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I don't like to play this but once in a while, you know, but sometimes I get the Blues - Napoleon Strickland

Author Topic: Willie Baker Lyrics  (Read 9060 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Willie Baker Lyrics
« on: July 10, 2008, 08:51:44 AM »
Hi all,
The Georgia singer and 12-string guitarist Willie Baker recorded "Rag Baby" in Richmond, Indiana on March 11, 1929.  Baker was of the Atlanta group of 12-string players from the late '20s, along with Barbecue Bob, Charley Lincoln, and George Carter.  Though Willie McTell was also a 12-string player based in Atlanta at the same time, I see him as standing apart from this group of players, for his music was quite different and showed a far greater versatility of sound than these other players, all of whom were quite similar stylistically.
Willie Baker's recording sessions were confined to three dates in 1929.  He sounds quite young, and he was a strong player with a really good voice.  "Rag Baby", played out of C position in standard tuning, has a pre-Blues sound, much like a children's song, and utilizes a simple 8-bar progression:

   |    I    |    I    |    IV   |    IV   |

   |    V   |    V    |  I  V  |    I     |

Willie Baker gets a great sound on his guitar and gets a strong rhythmic feel by using his thumb to keep time on the second and fourth beats of the measure.  He accelerates for the entire length of the rendition, much like Mance Lipscomb or Leadbelly, really moving quickly by the time he gets to the end of the song.

   I used to have a baby, used to have a baby,
   I ain't got no baby now

   My baby left me, my baby left me,
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   Yonder she goes, sweep broom in her hand, sweep me off for another man,
   Yonder go my baby now

   Bye-bye, baby, bye-bye, baby,
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   SOLO

   Seed her when she caught the train, seed her when she caught that train
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   SOLO

   Now I'm all alone, sittin' by the telephone,
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   I'm gonna write me a letter, to my little baby,
   "Baby, won't you come home?"

   I'm gonna find me a baby, find me a baby,
   Babe, baby now

   SOLO

   Bye-bye, honey, bye-bye, honey,
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   Don't you think you done me wrong?  Don't you think you done me wrong?
   (Guitar finishes verse)

   I don't need no baby, I don't need no baby,
   Baby won't do right

   SOLO (X2)

   I received a letter, I received a letter,
   From my little old baby child

   Yonder she come, yonder she come, Oh, Lordy, yonder she come
   Baby, baby child

   SOLO (X2)

   Mmm, mmm, ha ha
   Ho ho, how how
   How how, how how

   Mmm, mmm, mmm
   Mmm, mmm, mmm
   Mmm, mmm, mmm

   Now I'm all alone, here by the telephone
   Got no baby now

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm
   


   

Offline dj

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2008, 10:00:06 AM »
Quote
Yonder she goes, sweep broom in her hand, sweep me off for another man

Great line!  Thanks for the transcription, John.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008, 10:28:32 AM »
Thanks, dj.  I really like Willie Baker's music, and I think I will try to transcribe the rest of his songs.  Unfortunately, there are only nine of them.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2008, 10:42:53 AM »
Hi all,
Willie Baker recorded "Weak-Minded Woman" at the same session as "Rag Baby".  "Weak-Minded Woman is played in Spanish tuning with a slide, capoed up or tuned high, and is working a musical archetype often employed by Barbecue Bob and Charley Lincoln, though usually at a slower tempo than Willie Baker took it.  This is a superlatively strong take, both in the singing and playing.  Willie Baker pronounced "far", "fur", as did Furry Lewis and many other singers, and pronounced "catch", "keyatch".  Incidentally, the complete works of Willie Baker, as well as those of Charley Lincoln, can be found on Document Records BDCD-6027, "Charley Lincoln and Willie Baker, 1927-1930, Atlanta Blues".

   I wonder will a matchbox, mama, hold my dirty clothes?
   I wonder will a matchbox, mama, hold my dirty clothes?
   I ain't got so many, but I got so far to go

   Women all singin' the blues, I ain't raised my right hand
   Women all singin' the blues, I ain't raised my right hand
   What make a woman have the blues, when she know somebody's got her man

   The blues is somethin', woman, I ain't never had
   Well, the blues is somethin', woman, I ain't never had
   Just get yourself some good man, and do the best you can

   A weak-minded woman will let a rounder tear her down
   A weak-minded woman will let a rounder tear her down
   And when she get in trouble, that rounder can't be found

   She got up last night, she crawled around my bed
   She got up last night, she crawled around my bed
   "Gonna love you a long time, daddy, guess I will see you dead."

   Woman take the blues, she's gonna buy her a paper and read
   Woman take the blue, she's gonna buy her a paper and read
   Man take the blues, gonna catch a train and leave

   My gal got a mouth like a lighthouse on the sea
   My gal got a mouth like a lighthouse on the sea
   Every time she smile she throws that light on me

All best,
Johnm
   

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2008, 11:49:49 AM »
Hi all,
Willie Baker recorded "Sweet Patunia Blues" at the same session as "Rag Baby" and "Weak-Minded Woman".  He played it in Spanish with a slide, and musically, it is substantially the same piece as the "Sweet Petunia" recorded by Curley Weaver in 1928, though Weaver played his version in G position in standard tuning.  The song is phrased as a 16-bar chorus blues.

   I got a gal, she got a Rolls Royce, she didn't get off by usin' her voice
   CHORUS:  I'm wild about my 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   I'm wild about my 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   Well, sweet Petunia's gonna carry me to my grave

   Every time my gal walk down the street, all the boys holler, "Ain't 'Tuni' sweet?"
   CHORUS:  Now, I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   Well, sweet Petuni', gonna carry me to my grave

   I got a gal, she lives up on the hill, you can't get her 'tuni', she's got a automobile
   CHORUS:  Now, I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   I'm wild about 'Tunia, the only thing I crave
   Well, sweet Petuni', gonna carry me to my grave

   INTERLUDE

   Well I woke up this mornin', half past four, a long tall gal, 's rappin' at my door
   CHORUS:  She was singin', "Sweet Petunia, only thing I crave."
   She was singin', "Sweet Petunia, only thing I crave."
   Well, sweet Petunia, gonna carry me to my grave

   If all the 'tuni', was brought to a test, a long tall gal can sling it the best
   CHORUS:  Now, I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   Well, sweet Petuni', gonna carry me to my grave

   Tellin' all you mens, I been well-blessed, if I get what I wants, you can have the rest
   CHORUS:  Now, I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   I'm wild about 'Tunia, only thing I crave
   Well, sweet Petuni's, gonna carry me to my grave

All best,
Johnm
   


   
« Last Edit: July 10, 2008, 11:37:17 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2008, 01:48:03 PM »
Hi all,
For "Crooked Woman Blues", Willie Baker used the same melody and basic accompaniment in Spanish tuning that Barbecue Bob used for "Motherless Child Blues".  "Crooked Woman Blues" is from the same productive session in Richmond, Indiana on March 11, 1929.
I could use some correction/corroboration on the two bent bracketed words.  The first I have always heard sung as "happy home", but there is no concluding "m" sound here, a strong concluding "r" sound, and given the subject matter, "happy whore" makes a good deal of sense.  The other one is hard to tell--is it "find" or "fight"?

   When a man gets down, trouble last always
   When a man gets down, his trouble last always
   Your gal will leave you and be gone for days and days

   Tell all you women, how to make a happy home
   Tell all you women, how to make a happy home
   Keep you a workin' man and leave those sweet boys alone

   There's comin' a time, these women won't need no men
   There's comin' a time, these women won't need no men
   They'll find the washtub and money come rollin' in

   When you see two women, always runnin' hand in hand
   When you see two women, always runnin' hand in hand
   You can bet your bottom dollar, one's got the other one's man

   Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm
   Ahh, mmm, mmm, ah, mm, mmm
   Mmmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm

   On one Monday mornin', on my way to school
   On one Monday mornin', on my way to school
   That's the Monday mornin' I broke my mama's rule

Edited, 7/13, to pick up correction from dj

All best,
Johnm
 
     
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 11:57:07 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2008, 04:08:56 PM »
Hi, John

To me it sounds like Willie Baker is singing "Tell all you women, how to make a happy home-r" in "Crooked Woman Blues", where the r is sort of a separator as in uses like "Norah's dove".  Admittedly, it doesn't separate two vowel sounds, and I can't think of another example of the r being used at the end of a line, but it really sounds like he's singing "home" with the m barely pronounced and then tacking on an r.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2008, 09:11:23 AM »
Hi dj,
Thanks for the listening help.  It was timely,because I came up with the very same problem in "No No Blues", which will follow in the next post.  I think Willie Baker puts an "r" in the word prior to the "m", and barely closes his lips on the "m" at the end of the word.  This kind of interior "r" sound, preceded by a vowel sound and followed by a consonant sound can also be found in the common pronunciation of "judgement", "jurdgement".
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2008, 09:43:45 AM »
Hi all,
Willie Baker recorded "No No Blues" at his second session, in Richmond, Indiana on January 10, 1929.  Played in Spanish tuning with a slide, it is almost definitely based on Curley Weaver's song of the same title.  While Willie Baker's version of the song lacks the exciting popping of the bass strings that Curley's version has, it preserves the very complicated phrasing scheme of its model, and is played in a less consistent and controlled, and perhaps more exciting way.  Control is a touchy quality in music-making, and can be over-done.  Curley's passes are amazingly consistent, while Willie's are a bit looser, in a beneficial way.
The form of "No No Blues" is one of the more complex to be found in the country blues.  It works out as follows, with the prevailing meter, except where indicated, a strong cut time feel of two beats per measure.  The first line of the form is an instrumental set piece that precedes each verse.  The extra beat at the end of the last measure in the first line provides space for the vocal pick-ups into the second line of the form.  Truthfully, it is not surprising that you do not hear a lot of present-day players performing this number; it is tricky as hell, and would be a real challenge to master, particularly at the tempo that Willie Baker and Curley Weaver played it.

   |    I    |    I    |    I    |    I    |    I    |    I (3 beats  |

   |   IV   |   IV    |   I    |    I    |

   |   IV   |   IV    |   I    |    I    |

   |    I    |    I     |   I    |    I    |

Lyrically, the song is unusual in it's employment of a stammering archetype in its tagline.  I can't think of another song that does this, though there probably are others.  For a discussion of the stammering archetype, go to the Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing thread at http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=924.0.  I'm not altogether satisfied with the tagline on the next-to-last verse and would appreciate some help with it.

   I woke up this mornin', my good gal was gone
   I woke up this mornin', my good gal was gone
   Stood by my bedside, I hung my head and, hung my head and moan

   I walked down the street, I couldn't be satisfied
   I walked down the street, I couldn't be satisfied
   I had the No No Blues, I couldn't keep from, I couldn't keep from cryin'

   'Tain't none of my business, but it sure ain't right
   'Tain't none of my business, but it sure ain't right
   Take another man's gal, walk the streets all, walk the streets all night

   Take a mighty crooked woman to treat a good man wrong
   Take a mighty crooked woman to treat a good man wrong
   Take a mighty mean man, take another man, take another man's home

   I'm a stranger here, I just blowed in your town
   I'm a stranger here, I just blowed in your town
   If I ask for a favor, don't turn me, don't turn me down

   I'm long and tall, like a cannonball
   I'm long and tall, like a cannonball
   Take a long tall man, make a good gal, make a good gal squall

   If I mistreat you, I sure don't mean no harm
   If I mistreat you, I sure don't mean no harm
   'Cause I'm a motherless child, don't know right from, don't know right from wrong

   I ain't no gambler, and I don't play no fool
   I ain't no gambler, and I don't play no fool
   I'm a ramblin' roller, jelly-bakin', jelly-bakin' fool

   She low and squatty, right down on the ground
   She low and squatty, right down on the ground
   [She like the way the mama, took my kidman, took my kidman down]

   I'm a stranger here, I come in on this train
   I'm a stranger here, I come in on this train
   I long to hear some, good gal call my, good gal call my name

All best,
Johnm



     
« Last Edit: July 11, 2008, 01:33:20 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2008, 09:50:38 AM »
Hi all,
Wilie Baker recorded "Mama Don't Rush Me Blues" at his first session, on January 9, 1929 in Richmond, Indiana, and it was the only title the session yielded.  It is played in Spanish with a slide, as was Willie Baker's wont.  The song was also recorded a little over a year later by Charley Lincoln in a version he played out of Vestapol, and the fact that he was playing in a relatively unfamiliar tuning may have made for a more tentative-sounding version. 
Willie Baker's version is taken at a tremendous clip, and he doubles his melody for the chorus in the middle range of his 12-string guitar, right underneath his singing, in a way that sounds great.  He answers the first line of the chorus with a guitar lick before singing the second line.  This is a performance with a great deal of assurance and style; for a novice in the recording studio, Willie Baker sounded very relaxed and confident.

   SPOKEN:  What's up here, mama, what's the matter?  I know you wouldn't dare to treat me like that!

   Paid my room rent last night, half past ten,
   Take my gal to the door, but she wouldn't go in
   CHORUS:  Landlady, don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   Landlady, don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time

   I's takin' a gal for a ride, she try to get rough,
   "Mama, I been used to always strut my stuff.", now
   CHORUS:  Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   I said, please don't rush me 'cause I been used to takin' my time

   Ain't these women funny, 'bout the way they do,
   Start to love another man, then go to doggin' you, now
   CHORUS:  Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   I said, please don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time

   I buy you cigarettes and I buy you snuff
   I know doggone well, now, when I get enough, now
   CHORUS:  Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   I said, please don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time

   Now I makes from one to ten dollars every day,
   I know that's enough to let you have your way, now,
   CHORUS:  Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   I said, please don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time

   Mama, you gettin' just like, says, a farmer's mule,
   Longer I live with you, harder you is to rule, now
   CHORUS:  Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time

   I told my wife, "You want me to wait,
   You'd better stop your sister from showin' her shape."
   CHORUS:  Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time
   Don't rush me, 'cause I been used to takin' my time

All best,
Johnm
   

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2008, 03:45:18 PM »
Hi all,
Willie Baker opened his productive session of March 11, 1929 in Richmond, Indiana, with "Bad Luck Moan", played, like all but one of his recorded numbers, out of Spanish tuning with a slide.  "Bad Luck Moan" is phrased as a 12-bar blues with an AAB phrasing scheme, but in fact, the phrasing is more metrically loose than that description would suggest, and the song is really a one-chorder, never going to the IV or V chords.
I am not at all certain about the bent bracketed portion of the opening line of the second verse and would appreciate some help with it.

   SPOKEN:  Oh, bad luck sure has fell on me!

   Bad luck in my bed, bad luck's in my home
   Bad luck in my bed, bad luck is in my home
   That's the reason why, singin' these bad luck moans

   I got a gal, course, she's a little bit up in years
   I've got a good gal, course, she's a little bit up in years
   Well, she sure knows how, oww, to shift her gears

   Some likes pigmeat, hogmeat's what I crave
   Some likes pigmeat, but hogmeat's what I crave
   I b'lieve it's sure gon', carry me to my grave

   Mmmm, mama, come to my rescue
   Oh oh, mama, come to my rescue
   I'm feelin' so bad 'til I don't know what to do

   Well, the jinx moved in, all in my room
   Well, the jinx has moved in, all in my room
   Somebody better come here, pretty doggone soon

   Mmmm, mmm, mmm, mm
   Mmmm, mm, mm, mm, mm

Edited, 7/15, to pick up correction from banjo chris

All best,
Johnm








   
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 11:23:37 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2008, 11:23:36 PM »
John, the missing line is:

course, she's (a) little bit up in years

Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2008, 11:26:08 AM »
Thanks very much for the help, Chris.  You are certainly right, and once I listened to your interpretation, I wondered how I ever heard what I had previously.  It seems to work that way quite a lot.
all best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2008, 11:56:03 AM »
Hi all,
Willie Baker recorded "Weak-Minded Blues" at his second session, in Richmond, Indiana on January 10, 1929.  The only other title that session yielded was "No No Blues", but I'd still call that a very good day's work.  "Weak-Minded Blues" is the same song as the re-titled "Weak-Minded Woman" that Willie Baker was to record two months later.  The two different versions are close enough to each other to designate the song fairly as a set piece.  The earlier version, "Weak-Minded Blues" is taken at a brisker pace.

   I wonder will a matchbox hold my dirty clothes?
   I wonder will a matchbox hold my dirty clothes?
   I haven't got so many, but I got so far to go.

   Women all sing the blues, I ain't raised my right hand
   Women all singin' the blues, ain't raised my right hand
   What make a woman have the blues, when she know somebody's got her man

   The blues is somethin', woman, I ain't never had
   Well, the blues is somethin', woman, I ain't never had
   Just get yourself some good man and do the best you can

   A weak-minded woman will let a rounder tear her down
   A weak-minded woman will let a rounder tear her down
   And when she get in trouble that rounder can't be found

   She got up last night, she crawled around my bed
   She got up last night, she crawled around my bed
   "Gonna love you a long time, daddy, I guess I will see you dead."

   Woman take the blues, she gonna buy her a paper and read
   Woman take the blues, she gonna buy her a paper and read
   Man get the blues, he's gonna catch a train and leave

   My gal got a mouth like a lighthouse on the sea
   My gal got a mouth like a lighthouse on the sea
   Every time she smiles, she throws that light on me

All best,
Johnm     

Offline Johnm

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Re: Willie Baker Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2008, 01:24:40 PM »
Hi all,
Willie Baker recorded "Ain't It a Good Thing?" in Richmond, Indiana on March 11, 1929.  He played the song out of Spanish tuning with a slide.  The song had earlier (I believe) been recorded by Frank Stokes and Dan Sane with a very different treatment.  Willie Baker treats "Ain't It a Good Thing?" as a one-chorder with a very fluid form and short refrain.  His verses get progressively longer, for the most part, as he goes along.  Once again, I would appreciate help with the portions of the lyrics enclosed in bent brackets.

   SPOKEN:  Yes, I'm gon' always have more than one!

   When I was young, in my prime
   I kept a gang of women all the time
   I had a gal, her name was Lu,
   You never could tell what she would do
   REFRAIN:   Ain't it a good thing?
   Ain't it a good thing to have more than one?

   I had another gal, her name was Henrietta
   You'd catch her with a man, she'd tell you she didn't know no better
   REFRAIN:  Ain't it a good thing?
   Ain't it a good thing to have more than one?

   Had another gal, her name was Betty
   She was always tippin' in some dark alley
   'f I would just even, step through a crack
   She would have some man fight me in my back
   REFRAIN:  Ain't it a good thing?
   Ain't it a good thing to have more than one?

   I got a gal, her name was Mae
   Late last night she drove me away, and told me to stay
   Well, I went right out, got me a drink of gin
   Went right back to Mae's house again
   She called me in, said, "Let's have a little fun,
   But don't come in a party, 'cause I gots only one."
   REFRAIN:  Now, ain't it a good thing?
   Ain't it a good thing to have more than one?

   Tell all you men somethin', don't you raise no fuss, 'cause
   Ain't none of these women, nary will do to trust
   They are all bow-legged, from their ankles to their knees
   Anything they got they will give it away free
   When you're out workin', got a plan
   They is winkin' and drinkin' at some other man
   You may be brown-skinned, you may be black,
   Mama, what I said 'bout you, I sure won't take it back
   REFRAIN:  Ain't it a good thing?
   Ain't it a good thing to have more than one?

Edited, 7/16 to pick up corrections from dj

All best,
Johnm
   
 
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 03:28:21 PM by Johnm »

 


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