to his wife til he came to his cow

Third verse:
The ol' carter-man passed that Jemma so fast
(meaning he passed right by her, didn't notice her)

4th verse:
But the way they beat ol' Jemma dropped dead

Offline cru423

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #131 on: March 21, 2013, 09:20:30 PM »
Big Fat Woman (recorded for Moses Asch in 1944)

Oh lord, big fat woman with the meat shakin' on the bone
She was born and raised in an old Kentucky home

I love my woman and I tell the world I do (x3)
Cause she does so good to me just like I do you

I woke up this morning and I found my baby gone (x3)
I was so mistreated but I wouldn't let on

(scat)

Offline frailer24

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #132 on: March 22, 2013, 02:31:50 PM »
Thank you very kindly, cru! Been wonderin' 'bout that for years!
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Willie Poor Boy

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics "How come you do me like you do?"
« Reply #133 on: September 30, 2013, 06:54:58 AM »
Below is a transcription of two tracks form the Last Session--the "Story of the 25 Cent Dude" which is his spoken introduction to "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?"


Story of the 25 Cent Dude:

. . . [always] had on the same suit.  So one day she gave him his hat, he was going home.  Father didn’t have but one son.  He got up and he walked to the door and, uh, she caught him by the coat.   She said, “why don’t you get you another suit?”

And so, he left, you know, told her good night and left.  And went home, he told his papa he wanted him another suit.  But his daddy give him some money to go out and buy his own clothes.  You know, and he went out and got him a suit, five dollars.  And he bought him a uh overcoat,  five dollars.  And he got him a hat, a dollar. Got him a pair of kid gloves,  .50 cents.  And he bought him a watch, .50 cents.  And he had a chain on it, give a dime for that.  And then he got him a ring for .25 cents—had a little set in it. 

So, when he come back, he had a pair of kid gloves, you- that cost .50 cents.  And he come back, oh he was in July and August too, you know, the hottest months of the year and he had on that overcoat.  When he walked to the door and knocked on the door she went  “sh-whoooo!  Walk in!”

So he walked in she says “rest you hat!”  He chunked his hat on the bed.  She says, “get over there you 25 dollar beaver, you.”  They was wearing beaver hats in those times.

She goes, “whooo!  Rest your coat!”  She snatched his coat off and chunked it on the bed.  And says "get over there you 95 dollar [ballahub ?] you."

She says, “Whooo!!  Rest your gloves!”   She snatched his gloves off and chunks them on the bed.  "Get over there you 75 dollar kid, you." 

She said, “Whooooo!  You sure got on a pretty watch and chain.”   She snatched the watch off, broke the chain but she gets it off just the same, chunks it on the bed.  “Get over there you there you 200 dollar Elgins, you. 

She says, “whoooooooo!  You got on a pretty ring.  She snatch his ring off, chunks it on the bed and says, “get over there you 2000.00 dollar diamond, you.”

She got a chair and draw him up and she says “now you sit down here you .05 cent dude, you.”

That made him so mad, he didn’t, he sit down there and he didn’t know what to do that made that boy so mad.  So  . . . . he didn’t [wrestle/rest them ?] he throwd them all on the bed. 

So when she said that made him so mad.  So she went and brought up a chair and she sit down, “how you doing?  How you feel?”

He wasn’t saying nothing. 

In them times they would sing and this is what he said:

[Lyrics to How Come You Do Me Like You Do?]

How come you do me like you do do do?
How come you do me like you do?
How come you do me like you do do do?
I ain’t done nothin’ to you.
Treat me kind, let me be
I can beat you doin’ what you’re tryin’ to do to me.
How come you do me like you do do do?
How come you do me like you do?  I mean it.
How come you do me like you do?
[Break]
How come you do me like you do do do?
How come you do me like you do?
How come you do me like you do do do?
I ain’t done nothin’ to you.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Show me any woman that a man can trust.
How come you do me like you do do do?
Home come you do me like you do?  I mean it.
Home come you do me like you do?
[Break]
How come you do me like you do do do?
How come you do me like you do?
How come you do me like you do do do?
I ain’t done nothin’ to you.
Once you was steady, once you was true
Papa’s sweet [?] and mama could depend on you.
How come you do me like you do do do?
Home come you do me like you do?  I mean it.
Home come you do me like you do?
[break}
How come you do me like you do do do?
How come you do me like you do?  I mean it--
How come you do me like you do and I seen it?
How come you do me like you do?
---------------------------------------

I don't recognize the type of coat or watch she mentions and the last full section he sings something like "papa's sweet and mama could depend on you" which is probably wrong.  Unless, instead of "sweet papa and mama could depend on you," he sang "papa sweet and mama could depend on you" with the post positive adjective.

My favorite part aside from the music is the conceit that "in them times they would sing, and this is what he said."  That always makes me laugh that after this humiliation he breaks into song to voice his strong objection.

Any any rate, any suggestions on the problem parts would be appreciated--thanks.

NB: watch corrected to Elgins per banjochris.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 09:30:41 AM by Willie Poor Boy »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #134 on: September 30, 2013, 09:15:52 AM »
For the watch it's Elgin -- Leadbelly says "Elgins."
Chris