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Author Topic: Gabriel Brown Lyrics  (Read 8321 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« on: June 25, 2009, 09:28:49 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown probably qualifies as a forgotten figure in the country blues nowadays.  I have never heard a single one of his songs covered by a present-day player.  He was born in Florida in 1910, and was first recorded for the Library of Congress there in 1934, on a field trip in which he was introduced to Alan Lomax by the author Zora Neale Hurston, who already knew Brown from her hometown of Eatonville, Florida.  Lomax reputedly said Brown was the finest guitar player he ever heard, and considering the various guitarists that we know Lomax heard, that is really saying something.
A good place to find Gabriel Brown's music is the JSP set, "Shake That Thing!  East Coast Blues 1935-1953" from a couple of years back.  In addition to including 41 titles of Brown's, all but about four or five songs of his recorded output, the set also includes all of Dan Pickett's titles and all but one or two of Ralph Willis', too, I believe.
Brown's music has some unusual qualities.  He showed a very unusual predeliction for dropped-D tuning and recorded far more songs in that tuning than any other country blues player, particularly when figured as a percentage of his recorded repertoire.  He was a pretty technical player who was on occasion both flashy and sloppy, but the excitement and spontaneity of his playing carries the day.  He was also an expert slide player in Vestapol.  He always sounded like he was playing pretty poor instruments and like J.T. Smith, took a very relaxed attitude towards tuning, especially considering how strong a player he was.  Most of his lyrics do not draw from the common pool of blues lyrics and he was a strong writer.  In addition, he was a rhythmic singer who showcased his own compositions to great advantage.  He favored chorus blues and almost invariably started his songs with the chorus, on the IV chord.  He is a musician who is well worth examining for his own sake, but also if you're looking for material that hasn't been done to death and is very interesting.  

"I'm Gonna Take It Easy" is from a session Brown did in New York City on September 13, 1944.  He played it in Vestapol with a slide, and it bears a slight resemblance melodically to "Baby, Please Don't Go".  Like many or most players in the style, he accelerates markedly during the course of the rendition.  His solo is exciting and doesn't sound like any other slide player I've heard.  It's a great set of lyrics with a wry point of view.

   I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

   Now, I started at the bottom and I stayed right there
   Don't seem like I'm gonna get nowhere
   I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

   You can have a old job, it may be hard or soft
   You try to save something then they'll lay you off
   Now, I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

   Now, what your bosses are doing, you can never tell
   They's always tryin' to cut the personnel
   Now, I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

   SOLO

   I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

   I've got myself together made my mind up now
   I won't have a doggone thing, nohow
   Now, I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   Now, I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

   Now, to make a good man you must come up hard and rough
   I'm twenty-one now, I don't need that stuff
   I'm gonna take it easy, I'm gonna take it easy
   Now, I'm gonna take it easy, babe, that's what I'm gonna do

All best,
Johnm
      
« Last Edit: June 26, 2009, 08:27:00 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2009, 09:40:37 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded "Not Now, I'll Tell You When" at the same September 13, 1944 session that yielded "I'm Gonna Take It Easy".  Brown played "Not Now, I'll Tell You When" out of his favored dropped-D tuning, and it's a great set of lyrics.  Verse two is a beauty.  Brown's playing reminds me a bit of Buddy Moss in that he (Brown) almost never does any regular time-keeping with the thumb of his right hand, either alternation or monotonic bass.  His rhythmic sense is very strong, nonetheless.

   Not now, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

   Now, you used to go out, baby, dressed the finest kind of way
   I was just a beat-up boy, I couldn't have a thing to say
   Oh, but not now, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

   I tossed my money up, that was out of line
   Now, all came down was yours and what stayed up was mine
   Oh, but not now, hey, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

   Ah, the way things is goin' on is a pity and a sin
   If I'm gon' be your little dog, I'm gonna tell you when
   Oh, not now, hey, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

   SOLO

   Oh, not now, hey, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

   I've tried hard, day to day
   Now, we can't get together in no kind of way
   Oh, not now, hey, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

   I'll give you all the odds, baby, and I tried to play you fair
   But I reached the conclusion that you ain't nowhere
   Oh, not now, hey, not now
   Not now, baby, I'm gonna tell you when

All best,
Johnm

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2009, 10:14:06 PM »
An hilarious lyric - the sentiment is used as punch line (corollary) in a classic joke in which clergy from three different denominations explain to each other their approach to determining an appropriate financial tribute to their Maker. The last of them
explains that he throws his money into the air; what God wants, he keeps - and the clergyman claims that which falls back to the ground for himself. 
Cheers,
FrontPage

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2009, 05:53:18 AM »
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=2610.0

Slightly off topic there's quite a lengthy discussion of GB and his recordings at the above link.

All that's required now is a discography from Stefan! Hint, hint. Only joking, honest.....

Offline phhawk

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2009, 02:45:37 PM »
Finding a Gabriel Brown record one day, along with records by Lighting Hopkins and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings is what got me interested in collecting 78's. And I still have that 78, (Cold Love/I've Got To Stop Drinkin') whiich I still enjoy listening to.

I think a couple of reasons why Gabriel Brown never caught on with collectors, and possibly as a result with musicians, is that his records are relatively common and most were recorded at the time when when record pressing quality was at it's worst and even new copies of his records play quite noisy.

Nonetheless, I'm glad to see Johnm talking about him and I agree that it would be nice to hear some of his stuff covered. I think the two titles that I listed above have a lot potential.

I think his style of playing, epitomizes what we think of, when we think of the urban country blues, street singer (if there is such a thing). 

regards, Phil

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2009, 04:37:52 PM »
That's great that you got into collecting via Gabriel Brown, Phil.  I'm a relative latecomer to his music, but the more I listen to him, the more I like it.  He was a fine singer and player, and almost all of his lyrics were original, which makes his music more interesting to me.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2009, 04:52:23 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded "Good-Time Papa" at a session in New York City on October 26, 1944.  He accompanied himself out of E position, standard tuning, not a usual choice for him.  The song is a loosely structured 8-bar blues of the type that goes to the I7 chord in the second bar, like "How Long", rather than the V7 in the second bar, like "Key To The Highway", and is unusual in that it is up-tempo.  Most 8-bar blues that go to the I7 chord in the second bar are slow.  Brown takes two solos apart from the intro on the song, and his first solo, after the third verse is really free in its first half, with exciting riffing not adhering to any commonly encountered form.  The second half of that solo goes back to his 8-bar model, though he tweaks it considerably, going long every step of the way.
Brown's vocal really sells the idea of him as a good-time guy very well.  Re the last verse:  sometimes subtlety can be over-rated.

   Yes I love my good times
   That's all I've ever had
   Well, to talk about work
   It always make me mad

   I've got a house full of whiskey
   And I've got some gin
   So when I start to drinkin'
   I can drink any doggone thing

   You don't believe I'm right
   Just come on down the line
   Well, I sure don't mind if you
   See little Brownie sometime

   SOLO, X 2

   Ah, you may get bossy
   At each and every chance
   But you're supposed to wear the dresses
   'Cause I'm gonna wear the pants

   Now, we can get along, baby,
   And everything be tops
   Now, you can't hate me
   As long as you love my box

   SOLO

   Ah, remember, baby,
   And treat little Brownie right
   We will all get together and
   Ball, ball, ball all night

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 01:32:59 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded "Going My Way" some time in 1942 or 1943, according to the discographical information in the JSP "Shake That Thing!" set.  The song is a slow 8-bar blues in the mold of Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues".  Brown accompanies himself in dropped-D here, and his performance, both instrumentally and vocally, is superlative.  This must be one of the most low-down Country Blues pieces ever played out of dropped-D.  Gabriel Brown hits a lot of notes in his accompaniment that work well and that I have never heard anyone else use when playing in dropped-D, and his solo is sensational.  The over-all sound is very dark and dramatic without being stagey.  Gabriel Brown's phrasing is simultaneously very free and very natural sounding.

   Ah, baby, you done me wrong
   If this keeps up now, I can't last long
   That's all right, baby,
   You'll be tryin' to go my way someday

   Now, if you don't want me, tell me so
   I'll get together, pack up and go
   That's all right, baby,
   You'll be tryin' to go my way someday

   SOLO

   I'll dream about you night and day
   Tryin' to get you, change your ways
   That's all right, baby,
   You'll be tryin' to go my way someday

   How many day has gone by?
   I'll sit around, babe, all day and cry
   That's all right, baby,
   You'll be tryin' to go my way someday

All best,
Johnm
  

  

  
« Last Edit: June 30, 2009, 01:34:16 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 01:49:22 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded "Cold Love" at a session in New York City on August 26, 1943.  The song is a 12-bar chorus blues played out of the A position in standard tuning, and as was most often the case in Brown's recordings, he starts the song with the refrain.  The feel of the song is dark and intense, and the darkness is heightened by Brown's V chord voicing choice.  Rather than going to an E chord or E7 for his V chord, as would most commonly be the case when playing in the A position, Brown opts for the much darker E minor 7 chord, voiced so:  X-2-X-0-3-0, with its fifth in the bass.  Brown must have liked the sound of this voicing in the A position context very well, for it shows up in virtually all of his A position songs. This is another very strong "love gone wrong" song and performance.

   REFRAIN:  Goodbye, baby, for you see, your style is old
   I'd try to love you but your love has done got cold

   Now your love for me, baby, grows colder every night
   No matter what you try to do it don't seem to be just right
   REFRAIN:  Goodbye, baby, for you see, your style is old
   I'd try to love you but your love has done got cold

   Now, when you was hot stuff, mama, I know you remember those days
   But you just couldn't seem to realize that you couldn't last always
   REFRAIN:  Goodbye, baby, for you see, your style is old
   I'd try to love you but your love has done got cold

   I tried to get you hip, baby, see what it was all about
   But you just couldn't understand that iron and steel wears out
   REFRAIN:  Goodbye, baby, for you see your style is old
   I'd try to love you but your love has done got cold

   SOLO

   Now, if you had listened careful to what I had to say
   I wouldn't be leavin', baby, as these early days
   REFRAIN:  Goodbye, baby, for you see, your style is old
   I'd try to love you but your love has done got cold

All best,
Johnm
  
    
« Last Edit: June 30, 2009, 10:50:47 PM by Johnm »

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2009, 09:51:12 AM »
All that's required now is a discography from Stefan! Hint, hint. Only joking, honest.....

Done. Not joking, honest.....

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2009, 12:33:50 PM »
Done. Not joking, honest.....
Well done that man.

You've prompted me to unearth the Policy Wheel LP and its 12 page booklet, seven of which are devoted to lyric transcriptions of the songs present. I won't embarrass the author by scanning the booklet but he too specifically homes in on the second verse of Not Now I'll Tell You When and also notes that It's Getting Soft being a track "not suitable for airplay". Better get going on that one John M. ;)

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2009, 01:38:19 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded "It's Getting Soft" at a session in New York City on May 2, 1945.  He accompanied himself out of C position in standard tuning on this number and it must be noted, his G string was woefully flat.  The song alternates a refrain with brief two-line verses and its form is a one-off.  Brown free-hands his intro and solos for the most part, picking single-string lines up the neck.  In his final solo, he performs a nifty slide of a chordal position in the treble, from X-X-X-9-8-8 to X-X-X-5-5-5, thus changing the left hand position in transit on a slide, a very sporting proposition.
Lyrically, the song adopts an unusual subject matter for a blues, the imminent melting of ice cream.  Brown adopts a surprising confiding tone in his vocal, considering the unusual but perfectly straightforward subject matter; it's almost as though he were singing about something else altogether.  The final verse admits the possibility of such an interpretation of the lyrics but there is no way of knowing what that alternative interpretation might be.  I suspect present-day blues scholars will never know the answer to this question.

   INTRO

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, ah, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, ah, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   Now, I'll keep it right as long as I could
   It must keep sweet, mellow and good

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, hurry, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   SOLO

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, hurry, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   Now, get this one thing on your mind
   You can't keep it hard all the time

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, hurry, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   It must be firm and hard like it should
   When it's soft it ain't no good

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, hurry, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   SOLO

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, ah, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

   Now, take your mind out the gutter, you know what I mean
   It ain't what you think, it's only ice cream

   REFRAIN:  Hurry, baby, hurry, baby
   I want you to hurry, well, you know it's gettin' soft

All best,
Johnm


   

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2010, 04:22:56 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded "The Jinx Is On Me" at a session in New York City on May 2, 1945.  It's a strong one-chord chorus blues played with a slide out of Vestapol.  Brown really was a  nice slide player, especially considering what a relatively small percentage of his recorded sides are played utilizing that technique.  He does a lot of slide responses to his vocal phrases on this number that are expecially nifty.  I'd appreciate any help with the bent-bracketed phrase.

   REFRAIN:  The jinx is on me, jinx is on me
   I can't have no luck at all, jinx is on me

   I was told to get a reading, that was the very best thing to do
   Well, that gypsy told me, "There ain't nothin' in the cards for you."
   REFRAIN:  the jinx is on me, jinx is on me
   I can't have no luck at all, the jinx is on me

   Me and my friends played a number, just as happy as happy could be
   Ev'ybody got paid for that number, ev'ybody got paid but me
   SPOKEN: I lost my stake!
   REFRAIN:  The jinx is on me, jinx is on me
   I can't have no luck at all, the jinx is on me

   I wanted to play a guitar, I just wore myself out tryin'
   I didn't learn how to do a doggone thing but make this guitar cry
   SPOKEN:  Listen at it!          Cry again, baby!
  
   I'm gonna catch myself a freight train, goin' way out in the west
   Now, any old place that's gonna take me out this mess
   REFRAIN:  The jinx is on me, jinx is on me
   I can't have no luck at all, the jinx is on me

Edited 1/18 to pick up correction from Bunker Hill

All best,
Johnm

  
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 01:05:29 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2010, 10:51:40 AM »
   Me and my friends played a number, it just [had this happened to be]
   Ev'ybody got paid for that number, ev'ybody got paid but me
   SPOKEN: I lost my stiff!
I ain't convinced of what I'm hearing but fwiw

Me and my friends played a number, just as happy as happy could be,
Everybody got paid for that number, everybody got paid but me.
Spoken: I lost my stake.

Or is this just wishful thinking on my part? :)

Offline Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2010, 11:41:41 AM »
Thanks very much for your help, Bunker Hill, I believe you have it nailed.  "Just as happy as happy could be" is right on the money.  "Stake" makes a hell of a lot more sense than "stiff" in this context, too.  I'll make the changes.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 11:45:03 AM by Johnm »

 


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