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I've been down so long, down don't worry me - Ishmon Bracey, Trouble Hearted Blues

Author Topic: Henry Townsend lyrics  (Read 6906 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Henry Townsend lyrics
« on: April 26, 2009, 07:55:36 AM »
Here's a topic covering Henry Townsend's lyrics and playing. His early recordings played on a metal body resonator are some of the most underrated deep blues around in my opinion. Though Henry was based in St Louis his music from that period sounds more like Delta blues. If you're not familiar with these recordings you owe it to yourself to track them down, particularly if you have a Style-O National laying around and are looking for some great non-slide licks and chords.

I'm going to go back and check my old transcriptions of Sick With The Blues, Mistreated Blues, Poor Man Blues, She?s Got A Mean Disposition and Henry?s Worried Blues individually before posting them, and hopefully expanding it to other songs over time. Here's the first one, please feel free to pitch in, and if you have ideas on capo and tuning let's discuss. I know there's some different theories on whether he's in a minor (cross-note) or major (Vestapol) tuning on some songs. I guess Henry's early non-slide playing in open tunings belongs in a couple of other topics running on the forum.

If there was no capo involved my feeling on this one is Vestapol open E tweaked up to sharp of F, could also be cross-note. Other good theories could be Open D capoed 3, which is definitely a good safe choice for playing along on a regular guitar. Though it sounds minorish I think he could be getting the modal sound by alternately killing the open 3rd string major 3rd, or fretting it at the first fret (sus 4) and third fret (modal, makes a 2 note chord). I find it easier to play that way but hey I could be wrong.  Here is "Sick With The Blues":



Sick With The Blues - Henry Townsend
Solo guitar
11 December 1933, Chicago, BB B5411
Pitch sharp of F, tuning ?, capo ?

People I?ve tried every doctor, every doctor in my neighborhood
Yes I?ve tried every doctor, every doctor in my neighborhood
But I haven?t even found me a doctor, who's capable of doing my blues any good

You had better leave her alone, she don?t mean a doggone thing
You had better leave her alone, she don?t mean a doggone thing
Ain?t but the one thing that she?s after, that is your doggone spending change

Mmmm, she wants to walk out of my door
Yes the girl that I wants now, people wants to walk out of my door
She just left me word tellin? me, she won?t come back to my house no more

[Instrumental verse]

But I?m going to try my best to leave her, Lord I?m gonna try to let her be
Yes I?m going to try my best to leave her, try my best to leave her be
I?m gonna try to find someone now, 'thinks the world in all of me

So bye, bye bye, baby that I?m leaving you
So bye, bye bye, reason now I?m leaving you
?Cause I?ve already found out that your love is not true
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:36:58 AM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2009, 09:23:44 AM »
I set up the initial Henry stuff on Weeniepedia. Check out the stunning shot of Henry I snaffled off the web, playing a National: http://www.weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Category:Henry_Townsend

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2009, 03:15:17 PM »
Right on, man...  Henry's music is always entertaining and inspiring:  musically and lyrically.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2009, 07:44:36 PM »
Emotionally too. Love those bends, slurs and dead thumb vamps. To me Henry sounds very expressive as younger man. He mellowed a lot later on, at present I'm more drawn to the early material, that might change as I listen to more of it.

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009, 03:39:47 PM »
Yes, emotionally...

I think his earlier work sounds angrier (frustrated young man, ya know...); I don't think his later work is less expressive, just more subtle.  All of his work is "deep" to me.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2009, 05:58:04 PM »
Here's one from Henry's first session. Dig the unusual single line bridge, which might have been an accident or intentional, whatever, it works great.

This has got me wondering about which song had the first recorded instance of the classic lines "don't mistreat me because I'm young and wild, you must remember you was once a child".  Here is "Mistreated Blues":



Mistreated Blues - Henry Townsend
Solo guitar
15 November 1929, Chicago, Columbia 14491-D
Pitch sharp of A flat, tuning ?, capo ?

[Intro 4 bars]

My baby just mistreat me night and day
Yes my sweet woman just mistreat me night and day
Oh she mistreat the poor man just to pass the doggone time away

And it?s baby, baby what have I done was wrong?
And it?s baby, baby what have I done was wrong?
Ah you mistreat me baby and drove me away from my home

Well I?m going now baby, and I won?t be back no more
I?m going now baby, and I won?t be back no more
Ain?t going to let you mistreat me, drive me 'way from your door

Mmmmm, well I might be a-mistreated and I won?t come to your house no more

Mmmmm, baby don?t mistreat me 'cause you know I?m young and wild
I said babe don?t mistreat me 'cause I?m young and wild
Oh you must remember baby one time you was a child

[Instrumental verse]

Well never mind, never mind babe, I?ve got my eyes on you
Well it's never mind, never mind, I?ve got my doggone eyes on you
And some old day pretty babe you?ll do like I want you to do

[Outro 2 bars]
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:38:12 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2009, 08:29:36 PM »
Rivers -- I have a couple very small suggestions on the lyrics -- in "Sick With The Blues" I think the 3rd line of the first verse begins
But I haven't even found nary a doctor
and the one-line bridge from "Mistreated" I think should start:
Mmmm, well I might feel mistreated.

Also, I'm pretty sure he's playing in cross-note on these two selections -- you can hear the minor/major third hammer-on quite often, especially in the licks at the end of vocal phrases just before he plays the tonic. Also, he plays chords at the 4th and 7th frets that would be simple D-shapes in cross-note (or standard) but that would be damned awkward in Vestapol.
Chris

Offline Rivers

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2009, 04:37:03 AM »
Thanks Chris, I will check it out tonight in detail.

I'm very open to being convinced on the cross-note tuning theory, since both you and Johnm are in that camp. I'll see if I can find the passages of play you're describing and work it through.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2010, 09:53:55 AM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "Poor Man Blues" at his first session, in Chicago on November 15, 1929.  He was all of 20 years old at the time and must rank with Buddy Moss as one of the most precocious country blues talents ever to record.  Perhaps Henry's early musical maturity becomes somewhat more explicable when you consider that he left home at the age of 9! 
At this early stage of Henry Townsend's career, his solo style centered on one-chord numbers, played for the most part (though not exclusively) in cross-note tuning.  His songs were very freely phrased, and more than most players, he regularly employed instrumental "digressions", often in the middle of a sung line, thriving on a riff until he was ready to finish singing the line.  His right hand technical arsenal was formidable.  He could shift seamlessly from time-keeping to lead with his thumb, running brush strokes in both directions with thumb and fingers, and vigorous popping of the first string at rapid tempos.  The degree of freedom with which he moved between his different right hand approaches makes him ferociously difficult to copy.
"Poor Man Blues" was played out of cross-note tuning, pitched a little sharp of A flat.  Like another of his early pieces, "Jack of Diamonds/Georgia Rub", "Poor Man Blues" is played with a right hand approach that sounds very banjo-influenced, employing a thumb lead, and in the case of "Poor Man Blues", never striking a string below the fourth string, resulting in a sound quite like the banjo.  Like many of Henry's early numbers, "Poor Man Blues" has enough musical ideas and information for four or five of most people's songs.  Lyrically, Henry Townsend operates from a stance that his lyrics worked from for his entire performing life, centering on problems between men and women and leaving.  Here is "Poor Man Blues":



   And it's never mind, never mind, babe, I got my doggone eyes on you
   And it's never mind, never mind, baby, got my doggone eyes on you
   And some old day, pretty babe, do like I want you to do

   When I was sick and down you drove me from your door
   I was sick and down, baby, drove me from your door
   Now, you know that I was a poor man, sleeping out in the ice and snow

   And, baby, I'm gonna see you when you, babe, do something, I swear, that's wrong
   See you, baby, when you do something I swear is wrong
   When you mistreat me, babe, I'm gonna send your plea back home

   That's all right for you, babe, I am gwon pawn my watch and ring
   That's all right, babe, pawn my watch and ring
   I done give you my money, I can give you most anything

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:39:17 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 12:39:30 PM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "Don't Love That Woman" at a session in Chicago on February 25, 1935.  It is the only one of Henry Townsend's early solo recordings in which he accompanied himself in Spanish tuning.  By the date at which it was recorded, solo guitar recordings by St. Louis musicians were well on the way to becoming a thing of the past--the great majority of songs recorded by St. Louis blues guitarists from that period usually had at least a piano in addition to the guitar, and sometimes additional instruments.  In any event, Henry Townsend's playing on the cut gives no indication that Spanish tuning was unfamiliar territory for him--he's utterly fluent in it.
Henry Townsend's lyrics here are complex, shifting narrative voice over the course of the song. In some verses, like the second, he addresses his partner.  In the final verse, it sounds as though he is receiving advice from a friend, or possibly giving advice to a friend considering involvement with his erstwhile lover.  His observations with regard to relationships gone bad are acute, and not just a string of cliches. He takes a rare (for him) solo to conclude the performance.  Here is "Don't Love That Woman":



   Yes, I talked to my babe and I told her that she was wrong
   Yes, I talked to my babe and I told her that she was wrong
   She said she wouldn't stop drinkin' and stayin' out all night long

   "So go ahead, kind lover, go ahead and have your way
   You go ahead, kind lover, you go ahead and have your way
   That'll be all right, kind woman, you will see your mistake someday."

   Mmmmmm, world is dark and gloomy, people, what can I do?
   Yes, the world is dark and gloomy, people, what can I do?
   Although I know she don't love me, but I just can't keep from feelin' blue

   I's just sittin' down, thinkin', whilst the time was rollin' on
   I's just sittin' down, thinkin', whilst the time was rollin' on
   I know she don't love me, otherwise you wouldn't have treated me wrong

   So man, don't love that woman, she don't love you, nobody else
   So man, don't love that woman, she don't love you and nobody else
   Oh, you couldn't expect much better when she don't even love herself

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:40:14 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2010, 11:52:51 AM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "Long Ago Blues" at his first recording session, in Chicago on November 15, 1929, and it was the only song he recorded that day that was not played in cross-note tuning.  Instead, he played it in the very similar E position in standard tuning.  His mannerism of starting each verse humming gives a ruminative feeling to what he's saying, as though he's just thinking to himself.  The final verse might be a melding of two verses if he was given the "hi" sign that he was running out of time.  Here is "Long Ago Blues":



   Mmmmm, can't you remember, baby, long long time ago?
   Can't you remember, baby, long long time ago?
   When you mistreated the poor man and drove him 'way from 'round your door

   Mmmmm, and I'm going back home now, baby, and I ain't comin' back here no more
   I'm going back home now, baby, ain't comin' back here no more
   I ain't gonna let you drive me, babe, away from 'round your door

   Mmmmm, when I first seen you, baby, you was so nice and kind to me
   When I first seen you, baby, you was so nice and kind to me
   And why you wants to dog me, babe, I swear I just can't see

   Mmmmm, now I'm going down on the levee, and down on the levee where I'm going to stay
   Now I'm going down on the levee, and down on the levee where I'm going to stay
   I'm gon' stay down on the levee, babe, until you change your ways

   Mmmmm, 'cause you breaks my heart, babe, just to pass the time away
   And I ain't gonna let the woman I love drive me insane, I know
   'Cause she done already drove poor man 'way from 'round her door

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:41:12 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2010, 11:43:28 AM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "She's Got A Mean Disposition" at the same February 25, 1935 session in Chicago that yielded "Don't Love that Woman".  Like most of Henry's early solo numbers, "She's Got A Mean Disposition" was played out of cross-note tuning, and of all those performances in cross-note, it may be the fairest of the fair, in terms of the richness and variety of expression Henry brought to his performance.  His playing is absolutely masterful, as is his vocal integration with his accompaniment.  His playing on this cut is like an advertisement for the exciting possibilities implicit in a riff-based, "trust-your-reflexes-and-play-in-the-moment" approach to blues accompaniment. You have to be so sharp in what you do to make things happen the way he did on this cut.  Apart from the technical mastery involved, it requires a degree of focus that puts it out of the range of  all but a very select few.
All that having been said, Henry's vocal and lyrics here don't take a back seat to his accompaniment in any way.  It's just such a strong performance all the way around.  Here is "She's Got A Mean Disposition":



   SOLO

   She got a mean disposition and she got such a low-down dirty way
   She got a mean disposition, she got such a low-down dirty way
   I've been a-hopin' and trustin' that my babe would change someday

   SOLO

   Many years I have travelled, yes, I've travelled far enough to know
   Many years I done travelled, I've travelled far enough to know
   You can't find no Heaven, nowhere in the world that you go

   You're havin' a good time now, you're like the flowers that comes in May
   You're havin' a good time now, you're like the flowers that comes in May
   You're havin' your time now, but you've got to die someday

   But you're gonna need me, you're gonna need my help, I say
   Yes, you're gonna need me, you're gonna need my help, I say
   And you had better use me, lover, just before I goes away

   SOLO

   Why can't I be happy, people, like everybody else?
   Why can't I be happy like everybody else?
   I just sit around and worry, I'm a-worry my fool self to death

All best,
Johnm
     
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:42:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2010, 09:42:36 PM »
Couldn't agree more on "Mean Disposition," John. Muddy Waters recorded this a few years later in a much less intense version -- there's just no comparison to the original. I was looking at Stefan Wirz's Townsend discography yesterday and the original issue of this had Bo Carter's "I Get the Blues" on the flip side. What a record!
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2010, 09:52:37 PM »
What a record is right, Chris--a surprising and stellar pairing!  I never heard that before and it's kind of amazing.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2010, 10:06:40 PM »
Hi all,
"Henry's Worry Blues" was recorded at Henry Townsend's first session, on November 15, 1929, and was the first song he recorded.  He played it in cross-note tuning and it pretty much set forth his musical language at that very early stage of his career.  Lyrically too, he had already found his voice, and the lyrics for the remainder of his career would keep addressing the same topics from the same point of view.  Though his music had tremendous energy and rhythmic drive, there was nothing exuberant or celebratory about it, nor a lot of bragging and posturing.  Henry treated the the blues as a fundamentally serious proposition, and in this regard, he differed from many of his peers.  Here is "Henry's Worry Blues":



   Now the blues starts in the morning and they worries me the whole day long
   Lord, my blues starts in the morning and they worries me the whole day long
   They worries the poor man so bad, until I wish that I was dead and gone

   And my baby, she worries me, she worries me on every hand
   Lord, it's my sweet woman, she worries me, she worries me on every hand
   Lord, she worries the poor man just because she can

   But it's bye-bye, baby, I ain't gonna let you worry poor me no more
   But it's bye-bye, baby, I ain't gonna let you worry poor me no more
   I'm going to get me another woman, babe, I'm going to let you go

   Mmmmm, I've been asking for a favor, even I'd ask the Good Lord above
   I've been asking for a favor, even I'd ask the Good Lord above
   I'm cryin' out, "Oh Lord in Heaven, please send back the woman I love."

   And it's all because she mistreat me, she mistreat me both night and day
   All because she mistreat me, she mistreat me both night and day
   Lord, she mistreats the poor man to pass the time away

   Now babe, I've been in trouble forty-four nights and days
   Babe, I've been in trouble forty-four nights and days
   But I got another woman now, drive my troubles away

All best,
Johnm

   
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:43:37 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2010, 10:46:39 PM »
Couldn't agree more on "Mean Disposition," John. Muddy Waters recorded this a few years later in a much less intense version -- there's just no comparison to the original. I was looking at Stefan Wirz's Townsend discography yesterday and the original issue of this had Bo Carter's "I Get the Blues" on the flip side. What a record!

Made a slight mistake on this -- it wasn't the original issue, it was a Bluebird 78 reissue, but the comment still stands!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2010, 09:00:37 AM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "Doctor, Oh Doctor" around May of 1931.  He played it in cross-note tuning, but at an absolute pitch of around F rather than the higher-pitched A flat he favored in his first session. This one has a very intense vocal.  It was perhaps the last of Henry Townsend's early recordings to make it in to the hands of collectors, and it may be a record of which there is only one known copy.  In any event, the version that can be found on the JSP set, "The Paramount Masters" is very difficult to hear and I would appreciate help with the bent bracketed portions of the lyrics.  Here is "Doctor, Oh Doctor":



   Oh doctor, oh doctor, oh, you cannot cure my blues
   Oh doctor, oh doctor, you can't cure my blues
   You can run and get my woman, she knows just what to use

   Babe, oh baby, please don't delay your time
   Oh babe, oh baby, please don't delay your time
   'Cause you're the only one can cure my worried mind

   Oh please, oh please, baby, will you please
   Oh please, oh please, babe, oh will you please
   Say one word of consolation to give my poor heart some ease

   Oh, I am dying on my feet
   Oh, I am dying, I say, on my feet
   These are bad a blues that ever a poor man could meet

   SOLO

   Oh doctor, oh doctor, please don't think hard of me
   Oh doctor, oh doctor, please don't think hard of me
   I just want to see my baby, I am sick as I can be

Edited, 11/18, to pick up corrections from dj

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:44:44 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2010, 09:14:44 AM »
John,

The third line of the first verse is "You can run and get my woman, SHE KNOWS JUST WHAT TO use"

Edited to add:

Sorry, I forgot the other line in question.  I think that's "These ARE [as] BAD A blues AS a poor man could meet"  The bracketed "as" isn't sung, though I think there's a hint of the "s" an the end of "are".  I hear Townsend singing "are's".  

Edited again to add:

I don't have the JSP Paramount Masters set, but the version of this song that came on the CD with the 2010 Blues Images calendar, while still whupped, is much clearer and better sounding than the version on Document's Too Late Too Late Volume 5. 
« Last Edit: November 18, 2010, 09:25:59 AM by dj »

Offline Pan

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2010, 09:23:17 AM »
John,

The third line of the first verse is "You can run and get my woman, SHE KNOWS JUST WHAT TO use"

I was going to suggest:

"You MUST run and get my woman, she knows just what to DO"

But this, of course, is just a suggestion from a non-native english speaker. :-\

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2010, 09:38:53 AM »
Hi dj and Pan,
Thanks so much for the help.  That tagline to the first verse sounds so right, dj, I now don't know how I could have missed it.  It's often that way.  "Bad a blues" sounds right, too, though I hear "that ever" clearly right after that.  I have made the changes.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2010, 11:48:57 AM »
Hi all,
"Jack of Diamonds Georgia Rub" is the flip side of "Doctor, Oh Doctor", and like that song was played out of cross-note tuning pitched around F.  As was noted by uncle bud and banjo chris in the "Adventures in Cross-note" thread, http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=648.0, the instrumental breaks that Henry Townsend plays in "Jack of Diamonds Georgia Rub" closely resemble Charley Jordan's accompaniment to his "Hunkie Tunkie Blues" in bars 5--8 and 11--12 (though "Hunkie Tunkie" was played out of E position in standard tuning).  "Jack of Diamonds Georgia Rub" has a more conventional structure than any of Henry Townsend's other early solo recordings.  It would make a terrific small ensemble piece with fiddle and mandolin or mandolin-banjo or banjo.  It has a strong fiddle tune sort of flavor.
I really like the lyrics I was able to get here, but I could use quite a bit of help.  The copy I have is pretty whupped, and if it is possible to feel fairly good about missing so many of the lyrics, I guess I do.  I would very much appreciate some help in completing the transcription.  As usual, bent brackets enclose problem areas.  Here is "Jack of Diamonds/Georgia Rub":



   Jack of Diamonds said to the Queen of Spades
   Jack of Diamonds, tell me of those creepin' ways
   'Cause my mama do not allow me, stay out all night long
   'Cause she knows I'm a boy-child, women gonna do me wrong

   Jack of Diamonds ain't no friend to me
   Jack of Diamonds got the low-down heart disease
   I said, my mama don't allow me, stay out all night long
   'Cause she knows I'm a boy-child, women gonna do me wrong

   Come on, mama, I said, stop your ways
   You don't expect me to be your low-down slave
   Hollerin', mama, mama, mama, I can't be your slave
   Now I'm tired of sleepin' in this low-down and dirty place

   Jack of Diamonds is lean and mean
   Gave me a deck and stayed long a-hind the queen
   Oh, baby, baby, babe, what more can I do?
   I've done all and whatever I could, can't get along with you

   SOLO

   Jack of Diamonds come to town
   Taken my woman then dogged me around
   Ow, baby, baby, baby, what more can I do?
   Now I'm lookin' for a baby girl and I'm through with you

   Jack of Diamonds took my last old dime
   I'm gettin' tired of you doggin' me around
   I said it's baby, baby, baby, what more can I do?
   I'm gettin' tired of bein' worried, Jack of Diamonds, with you

   Jack of Diamonds made me cry
   Take my baby on the sly
   I said, mama, mama, mama, Jack of Diamonds made me cry
   Well, he taken my sweet woman, taken her on the sly

Edited 11/23 to pick up corrections and additions from dj
Edited 11/23 to pick up corrections from uncle bud
Edited 11/24 to pick up corrections from uncle bud and Johnm
Edited 11/24 to pick up correction from banjo chris
Edited 11/25 to pick up correction from banjo chris
Edited 11/27 to pick up correction from Johnm

All best,
Johnm


     
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:45:52 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2010, 12:58:59 PM »
Here's some suggestions, John.

"Jack of Diamonds tell me of those [cheatin'] ways"

I think "cheatin'" is right.

"'Cause she's [     ?   , watchin' out], they won't do me wrong"

'Cause she's LOOKIN' OUT, watchin' out, they won't do me wrong

"[     ?                  ] long [      ?           ]"

[ ? ] THE DECK AND [ ? ] ON THE [ ? (JACK AND/BLACK AND?) ] QUEEN

"Now I'm [            ?          ], and I'm through with you"

Now I'm LOOKIN' FOR ANOTHER ONE, and I'm through with you

"Jack of Diamonds took my [over-time?]"

Jack of Diamonds took my ALL-THE-TIME

 




Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2010, 05:15:53 PM »
Thanks very much for the help, dj.  This one is hard to hear, isn't it?  I incorporated a number of your suggestions.  I was wondering, in the verse following the solo, could Henry Townsend be saying in the tagline,
   
   Now I'm lookin' for a baby girl, and I'm through with you

Please let me know what you think.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2010, 06:18:53 PM »
John,

"Now I'm lookin' for a baby girl, and I'm through with you" sounds right to me.  Good ears.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2010, 07:18:36 PM »
Sure is a whupped record, the only known copy apparently. JohnM, I'm wondering which CD version you are working from. Because there is a version on the Blues Images Calendar Vol 7 2010 CD that is remastered. Although that word is more promising than the result. But it is better. I have not gone through the song in detail yet, but I'm amazed you got as far as you did. However, the last phrase in the first two verses sounds like "women gonna do me wrong" to me.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2010, 07:41:55 PM »
Thanks for that, uncle bud, you are right about the tail end of those first two taglines.  I will make the changes.  This one may take a while, even with a bunch of us working on it--shades of "Suitcase Full of Blues"!
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 11:31:19 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2010, 10:39:18 AM »
Hi all,
Being given access to a cleaner copy of "Jack of Diamonds Georgia Rub" (thanks, uncle bud!) has made some of the lines easier to hear, and also possibly created some new and different confusions.  I thought that rather than just make the new changes to the lyrics on my original post, I would list them here, and let them sit here a little while for corroboration/correction before editing the original post.

   Verse 1, line 1:  Jack of Diamonds SAYIN' to the Queen of Spades
        "    , line 2:  Jack of Diamonds tell me of those HEATHEN ways
        "    , line 4:  'Cause she's [lookin' out], watchin' out HOW, women gwon do me wrong

   Verse 4: Jack of Diamonds is lean and mean
               GAVE ME A DECK AND STAYED 'LONG A'HIND THE QUEEN
               Oh, baby, baby, babe, what more can I do?
               I'm doin' all and whatEVER I could, can't get along with you

   Verse 6: Jack of Diamonds took my OLD LAST DIME
               I'm gettin' tired of you doggin' me around
               I said it's baby, baby, baby, what more can I do?
               I'm gettin' tired of bein' worried, Jack of Diamonds, with you

Any thoughts on these changes?
All best,
Johnm 

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2010, 11:16:19 AM »
Hi John - I am hearing things rather differently in verse 1:

1.1 Jack of Diamonds PLAYIN' the Queen of Spades
1.2 Jack of Diamonds tell me your CREEPIN' ways
1.4 AND THESE LOW-DOWN [?? ??] women gonna do me wrong

Those missing words sound like they might begin with a B and a T, but damned if I can tell for sure.

in verse 4 I also can't tell what I hear for line 2. But for line 4 I hear:

4.4 I'VE DONE all and whatever I could, can't get along with you

Verse 6 is still mysterious to me though where you have OLD LAST DIME, it sounds like it could possibly be LAST OLD DIME. Perhaps you had things reversed?

Still tough to hear, and I've no doubt muddied the waters further, but what a great song. I really like the effect of this played in cross-note, where there's more drone than one would get in Charley Jordan's stuff in E.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 11:19:43 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2010, 11:43:53 AM »
Thanks for the help, uncle bud, I think were homing in on it.  "Creepin'" in the first verse is definitely the word, as is "low-down".  "I've done" is similarly right, and you're right, I put "old last dime" where I meant "last old dime".
I agree this piece is terrific, and one thing that gives it great force is the extent to which Henry Townsend accelerates over the course of the rendition, which is pretty extreme even by Country Blues standards.  I"ll keep plugging away at it.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2010, 02:38:41 PM »
I would suggest for 1.2 "be on your creepin' way"
and for the tagline for the first two verses "low-down fortune women"
Chris

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #30 on: November 24, 2010, 09:26:29 PM »
Hi Chris,
"Be on your creepin' way" is dead on the money, I think.  I'm not sure about "fortune" as an adjective.  It sounds pretty close to right in the first verse tagline, but in the second verse, what Henry sings sounds more like 'bartend" or possibly "bartendin'".  I'm going to keep trying there.  Thanks for the help and I'll make that change in the second line of verse one.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #31 on: November 24, 2010, 10:43:22 PM »
Pretty sure I've got that tagline -- and it fits in with other recordings with the Drop Down Mama/Mama Don't Allow chorus:
"She knows I'm a boy child, women gonna do me wrong."

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2010, 08:47:27 AM »
Wow, that is it, Chris!  That is great listening.  It is so difficult for me to shift gears once I get some kind of phonetic approximation in my head, even if it doesn't make much sense.  You nailed it--well done!
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2010, 02:33:10 PM »
Yes, good ears, Chris. Sounds exactly right to me.

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2010, 04:49:28 PM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "No Home Blues" in Louisville, Kentucky on June 9, 1931, working under the pseudonym Jesse Townsend.  "No Home Blues" was played out of Clifford Gibson's favored E-sounding tuning, EAEGBE, pitched at F, and the Document "St. Louis Country Blues" CD identifies Clifford Gibson as the probably guitarist on the track.  I believe it is Henry Townsend accompanying himself, though certainly working Clifford Gibson's musical territory.  A few of the reasons I believe the guitarist is Townsend rather than Gibson:
   * Clifford Gibson's tone on the guitar was utterly distinctive, always with a hint of vibrato in the treble strings, and this guitarist does not have Gibson's tone;
   * The touch of the guitarist here is more robust than what we're accustomed to hearing from Clifford Gibson;
   * There are enough licks here that never appeared on any of Gibson's other songs played in this tuning to make it seem plausible that it was simply a different guitarist.  The guitarist here has an odd way of ending the form in the eleventh and twelfth bars with the open fifth string in the bass, which is something Clifford Gibson never did on any of his recordings in this tuning;
   * The way the accompaniment tracks the vocal so closely, especially at the beginning of the second line of the next-to-last verse, where the vocal has a timing surprise, makes it seem unlikely that the song is not self-accompanied by the singer.
In any event, the singer is most definitely Henry Townsend, and he sings a great set of lyrics which are as timely today as they were when he recorded them in 1931.  It would be interesting to find out why St. Louis singers tended to show so much originality in their lyrics, but there's no musician of that generation to ask about it since Henry Townsend's passing.  He pronounces "desperado" despuhRAYdo in the final verse.  Here is "No Home Blues":



   I have had no place that I could call my home
   I've had no place that I could call my home
   But I'll jus' keep on traveling, I may get lucky before long

   When a man is homeless, he never doubts himself
   When a man is homeless, he never doubts himself
   Luck is nothin' but a fortune, he may be lucky as anyone else

   Luck is nothin' but a fortune, may fall my way someday
   Luck is nothin' but a fortune, may fall my way someday
   Then I won't be homeless, I'll have someplace to stay

   I've begged and asked for favors, people have treated me mean
   I have begged and asked for favors, people have treated me mean
   Lord, I've had many a hard trials as any young man you ever seen

   So I feel lucky, I believe I'll try my hand
   Yes, I feel lucky, I believe I'll try my hand
   I'm going to be a desperado, way down in no-man's-land

Edited 12/2 to pick up corrections from LD50 and Johnm

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 06:47:08 AM by Johnm »

Offline LD50

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2010, 10:26:24 AM »
Hi all,
Henry Townsend recorded "No Home Blues" in Louisville, Kentucky on June 9, 1931, working under the pseudonym Jesse Townsend.  "No Home Blues" was played out of Clifford Gibson's favored E-sounding tuning, EAEGBE, pitched at F, and the Document "St. Louis Country Blues" CD identifies Clifford Gibson as the probably guitarist on the track.  I believe it is Henry Townsend accompanying himself, though certainly working Clifford Gibson's musical territory.  A few of the reasons I believe the guitarist is Townsend rather than Gibson:
   * Clifford Gibson's tone on the guitar was utterly distinctive, always with a hint of vibrato in the treble strings, and this guitarist does not have Gibson's tone;
   * The touch of the guitarist here is more robust than what we're accustomed to hearing from Clifford Gibson;
   * There are enough licks here that never appeared on any of Gibson's other songs played in this tuning to make it seem plausible that it was simply a different guitarist.  The guitarist here has an odd way of ending the form in the eleventh and twelfth bars with the open fifth string in the bass, which is something Clifford Gibson never did on any of his recordings in this tuning;
   * The way the accompaniment tracks the vocal so closely, especially at the beginning of the second line of the next-to-last verse, where the vocal has a timing surprise, makes it seem unlikely that the song is not self-accompanied by the singer.
In any event, the singer is most definitely Henry Townsend, and he sings a great set of lyrics which are as timely today as they were when he recorded them in 1931.  It would be interesting to find out why St. Louis singers tended to show so much originality in their lyrics, but there's no musician of that generation to ask about it since Henry Townsend's passing.  He pronounces "desperado" despuhRAYdo in the final verse.

   I have had no place that I could call my home
   I've had no place that I could call my home
   But I's keep on traveling, I get-a lucky before long

   When a man is homeless, he never doubts himself
   When a man is homeless, he never doubts himself
   Luck is nothin' but a fortune, he may be lucky as anyone else

   Luck is nothin' but a fortune, may fall my way someday
   Luck is nothin' but a fortune, may fall my way someday
   Then I won't be homeless, I have someplace to stay

   I've begged and asked for favors, people have treated me mean
   I have begged and asked for favors, people have treated me mean
   Lord, I've had many a hard trials as any young man you ever seen

   So I feel lucky, I believe I'll try my hand
   Yes, I feel lucky, I believe I'll try my hand
   I'm going to be a desperado, way down in no-man's-land

All best,
Johnm

Looks good -- tho 'I have someplace to stay' is really 'I'll have someplace to stay'. Minor point.

The 2nd half of the 3rd line is odd, it's not 'I get-a lucky before long', it sounds like 'I think get lucky before long', tho that doesn't make sense syntactically. But there's no other syllable between 'get' and 'lucky'.

It was interesting reading your analysis of this song -- it is musically the most abnormal of HT's prewar solo numbers. The main thing that really struck me when I first heard it last year was that little Scrapper Blackwell riff he plays the first time he sings the line 'When a man is homeless, he never doubts himself'.

I really wish Nevins or Tefteller would remaster this track -- it's not in very good sound on the Document, and E copies do exist.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2010, 11:45:52 AM »
Thanks for your suggestions, LD50.  I agree it is "I'll have someplace to stay" and I made that change.  The tagline of the first verse has a swallowed "jus" in it, and what I have now is right, I think:
   But I'll jus' keep on traveling, I may get lucky before long.
All best,
Johnm

Offline LD50

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2010, 12:38:53 PM »
Ah, yes. The 'may' has to be right. So the line seems to be "But I'll (just) keep on traveling, I may get lucky before long."

I agree that there is some kind of barely-pronounced something between 'I'll' and 'keep'. I think I can hear the hint of an 's', but that's about it.

I bet Townsend would have thought it was very funny, quibbling about the exact wording of these songs 70 years later.  ;)

Thanks for your suggestions, LD50.  I agree it is "I'll have someplace to stay" and I made that change.  The tagline of the first verse has a swallowed "jus" in it, and what I have now is right, I think:
   But I'll jus' keep on traveling, I may get lucky before long.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #38 on: June 29, 2020, 06:48:07 AM »
Hi all,
I was able to find links for performances of all of the songs in this thread.
All best,
Johnm

Offline eric

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #39 on: June 30, 2020, 10:15:18 AM »
Another excellent St. Louis thread revived, what a great singer and player. Thanks, John.

Didn't Henry Townsend show up at PT at some point?  Maybe I'm thinking of someone else.  Would have been really cool to meet him.
--
Eric

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Re: Henry Townsend lyrics
« Reply #40 on: June 30, 2020, 10:24:13 AM »
Yup, I agree, Eric, he really was terrific.  He was at the first Port Townsend Country Blues Festival (along with R L Burnside, John Jackson and John Cephas!), accompanied by his wife, Vernell, and son Alonzo.  He was very gracious, had a bit of a health crisis early in the week, and Vernell had one towards the end of the week.  At that time, the Festival was held in late June, and I think the weather in Port Townsend those first couple of years probably seemed kind of arctic to life-long residents of the South and Midwest, especially for that time of year.  He played a lot of piano as well as guitar.  If you can get hold of his autobiography, it is a great read.
All best,
Johnm

 


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