collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

Next time I marry, I'm gonna marry good. I'm gonna get me somebody don't know a thing about this world - Tony Hollins, Married Woman

Author Topic: Leadbelly lyrics  (Read 42952 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2009, 11:33:54 AM »
Here's a tough lyric, mystery phrase is marked, ideas and corrections welcome.

I also swear he sings "Dean" not "Deem" but have left it per the ARC title.

I'm really not certain where he's tuned or what chord position he'd playing out of. My best guess is dropped D, guitar tuned down to C so true pitch B flat. There's a classic low drop D bass lick at the end of several verses, is what makes me think so. Having said that I'm having trouble getting the guitar to sound like Huddie, who keeps up an industrial-strength vamp throughout. I'll probably end up picking it my way.

Being an 8 bar blues with a very similar tune to Furry Lewis's Dry Land Blues it also sounds good out of an E position with the first I and V7 played around the E and B7 triads at the fourth fret, but that's just by the by, unless it is actually in E, but I doubt that. He throws in a nice passing V Augmented (sharp 5) chord in the last V to pick out the melody.

Actually, this really sounds to me like classic Lead Belly out of the E position. The lick at the end of the form, which I think is the one you're calling a dropped-D lick, is in dozens of his songs played using E position.

I agree, sure sounds like he sings Becky Dean. Perhaps a note?

Quote
Becky Deem, She Was a Gamblin' Girl
23 January 1935 NYC
ARC 6-04-55
Transcribed from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Roots 'N' Blues 467893

[Instrumental verse]

Becky Deem, she was a gamblin' gal
Win all her money, and she win it fair

Becky Deem, she was a gamblin' gal
She win her money, and she win it fair

2.2 She win ALL HER money and she win it fair (Lead sings it more like "oller" or "olla")

Quote
Becky Deem, had her games on the ground
She win all the money the skinner lay down

3.2 She win all the money the skinner LAID down

Quote
Becky Deem, had her games on the ground
She win all the money the skinner lay down

4.2 She win all the money the skinner LAID down

Quote
[Instrumental verse]

She start to hit once, would a sank a fee[???]
By the end o' that they hollerin' "Don't you murder me"

5.1 She STARTED to hit ONE WITH A SINGLETREE
5.2 MIGHTA HEARED THE RASCAL hollerin' "Don't you murder me" (Lead sings MIGHTA more as MIGHTEE, but that just looks weird in transcription)

Quote
She start to hit once, would a sank a fee[???]
By the end o' that they hollerin' "Don't you murder me"

Slight difference with the added YOU in the 2nd line:

6.1 She STARTED to hit ONE WITH A SINGLETREE
6.2 YOU MIGHTA HEARED THE RASCAL hollerin' "Don't you murder me"

Quote
[Instrumental verse x 2]

Walked all the way from East St Louis
She didn't have but the one thin dime

She walked all the way from East St Louis
And she didn't have but the one thin dime

Never spent it for whiskey, and honey neither for wine
Yes I spent it all on the sake of the man of mine

She never spent it for whiskey, and honey neither for wine
I spent it all on the sake o' the man o' mine

[Instrumental verse outro]

Agree, though I'd add a comma after "honey".

Becky seems like a tough lady!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 11:36:45 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2009, 12:00:24 PM »
Ah, thank you, 'singletree', so it is. That's my new word for today, here's a definition:

Quote
a wooden bar swung at the center from a hitch on a plow, wagon, etc. and hooked at either end to the traces of a horse's harness

So she's laying into him/them/it with one.

Agree with most of it, "skinner laid down", I hear "lay-down" second time run together, but it's very close and I wouldn't argue your hearing. He's past tense challenged in the rest of the song so it's consistent use of present where past tense should go. win, s/be won, etc

I really have a hard time picking keys and tunings with the 12 so I'm totally sure it could be out of E, in fact it's easier for me to play like that so that would be just fine! That would have him tuned down another full step to B flat, right? (he asked nervously)

I'll see if anyone else wants to weigh in before making corrections.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 12:06:56 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2009, 12:14:40 PM »
Yes, usually it's the man hitting the woman with the singletree and she hollers "please don't murder me", c.f. Memphis Jug Band and others. Becky turns the tables on that formula here.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2009, 02:45:55 PM »
I really have a hard time picking keys and tunings with the 12 so I'm totally sure it could be out of E, in fact it's easier for me to play like that so that would be just fine! That would have him tuned down another full step to B flat, right? (he asked nervously)

Easier is always better and frequently correct as well.  :P I haven't tested the pitch. I pay more attention to hearing the positions than tuning to a given pitch (though am usually tuned somewhere in the vicinity of Bb or C). With Lead Belly, once you've worked on a couple of his E position tunes, it's pretty easy picking new ones out of a lineup, regardless of pitch, I find.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2009, 03:33:21 PM »
Speaking of which I realized, after reading an old thread that turned up in the '12 string guitar' tag, Kansas City Papa is also played out of E position, not D as I had it. Once again I erred, and for the same reason. Subconsciously I can never quite believe those guys were tuned down so low and still get good tone, but I'm getting the hang of it. It also sounds and plays much better out of an E position.

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2009, 05:04:10 PM »
Quote
She win all the money the skinner<ref>Could be a "mule skinner" (driver), see singletree ref below</ref> laid down

Alternatively, could a skinner be someone running a georgia skin game?

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2009, 05:07:30 PM »
Hmmm... what does anyone else think? We could note both possibilities.

edit: Yes, I like it, see http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=20709
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 05:16:06 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2009, 06:33:21 AM »
No instance of "skinner" in the Taft concordance. One could scan Georgia skin/skin game songs for occurrences. I do like dj's theory.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2009, 09:29:46 AM »
Anybody trying to learn the lyric from the booklet The Leadbelly Legend (Folkways 1959) will find that it has been "edited with new additional material by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax" and will end up singing as below, the use of vernacular is just of its time I guess. Oh, the title is Becky Dean, with an N.

Becky Dean, she was a gamblin' gal;    
She winned de money an' she winned it fair.    
Becky Dean, she was a gamblin' gal;    
She winned de money, an' she winned it fair.

Becky Dean, she had her games on the groun',
She winned all the money the skinners laid down.
Becky Dean, she had her games on the groun',
She winned all the money the skinners laid down.

She started to hit one wid a singletree,
Might 'a' heared de rascal holl'in',
"Honey, doncha murder me."
She started to hit one wid a singletree,
Might 'a' heared de rascal holl'in',
"Honey, doncha murder me."

Becky Dean walked all de way f'om Eas' St. Louis,    
When she didn' have but de one thin dime;    
Didn' spen' it for whisky, honey, an' neither for wine,    
She spent it all on "de sake of de man of mine."

This is the las' word that Becky Dean said,
"I love my baby when he's dead."
This is the las' word that Becky Dean said,
"I love my baby when he's dead."

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2009, 03:53:49 PM »
Re. Deem versus Dean, there's an entry in B&GR for an LoC session in February 1935, Wilton Conn., with an entry that looks like this, note the "sic":

129-B-2  Becky Dean [sic]     LC: Elektra EKL301/2, Doc DLP604 (LPs); Rounder 1045 (CD)

I don't have a copy. No other entries for Becky in the titles index. No hits on 'Becky Dean' on the Document site.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2009, 03:56:45 PM by Rivers »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #40 on: February 18, 2009, 06:39:08 PM »
[edit: added to weeniepedia]

You catch things that just shoot by normally when transcribing lyrics. Check out the verse about carving his initials on a mule's behind which I'd never heard before. [edit: listening later the same line turns up in Ox Drivin' Blues, which is gonna be a real challenge to transcribe, I'll do it next]

In the same verse he talks about "skinnin' for Johnny Rye", another Leadbelly reference to 'skinning', this time it's definitely a mule, and probably nails how the term 'mule skinner' arose, it's to do with flaying the poor beast with a whip ('...with my line') to keep it moving. I didn't know that.

The 'dago / jew' verse I've heard before somewhere but I can't remember which song.

This is in the true key of A flat. Further than that I'm not prepared to venture at this point.  :P  Ideas on tuning, position and lyric corrections are welcome.

Honey, I'm All Out And Down - Leadbelly
23 January 1935 NYC
ARC 16688-2
Transcribed from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Roots 'N' Blues 467893

Honeeey! I'm all out and down
Honeeey . . .
I'm broke baby, and I ain't got a dime
Every good man gets in hard luck some time
Don't it baby
Don't it baby
Don't it baby
Don't it baby

[holler]This man is a long ways from home
And he got a brown skin woman
And he know pay day is comin' pretty soon
And his woman is shoutin' 'cause it's morn' of pay day
And the old mule is hungry, and the sun is goin' down
The man he wish't that pay day would move off a little further
So he wouldn't have to pay the woman nothin'[/holler]

I'm going to tell my woman like the Dago told the Jew
You don't want me, uh honey I don't want you
Tell me baby
Tell me baby

Honeeey! What more you want me to do?
Honeeey . . .
Ah the women in the levee, shoutin' 'cause it's morn' pay day
The men on the levee, hollerin' "Don't you move your knee"
Tell me baby
Tell me baby
Tell me baby
Tell me baby

Oh the women on the levee honey, holl'in' "Woh hah gee!"
The men on the levee, holl'in' "Don't you murder me"
Please baby
Please baby
Please baby
Please baby

Honeeey, I'm a long ways from home
Honeeey . . .
I'm down in the bottom, skinnin' for Johnny Rye
Puttin' my initials, honey on a mule's behind
With my line babe
With my line babe
With my line babe
With my line babe

[holler]I swear to God!
I know that man wished that woman wouldn't come home when pay day come
He looked around and 'gan to cry the last time:[/holler]

Honeeey, I'm a long way from you
Honeeey . . .
Yes a brown skin woman make a preacher lay his Bible down
A jet black woman make a jackrabbit hug a hound
Won't it baby?

[ends abruptly on last bar of vocal]
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 09:10:12 PM by Rivers »

Online banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2073
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #41 on: February 18, 2009, 10:55:40 PM »
The dago/Jew line pops up with Chinaman/Jew in Barbecue Bob's "Barbecue Blues" and William Harris' "Bullfrog Blues" (amongst others, I'm sure, because I think I've heard the dago one too.)

Oh, and "Honey, I'm All Out and Down" is in D position.
Chris

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #42 on: February 19, 2009, 04:05:20 AM »
Blind Percy (Blind Joe Taggart) sings the Dago/Jew verse in "Fourteenth Street Blues".

Smoky Harrison sings the Chinamam/Jew version in "Iggly Oggly Blues"

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #43 on: February 19, 2009, 07:30:21 PM »
Thanks folks. Though I've not contributed to any (correct) tuning/position stuff here's a summary so far for when we get around to doing a 'Lead Belly guitar keys and positions' thread on the tips board. Many thanks to Chris and Andrew for figuring out tuning and position, I feel humbled by my inability to figure them out myself. I do a kickass version of Kansas City Papa though!

From Columbia Legacy "King of.."
Title  1st pos. chord, or open tuning name    Semitones down from E    Pitch 
Shorty George
C
4
Ab
Kansas City Papa
E
6
Bb
T.B. Woman Blues
A
3
F#
Fort Worth & Dallas Blues
G
5
D
Becky Deem, She Was a Gamblin' Girl
E
6
Bb
Honey, I'm All Out And Down
D
6
Ab

I need to check these, T.B. Woman looks like it might be tuned down further (C pos, down 6), looking at the emerging pattern. Maybe not though.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 08:12:09 PM by Rivers »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10840
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #44 on: February 19, 2009, 11:29:40 PM »
Hi all,
My favorite version of the Dago/Jew verse is Arthur Weston's, from his "Tell You Baby":
   I'm gonna tell you, baby, like the Dago told the Jew
   You can't be my woman, Lord, and someone else's too
Huh?
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 07:20:48 AM by Johnm »

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal