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She'd work Son Joe over right on the bandstand, right in front of the audience. Bang, bop, boom, bop! - Johnny Shines on Minnie, The Blues Collection #76

Author Topic: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics  (Read 56081 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2005, 12:21:02 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John recorded "Liquor Store Blues" in 1940, according to the discographical information I have (which I do not trust).  He is joined on it by either Robert Lee McCoy or Charlie Pickett on second guitar.  The second guitarist sounds like Charlie Pickett to me.  If you contrast the duo sound Sleepy John had with Son Bonds to that he had with Charlie Pickett, the duos with Son Bonds had both guitars playing out of the same position, whereas in the duos with Charlie Pickett, Sleepy John is most often playing out of the C position with Charlie Pickett capoed three frets higher, playing out of an A position in standard tuning, which is the set-up for "Liquor Store Blues".  I would appreciate guidance as to the definitive personnel on "Liquor Store Blues".
In any event, "Liquor Store Blues" is a really exciting up-tempo 12-bar "chorus" blues, with the quickest tempo of any John Estes song I have heard.  The guitars play four full solo passes throughout the course of the song, and it is quite unusual for Sleepy John to devote that much solo space to guitars.  I can see why he did, though--they are just rocking out!  The lyrics are about someone who was a personal acquaintance of Sleepy John's, and I particularly like his songs that speak of his circle of friends.  Once again, I have never heard anyone else play this song, and it would be a terrific one to do.

   Now if you're ever in Forrest City, I'll tell you what to do
   Let Mr. Peter Adams get 'quainted with you
   CHORUS:  Well, you won't have to go, well, you won't have to go
   You can get what you want, oh, right chere in my liquor store

   He got a little whiskey, he got a little gin
   All you got to do is step in the back end
   CHORUS

   I met Mr. Peter down on Monroe Street
   Come to Forrest City to run around with me
   CHORUS

   He got some on the floor, he got some on the shelf
   All you got to do is just to help yourself
   CHORUS

   Mr. Peter Adams, this kind of man
   You ask him for a favor he won't make you ashame
   CHORUS

Edited 11/7, to pick up corrections from Bunker Hill
Edited 2/1/06, to pick up correction from Banjo Chris

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 01, 2006, 10:57:41 PM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2005, 01:50:44 PM »
Both Blues & Gospel Records 1890 - 1943 and the notes to Document DOCD-5016 Sleepy John Estes Volume 2 agree in this case (they don't always) that Liquor Store Blues was recorded Friday, April 22nd, 1938 and that it features Sleepy John Estes on Guitar and vocal and either Son Bonds or Charlie Pickett on guitar.  Based on your observations about playing positions, John, Charlie Pickett would be the more likely choice.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2005, 02:53:48 PM »
Thanks very much for the information, David.  The sound of the accompanying guitars on "Liquor Store Blues" is the same in terms of positions the players are using, pitch, and relative capo placements as "Everybody Oughta Make A Change".  I think Charlie Pickett may have been playing an arch-top guitar, his guitar sound is distinctly nasal, and it was on his solo recordings, too. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #33 on: November 07, 2005, 11:30:10 AM »
? ?Mr. Peter Allen, this kind of man
? ?You ask him for a favor he won't make you ashame
? ?CHORUS
Having only played this last week I heard "the discount man".
And could it possibly be Peter Adam?
I'd better give it another spin PDQ.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2005, 04:13:01 PM »
Wow, good catch, Bunker Hill!  The surname is definitely Adams, not Allen, I believe, though the last verse still sounds like "this kind of man" rather than "the discount man", to me.  It could possibly be just "discount man".  I will change the name.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2005, 04:31:53 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John Estes recorded "Everybody Oughta Make A Change" in 1938, with Charlie Pickett, I believe, playing second guitar.? Sleepy John is playing in C position, standard tuning, and Charlie Pickett is capoed three frets higher and playing out of the A position, also in standard tuning.?
This is a 12-bar chorus blues, and may be the most frequently covered of all of Sleepy John's songs.? I can see why--the way the words fall is very rhythmic and it is just fun to sing.? If you have been following this thread, perhaps even especially if you have only been reading the lyrics and not actually listening to the songs, you may have noticed that Sleepy John had a mannerism of beginning almost every verse he sang with the word "now".? I think it must be impossible to describe how many different vocal inflections and emphases Sleepy John gave that one word over the course of his many songs.?
Something about the way the lyrics work in this song over the first four bars, before the chorus enters on the IV chord, reminds me of a children's song.

? ?Now, change in the ocean, change in the deep blue sea
? ?Take me back, baby, you'll find some change in me
? ?CHORUS:? Everybody, they ought to change sometime
? ?Because it's sooner or later have to go down in that ol' lonesome ground

? Now, changed my money, changed my honey
? ?I changed babies just to keep from being funny
? ?CHORUS:? Everybody, they out to change sometime
? ?Because it's sooner or later, we have to go down in that lonesome ground

? ?Now, changed my pants, changed my shirt
? ?I changed babies to get shed of the dirt
? ?CHORUS:? as in verse two

? ?Now, I changed home, I changed town
? ?I changed babies all the way around
? ?CHORUS:? as in verse two

? ?Now, I changed walk, I changed talk
? ?I changed babies just keep from being balked
? ?CHORUS: as in verse 2

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 07, 2005, 05:18:11 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2005, 04:54:10 PM »
Hi all,
Sleepy John recorded "Working Man Blues" in 1941 with Brownsville Son Bonds playing second guitar.? Both guitarists are playing in C, standard tuning, very aggressively going after what they want to do without worrying too much about the other player, and the effect is really exciting.? Sleepy John works in a bit of social commentary on this one, as well as treating us to one of his stellar vocals.? His "whoo babe" that falls in the tag line of each verse is a hair-raising sort of backward yodel moving from falsetto to full voice, something akin to what Henry Spaulding did on the word "Cairo" in his "Cairo Blues".? As Sleepy John executes the move, it sounds like a variant of Peetie Wheatstraw's vocal mannerism, "whoo well, well", though considerably more exciting.? Whew, it is great singing!

? ?Now you done spent all my 1940 rent, woman, you done worked on my substitute (2)
? ?Then if you don't wait 'til 1941, whoo babe, what in the world you gonna do?

? ?Now, they oughta cut out so many trucks and tractors, white folks, you oughta work more
? ? ? ? mules and men
? ?Now, you oughta cut out so many trucks and tractors, white folks, you oughta work more
? ? ? ? mules and men? [Bonds, spoken:? Tell 'em about it, John!]
? ?Then you know that would make, [Bonds: What?] whoo boy, money get thick again

? ?Now when a man gets through gatherin', you know he's turned his stocks in the field (2)
? ?He said go sell his corn and buy gas, whoo boys, put it in the automobile

? ?Now I been studyin', I been wonderin', what make a man turn the ground in the wintertime?
? ? ?(2)
? ?You know, let the snow and rain rot the grass, whoo boy, that make fertilizer for the ground

? ?Now, the government given us a school in Brownsville, boys, you know I think that's very nice (2)
? ?You know the children can go in the daytime, whoo boy, the old folks have it at night

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 07, 2005, 05:20:27 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2005, 11:42:39 PM »
Now when a man gets through gatherin', you know he's turned his stocks in the field (2)
Could this line possibly be "stock into feed", i.e livestock?

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2005, 09:51:05 AM »
Hi Bunker Hill,
I definitely took the meaning to be livestock--I thought he was saying that once the crop had been harvested, he would put his stock out in the field.  It's true that a field that has been worked and harvested is not going to be much good for grazing, so he may be saying that grazing is not so good after the harvest season so at that point you have to switch your stock to feed.  We raised some steers when I was a kid, and after having them graze all summer we would put them on feed prior to butchering them, so I reckon your interpretation makes more sense.  I will listen again and make the change.  Thanks for vetting these transcriptions. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2005, 09:58:13 AM »
I think 'turned his stocks in the field' makes perfect sense.  It is typical to graze cattle on corn stalk "stubble" after a harvest.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2005, 10:39:29 AM »
Hi all,
After re-listening, it did sound like "turned his stocks in the field"; in particular, it sounds like "in the" rather than "into", so I'm going to let it stand.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2005, 10:44:38 AM »
After re-listening, it did sound like "turned his stocks in the field"; in particular, it sounds like "in the" rather than "into", so I'm going to let it stand.
Can't say fairer than that. My only sources for this song both date back to 1964 - the Estes RBF LP and a French RCA EP - maybe I haven't got the best quality 'source material'. Or maybe too much ear wax! :)
From memory the version he re-recorded for Bob Koester omits this and the first verse. A new verse is added but as I recall the lyric to this is virtually impenetrable save for the opening few words.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #42 on: November 08, 2005, 11:22:37 AM »
Hi Bunker Hill,
Thanks for vetting these transcriptions.?
I do hope you don't think I'm 'vetting'. It's more a case of what I can hear (or think I can hear) in my head not according with what's in print. It's a knee jerk reaction I'm afraid - speak first, listen after. Must get out of this bad habit.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #43 on: November 08, 2005, 03:33:54 PM »
Hi all,
"Milk Cow Blues", from 1930,? is probably one of Sleepy John's most famous numbers (at least as famous as they get).? On it he is joined by Yank Rachell and Jab Jones, and the piece starts with a full mandolin solo.? Yank sounds to have had at least one of the pairs on his mandolin tuned in an octave course on all these old recordings (the D pair?), and on the different cuts featuring him, the tuning of the octave is more or less "wet", as they say in describing accordion tuning.? The "wetter" the tuning (less in tune, to the point of being still bearable), the more cutting the sound.? On "Milk Cow Blues", I would say Yank's tuning was medium-wet, as opposed to "Street Car Blues", where he was scarily wet.? The groove the trio sets up in the opening solo is unbeatable.
"Milk Cow Blues" is unusual in starting with an 8-bar break in the vocal.? Right off the bat, I can't think of any other song that does this; such breaks are usually saved for dramatic impact in the middle of a song.? After the opening stanza, the song goes to a sort of "spawning" archetype in which the line sung over the second and third 4-bar phrases comes out of the second half of the first four-bar phrase.? It is a complex archetype.?
Sleepy John pronounces "husband", "huzzman" in the first verse and "degrees", "the grees" in the final verse.? Any help with the bent bracketed portions of the first line of the third verse would be greatly appreciated.? I've been wondering for about forty years what he was saying there.

? ?Now, asked sweet mama to let me be her kid,
? ?She says I might get buggish, like to keep it hid
? ?Well she looked at me, she begin to smile
? ?Says, "I thought I would use you for my man a while
? ?That's, just don't let my huzzman [sic] catch you there
? ?Now, says, "Just don't let my huzzman catch you there."

? ?Now, went upstairs to pack my leavin' trunk
? ?I never saw no whiskey the blues done made me sloppy drunk
? ?Say, I never saw no whiskey, blues done made me sloppy drunk
? ?Now, I never saw no whiskey but the blues done made me sloppy drunk

? ?Now, some say the beans, some says it was bean
? ?But it's the slow consumption, killin' you by the grees[sic]
? ?Lord, it's a slow consumption, killin' you by the grees
? ?Now, just a slow consumption and it's killin' you by the grees

Modified 11/9, to incorporate clarification from Stuart

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 09, 2005, 09:26:57 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Sleepy John Estes Lyrics
« Reply #44 on: November 08, 2005, 03:47:23 PM »
Hi all,
"Special Agent" was recorded in 1938, with Son Bonds joining Sleepy John.? The rendition has a wonderful lift to its pulse and the guitar-playing is terrific.? Sleepy John is a beat short in the second measure of the third four-bar phrase in the first couple of verses.? This is discussed in more detail in the "Vocal Phrasing":? The Long And The Short of It" thread.

? ?Now, when I left for Ripley, the weather was kinda cool
? ?Now when I left fo' Ripley, the weather was kinda cool
? ?Said boys, y'all be careful, prob'ly you might catch the flu

? ?Now, I swung that manifest, I went down in that freight rail box
? ?Now I hung that manifest, I went down in that freight rail box
? ?Now I couldn't hear the special agent when he come tippin' over the top

? ?Now them special agents up the country, sure is hard on a man
? ?Now them special agents up the country, they sure is hard on a man
? ?Now they will put him off when he hongry, and won't even let him ride no train

? ?Now, I was settin' down in Centralia, and I sure was feelin' bad (2)
? ?Now they wouldn't let me ride fast train, they put me off on a doggone drag

? ?Now special agent, special agent, put me off close to some town
? ?Special agent, special agent, put me off close to some town
? ?Now I got to do some recording and I oughta be recording right now.

Edited 11/30 to pick up corrections from MTJ3

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 30, 2005, 09:49:01 AM by Johnm »

 


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