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I'm goin' where the water drink like turpentine - Scott Dunbar, Blue Yodel

Author Topic: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics  (Read 58110 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #180 on: March 01, 2007, 12:16:54 PM »
Having nothing better to do (except sleep) at this hour of the morning, I was browsing around the web and I typed in "Tom Mann Brownsville, TN" on Google and it popped out an address and phone number; there's also a Sam Mann and Pat Mann. Anyone feel like writing him a letter and asking him what Sleepy John was saying (I would assume about his dad or grandfather) in the song?
Performing some much needed email "housekeeping" I came across this from David Evans dated 25th August 2004 - better late than never:

"This morning's Commercial Appeal (Memphis) newspaper contained an obituary of Pat Mann, Brownsville, Tennessee, farmer, cotton gin and store owner, who was the subject of a song by Sleepy John Estes.  Mann died Sunday at his home at the age of 93.  His gin and store are still standing on the road between Brownsville and Nutbush, though the store has long been closed."

« Last Edit: March 01, 2007, 12:18:55 PM by Bunker Hill »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #181 on: March 01, 2007, 01:57:20 PM »
Too bad Sleepy John (or Bo Carter, for that matter) never recorded a "Nutbush Blues."
Chris

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #182 on: June 03, 2007, 09:48:56 PM »
I purchased a copy of "Electric Sleep" today for only $4.99, which was pretty lucky, and listening to the recording of "Little Laura" on that album, he says "She dreamed she was riding in Tom Mann's automobile." I can almost make out one other line that was giving us a problem (the one that I thought sounded like "dreamed of seventeen," which is definitely wrong), but I was listening in the car -- when I can listen more closely I'll post it.
Chris

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #183 on: June 03, 2007, 10:06:11 PM »
How did it get to be "dreamed o' seventeen". It does sound like that, but the line is supposed to be "she dreamed that southern dream", like the way Sonny Boy 1 sings in "Southern Dream", which is the song I thought JS was singing.

Little laura was a dreamer
She dreamed that southern dream
She's the dreaminest gal, dreamest gal I ever seen

I love his album "Electric Sleep", but some of the lyrics are really obscure, like on the first track of "Needmore" blues, does he really say,

I need money, I need some way to go
I mean, one gibbet's too slow

?

and I can hardly make anything out of "Newport Blues" on that album. Can anyone actually transcribe "Newport Blues" in its entirety?

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #184 on: June 03, 2007, 10:29:58 PM »
Correction to the above, John wrote and recorded "Little Laura" in 1941 before Sonny Boy recorded "Southern Dream" sometime in 1944-47. So Sonny Boy is singing SJ's song.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #185 on: June 03, 2007, 11:28:28 PM »
Correction to the above, John wrote and recorded "Little Laura" in 1941 before Sonny Boy recorded "Southern Dream" sometime in 1944-47. So Sonny Boy is singing SJ's song.
"Southern Dream" (12 Nov 1947) was just a later reworking of his 2nd July 1941 "She Was A Dreamer". Estes recorded Laura in September that year, so I'm guessing that SJE was inspired by that.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #186 on: June 03, 2007, 11:38:08 PM »
The "dreamed of seventeen" is just what I had suggested a while back. The "dreamed that southern dream" sounds right to me. I'll have a crack at Newport Blues when I get back to my home computer in a couple of days, but I can understand pretty big chunks of it -- unless someone else has a go.
Chris

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #187 on: June 04, 2007, 12:48:30 AM »
?Newport Blues? from the album ?Newport Blues?

Miss, Soon I?ll reach Rhode Island,
Wherever Rhode Island be,
Nothin? but them big whales
And alligators throwin? them waves at me

Aside: Talk to me now, you all take your time,

Out in the park, they called us up on the stage
You know I felt just as shaky as I could,
Lord, 80,000 people be gazing at me

I saw a great crowd of people,
I know I wonder what is going on
But no one ((feelin? Ms. Kennedy miss John???))

Then Ms. Kennedy and Macmillan at home,
She?s in no place to have a fight
Nine months, and she?s goin? back home

?Newport Blues? on ?Electric Sleep?

Later on Friday
Everybody was sad,
We lost, best president we ever had,
But he gone home, gone back home,
He, staying away, too long?

Rode from town to town, holding up for a ride,
Some low down rider, took the president?s life,
But he going home, going back home,
He, staying away, too long?

Everybody vote, they don?t know what?s going on,
If we go (to war?) today, we won?t have no home,
But he gone home,  gone back home,
Hey, staying away too long?

I heard a news in air (amusing air?)
Wondered what could it be,
It weren?t nothin? but them sea birds
Singing those songs to me,
But I?m going home, goin? back home,
He staying away too long?

When I went on the stage,
Shaky as I could be,
Bout 85 people had their eyes on me,
But I?m gone home, going back home,
He staying away too long?

I take my blood pressure,
A hundred and three
Nothin? but salty water,
I drink right out the sea
But he?s gone home, goin back home,
He stayin? away too long?

Later on Friday
Everybody was sad,
We lost, best president we ever had,
But he?s gone home, goin? back home,
He staying away too long?

I have the notion
Down on the beach
The alligators and whales,
Throwin? them waves at me
I?m goin home, goin? back home
He staying away too long

White horses and cars,
All in a row
((I think Mr. Connery
Turned in his long white robe ???))*
But he gone home, goin? back home
He staying away too long


*maybe a reference to Dr. No's outfit 1962



Offline dj

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #188 on: June 04, 2007, 03:39:33 AM »
Quote
(I think Mr. Connery
Turned in his long white robe Huh))*

I think that's a reference to then Texas Governor John Connelly, who was wounded when President John Kennedy was assassinated.  Since Connelly survived, he "turned in his long white robe" - he didn't ascend to heaven.

But, hey, I could be totally wrong about that.   :)   

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #189 on: June 04, 2007, 09:59:38 AM »
Boy that "Newport Blues" from the "Newport Blues" album is weird -- I get the feeling Sleepy John was making it up right then. The one on "Electric Sleep" is easier to get -- I hear a couple of different things in it, partially from listening to the same song, called "President Kennedy Stayed Away Too Long," on the "Miss. Blues Jam in Memphis" CD (the LP was called "Kings of Country Blues," IIRC.)

Quote
Rode from town to town, holding up for a ride,
Some low down rider, took the president?s life,
Rode from town to town, holding up for right,
Some low down rascal, took the president's life.
(I think the sense of this is either "standing up for rights" or "standing up for what's right")

Quote
If we go (to war?) today, we won?t have no home,
If Goldwater get in, we won't have no home.?
Quote
I heard a news in air (amusing air?)
I heard a news in the air

Quote
((I think Mr. Connery
Turned in his long white robe ???))*
I think Mr. Kennedy right to his long white robe.
(this line's a lot clearer in the other version of the song)

Here's "President Kennedy Stayed Away Too Long." I didn't transcribe the choruses; they're the same as "Newport Blues," sometime changing between "he gone home" and "I gone home"

Late on... everybody was sad,
We lost, best president we've ever had

Rode from town to town, holdin' up for right
Some low down... took the president's life

Everybody vote, they don't know what's goin' on
If Goldwater get it, we won't have no home

Mr. Kennedy got a mention (message) on the air, sayin' now must all chip in,
He have another mention, since he reach Washington D.C.

When I went on the stage, shaky as I could be
Bout 80,000 people had their eyes on me

White horses and the cars, all in a row
I think Mr. Kennedy have a right, to the long white robe

Chris

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #190 on: June 04, 2007, 03:44:40 PM »
Thanks, Chris, I'm hearing the Goldwater line, but not the last line about the "long white robe". It sounds, on "Electric Sleep" that he's saying, "Mr. Ken' right, to the long white robe". I'll have to listen to the version on the Miss. Jam Session album. Although, it would be more poetic for Sean Connery (an actor JFK liked) yet in a movie that SJ probably couldn't  have seen on the screen, turned in the part of his enemy Dr. No. I'll have to hear the other track.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #191 on: June 04, 2007, 03:59:25 PM »
It sounds, on "Electric Sleep" that he's saying, "Mr. Ken' right, to the long white robe".

Yeah, he really swallows that line on "Electric Sleep." It's pretty clear on the other one (as clear as Sleepy John gets, anyway). It's a good thing that his records almost all have good sound quality -- imaging what we'd go through if they were in the shape Charlie Patton's records are in.
Chris

Offline Rivers

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #192 on: June 04, 2007, 05:48:13 PM »
Long white robe - shroud, or KKK?  >:D

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #193 on: June 04, 2007, 09:32:42 PM »
Both meanings are there. I think a lot of black people, especially in the South, saw Kennedy as someone who was going to fight racism and was allied with the civil rights movement in some respects. I grew up in New Orleans and my black neighbor, a woman in her 80s, always talked about how JFK was seen as a white civil rights leader in the eyes of a lot of southern blacks. Whether he really was or not is anybody's question.

But I think both meanings are there, he should wear the shroud and not the Klan. It's kind of like the old blues line that carries the meaning, "My skin is black but I'm white inside", where white represents purity of soul, honor, in other words none of the purely racial meanings the klan gave to white power.

dingwall

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #194 on: June 10, 2007, 06:31:33 AM »
These are a few suggestions re the lyrics above, given humbly, as some are doubtful.   Reference is to verse and line, for example, 3.2 means verse3, line2.   


BLACK MATTIE BLUES
1.1 Oh, Black Mattie, where did you sleep last night?
2.2/3 Now, I done spended all my money, "Goodbye, country guy."
3.1 Lord, my heart struck sorrow, tears come a-rollin' down.
4.2 Your life

LAWYER CLARK BLUES
1.1 Now, got offices in town, resident out on Shelby Row.
   I hear 'Row' clearly, and the 'l' and 'b' of Shelby, though still doubtful.
1.4 (Every chorus) I hear 'he'll', and later, 'I'll', rather than 'he/I'.

BROKEN-HEARTED, RAGGED AND DIRTY TOO
1.1 I hear 'broken-hearted' in both lines.   In the first line, 'broken-' is extended as 'brok?e?n-'
2.1/2 'settle down' but clearer in line2
3.3 I heard the bedsprings poppin' and I believe that I heard my baby cryin'.
4.1/2 How can I feel misery,   Maybe?

DROP DOWN MAMA
4.2 That's the onliest woman have mortgage on my soul. Here, 'have' is just discernible with a faint touch of 'v'.
5.2 You know I ain't no stranger, has done been here before.

SOMEDAY BABY BLUES
2.1 I asked that wind,-- maybe

WHATCHA DOIN'?
1.3 (and every chorus) Got to give an account, I hear
4.1 When a man's out workin',
7.1 Now, get up in the mornin',   This is very faint.
7.2 Ask her to cook your breakfast, swears you never did.   Very difficult to judge between 'you' and 'she'.   

FLOATING BRIDGE
1.4 Tell me five minutes time under water I was hid.   No 'the'.
2.1/2/3 'throwed', not 'thowed', but this just looks like a typing error
3.1/2/3 laid me across the blanket.   I suspect this has 'blanket' pronounced 'blank't'.  I hear a trace of 'l', and also 'bank' is unlikely, since he is in the house.
5.4 Go somewhere, settle down and make a crumb.
6.1 Now, people was standin' on the bridge, they were screamin' and cryin'.   This is faint.


 


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