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She said "look'a here daddy, don't you raise no sand. I don't ask you 'bout no woman, don't ask me 'bout my man" - Mance Lipscomb, Meet Me In The Bottom, Arhoolie Texas Songster #4 Live at The Cabale

Author Topic: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics  (Read 58111 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #225 on: December 11, 2010, 02:17:31 PM »
Just listened again, first is sank (sink) second is bank and third is sink so I think bank was an error and that the intention was sink (or sank).
The last line I'm hearing as People on the bridge was screamin' & cryin' 3x Lord have moicy wheres we gwine
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Gumbo

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #226 on: April 11, 2011, 07:57:14 AM »
Registration Day
my first Sleepy John Estes tune and still one of my favourites
but what is that last line? pick up secret ?? I don't get it.




They're calling from 18 on up to 36
some of us leaving our homes
in a terrible fix

Oh but you've got to go
you trying to win this race
You know by the help of the Lord
we'll see our wife and mothers' face

now let's go boys pull up for your town
if you ever get back home, you'll be on your
same old paid ground
Oh but you've got to go ...

now your boss man may be rich
have all kind of change
when uncle sam calls you that don't mean a thing
Oh but you've got to go ...

Now, poor mother do worry - i know how she feels
thinking 'bout her son
out on the battlefield
But you've got to go ...

now if y'go to the camp boy, hopin' to act rough
they put you in that old guard house an' make you
pick up cigarette butt
Oh but you've got to go ...

edited to pick up correction from banjochris

« Last Edit: July 18, 2020, 05:08:04 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #227 on: April 12, 2011, 11:10:01 PM »
Thanks for the link to the song. Last verse is:

Now if y'go to the camp boy, oh babe don't act rough,
They put you in that old guard house, they make you
Pick up cigarette butts,
But you got to go...

Chris

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #228 on: April 14, 2011, 05:15:15 AM »
Cigarette! doh

thanks Chris, that makes much more sense!

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #229 on: April 21, 2012, 08:25:12 AM »
This post is relevant to Reply #116.  In that post, I had speculated that John had left Ripley, not that he had left for Ripley, and that the vocalization between "left" and "Ripley" was a "place holder" similar to one he used elsewhere (sort of a prosodic element).  In the version of "Special Agent" that John recorded for George Mitchell, John clearly says "left for Ripley."  See my transcription of that recording below.

"Special Agent"
Recorded Brownsville, TN, 1962
The George Mitchell Collection, vol. 9

Oh, when I left for Ripley, weather was kind of cool (2x)
He said, "Boy, y'all be careful. Prob'ly you might catch the flu."

Oh, a special agent up the country sure is hard on a man.
Oh, special agent up the country sure is hard on a man.
You know they put him off when he hungry, won't even let him ride no train.

Yeah, sitting down in Centralia, sure was feelin' bad.
Oh, I was sitting down in Centralia, sure was feelin' bad.
You know they wouldn't let me ride no fast train, they put me off on a doggone drag.

Special agent, special, please let me ride.
Oh, special agent, special agent, put me off close to some town.
You know I got to do some recordin', you know I ought to be recordin' right now.

Oh, I hung that manifest, and I went down in the freight rail box.
Oh, I hung that manifest, you know I went down in the freight rail box.
You know I could hear them special agent, boy, when they come tippin' over the top.

Offline cru423

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City Hall Blues
« Reply #230 on: March 11, 2013, 08:49:55 PM »
Got Those City Hall Blues



Oh, stay in the middle of the street
Boy, don't hit the sidewalk at all (2x)
You know Mr. Buddy will get you,
Boy, to help pay that new city hall

When you hear Mr. Buddy's siren blowin'
Boy, please pull off on the side (2x)
Now he will take you down to that big-house
Boy, it's bad on the inside

Oh, when you out, late hours at night
Boy, be careful how loud you talk (2x)
You know Mr. Buddy don't get you drink
Boy, he get you for that old eggshell walk

Oh, if you ain't got your kneaded flour
Don't cut your switch oven on (2x)
Now Mr. Buddy will get you
Boy, that's another tip for the city hall

I wanna use your phone
I wanna call 1-3-6-9 (2x)
You know Mr. Buddy in the front
Boy, that big dog back down behind

I wanna call up Mr. Buddy
Get him to tax me in my home (2x)
You know he done broke up all the crap game
Boy he bet on his rye corn

extra verse from "Brownsville Blues", Delmark, 1969 version:

Mr. Buddy told me to crawl in
Roll of the dice
enjoy the rim (2x)
I told Mr. Buddy I ain't drunk
He said, "Poor John, you sure is full of gin"

« Last Edit: July 18, 2020, 05:08:52 PM by Johnm »

Offline cru423

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #231 on: March 19, 2013, 11:03:15 PM »
In "Stone Blind Blues" back on page 9 the missing lyrics are:

Now when you lose your eyesight, your best friend gone (3x)
Your own *dear people* won't a-fool with you long

I was standing on the corner, close side the wall (3x)
On the way I could tell my friend I had to catch *the road*



Offline Gumbo

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #232 on: February 09, 2014, 04:56:11 PM »
for the last verse of Jailhouse Blues:

   You know I knowed this thing was gettin' kind of SQUALID, I heard the city judge when he cleared up his throat.

   "Now, no more stew BALL and neither no more white rice (2)
   Now, y'all need not be uneasy, you won't have to take THIS workhouse advice."

Late to the party but the sun ain't up yet!

I agree with Bunker Hill about Squalid, and also hear Stewball ( a kind of meatball perhaps?) and 'this' in the last line.

EDIT I see banjochris has already suggested 'This' advice in that last line.

What a great read this thread has been! Thanks to Johnm for all your transcriptions and insights and also to Bunker Hill for all the fascinating additional info!

Quote
I'm still bothered by that last verse of "Tell Me How 'Bout It."

"Sam Mann and Henry run jams on the truck, "Mann's State Wide" 'n' they haul people's stuff" is how I hear that.  "Jams on the truck", I assume, is trucks jammed with stuff.

I agree with Henry and I think it's
MANN'S FREIGHT, WHY! an' they haul peoples stuff
« Last Edit: February 09, 2014, 07:00:53 PM by Gumbo »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #233 on: July 01, 2014, 06:26:05 PM »
After consulting with my esteemed colleague Dr. Rufus T. Firefly Conte he pointed out that the line in the Yank Rachel ayuhored Divin' Duck Blues that I had always considered to be the only extant example of a reference to Necrophilia in Blues

"Now Ain't it hard to love someone that's dead,
Now ain't it hard to love someone that's dead
You cain't to use them when you want to got to use them when you can."

Is actually


"Now Ain't it hard to love someone as them
Now ain't it hard to love someone as them

You cain't to use them when you want to got to use them when you can."

                   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 06:36:15 PM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Regulus Blues

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #234 on: May 09, 2018, 05:11:05 PM »
FWIW in the lengthy 1974 interview conducted with Estes & Nixon by Kip Lornell (Living Blues 19, Jan-Feb 1975) the latter  refers a train named the "Mae West" thus:

Q:How long did you stay in Chicago?
Nixon: We didn't stay too long. Just in and out. We were riding them old freight trains then. We made that record about Mae West. We'd ride that Mae West a lot, put it down in Chicago Heights.

Later on in the interview Estes is asked what he thinks were his best ever records and one of them he names as 'Mae West'!

I've looked in B A Botkin's A Treasury Of Railroad Folklore (Crown, 1953) in the chapter on railroad and freight train nicknames but can't spot this one.

Just registered after finding this thread looking for Sleepy John lyrics, what a fantastic resource! Couldn?t resist adding my two cents  ;)

I couldn?t find anything relating to Mae West freight trains either.

However, the Pennsylvania Railroad N6B cabin cars were known as ?Mae Wests? due to the curves of their cupolas up top.

I guess the PRR could have had a line running through Chicago Heights during the 30s, but I can?t find anything specific as yet.

But it does seem like he?s referring specifically to a freight train called the Mae West. I don?t really know enough about trains, would they have mixed passenger and freight cars?

If these are what he?s referring to, he does sing that he came in ?on? a Mae West, so maybe those cupolas made good hiding spots?
Alex

Offline Regulus Blues

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #235 on: May 09, 2018, 05:36:38 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John recorded "Hobo Jungle Blues" with Hammie Nixon on harmonica and either Charlie Pickett or Son Bonds on guitar.  Since both guitarists are playing out of C position in standard tuning, if my theory holds true, the second guitarist would be Brownsville Son Bonds, since he and Sleepy John did not play out of different positions on the songs that we know they played together ("Lawyer Clark", "Little Laura" and Working Man"). 

Is it confirmed that this recording was done in this tuning? I?ve tried playing it as C position in standard, but to me it sounds much closer in flatted Spanish with a capo, from the open 5th string position.
Alex

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #236 on: May 09, 2018, 05:41:03 PM »
Hi Regulus Blues,
Welcome to Weenie Campbell.  Sleepy John never recorded in Spanish tuning on his early recordings.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Regulus Blues

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #237 on: May 09, 2018, 06:33:25 PM »
Hi John, thanks! This is a great site by the way - I?ve finally decided to register after many years of constantly finding you in google search results for blues guitar. Easily my number one resource for learning blues, so thanks once again :)

If SJE never played in Spanish tuning at that point, then I?m inclined to believe that whoever the other player is, is playing in Spanish (sorry if that dents your earlier theory).

I can hear the standard playing coming from John now, with the driving rhythm and that little run from the 6th to 5th string, but there are bits and pieces that I can only seem to replicate in Spanish.

That lovely little lick in the final verse that echoes Nixon?s harp sounds to me like a slide up from 2nd to 3rd on the 2nd string followed by the open 1st string in unison with the second note.

Besides this (although I?m not sold on it yet), there seems to be a run played on the lower strings much like John?s 6th to 5th string run that I mentioned above, but utilising the octave effect of the DGDG arrangement in Spanish, which only really comes to the fore in the final seconds of the recording.

It?s on the 2nd, third and open frets again... something like G0h3p0 and hD2p0 or hD3p0, then the open chord

I suppose it can probably be played either way - it just sounds a bit more full to me, like an open tuning would.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 03:13:13 AM by Regulus Blues »
Alex

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #238 on: May 10, 2018, 09:04:12 AM »
Hi Regulus Blues,
Both guitarists are playing in C position, standard tuning, tuned about a whole step low.  Neither is playing in Spanish.  The lick in the last verse is achieved by hammering to the third fret of the first string from the second fret and then re-picking the third fret, and perseverating on that lick.  Many times in the course of the song Sleepy John and Brownsville Son Bonds play a fill on the second and third strings, bent fourth fret of the second string, first fret of the second string, second fret of the third string back to the first fret of the second string, in unison.  Brownsville Son Bonds didn't record anything on which he played in Spanish either, whether backing Sleepy John Estes or on his solo cuts.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Regulus Blues

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #239 on: May 10, 2018, 11:10:49 AM »
Hi John,

Thanks for the info, in the cold light of day (and now that it?s not too late at night to play) I can hear those lines far clearer.

I guess the mistake I?m making is in trying to reconcile both guitar parts into one (for which Spanish tuning seems to work quite well, but it?s clearly not what was originally played).

One more thing if I may... When you say C position, am I right in saying this is like playing an open C chord in standard tuning... Or does position refer to the location of the capo, whilst playing from an open E chord shape - or can it be either? That?s a distinction that?s always confused me  ::)
Alex

 


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