collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

* Support Weenie!

Shop on Amazon using these search boxes and Weenie earns a small commission:
USA
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

United Kingdom
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

Canada
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

* Weenie's CD!

The social ramble ain't restful. - Satchel Paige

Author Topic: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics  (Read 5677 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« on: June 01, 2011, 11:55:36 AM »
Hi all,
Willard "Ramblin' Thomas, recorded "So Lonesome" at his first recording session, in Chicago in February of 1928.  He played the song with a slide, lap-style, out of Vestapol tuning.  His phrasing and timing were very free on the number.  He evidently hailed from Logansport, Louisiana, near the Texas border.  His approach to playing slide on this number is probably the closest to King Solomon Hill (Joe Holmes) of any other slide player, with both players showing a real penchant for playing triplets, but they're really not all that close to each other in sound.

   I'm so lonesome, lonesome, I don't know what to do
   I'm so lonesome, lonesome, Lord, I don't know what to do
   If you didn't have  no good woman, you'd be lonesome, too

   Lord, I'm goin' up the country, babe, and I can't carry you
   I said, I'm goin' up the country, babe, and I can't carry you
   'Cause I got one up there, and I can't see how you always do

   I wished I had-a listened to what my baby sister said
   Lord, I wished I had-a listened to what my baby sister said
   She said, "See how I am, brother, please don't stray away."

   SOLO

   Lord, my mama told me when I first left her door
   I said, my mama told me when I first left her door
   Sayin', "Be careful in your travelin', son, you got to reap just what you sow."

All best,
Johnm
   

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2011, 01:45:14 PM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Hard To Rule Woman Blues" at the same session at which he recorded "So Lonesome", and like that song, it was accompanied with a slide, lap-style in Vestapol tuning.  Thomas sounds like he may have been using a flat pick in his right hand, or if not that, certainly a thumb pick.  His playing with the slide, with the exception of an occasional barred IV or V chord, was almost completely melodic, and had no regular sort of time-keeping in the right hand.

   I've got a girl, I wished I could keep her home at night
   I say, I've got a girl, I wished I could keep her home at night
   She's always goin' off on automobile rides

   She sleeps late ever' mornin', I can't hardly get her woke
   She sleeps late ever' morning, I can't hardly get her woke
   She will wake up in one second when she hears her horn blow

   Some of these days, I'm gonna be like Mr. Henry Ford
   Says, some of these days, I'm gonna be like Mr. Henry Ford
   Gonna have a car and a woman, runnin' on ever' road

   SOLO

   If you ain't got a car, man, a woman is hard to rule
   If you ain't got a car, a woman is hard to rule
   That's why I done got them automobile blues

All best,
Johnm


   

Offline Cleoma

  • Member
  • Posts: 275
  • Howdy!
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 08:05:29 PM »
One of the things that is so cool about this song is the way he doesn't really keep the rhythm going with is right hand, but it grooves like crazy!!  There is a wonderful underlying pulse behind the whole thing.
Super song.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2011, 11:21:09 PM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Lock And Key Blues" at his February 1928 session in Chicago, as well. For the song, he accompanied himself out of G position in standard tuning, and his sound working out of that position was all his own.  He combined very straight-up-and-down time with a lot of high concept ideas, counterpoint, lines moving in harmony with each other, etc.  His solo may, I think, be fairly described as really odd.  It  makes you curious as to what he grew up hearing, because his playing here is so different from anyone else, including riffmeisters like Lemon Jefferson and Blind Blake.  I suppose it's another of those Country Blues mysteries that is going to stay a mystery.  I'd appreciate some help with the tag line of the next to last verse, I'm just not hearing it.

   Springtime coming, and the grass all growin' green
   I said, springtime coming, and the grass all growin' green
   Says, my time has come, but the blues don't worry me

   There's so many women, there's so many different kinds
   There's so many women, seems like so many different kinds
   When one quit me, it sure don't worry my mind

   SOLO

   My mama give me a lock and my papa give me the key
   I say, my mama give me a lock and my papa give me the key
   Then I sure know how to lock the blues off o' me

   Got a brownskin woman, make a man leave his home
   I said, a brownskin woman will make a man leave his home
   Then a jet black woman make a gum tree bear pecans

   I got Northern women, I got Southern women too
   I got Northern women, I got southern women too
   I ain't gonna tell these Northern women what them Southern women can do

Edited 6/2 to pick up correction from banjochris

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 07:37:49 AM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 1905
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2011, 12:03:39 AM »
John -- I think I've got the missing line, which is a great one:

Then a jet black woman make a gum tree bear pecans.

The word I'm least sure of is "gum."
Chris

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2011, 07:35:50 AM »
Thanks for the help, Chris.  Boy, that is a wild one.  I wouldn't have gotten that in a million years.  I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2011, 03:10:10 PM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas followed "Lock And Key Blues" with "Sawmill Moan", which he also accompanied out of G position in standard tuning.  Phrases and terms like "intensely personal", "unique" and "one of a kind" tend to be over-used in discussing this music, but in the case of "Sawmill Moan" they all apply.  The unusual approach to playing in G position that Ramblin' Thomas showed in "Lock And Key Blues" is intensified considerably in "Sawmill Moan".  In several places, most notably the first two lines of the first verse, and in the third verse when he is singing, "How can I love you", Ramblin' Thomas does a down-picked unison accompaniment of his vocal melody that has to be heard to be believed.  Just what Thomas is doing in his right hand is hard to say; for most of the song, he sounds as though he is flat-picking, though the next-to-last verse would require some hybrid picking if that were the case.  Perhaps more likely he is using a thumb pick and relying on it for almost all of his picking. 
There is a huge amount of invention in this song, vocally as well as instrumentally.  Based purely on the sound of Thomas's rendition, I would consider "Sawmill Moan" one of the unlikeliest tunes to have been picked up and performed by a present-day player, but in fact in recent years, I have heard expert versions of it turned in by both frankie and Professor Scratchy, so all credit to them for figuring out ways to do a really scary number.  If you're interested in the song, you may find this thread, which discusses learning and playing it and other related matters, an interesting read:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=316.0

   Aaaa, aaa, aaa, aaa, hey, hey
   Aaaa, aaa, hey, hey, hey
   And I had 'em all night and got 'em all again today

   Man, I wished I had my same old good girl back
   I wished I had my same old good girl back
   'Cause that's the only one that I ever did like

   How can I love you?  How can I love you?
   How can I love you, if you stay out both night and day?
   How can I love you, you treat me 'most any way?

   I'm gonna sing this time and I ain't gonna sing no more
   I'm gonna sing this time and I ain't gonna sing no more
   'Cause my girl have called me and I've got to go

   If I don't go crazy, I'm sure gonna lose my mind
   If I don't go crazy, I'm sure gonna lose my mind
   'Cause I can't sleep for dreamin', sure can't stay woke for cryin'

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2011, 10:22:26 PM »
Hi all,
"No Baby Blues" was recorded by Ramblin' Thomas at his February, 1928 sessions in Chicago.  It is the first of his numbers to be accompanied out of A position in standard tuning, and it showcases his amazing mastery of that position and ocean of ideas.  There are enough ideas in this one rendition for five or six solid, standard-issue blues performances.  Ramblin' Thomas might almost be said to "out-Lemon" Lemon on this number.  The amount of attention and thought that went into the guitar on this song, and the excitement that it generates has the effect of making the vocal seem almost like an afterthought.

   Aaa, no more baby, I ain't got no more baby now
   Aaaa, no more baby, I ain't got no more baby now
   Since I looked into it I don't need no baby nohow

   If you want me, woman, try to buy you a pair of overhalls
   I say, if you want me, woman, try to buy you a pair of overhalls
   'Cause when I leave town I'm gonna fly that Cannonball

   If you got you one woman, be sure to get you two
   I say, if you got you one woman, sure to get you two
   Better get you twenty-four, so, I swear, it won't worry you

   SOLO

   Aaaa, I had a girl, she went out sailin' on that sea
   Aaaa, I had a girl, she went out sailin' on that sea
   That poor child got drownded sailin' after me

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 10:16:51 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 09:05:29 AM »
Hi all,
For "No Job Blues", Ramblin' Thomas returned to the lap-style slide accompaniment in Vestapol that he had used earlier on "So Lonesome" and "Hard To Rule Woman Blues".  As Suzy noted earlier, Ramblin' Thomas's ability to maintain a strong pulse in this set-up without stating a pulse in any explicit sort of way in his accompaniment is really compelling.  The "vag" mentioned in the tagline of the second verse is short for vagrancy.  I'm noticing a trend in Ramblin' Thomas songs:  they seldom have many verses because he almost always starts a song with a full solo and takes another solo later in the song on the full form.

   I've been walkin' all day, and all night, too
   I've been walkin all day, and all night, too
   'Cause my meal ticket woman have quit me, and I can't find no work to do

   I's pickin' up the newspaper and I lookin' in the ads
   Says, I's pickin' up the newspaper and I lookin' in the ads
   And the policeman came along and arrested me for vag

   SOLO:  Spoken, during solo:  Now boys, y'all ought to see me in my black and white suit.  It won't do.

   I said, "Judge, Judge, what may be my fine?"
   Lord, I said, "Judge, Judge, what may be my fine?"
   He says, "Get you a pick and shovel and get deep down in mine."

   I'm a poor black prisoner, workin' in the ice and snow
   I'm a poor black prisoner, workin' in the ice and snow
   I got to get me another meal ticket woman, so I won't have to work no more

All best,
Johnm
   

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2011, 10:50:00 PM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas played "Back Gnawing Blues" in lap-style slide out of Vestapol.  His accompaniment approach is much as it was for his other slide pieces in this tuning.  His subject matter here has much in common with Sylvester Weaver's "Can't Be Trusted Blues".  Considering how interesting his music is, Ramblin' Thomas is relatively unperformed by present day blues players.  Perhaps that is a testimonial to how quirky and far from the mainstream his approach was, for his material is not easily copied or reproduced.  I'm not sure I have the words in the bent brackets right and would appreciate corroboration or correction.

   I never loved but three womens in my life
   I never loved but three womens in my life
   My mother and my sister and my partner's wife

   My mama told me when I was about twelve years old
   My mama told me when I was about twelve years old
   "Son, you're nothin' but a back-biter.  May God rest your soul."

   SPOKEN DURING SOLO:  They called me back-biter.  I am a back-biter.  I'll bite any man in the back.

   Gonna tell all of you women something, baby, you might not like
   And I'm gonna tell all of you women something, baby, you might not like
   I want to know if I can bite your man in the back

   You might risk me, brother, but I will never risk you
   Well, you might risk me, brother, but I will never risk you
   If you 'low me a chance, I will gnaw your backbone half in two.

All best,
Johnm
  

  
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 10:33:55 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2011, 08:12:07 AM »
Hi all,
"Jig Head Blues" was recorded at Ramblin' Thomas's second session, in November of 1928 in Chicago.  He played the song in dropped D tuning, operating very much in Lonnie Johnson's style. And while "Jig Head Blues" is clearly working in Lonnie Johnson's musical territory, Thomas introduces many nifty elements and ideas of his own, and his solo, in particular, is spectacular.  It's one of the strongest performances in Lonnie's style I've heard.  You can tell Thomas is playing out of dropped D rather than DGDGBE tuning because he routinely puts the root of the V chord in the bass when he comes to it (which Lonnie did not do when playing in the DGDGBE tuning), and because many of his bass runs utilize the V note on the open A string.  
This is one of Ramblin' Thomas's strongest vocals, too, and he phrases it very freely.  If the tagline to the next-to-last verse was true for him, it may not be all that mysterious as to why he passed away at such a young age.  I wonder if the song's title, which never appears anywhere in the song's lyrics, was an A & R man's mis-hearing of "Jake Head Blues".

   Spoken, over the opening solo:  Hey, hey, bring me one more drink.  Just anything that'll make drunk come.  What difference do it make?

   I stay drunk so much, I can't tell night from day
   I stay drunk so much, I can't tell night from day
   'Cause the woman I love, she treats me any way

   And my grandpa was a whiskey drinker, my grandma drinks the gin,
   My mama drinks wine, papa drinks anything he can
   I'm goin' down in Dirty Thirty and show you how to lick it in

   I likes my whiskey, I likes my swiggin' beer, too
   I likes my whiskey, I likes my swiggin' beer, too
   When I can't get Alco-rub, denatured alcohol will do

   SOLO

   Mmmmmmm, whiskey's killin' me
   Mmmmmm, whiskey's killin' me
   'Cause I've drinken so much, I can't hardly see

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 09:18:55 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6539
  • Hmmmmmmm...
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2011, 07:59:53 PM »
Quote
I'm goin' down in Dirty Thirty and show you how to lick it in

Anyone know what this means? Lots of hits on google but nothing that fits.
The fireman screams, and the engine just gleams

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2011, 10:21:20 AM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Hard Dallas Blues" in November of 1928 in Chicago.  His accompaniment for the song was played out of E position in standard tuning, and it is wonderfully nuanced playing.  The guitar shows  the influence of both Lonnie Johnson and Lemon Jefferson, but as seems to be the norm with Ramblin' Thomas, there are lots of elements introduced that are original, too.  He (Thomas) really was a spectacular and varied player, and a fine singer.

   Before I would stand to see my baby go down
   Before I would stand to see my baby go down
   I would shuck all my clothes and walk the streets in my morning gown

   And before I would stand to see my baby leave this town
   And before I would stand to see my baby leave this town
   I would beat the train to the crossin' and burn that doggone bridge down

   And Dallas is hard, I don't care how you work
   And Dallas is hard, I don't care how you work
   There will be somebody comin' on your payday to collect

   SOLO

   And don't never make Dallas your home
   And don't never make Dallas your home
   When you look for your friends, they will all be gone

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2011, 09:40:49 AM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Ramblin' Man" at his November, 1928 session in Chicago, and for the song, returned to lap-style slide in Vestapol.  The song adopted the same free approach as the Vestapol-accompanied songs he recorded at his first session, but in the intervening months since that initial session, Thomas had developed a richer tone, which is really beautiful.  He riffs very freely between his vocal phrases and makes it work so well.
Lyrically, the song amounts to an explanation of who he is, and how he lives his life, at least in his public persona.  Ramblin' Thomas was unusual in his choice to start many of his verses with the word "then"; it operated for him much as "now" worked for Sleepy John Estes.

   I feel like ramblin', ramblin' stays on my mind
   I feel like ramblin', ramblin' stays on my mind
   And I ain't satisfied unless I'm ramblin' all the time

   Then you will wake up in the mornin' and find me gone
   Then you will wake up in the mornin' and find me gone
   'Cause I'm a ramblin' man and I can't stay at one place long

   That's one day and one night, as long as I stay in one place
   That's one day and one night, as long as I stay in one place
   But I've been in Chicago one week because I like these Chicago ways

   SOLO

   Lord, I'm gonna leave here walkin', chances that I may ride
   Says, I'm gonna leave here walkin', chances that I may ride
   'Cause I'm gonna ramble until the day I die

All best,
Johnm
   

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9629
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2011, 11:55:36 AM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Poor Boy Blues" at the same November of 1928 session as "Ramblin' Man", and like "Ramblin' Man", "Poor Boy Blues" was played lap-style slide in Vestapol.  "Poor Boy Blues" is probably the earliest exposure a lot of folks had to Ramblin' Thomas' music, for Harry Smith included it on his Anthology of American Folk Music.  The song has a distinct Pre-Blues quality, and employs two-line stanzas much like Texas Alexander's "Levee Camp Moan" and "Section Gang Blues", both of which sound as though they had work song origins.  The third and fourth verses are a bit baffling, as are other blues lyrics about being on the sea or water.  Thomas phrases his vocal right on top of the guitar playing the melody, and the match of voice and instrument is terrific.

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   I was down in Lou'siana, doin' as I please
   Now I'm in Texas, I've got to work or leave

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   "If your home in Lou'siana, what you doin' over here"
   Say, "My home ain't in Texas, and I sure don't care."

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   I don't care if the boat don't never land
   'Cause I can stay on water as long as any man

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   SOLO

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boy long ways from home

   And my boat come a-rockin' just like a drunken man
   And my home's on the water and I sure don't like land

   REFRAIN: Poor boy, poor boy, poor boys a long ways from home

All best,
Johnm