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Arrest me for murder and I ain't harmed a man. Arrest me for forgery, I can't even sign my name - Furry Lewis, Judge Boushay Blues

Author Topic: When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?  (Read 1414 times)

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Offline Stumblin

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When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?
« on: September 26, 2010, 04:17:25 PM »
Some lyric transcriptions of this number have read the third line of the first stanza as a few variants of: "Where I can see my man, lordy, if he come easin' by."
Given that Magnolia Blues was either the next or the immediately previous song that Patton recorded (listen now abd you will instantly apprehend my meaning, trust me), and knowing that he was married to Mandy France...
Doesn't it sound like Charlie sang in When your Way gets Dark: "So I can see my Man, lordy, dy come easin' by," or: "So I can see my Mand, lordy, y come easin' by," because I'm hearing both of these as distinctly plausible, and much more understandable than the oft quoted "Where, or sometimes, so I can see my man, lordy, if he come easin' by." He's just playing with the syncopation of her given name, and it has caused at least four decades of earnest debate  :-\
Any takers?

Offline Stumblin

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Re: When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 04:16:22 PM »
Sorry to harp on about this, especially since I'm the kind of saddo who responds to his own, unanswered, post and whatnot, but in the first stanza of Magnolia Blues, I'm absolutely convinced that it's "Mandy," not "man if he," or any of those other variants.
Oh, God, I feel so alone...

Offline uncle bud

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Re: When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 06:22:55 PM »
Don't feel alone, Stumblin'. Stephen Calt and/or Gayle Dean Wardlow are on your side, at least as far as page 147 of their King of the Delta Blues: The Life and Music of Charlie Patton is concerned. They transcribe the line from Magnolia Blues as "Where I can see my Mandy, come a-easin' (by)".

I find the prospect somewhat dubious myself. Patton pretty clearly sings (well, it's Patton) "Where I can see my man, Lord, as he come a-easin' by" in When Your Way Gets Dark, the other take of the song. In Magnolia, I think he just sings "Where I can see my man a-ee come a-easin'"  with the 's' and 'h' both  swallowed in "as he".

One can't know the psychology of such things, but I would find it somewhat surprising that Patton would be singing about a woman he hadn't seen in six years, and had treated like crap when he did (at least according to Calt/Wardlow).

I can't say for certain since I haven't looked for a corresponding line, but if it is "my man" I can't help but wonder if this is another example of Patton lifting a lyric from one of the earlier women blues singers.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2010, 01:31:47 AM »
Don't feel alone, Stumblin'. Stephen Calt and/or Gayle Dean Wardlow are on your side, at least as far as page 147 of their King of the Delta Blues: The Life and Music of Charlie Patton is concerned. They transcribe the line from Magnolia Blues as "Where I can see my Mandy, come a-easin' (by)".

I find the prospect somewhat dubious myself. Patton pretty clearly sings (well, it's Patton) "Where I can see my man, Lord, as he come a-easin' by" in When Your Way Gets Dark, the other take of the song. In Magnolia, I think he just sings "Where I can see my man a-ee come a-easin'"  with the 's' and 'h' both  swallowed in "as he".

One can't know the psychology of such things, but I would find it somewhat surprising that Patton would be singing about a woman he hadn't seen in six years, and had treated like crap when he did (at least according to Calt/Wardlow).

I can't say for certain since I haven't looked for a corresponding line, but if it is "my man" I can't help but wonder if this is another example of Patton lifting a lyric from one of the earlier women blues singers.
Thanks for the citation, I'd lost the page and have been busy lately.
The lyric lifting suggestion certainly makes more sense than Calt & Wardlow's notion that Patton was playing multiple roles within the song, that just sounds unnecessarily contrived; especially for the first stanza, when there had been no obvious "set-up" to tip off his listeners that he was going to sing the parts of multiple characters.
I still think it's "Mandy," with some combination of vocal idiosyncrasy and (possibly) acoustic artefacts from the recording technology & age of the 78 etc, causing some consonants to be obscured/lost. But I'll give it several more listens, bearing the lyric lifting idea in mind. Thanks.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 06:23:04 AM »
Actually I don't find the possibility that there are multiple perspectives in the lyric or the lack of a set-up that hard to believe. It's definitely another possibility.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: When your Way gets Dark; Mandy?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2010, 04:10:04 PM »
Actually I don't find the possibility that there are multiple perspectives in the lyric or the lack of a set-up that hard to believe. It's definitely another possibility.
No disagreement here.
It is entirely conceivable that some medicine or tent show skit traditionally introduced this number, in live stage performance settings, introducing and establishing the characters. We might therefore expect that the original intended target audience for the discs would be aware of the er... Dramatis personae, but we of later generations might be excused for finding it mysterious and fascinating.
Aaaanyhoo...

 


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