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I thought that it was such a privilege for me to be doing those sides with Georgia, that I decided to do everything I could in one bar. Everything I could dream of, I wanted to be sure I got it all in. I was like a dive bomber coming in, playing everything but what she was singing, playing the fastest run I could that had nothing to do with expressing the blues. It was wrong! - The self deprecating Les Paul on his 1936 recording sessions backing Georgia White

Author Topic: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics  (Read 58112 times)

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dingwall

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #195 on: June 18, 2007, 01:25:35 PM »
I posted this earlier, but it didn't appear, so here is a repeat (more or less).
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.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #196 on: June 19, 2007, 10:54:00 AM »
Hello dingwall,
Thanks for the suggestions.  I hope to work my way through them when I return home tomorrow.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #197 on: June 20, 2007, 01:55:18 PM »
Hello dingwall,
I've listened to all of the Sleepy John songs you proposed corrections for, and here is what I found:

   *"Black Mattie"--In the first line of verse one, the word is "sleep" as you had it, rather than "stay", which I had
     In verse 2, I'm going to let the transcription stand, since Sleepy John does not enunciate enough syllables to say "spended" rather than "spent"
     In verse 3, I believe your "heart struck" is correct rather than my "heart's in"
     In verse 4, the second line, I'm satisfied "Lord, life" is correct rather than your suggestion, "Your life"

   * Broken-Hearted, Ragged and Dirty Too".  In the first line of the first verse, I am continuing to hear "broke and I'm hearted", despite the oddity of the usage, rather than the "broken-hearted" you suggest.
     In the opening line of verse 2, I'm continuing to hear "set down" rather than the "settle down" you suggest.  There are not enough syllables enunciated for "settle down", I believe.
     In the tagline of verse three, I do hear " I really heard" rather than "I believe that I heard" that you suggest.  In particular, I don't hear anything that sounds like "that"
     In verse four, the first two lines, I believe your "feel misery" is correct, rather than my "stay married".  This hearing was brilliant!

   * "Drop Down Mama"--I hear no trace of "have" in the second line of verse 4
     In verse 5, line 2, I think your "has" is correct and my "I" is wrong

   * "Someday Baby"--In the first line of verse 2, I think both my "hate" and your "asked" are wrong.  I think the line is, "I has that wind, that old chilly breeze"

   * "Whatcha Doin'?--In the choruses, I think your "an account" is correct, and my "in kind" is wrong.  Brilliant hearing!
     In line one of verse four, I am satisfied that "When a man does workin'" is correct, despite the oddity of the usage
     In line one of verse seven, I am satisfied "see her in the morning" is correct
     In verse seven, the tag line,I believe "near 'most dead" is correct

   * "Floating Bridge".  In verse one, line 4, the word "the" should be eliminated as you said
     In verse two, I believe Sleepy John pronounces "throwed" "thowed", so I'll let it stand
     In verse 3, the "blank't" you propose is correct, I think
     In verse five, line four, I believe "crop" is correct, not "crumb" though crumb would rhyme.  His mother wants him to farm.
     In verse six, line one, the "was standin'" you suggest is correct, but I hear no "they were"

   * "Lawyer Clark".  I do not hear "Shelby Row" or "Road", but do hear "Century Road" or Sentry Road"
     I do not hear the contractions "he'll" or I'll" in any of the choruses.

Thank you for all these suggestions.  I will make changes to the transcriptions as indicated and arranged to have the revised versions put into the Keys to the Highway section.
All best,
Johnm
 

« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 11:59:23 PM by Johnm »

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #198 on: June 20, 2007, 09:28:01 PM »
Hi, folks, I thought "in kind" in that song, "Watcha Doin?" was the original lyric. There is some variation. Sonny Boy later had a song called, "You Gotta Give an Account", basically the same song with the "account" fairly audible. That's how he interpreted it, anyway.

I have another correction to make here, Johnm. In "Working Man Blues" he sings in the penultimate verse,

"Let the snow and rain rot the grass, you know, that make (for life of the ground)" not "fertilizer for the ground"

He sang this song again, when he was rediscovered in the 60's and he sounds like he's singing on that track, "make for (the/new) life of the ground". 

,
Matthew


Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #199 on: June 20, 2007, 09:36:29 PM »
Matthew -- in "Working Man" Sleepy John doesn't really enunciate fertilizer -- he says it more like "fert-il-lies" with not too much "s" sound at the end. You can hear the "t" sound in both the '40s and '60s recordings.
Chris

mmpresti

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #200 on: June 21, 2007, 01:20:39 PM »
But I'm not hearing the "for" after the "lies" even if he doesn't sing the fourth syllable in fer-ti-li-zer. I slowed this clip down on Transcribe! and decided that he could be saying "fertilie for the ground," in the one case if he pronounces his "er"s as "or"s and vice versa. B/c it sounds like he's singing, "f(or)-ti-lie f(er) the ground". I hear him extending the missing syllable in "for-ti-lies" to the beginning of "fer", so it sounds like he singing "life". This is what clinches it for me, the "er" sound in "fer" slowly glides back to an "uh". So he's singing "life of". Also, rotted grass is more mulch than fertilizer.

If you or johnm can show me an instance where SJ pronounces his "or"s as "er"s, I may change my mind. A truly difficult line to decipher!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #201 on: June 21, 2007, 01:43:14 PM »
Hi Matthew,
I can't really speak to Sleepy John's '60s recording of "Working Man", since I've not heard it.  I've always considered "fertilizer" as the intent of the line, though Sleepy John leaves off the "er" altogether and has only the tiniest possible trace of a "z" sound.  One thing that operates in favor of "fertilizer", despite Sleepy John's pronunciation, is that it scans perfectly in the beat structure of the line, which is to say, he allows exactly the amount of time and emphasis it would take to say "fertilizer" had he enunciated it cleanly.
Also, the portion of the line that is in question is followed by the word "for", not the word "of" as you have it in your interpretation, "for the life of the ground".  Sleepy John concludes his line "for the ground", very clearly.  "Fertilizer for the ground" makes sense--I don't think "for the life for the ground" does.  There's no soft "th" sound for the "the" you propose, either; it is definitely a hard "t" as in fertilizer.
I'm not convinced that Sleepy John would distinguish between decomposing vegetable matter and chemical fertilizers.  I think it's possible that he would view anything that enriched the soil to be considered fertilizer.
I agree it is a tough line to decipher.
All best,
Johnm   
« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 09:42:46 PM by Johnm »

dingwall

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Re: Mando tunes: Yank Rachell, Sleepy John Estes, Noah Lewis CD JSP-CD 3406
« Reply #202 on: August 05, 2007, 03:35:12 PM »
Re 'Milk Cow Blues', I would use 'husband' rather than 'huzman', and I hear the difficult verse as:

Now, some say TB and some says it was disease, and,
But it's the slow consumption, killin' you by degrees.
Lord, it's the slow consumption, killin' you by degrees.
Now, it's the slow consumption, and it's killin' you by degrees.
 

skip bosco

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Re: Mando tunes: Yank Rachell, Sleepy John Estes, Noah Lewis CD JSP-CD 3406
« Reply #203 on: November 26, 2007, 08:51:18 PM »
I have a friend who sings it...

Some says it was peas, some says it was greens...

dingwall

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Re: Mando tunes: Yank Rachell, Sleepy John Estes, Noah Lewis CD JSP-CD 3406
« Reply #204 on: December 01, 2007, 11:40:28 AM »
Regarding the difficult  verse,  here's Sonny Boy Williamson's (John Lee Williamson, Sonny Boy No. 1's) cover version of Sleepy John's mistitled 'Milk Cow Blues'.   It is quite clear with the difficult verse.   Document DOCD5058 has it.

BLUES THAT MADE ME DRUNK

Well, I asked sweet mama just to let me be her kid.
She said, I might get buggish, Sonny, and you couldn't keep it hid.
Well, looked at me and she began to smile.
She said, I thought I could use you for my man a while.
Lord, if you just don't let my husband catch you here.
Now, if you just don't let my husband catch you here.

Well, some said it was T.B., some said it wasn't nothin' but disease.
But it's this slow consumption's killin' people by degrees.
I know that it's slow consumption murdering people by degrees.
You know, that it's slow consumption killin' you by degrees.

Well, I went upstairs to pack my leavin' trunk.
And I never drunk no whiskey, you know, the blues made me sloppy drunk.
But I ain't never drunk no whiskey, but them old blues done made me drunk.
I never drunk no whiskey, blues that done made me drunk.

Well, I've got somethin' to tell you, baby, I want you to keep it to yourself.
I don't want you even tell Mr So-and-So, even warn nobody else.
But I don't want you to tell no, baby, please tell nobody else.
I don't want you even warn your baby, tell nobody else.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2007, 01:13:37 PM by dingwall »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #205 on: September 04, 2008, 04:35:07 PM »
Hi all,
"Divin' Duck Blues" is another one of the great early collaborations of Sleepy John with Yank Rachell and Jab Jones.  It has been covered a fair amount, but as most often seems to be the case with Sleepy John's tunes, either the lyrics or the melody are greatly changed in the course of re-doing the song.  I'm not certain about the phrase in bent brackets, so any help would be appreciated.
   
   Now if the river was whiskey, and I was a divin' duck
   Now if the river was whiskey, I was a divin' duck
   I would dive on the bottom, never would come up

   Don't never take a married woman to be your friend
   Don't never take, married woman to be your friend
   She will get all your money, give it to her other man

   Now, a married woman always been my crave (2)
   Now a married woman gon' carry me to my grave

   Now ain't it hard to love some else, then?  (2)
   You can't get her when you want her, have to use her when you can

   Now the sun gon' shine on my back door someday
   Now the sun gonna shine on my back door some day
   Now the wind gonna rise gonna blow my blues away

   Now I went to the railroad, looked up at the sun (2)
   If the train don't hurry gon' be some walkin' done

All best,
Johnm

And I always asumed this was Sleepy John's necrophiliac anthem.
I Always heard:

Now ain't it heard to love someone that's dead  2X
You caint use them when you want them got to use them when you can.



My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #206 on: September 05, 2008, 02:24:06 AM »
And I always asumed this was Sleepy John's necrophiliac anthem.
I Always heard:

Now ain't it heard to love someone that's dead  2X
You caint use them when you want them got to use them when you can.
And from memory Sam Charters in his booklet to the Estes RBF album heard much the same. Necrophilia rules..... :o

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #207 on: February 18, 2009, 10:37:20 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John Estes recorded "Don't You Want To Know" backed by the Delta Boys (Son Bonds and Raymond Thomas) on September 9, 1941.  The rendition makes a great deal of solo space available for Son Bonds' kazoo playing.  The song is a chorus blues, and Bonds and Thomas sang the parenthetic response lines on the chorus.  Any help with the lyrics would be appreciated.



   KAZOO INTRO

   Now, to mess with this music I would be ashamed
   Stream-lined high steppers ain't none of your band
   CHORUS:  Don't you want to know?  (Don't you want to know?)
   Don't you want to know?  (Yes, we want to know!)
   We wrote this song, this, our own, compose

   Now, walkin' down the street you don't knowin' our name
   All of you say, "That's that stream-lined band."
   CHORUS:  Don't you want to know?  (Don't you want to know?)
   Don't you want to know?  (Yes, we want to know!)
   We wrote this song, this, our own, compose

   KAZOO SOLO

   I been pickin' cotton, I done got tired
   Boys, I done learnt a better job
   CHORUS:   Don't you want to know?  (Don't you want to know?)
   Don't you want to know?  (Yes, we want to know!)
   We wrote this song, this, our own, compose

   KAZOO SOLO
 
   I know the people at home begin to hunt
   These old boys told Miss Roos to get they's lunch
   CHORUS:  Don't you want to know?  (Don't you want to know?)
   Don't you want to know?  (Yes, we want to know!)
   We wrote this song, this, our own, compose

   KAZOO SOLO

   Talk about our music, make fun of our clothes
   We done worked up ourself, up with Major Bowes
   CHORUS:  Don't you want to know?  (Don't you want to know?)
   Don't you want to know?  (Yes, we want to know!)
   We wrote this song, this, our own, compose

   KAZOO SOLO

edited, 2/20 to pick up corrections from banjochris and dj

All best,
Johnm 

   
« Last Edit: July 18, 2020, 05:06:11 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #208 on: February 18, 2009, 10:50:26 PM »
John -- I'm surprised there were any pre-war Sleepy John lyrics left -- I thought you had gotten them all.

A couple of things on "Don't You Want to Know" -- I think it's possible he's saying "and none of your band" instead of "ain't" -- neither makes much sense, but I think you can take the brackets off "band."

In the chorus, I think the last line ends with "compose," not "composed" and he's using it as a substitute for "composition." I think he might be saying "this our own compose" and adding a weird sound to "our" -- it doesn't sound quite like "of" to me. But it could be "of our own compose" as well.

I think "hunt" is right in the fourth verse, and the second line is "These old boys told Miss [Ruth] to get thei' lunch." It sounds more like "Roos," so it could be a last name, but given that John's delivery is a little -- how shall I put it -- wet? sometimes, I think Ruth is the most likely.
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #209 on: February 18, 2009, 10:59:25 PM »
Hi Chris,
Thanks very much for the suggestions.  I will give them a good listen.  This song was actually the only remaining untranscribed pre-War Sleepy John tune.  I've been hiding from it, like Texas Alexander's "Normangee Blues".  I think we have a good chance of getting them both transcribed now, and that's good.
All best,
Johnm

 


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