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My mother, she died and left me in 1920... And after then I got on my own, I could go everywhere I wanted then without letting anybody know where I was - Blind Willie McTell

Author Topic: Fred McDowell lyrics  (Read 5020 times)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Fred McDowell - That's an old song
« Reply #30 on: June 17, 2016, 01:39:52 PM »
That "Cherry wine" line I would suggest is:

Calf went wild, mama she strolled away, etc.

There's no "ch" sound there.

Chris

Offline harriet

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Re: Fred McDowell - That's an old song
« Reply #31 on: June 17, 2016, 03:07:46 PM »
Another possibility could be "Tell me why, mama she strolled away"

I don't know what the Cherry, Chaney refers to. McDowell has songs that have names for mules - I've read he was a muleskinner as a young man. But then there's reference I've found with Cherry at least referring to something else. I just found another line that he uses in a Kokomo Arnold song today, but I forget which, so I think he listened to the music of his time. Some of his stylings seem to be influenced by Blind Willie Johnson and he does a fairly faithful rendition of "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed. THis just what was chosen to be recorded I imagine he had hundreds more than what we are left with.

I didn't know Long Way from Home album existed and just ordered it so thank you for that and for your transcription and tab Longsands.

Harriet



Offline Longsands

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Re: Fred McDowell - That's an old song
« Reply #32 on: June 18, 2016, 01:56:14 AM »
Thanks Harriet ? that?s what I like about this site ? the opportunity to learn and pick up new things.  It?s a good CD and the sound quality is better than the YouTube clip suggests, by the way.
Chris ? that ?Calf went wild? sounds right, having listened again ? thanks!
David

Offline harriet

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Re: Fred McDowell - That's an old song
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2016, 07:01:06 PM »
​From the Long Way From Home liner notes this concise biography:

(Note: McDowell thinks he was born about 1904 or 1905.) I was born in Rossville, Tennessee. I was just a young man when I started playing guitar. In my teens I was. I used to go to dances; I used to sing to the music whilst others was playing. When they'd quit I'd always grab the guitar, go to doing something with it. I was watching them pretty close to see what they were doing. My older sister ? I nearly forgot ? played a little guitar but she didn't teach me anything. I didn't get a guitar of mine until 1941. When I was learning, when I was young, I was playing other people's guitars.

 "I was about 21 when I left Rossville. There I was plowing with a mule; my father was a farmer and I worked with him. We were working twelve acres, growing cotton, peas and corn.

 "I went to Memphis from there. I just got tired of plowing. I went there to look around and after I got there I started working the Buckeye Oil Mill, sacking corn ? yellow corn, oats, sweet peas and
all like that. They had a great big plant out there. I stayed there about three years, I think. Then I loafed around, stayed with different people, friends. I worked for the Dixon brothers hooking logs on the track; worked in Chickasaw stacking logs for barrels; worked at the Illinois Central shop in Memphis building freight cars. All this time I was picking up guitar. I learned a lot from one fellow, Raymond Payne, in Rossville. He was really good, played regular style, not bottleneck.

"I got that bottleneck style from my uncle. He was an old man, the first person I ever saw play with that. He didn't play with a bottleneck, though; you know this big bone you get out of a steak? Well, he done let it dry and smoothed it off and it sounded just like that bottleneck. That's the first somebody I saw play like that. This was in Rossville. I was a little bitty boy when I heard him do that, and after I learned how to play I made me one and tried it too. Started off playing with a pocketknife. I just remembered him doing it; he didn't show me. Nothing. I never could hardly learn no music by nobody trying to show me. Like, I hear you play tonight ? well, next week some-time it would come to me . . . what you was playing. I'd get the sound of it in my head, then I'd do it my way from what I remembered.

"The way I got my first guitar ? Mr. Taylor, a white man from Texas, he gave me a guitar. I was working in a milk dairy in White Station, near Memphis: This was right before I'd moved to Mississippi.

"I wasn't making money from music; just playing around for dances and like that. Sometimes they'd pay me and sometimes they wouldn't. I made up a lot of the songs I sing. It's like you hear a record or something or other ? well, you pick out some words out of that record that you like; you sing that and add something else onto it. It's just like if you're going to pray, and mean it, things will be in your mind; as fast as you get one word out something else will come in there. Songs should tell the truth."

 (Interview with Fred McDowell by Pete Welding, published in "Blues Unlimited", No. 24, July-August, 1965.)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 07:02:42 PM by harriet »

Offline Longsands

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Re: Fred McDowell - That's an old song
« Reply #34 on: June 23, 2016, 04:06:53 AM »
Well, I mentioned at the top that McDowell recorded some songs in crossnote tuning, so here?s one of them ? Jim Steam Killed Lula, from his 1968 recordings with Pete Welding.

This is another song that Fred learned in his youth - the liner notes say that it was based on an actual homicide case, and was popular in Mississippi and Tennessee.  Fred also recorded it with Chris Strachwitz in 1968, and in a spoken introduction describes how Jim and Steam were separate men, one of them being Lula?s father.   I think he?s playing bottleneck on the top two strings and fingers for everything else.  Attached is my attempt to transcribe it.

From Levee Camp Blues (1968) ? pitched halfway between D and Eb:

Old Jim killed Lula, on a Friday night,
Old Jim killed Lula, on a Friday, on a Friday night, (oh Lord)

Old Jim got ninety, Steam got ninety nine,
Old Jim got ninety, Steam got ninety, Steam got ninety nine, (oh Lord)

Ten thousand people, at one buryin' ground,
Ten thousand people, at one buryin', at one buryin' ground

Just to see the undertaker, let poor Lula down,
Just to see the undertaker oh Lord, let poor Lula, let poor Lula down

Well, the church bell ringin', hearse went drivin' slow,
Well, the church bell ringin', hearse went drivin', hearse went drivin' slow

I hate so bad Lord, keep old Lula all gone,
I hate it so bad he, keep poor Lula, keep poor Lula


From This Ain?t No Rock N Roll (1968) ? pitched halfway between Eb and E:

1st and 2nd verses from Levee Camp Blues version

Well they followed poor Lula, to her buryin? ground,
Well they followed poor Lula, to her buryin? ground

3rd, 4th and 5th verses from Levee Camp Blues version   

Lord I hate so bad to, see poor Lula all gone,
I hate so bad oh Lord, to see poor Lula, see poor Lula


Johnny Shines also recorded the song in 1972 as Jim String (available on his Traditional Delta Blues CD), in which Jim String is Lula?s pimp.  His verses are similar to McDowell?s, but he adds a spoken narrative over the riff.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 04:09:05 AM by Longsands »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McDowell lyrics
« Reply #35 on: June 23, 2016, 04:59:09 AM »
Hi all,
I merged Longsands' "That's an old song" thread with the pre-existing Fred McDowell Lyrics thread, since the new thread was starting to accumulate songs.  I didn't change any titles on the posts, for ease of following the discussion.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Longsands

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Re: Fred McDowell lyrics
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2016, 05:10:27 AM »
Hi all,
Another of Fred?s songs that I think he plays in Crossnote tuning is Big Fat Mama, which he introduces as the first piece he learned.  His version shares the words of its first verse with Tommy Johnson?s record (played in standard A position, as noted in the Tommy Johnson Lyrics thread), but little else.  His arrangement may well have owed more to the playing of his Rossville contemporaries: 
?Pretty near everybody down around Rossville, them boys could play a guitar, some kind of thing. Had dances every Saturday night, hold them in different houses. Sometimes there'd be two fellows playing together. Vandy [McKenna] and Veety Looney, they played like one playing the lead and the other seconding. Play Big Fat Mama with the Meat Shaking on Her Bones and all such junk as that.  Anything they could think about that was good for dancing.?
Here are the lyrics for two versions:

From Long Way From Home (1966) ? pitched D+:

Well it?s big fat mama, meat shakes on her bone, on her bone, on her bone,
Every time she shimmy, some man?s dollar gone, dollar gone, dollar gone   

Run and get your shimmy baby, bring your midnight gown, midnight gown, midnight gown,
I ain?t sleepy baby, but I feel like laying down, laying down, laying down   

I looked down that road, far as I could see, I could see, I could see,
Lord a gang of women, baby following me, following me, following me   
      
Well it?s run here Shep, Lord and get this bone, get this bone, get this bone,
Lord if you can?t drag it, please leave it alone, leave it alone, leave it alone   

Instrumental    
      
I?m going away, better come and go, come and go, come and go,
I?m going somewhere, ain?t never been before, been before, been before   
      
From Come And Found You Gone (1967) ? pitched Eb: 

Well it?s big fat mama, meat shakes on her bone, on her bone, on her bone,
Every time she shimmy, some man?s dollar gone, dollar gone, dollar gone   
      
I been drinking water out of hollow log, hollow log, hollow log,
I can?t be your kid man, ain?t goin? be your dog, be your dog, be your dog   
      
Well it?s all I want, train fare back to town, back to town, back to town,
I?m going away, don?t you want to go, want to go, want to go   

I couldn?t find these on YouTube, but here?s a version from his 1969 London recordings, which adds the following verse:

Well my mama got mad, throwed my trunk outdoors, trunk outdoors, trunk outdoors,
Lord I?m standing here, got nowhere to go, where to go, where to go



The 1966 line about laying down is pronounced more like ?layvering? ? not sure if I?m hearing the word wrong or if that?s just a peculiarity of Tennessee diction.   

I think he?s fretting with fingers throughout, until he pulls a surprise by sliding his bottleneck up to the 12th fret to end the 1967 version.  My attempt to transcribe the song is attached.

David

Offline harriet

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Meaning of "Chair My Hook" question
« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2017, 08:20:25 AM »
​On the last lyric of ​"Goin Down to the River" by Fred Mcdowell the last verse is:

La​wd​, I?m ​​goin' down​ in Lou​isiana baby.
I believe, honey, I'll chair my hook.
You know,​​goin' down​ in Lou​isiana.
I believe I?ll chair my gloom.
Lawd, dem teasin' brown
I declare ​they are ​the b​uoy.--

​There was an explanation in another forum of "chair my hook" ​as literally meaning tying the fishing line to a chair, so one can wait without having I guess to hold the fishing rod.

My question is anyone run into this phrase within blues from the area or in other words was this lifted from another song, or is anyone familiar with it?

Thanks,
Harriet

Offline Slack

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Re: Meaning of "Chair My Hook" question
« Reply #38 on: February 13, 2017, 08:38:46 AM »
Hi Harriet,

I think he is saying: I'll share my home  IOW, he can go down to LA and find another woman/teasin' brown

Your last line is not quite right, but I can't quite get it.  I declare d'es out their (it does sound like buoy, but that makes no sense)


Offline harriet

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Re: Meaning of "Chair My Hook" question
« Reply #39 on: February 13, 2017, 10:33:50 AM »
Hi Slack

It's hard to tell - I can't understand it, which is why I asked whether "chair my hook" was a known phrase- earlier I asked about "white dog bark" and that turned out to be a phrase that was from a Blind Jefferson song that Banjochris was familiar with.

It's not a clearly thought out metaphor expressed to my mind at least - it could be meant to be the "teasin browns" were buoy for the gloom, keeping it afloat. I don't know!

"Teasing Brown" is a phrase I know used by him in a couple of songs and may come from Kokomo Arnold, 1934 -Milk Cow Blues "Takes a rocking chair to rock, mama, a rubber ball to roll, takes a little teasing brown, pretty mama, just to pacify my soul" . He uses that line almost exactly in Louise, but not the "little teasin brown" he substitutes "19 and brown".
« Last Edit: February 13, 2017, 02:41:33 PM by harriet »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Meaning of "Chair My Hook" question
« Reply #40 on: February 13, 2017, 02:29:25 PM »
He's going fishing...

I believe, honey, I'll carry my hook.

Them teasin' brown -- I declare lord they're out the book.

"Out of the book" -- meaning something like "out of sight," "out of the ordinary."

See Blind Lemon's "Long Lastin' Lovin'," for instance:
http://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Long_Lastin%27_Lovin%27

Chris

Offline harriet

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Re: Meaning of "Chair My Hook" question
« Reply #41 on: February 14, 2017, 04:10:01 AM »
Ok - thanks! Not an obscure blues phrase then.

Harriet

Offline banjochris

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Re: Meaning of "Chair My Hook" question
« Reply #42 on: February 14, 2017, 08:37:32 AM »
Nope! Just obscure blues pronunciation!  ;)

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McDowell lyrics
« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2017, 06:47:00 AM »
Hi all,
I merged Harriet's recent thread on the meaning of "chair my hook" in Fred McDowell's "Goin' Down To The River" into the Fred McDowell Lyrics thread.  None of the post titles were changed.
All best,
Johnm

Offline harriet

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Going Over the Hill - Fred and Annie McDowell
« Reply #44 on: July 12, 2017, 08:28:49 AM »
Hi All,

Working John Miller's lesson for the Fred and Annie Mcdowell "Going Over the Hill" I thought I'd take a look at the lyrics and I think I got it.  Posting in case anyone wants to take a listen and propose correction.



​​I'm goin' over the hill
I'm goin' on over the hill
​Oh well​, over the hill
Ahhh,  soon as I  ​(guitar) me a few ​more round
Try to master​​ just a few more ups and down
​​I'm goin' on over the hill


I'm goin' over the hill,
I'm goin' over the hill,
I'm goin' over the hill,
Oh well, I went in the valley, I didn't go to stay
Soul got happy, child
I stayed down there all day​
​​I ​went over the hill

​​I'm goin' over the hill
I'm goin' on over the hill
​Oh well​ over the hill
Yeah, as soon as I ​(gui​​tar)  a few​ more​ round
Try to master​ just a few more ups and down​(s)​
​​​​I'm goin' on over the hill


I'm goin' over the hill,
I'm goin' over the hill,
I'm goin' over the hill,
​Well ​When I get to heaven, ​I'm ​gon' sit right down
Ask​ the' master, just to get my starry ​crown
​​I'm goin' on over the hill​
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 04:18:58 AM by harriet »

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