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You're gonna need my help someday - Kokomo Arnold, Milk Cow Blues

Author Topic: George Carter Lyrics  (Read 3420 times)

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Offline Johnm

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George Carter Lyrics
« on: May 10, 2010, 05:12:11 PM »
Hi all,
George Carter was one of the more obscure of the Atlanta-based 12-string guitarists of the late '20s and early '30s.  I don't know if anything is known about him in the biographical sense, and he only recorded four titles.  I first heard his "Rising River Blues" on the old Yazoo "Georgia Blues" anthology, and it can currently be found on the JSP set "A Richer Tradition".  It is one of those magical Country Blues tracks like Lane Hardin's "Hard Times" or Elvie Thomas' "Motherless Chile Blues" that is so beautiful, it just seems like a miracle. George Carter played it out of E position in standard tuning pitched at F.  I'd appreciate any help with the bent bracketed portion of the final verse.



   Rising river blues, runnin' by my door
   Rising river blues, runnin' by my door
   They runnin', sweet mama, like they haven't run before

   I got to move in the alley, I ain't 'lowed on your street
   I got to move in the alley, I ain't 'lowed on the street
   These rising river blues sure have got me beat

   Mmm,mmmm, mmm, mmmm, hmmmm
   Mmm,mmm, mmmm, mmm, hmmm,
   Mmm, mmmmm

   Come here, sweet mama, let me speak my mind
   Come here, sweet mama, let me speak my mind
   To cure these blues gon' take a long, long time

Edited, 5/10, to pick up correction from waxwing

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 11:44:00 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2010, 05:58:09 PM »
Thanks very much for the help, Wax.  I'm sure you're right, and I'll make the change.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 10:36:49 AM »
Hi all,
George Carter accompanied himself out of Spanish tuning with a slide for his version of "Weeping Willow Blues", which can be found on the JSP set, "A Richer Tradition".  He really was a wonderful singer, and his Atlanta 12-string sound suited his voice so well.  I remember Little Brother, who hangs out at the Weenie site on occasion, saying that Cora Mae Bryant, Curley Weaver's daughter, told him that in the title phrase of this song and wherever else the last verse of this song occurs, it refers not to a weeping willow tree, but to a weeping "willah", which was the more common name for a whippoorwill among the rural Black population at the time.  The explanation makes a lot of sense, for it sets up a construction which compares the calls of two different birds as opposed to comparing a tree and a bird call.  This transcription uses the song's title for the lyrics, though.



Mama, it's true that I love you, I'll try to treat you right
Mama, it's true that I love you, and I tries to treat you right
But the rule you've got me in now, aw, it's 'most too tight

When I step out at night, you know I don't mean no wrong
When I step out at night, you know I don't mean no wrong
When I come back in, I been treatin' you wrong

You's tellin' me that you were the doctor, you want me that I go to bed
You's tellin' me that you were the doctor, you want me that I go to bed
You 'clared you catch me stealin', you gon' kill me dead

Mmmm mmm mmmm mm mm
Mmmm mmm mmmm mm mm
Mama, it's true that I love you but you don't act right at all

Make you weep like a willow, moan like a turtle dove
Make you weep like a willow, moan like a turtle dove
Well, life ain't worth living if you ain't with the one you love

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 11:44:46 AM by Johnm »

Offline alyoung

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2014, 03:12:18 AM »
Cora Mae Bryant, Curley Weaver's daughter, told him that in the title phrase of this song and wherever else the last verse of this song occurs, it refers not to a weeping willow tree, but to a weeping "willah", which was the more common name for a whippoorwill among the rural Black population at the time.  The explanation makes a lot of sense, for it sets up a construction which compares the calls of two different birds as opposed to comparing a tree and a bird call. 

Sorry, John, but I'm not at all convinced by this explanation despite its provenance. The common factor between the "willah" and the moaning turtle dove is not the sound but the emotion, which is sorrow. So the weeping willow  and the moaning turtle dove are two metaphors for sorrow. Also reference Blind Boy Fuller for the same sentiments in his song, called unequivocally "Weeping Willow" and with a first line of "That weeping willow and that mourning dove", again obviously expressing metaphors for the sorrow he feels at not being with the girl up that country that he sure do love. 

Offline Johnm

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2014, 08:23:34 AM »
Al, the George Carter title is similarly titled unequivocally "Weeping Willow Blues".  I don't find that of any particular significance, since the record companies named the songs as they saw fit.  In the George Carter song, the devices employed, whatever the meaning, are not metaphors, but similes, and the desire to evoke sorrow is no less meaningfully achieved by saying that the woman will end up weeping and moaning like two birds, both of which are considered to have notably sorrowful cries.
If the verse originated in Black Pop Music, like Classic Blues, it probably would have been written as weeping willow, as in the tree.  That is not to say that the singers of the verse understood it to have that meaning.  Fuller's title verse is a non sequitir in any event, since the tagline of the verse doesn't follow from or respond to the opening line.
All that having been said, it doesn't make sense to have the same phrase expressed one way in the title of the song and a different way in the lyrics.  I will give the title's interpretation precedence in the lyrics and just note the possibility of the singer's having understood the phrase to refer to the whippoorwill's call.  Incidentally, can anyone think of an earlier use of the George Carter title verse than Peg Leg Howell's in "Turtle Dove Blues"?
All best,
Johnm   
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 10:45:50 AM by Johnm »

Offline alyoung

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 06:03:09 AM »
Mmm... well, I remain unconvinced, and we shall have to agree to differ. One small point, however: the expressions may be specifically simile, but they are also broadly metaphor -- simile is a type of metaphor, so a simile is a metaphor, but a metaphor is not necessarily a simile. 

Al Y
who does grammar for a living (and is a firm believer in Occam's razor)

Offline dj

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 07:11:26 AM »
We'll obviously never know what the early blues singers meant by "weeping willow".  While I realize this, I prefer to think of the singers as referencing a bird, rather than a tree.  I may well be over-thinking this, but here's my reasoning:

1) Both the nightjars of the genus antrostomus that occur in the southeastern US (I think there are only 2 - I'm not all that familiar with southern birds, being a northern guy), the whip-poor-will and the chuck-will's-widow, have among their colloquial names "willow" or "willa", a name based on the final tones of their call.   

2) The calls of both, like the calls of the mourning dove, when heard in some situations have been thought of as harbingers of death.  This fits in with the line "Well, life ain't worth living if you ain't with the one you love".

3) The nightjars call at night, doves during the day, which would give the line "Make you weep like a willow, moan like a turtle dove" the added sense of "all night and all day" besides the "weeping and mourning/moaning" sense.

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2015, 02:26:23 PM »
I was wondering if anyone could help me figure out what George Carter was doing as he passes through the V chord on "Ghost Woman" and "Rising River".

Thanks,
Pete

Offline Johnm

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2015, 04:56:26 PM »
Hi Pete,
George Carter does a B6, barring the top four strings at the fourth fret, resolving to an A6, barring the top four strings at the second fret, resolving to E.  It sure sounds pretty and exotic, considering how easy and natural it is to finger.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2015, 05:00:45 PM »
Thanks a lot. The A6 was pretty clear to me, but the G# ringing on top of the passing chord made me think he was using that B7 form slid up two frets like Charlie Jordan uses.

Offline Suzy T

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Ghost Woman Blues lyrics (George Carter)
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2019, 12:23:31 PM »
In preparation for Halloween, I am learning George Carter's Ghost Woman Blues.  So beautiful. Here are the lyrics but there are some I am not sure about.  Weenie hive-mind help would be appreciated!

On my way home, by that lonesome graveyard
On my way home, by that lonesome graveyard
A ghost jumps out and says, "Come on, be my man"  ???

Was no ghost at all, some brown asked for a ride
Was no ghost at all, some brown asked for a home
Says,  “boy come here, and take me to your room"

I ain't no lamp, but my wick is burning low
I ain't no lamp, but my wick is burning low
Trim my wick, ‘fore it will ‘fuse to glow

That ghost woman, sure do keep me thin
That ?  ghost woman, sure do keep me thin
Takes the money I get, on the L and N ???


Mmmmm, mmmmm.   
Man, ????  Keep that ghost woman away from me

« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 11:47:08 AM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2019, 02:48:12 PM »
Hi Suzy:

I listened to the Blues Images Vol. 11 remaster which seems to be somewhat better than the YT one. But the only improvement I could come up with is: "Takes the money I get from the L and N," the L and N being "The Louisville and Nashville Railroad."

I'm afraid I can't be much help with the other places in question, but I'll keep listening.

Offline Johnm

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2019, 03:40:20 PM »
Hi Suzy,
I think the beginning of the verse two opening line is:
   WASN'T no ghost at all, . . .

I think the very last line in the song is:
  CAN'T JOKER steal THIS ghost woman 'way from me

I'm going to have to keep trying on the end of the tagline to the first verse.  It sounds to me like:
   A ghost jumps out, MADE MY LIKE THEY WAS YOUNG
which doesn't make a great deal (or any) sense.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 03:44:35 PM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2019, 04:39:17 PM »
Hi Suzy:

Like John I think I'm hearing Joker and steal in the last line, but it didn't rise to the confidence level needed for me to post it.

There might be something, possibly an "a," buried between Can't and Joker, but I really can't say for certain.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 04:41:03 PM by Stuart »

Offline waxwing

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Re: George Carter Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2019, 09:42:26 PM »
I've been singing this one for quite some time now. It was good to listen to Tefteller's example. Thanks for the heads up on that, Stuart, as there were definitely some spots I had made compromises on using the ols Document version.

In the fourth verse I think he sings: "Takin' WHAT I get from the L&N". I think you can hear a distortion in the mic due to the rush of air in his "W" at the beginning of "what" that makes it sound like an M, but there is really no "oney" after it, just "ut". It is also eliding quickly off the N at the end of "Takin'". So, kinda like,
"Takin'mwhat I get..."

I think the throw away at the end is "LET A JOKER steal this ghost woman 'way from me

I might even say "Warn't" instead of "Wasn't" in verse 2, as in "weren't"?

Phonetically the last line in the first verse to me sounds : "made my like (or light? but not life) say it was young". I sing it "made my life seem it was done" but listening to this better version that's not it.

Wax

"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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