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When I was comin' up, of course I had no idea as to playin' music for a livin', I just sing the blues 'cause I _had_ to - it was just somethin' I had to do - Muddy Waters

Author Topic: Leadbelly lyrics  (Read 43107 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #90 on: March 03, 2009, 05:01:29 PM »
Hi all,
Leadbelly played "Sweet Mary", a raggy 8-bar tune from his "Last Sessions" out of F position in standard tuning, sounding just a little high of C.  The recorded performance is unusual in that it both fades in at the front end and out at the back end.  The song employs the following progression:

    |    D7    |    D7    |    G    |    G    |

    |    C7    |    C7    |    F     |    F     |

Leadbelly does all his singing over the D7 and G chords, except for pick-ups into the next verse, which fall on the tail end of the F at the end of the form.  He works the verses in pairs.  He fingers both the D7 and C7 out of the C shape, and both the G and the F out of the F shape.  He really makes the most of the way that bass runs lay out beautifully in the F position.  As is most often the case with his playing, he accelerates greatly, but at a consistent rate, over the course of the rendition 
I'm not at all sure I have the bent bracketed phrase right, so I'd appreciate any help.



   Mary, sweet Mary

   Oh Mary, sweet Mary

   Oh Mary, sweet Mary

   Oh Mary, sweet Mary

   Nineteen hundred and twenty-three, when the judge took my liberty away from me

   In nineteen hundred and twenty-three, when the judge took my liberty away from me

   I left my wife wringin' her hands and cryin', sayin', "Lord have mercy on that man of mine."

   I left my wife wringin' her hands and cryin', sayin', "Lord have mercy on that man of mine."

   Told my wife before I left the land, if I never no more see her do the best she can

   I told my wife before I left the land, if I never no more see her do the best she can

   Goodbye, Mary, ooo ooo ooo

   Oh Mary, ooo ooo ooo

   Had the Governor Neff like you got me, I'd a-wake up in the mornin', I'd set you free

   If I had the Governor Neff like you got me, I'd a-wake up in the mornin', I would set you free

   Goin' back to Mary, sweet Mary

   Oh Mary, ooo ooo

Edited 3/3 to pick up correction from Uncle Bud

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 05:02:04 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #91 on: March 03, 2009, 05:14:30 PM »
Hi John - that last verse is

Had you Governor Neff like you got me...

It's a reference to Texas Governor Pat Neff, whom Lead Belly petitioned for a pardon. There are some other recordings of the song under the title "Governor Pat Neff". What a great guitar part.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 05:15:38 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #92 on: March 03, 2009, 05:36:39 PM »
Thanks, Andrew, that's great!  I should read that Leadbelly biography and get caught up more on the particulars of his life.  You're right about the guitar part--it's sensational, and Leadbelly had such heavy time.  I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm

Offline CF

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #93 on: March 03, 2009, 05:43:46 PM »
Hey Rivers, in that spoken part in 'Daddy I'm Comin' Back To You', I don't have the recording handy at the moment but I think he's saying

' . . . His papa's hair had turned to silver
When he got back home.'

This is a really great song & I think I prefer Leadbelly's version to Jimmie Rodgers'. This & 'You Don't Know My Mind' & 'Roberta' all from these 1935 sessions have been in my repertoire for years. 
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #94 on: March 03, 2009, 05:46:58 PM »
Damn, I gots to get that Last Sessions CD... Here's another verse, should you need it, from Smithsonian Folkways, Lead Belly Legacy vol. 3, Shout On:

I know my wife will jump and shout, when the train rolls up, I come a-steppin' out (x2)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #95 on: March 03, 2009, 05:48:02 PM »
Hey Rivers, in that spoken part in 'Daddy I'm Comin' Back To You', I don't have the recording handy at the moment but I think he's saying

' . . . His papa's hair had turned to silver
When he got back home.'

Excellent!  :) That was the only question I had in that one. I'll copy it across to the bit bucket and post another one, 3 to go and the Columbia ARC is done and dusted.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 05:52:09 PM by Rivers »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #96 on: March 03, 2009, 06:09:21 PM »
[edit: added to weeniepedia]

Incredible piece, nuff said. Never really struck me as great until I really listened to it. Lead's fatalistic sense of humor shines throughout.



Yellow Jacket - Leadbelly
25 March 1935 NYC
ARC 17179-1 unissued
Transcribed from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Roots 'N' Blues 467893
12 string in standard down 4 semitones to C and played in A position, actual pitch is F

[Intro, 4 bars on the I]

Yellow jacket, yellow jacket! Please sting me once more
Yellow jacket, yellow jacket! Please sting me once more
You can sting me once more
And then I've got to go

You stung me this mornin', stung me 'til I was sore
Ah you stung me this mornin', stung me 'til I was sore
You can sting me one more time
Please don't sting me no more

[Two instrumental lines]
You can sting me one more time
Please don't sting me no more

You can buzz yellow jacket, buzz all around my face
You can buzz yellow jacket, buzz all around my face
I don't want no other yellow jacket
To, God, take your place

You can go down town, kinfolks all around
You can go down town, kinfolks all around
But if I catch you stingin', baby I'll burn your nest on down

Ooooooh, I'll burn your nest on down
Ooooooh, I'll burn your nest on down
[spoken] Great God almighty yellow jacket, don't sting me no more[/spoken]
But if I catch you stingin', I'll burn your nest on down
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 05:03:18 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #97 on: March 03, 2009, 06:22:18 PM »
[edit: added to weeniepedia]

I'll keep going and post the last two, transcribed them a few days back but have been pacing the postings so I can keep up with the corrections. There's a questionable line in this one, ideas most welcome.



Pig Meat Papa - Leadbelly
25 March 1935 NYC
ARC 17181-2 unissued
Transcribed from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Roots 'N' Blues 467893
12 string in standard down 4 semitones to C and played in F position, actual pitch is D flat

[Instrumental verse intro]

Just look a-here mama, don't treat pig meat the way you do
Ooooh don't treat pig meat the way you do
If you don't believe it's pig meat, ask anybody in the neighborhood

If you don't believe it's pig meat, [come down here on the grass ???]
Ooooh [come down here on the grass ???]
I got somethin' about a pig meat, sweet mama I ain't told you yet

I was born and raised in the country, mama but I'm a stayin' in town
[spoken] In New York City is what I'm talkin' about [/spoken]
I was born and raised in the country, mama but I'm a stayin' in town
If you don't believe it's pig meat, mama put my head on down

[Instrumental verse]

[spoken] She looked at the man, and I looked at the woman
She knows this was Lead Belly, wasn't nothin' but pure pig meat
All over Shreveport Looziana, and all in Texarkana
And I was runnin' with a gal named Sylvana, she looked at me and here' what she said, the last words: [/spoken]

You can take me to the mournin', and there will be pig meat there
You can take me to the mournin' mama, will be pig meat there
You take the bull to China, down to church, just anywhere

Oooooh, a church, just anywhere
Wooooh, a church, just anywhere
Take the bull to China, down to church, just anywhere

[Four bars out]
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 05:03:57 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #98 on: March 03, 2009, 06:29:52 PM »
[edit: added to weeniepedia]

Here's the last one from King Of The 12 String Guitar. Yee ha!



My Baby Quit Me - Leadbelly
25 March 1935 NYC
ARC 17183-1 unissued
Transcribed from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Roots 'N' Blues 467893
12 string in standard down 4 semitones to C and played in A position, actual pitch is F

[3 bar intro on the I]

My baby left me, well she wouldn't come back no more
My baby left me, well she wouldn't come home no more
When you left me baby, ah she drive me from my door

Look a-here people, I couldn't understand her myself
Look a-here people, I couldn't understand her myself
When my baby left me, I didn't want nobody else

[Instrumental verse]

Yeah people! Want you to all understand
Yeah people, want you to all understand
My baby done left me, and she got a brand new man

[Instrumental verse]

My baby drove me, lordy, from my door
My baby drove me, lordy, from my door
And she said "Sweet papa, I can't use you no more"

Carried forward the completed summary, Columbia Legacy "King of.."
Title  1st pos. chord or
open tuning name
 
  Semitones
down from E
 
  Pitch 
Packin' Trunk
Spanish, Ab
n/a
Ab
Becky Deem, She Was a Gamblin' Girl
E
6
Bb
Honey, I'm All Out And Down
D
6
Ab
Four Day Worry Blues
D
6
Ab
Roberta Part I
F
6
B
Roberta Part II
F
6
B
Death Letter Blues Part I
A
6
Eb
Death Letter Blues Part II
A
6
Eb
Kansas City Papa
E
6
Bb
Fort Worth & Dallas Blues
G
5
D
You Don't Know My Mind
G
5
D
Ox Drivin' Blues
A(7)
6
Eb
Daddy I'm Coming Back To You
C
5
G
Shorty George
C
4
Ab
Yellow Jacket
A
4
F
T.B. Woman Blues
A
3
Gb
Pig Meat Papa
F
4
Db
My Baby Quit Me
A
4
F
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 05:04:56 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #99 on: March 04, 2009, 05:26:56 PM »
Hi all,
Leadbelly played "He Never Said a Mumbling Word" on his "Last Sessions" out of D position in standard tuning, sounding just a little sharp of A.  It is a powerfully spirited performance, with a vocal that is every bit as rhythmically infectious as the guitar accompaniment.  Leadbelly seemed to love the D position for playing up-tempo numbers with strong thumb-lead bass lines, like his versions of "John Henry" and "House of the Rising Sun".



   SPOKEN:  Want to see me get happy?  Now, just listen to this, just don't tell--this is a Spiritual, too, tell a story about Christ, which I guess is happy--you would not know it, but you don't know that old feelin' I gets from down South.  Think about my mother shoutin', uh.  Holy rollers is singin' this now--It's thei' rhythm, thei' swing, and the way they sing.

   On a-Easter Sunday he rose, on a-Easter Sunday he rose
   On a-Easter Sunday he rose for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   On a-Easter Sunday he rose for me

   They whupped him up the hill, they whupped him up the hill
   They whupped him up the hill for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   They whipped him up the hill for me

   They speared him in the side, they speared him in the side
   They speared him in the side for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   They speared him in the side for me

   The blood come streamin' down, the blood come streamin' down
   The blood come streamin' down for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   The blood came streamin' down for me

   He hung his head and died, he hung his head and died
   He hung his head and died for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   He hung his head and died for me

   He never said a mumbling word, he never said a mumbling word
   He never said a mumbling word for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   He never said a mumbling word for me

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  No he didn't. . . yeah

   He's comin' back again, he's comin' back again
   He's comin' back again for me
   One day when I was lost, they hung him on the cross
   He's comin' back again for me

   SPOKEN:  Yes, he is, coming back for me.  Yeah, what you call a Spiritual--you get shoutin' you get happy.

Edited 3/5 to pick up corrections from Rivers

All best,
Johnm

   
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 05:05:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #100 on: March 04, 2009, 06:10:29 PM »
Wow, heavy dues. I don't have that so can't assist, except for typo spotting; "sunday" lower case initial capital in verse 1, "mumblig" in verse 6, or maybe he does say it that way.

I'm going to pick another 'must-have' disc, probably the LoC / Elektra / Rounder Midnight Special CD and start on it after a short break. Richard Nevins or somebody really needs to work on those recordings, stunning as all get out but in dire need of remastering.

Offline CF

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #101 on: March 05, 2009, 05:18:37 AM »
I have a Columbia CD titled 'Leadbelly' (CK 30035) & seems to have been an LP originally. I've had the this for years along with Columbia's 'King Of The Twelve String Guitar' & doing some referencing in B&GR today I see that these two CDs contain most of Leadbelly's extant ARC recordings from 1935. 'Death Letter Blues Pt.1 & Pt.2' & 'Kansas City Papa' have two takes each & Columbia were smart enough to offer all takes on these companion CDs. They share 'Roberta Pt.1 & 2', & 'Packin' Trunk'. The rest of 'Leadbelly' contains
-C. C. Rider
-You Can't Lose Me, Charlie
-(New) Black Snake Moan
-Alberta
-Baby Don't You Love Me No More
-Death Letter Blues Pt.1 (take 1) ['KO12StringG' has take 2]
-Death Letter Blues Pt.2 (take 1) [""]
-Kansas City Papa (take 1) [""]
-Red River (Blues)
-(My Friend) Blind Lemon
-Mister Tom Hughes' Town
-Match Box Blues
-Bull Cow Blues

ARC recordings not present on these two CDs are 'Daddy I'm Coming Back To You' (16806-3), 'Shorty George' (16814-2) & 'Pig Meat Papa' (17181-1). '12 String' suggest that their 'Roberta Pt.1&2' are alternate takes but B&GR states that only one take each actually exist so this must be an error. 
'The Penguin Guide to Recorded Blues' says 'Leadbelly' (CK 30035) is still available & I recommend it although the sound on '12 String' is significantly better.
I'm pretty swamped but if I have the time I'll try transcribing some of these other ARC titles. What a series of sessions!
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 06:56:44 AM by cheapfeet »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #102 on: March 05, 2009, 04:01:21 PM »
Thanks for the heads up on that other Columbia disc w/ARC recordings Cheapfeet. Must have it.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #103 on: March 05, 2009, 08:44:38 PM »
Hi all,
Leadbelly recorded "National Defense Blues" for his Last Sessions, playing out of C position in standard tuning at G.  The accompaniment employs a doubled-up boogie bass line, which from the sound of it, Leadbelly was playing, all downstrokes, with his thumb, something that would tire out most players pretty quickly.  The deep trucking rhythm he achieved was sensational, and the song voices out beautifully for his vocal range; it's right in his kitchen.  He does a downward swoop on the last note of each of the opening lines of his verses that is pretty spectacular.  Like most of the songs in the Last Sessions, this has a fairly lengthy spoken intro and outro which I've chosen not to include.  It takes too much time to transcribe all that talking.  I have never heard anyone but Leadbelly do this song, and it's a great one.



   I had a little woman workin' on that National Defense
   I had a little woman workin' on that National Defense
   That woman got to the place, where act like she did not have no sense

   Just because she was workin', makin' so much dough
   Just because she was workin', makin' so much dough
   That woman got to the place, did not love me no more

   Every payday would come, her check was big as mine
   Every payday would come, her check was big as mine
   That woman thought that Defense was gonna last all the time

   That Defense is gone, just listen to my song
   That Defense, it is gone, just listen to my song
   Since that Defense been gone, that woman done lose her home

   SPOKEN, DURING SOLO:  Yes, she is . . yeah . . . well all right, then

   I will tell you the truth and it's got to be the fact
   I will tell you the truth and it's got to be a fact
   Since that Defense has gone, that woman losed her Cadillac

All best,
Johnm



   

   
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 05:06:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Leadbelly lyrics
« Reply #104 on: March 06, 2009, 07:14:31 PM »
I've started a Leadbelly Guitar keys and positions page on weeniepedia, with links back to the individual lyric pages.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 07:15:41 PM by Rivers »

 


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