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Author Topic: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics  (Read 7185 times)

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Online Johnm

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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.  Here is "So Lonesome":



   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
   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:43:33 PM by Johnm »

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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.  Here is "Hard To Rule Woman Blues":



   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


   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:44:30 PM by Johnm »

Offline Cleoma

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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.

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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.  Here is "Lock And Key Blues":



   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: July 01, 2020, 12:45:23 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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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

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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

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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 .  Here is "Sawmill Moan":



   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
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:46:24 PM by Johnm »

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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.  Here is "No Baby Blues":



   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 01, 2020, 12:47:20 PM by Johnm »

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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.  Here is "No Job Blues":



   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
   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:48:14 PM by Johnm »

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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.  Here is "Back Gnawing Blues":



   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: July 01, 2020, 12:49:04 PM by Johnm »

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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".  Here is "Jig 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: July 01, 2020, 12:50:00 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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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.

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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.  Here is "Hard Dallas Blues":



   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
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:50:53 PM by Johnm »

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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.  Here is "Ramblin' Man":



   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
   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:51:44 PM by Johnm »

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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.  Here is "Poor Boy Blues":



   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 
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:52:36 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2011, 06:50:00 PM »
Hi all,
For "Good Time Blues", recorded in November of 1928, Ramblin' Thomas returned to the A position sound of "No Baby Blues", recorded at his first session.  "Good Time Blues" re-uses many of the ideas Thomas used on "No Baby Blues", and adds a host of others.  Ramblin' Thomas showed a remarkable propensity for playing spectacularly well in positions in which he recorded only a couple of numbers.  The lyric break he goes into after the third verse is reminiscent of Lemon's lyric break on "Stocking Feet Blues".  Ramblin' Thomas saves his solo for the end here, and it is an especially fine one.  Here is "Good Time Blues":



   I woke up this mornin', I had the blues three different ways
   I woke up this mornin', I had the blues three different ways
   I had one mind to stay here and two to leave this place

   I got one mind to stay here, got two to leave this place
   I got one mind to stay here, got two to leave this place
   If you find me tomorrow, find me the same old way

   She's a little old woman, go nice and clean all the time
   She's a little old woman, go nice and clean all the time
   And the only thing I hate, she ain't no woman of mine

   Lord, I got up this mornin' with a ramblin' mind
   Feelin' fine and thinkin' about the good times I had five years ago
   I'm leavin' town this mornin' and I sure don't want to go

   I'm worried now but I won't be worried long
   Says, I'm worried now but I won't be worried long
   'Cause I got a letter this mornin', my baby was comin' back home

   SOLO

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:53:39 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2011, 10:15:44 AM »
Hi all,
The last song from Ramblin' Thomas's November of 1928 session was "New Way Of Living Blues", for which he returned to lap-style slide in Vestapol.  He does a little bit more time-keeping with his thumb than on his previous Vestapol numbers, but as in "Poor Boy Blues", his accompaniment tracks his vocal very closely.  The "new way of living" alluded to in the song's title appears to be pimping.  His vocal drops off towards the ends of a couple of lines and I'd appreciate help with the bent bracketed words, which I'm not at all sure of.  Here is "New Way Of Lifing Blues":



   SOLO

   I got a new way of livin', everybody can't catch on
   I got a new way of livin', everybody can't catch on
   Don't work, gamble, or steal, and don't collect nothin' from home

   I don't bum and I, sure God, don't beg
   I don't bum and I, sure God, don't beg
   I just keeps my eyes open and works my head

   I never wanted no woman that I could not get
   I never wanted no woman that I could not get
   'Cause I got a new way of livin', it just won't quit

   SOLO

   I got a gang of women and got my eyes on a gang of four
   I got a gang of women and got my eyes on a gang of four
   So when one wants to quit, I can sure let her go

Edited 6/15 to pick up corrections from banjochris

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:54:30 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2011, 11:32:48 AM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas opened his final session, in Dallas on February 9, 1932, with "Ground Hog Blues", played in his favored Vestapol lap-style slide fashion.  In the 2+ years since his last recording session, his tone with a slide had continued to evolve to a point where it was really sumptuous, rich, full and clean--in a class with Tampa Red's tone. 
Ground hogs appear to have been a particular problem in Texas, since so many Texas players did versions of "Ground Hog Blues", among them Willie Reed and Lil' Son Jackson in addition to Ramblin' Thomas, and probably several others.  Here is "Ground Hog Blues":



   Some dirty ground hog been rootin' in my back yard
   Some dirty ground hog been rootin' in my back yard
   And the way he roots, he sure have broke my heart

   He roots ever' mornin', and he roots late at night
   He roots ever' mornin', and he roots late at night
   And the way my baby treats me, he must be rootin' all right

   And if I see him, want to tell you what I'm goin' to do
   And if I see him, I'm gonna tell you what I'm goin' to do
   Gonna take my knife, cut his rooter in half in two

   SOLO

   I knowed he was rootin', but I thought he was rootin' right straight down
   I knowed he was rootin', but I thought he was rootin' right straight down
   But I come to find out he was rootin' all the way around

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:55:27 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2011, 03:34:02 PM »
Hi all,
"Shake It Gal", from Ramblin' Thomas's '32 session, is yet another Vestapol slide tune.  It is a kind of eccentric chorus blues--eccentric in that the chorus goes longer than you think it is going to.  I'm missing a phrase in the final verse, and would appreciate help.  In the next-to-last verse, Ramblin' Thomas rushes in a lot of words towards the tail end of the verse, in a torrent.  Here is "Shake It Gal":



   SOLO

   You can shake it fast, you can shake it slow
   You got to shake it 'fore I go, oh,
   REFRAIN: Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.
   Shake it like I like it, you know what it's all about

   You can shake it out or you can shake it in
   Shake it once you got to shake it again, oh,
   REFRAIN: Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.
   Shake it like I like it, you know what it's all about

   SOLO

   You can shake it in, you can shake it out
   Shake it once you got to shake it twice, oh,
   REFRAIN: Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.
   Shake it like I like it, you know what it's all about

   You can shake it up or you can shake it down
   But Ramblin' Thomas wants you to shake it around, oh,
   REFRAIN: Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.
   Shake it like I like it, you know what it's all about

   SOLO (spoken during solo) Aw, shake it, gal!

   You can shake it slow or you can shake it fast
   You can shake a knee, got to shake your wicked ankle, oh
   REFRAIN: Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.
   Shake it like I like it, you know what it's all about

   You shook my brother into a pit
   Now you can shake me 'til I shet my mouth
   REFRAIN: Shake it, gal, shake it.  Shake it, gal, shake it.
   Shake it like I like it, you know what it's all about

Edited 6/15 to pick up corrections from banjochris and Stuart

All best,
Johnm

   
   
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:56:18 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2011, 07:08:00 PM »
Sounds like he's saying "into a pit" -- also in the 2nd to last verse I think it's "shake your knee" rather than "shake at me." Can you think of any other instance where someone actually sings "ass" in this sense on a prewar 78?
Chris

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2011, 09:45:26 PM »
I agree with Chris, as I'm also hearing, "You shook my brother into a pit."

As you say, the line in question in the second to last verse is hurried and less than clear, but FWIW I'm hearing, "If you shake at me, got to shake a wicked ass..." I wouldn't bet the family jewels on it, but that's what I hear.

All in all, you've done a fine job transcribing Ramblin' Thomas' corpus, John.

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2011, 10:57:00 PM »
Thanks for the help, Chris and Stuart.  "You shook my brother into a pit" is dead on.  In the verse prior to that one, it is sounding to me in the second line now like, "You can shake a knee, got to shake your wicked ass, oh Lord".  As for your question, Chris, I can not recall a song that uses the word "ass" as it is used here, though "can", "daniel", "fanny" and other synonyms show up quite a lot.  Any ideas for the problem places in "New Way Of Living Blues"?
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2011, 11:27:03 PM »
John, I think the missing bits in "New Way of Living" are "beg" and "four," respectively. 99.9% certain on "beg," less so on "four."
Chris

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2011, 11:30:54 PM »
Going back and listening to "Shake it Gal," I don't think he sings "ass." Pretty sure he sings

You can shake a knee, got to shake your wicked ankle, oh,

substituting the lame non-rhyme for what you'd expect, a common enough practice in country blues (and of course that's what he does in the next stanza, too).
Chris

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2011, 11:41:12 PM »
The changes for "New Way Of Living Blues" sound right, Chris, and "ankle" it is for "Shake It Gal".  That is a tremendous catch.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2011, 06:56:22 AM »
Going back and listening to "Shake it Gal," I don't think he sings "ass." Pretty sure he sings

You can shake a knee, got to shake your wicked ankle, oh,

substituting the lame non-rhyme for what you'd expect, a common enough practice in country blues (and of course that's what he does in the next stanza, too).
Chris

I thought that I heard "ankle" as well, but since I was listening to the song on iTunes on my laptop through the laptop speakers, I was hesitant to make the jump to the non-rhyme. The sound quality just isn't good enough to inspire that level of confidence. If I can locate the CD in this pile of crap I call home (the dung beetle has got nothing on me), I'll try to give a listen on the stereo through the earphones later today. My hunch is that you've nailed this one as well.

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #26 on: June 16, 2011, 07:58:37 AM »
Stuart -- I didn't hear "ankle" either until I put headphones on, and then it jumped out. It's weird, though, and we've discussed this before, that sometimes headphones help and other times they make you hear things that aren't there. But they're usually better than the built-in computer speakers, which is how I was listening too.

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #27 on: June 16, 2011, 08:38:03 AM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas had more to say about groundhogs, and so soon delivered "Ground Hog Blues No. 2".  While played in Vestapol like "Ground Hog Blues", "Ground Hog Blues No.2" is a different piece musically, with a different tempo and feel, even more like Tampa Red than any of the other tracks from Ramblin' Thomas' last session.  His playing on this number is spectacular, and the central metaphor becomes ever more tightly stretched.  Here is "Ground Hog Blues No. 2":



   That groundhog come out, but he seed his shadow and went back in
   That groundhog come out, but he seed his shadow and sent back in
   Now I know my baby is gonna give me trouble, six more weeks again

   Some people say a mole do more damage than a groundhog do
   Some people say a mole do more damage than a groundhog do
   But a mole just skim around on top and a groundhog keeps all the way through

   I'm talkin' 'bout that groundhog that sticks his head out the hole and watch for the sunshine
   I'm talkin' 'bout that groundhog that sticks his head out the hole and watch for the sunshine
   And he sees his shadow and jumps back in, and that will change any woman's mind

   SOLO

   I got the doctor to my baby to see was she goin' insane
   I got the doctor to my baby to see was she goin' insane
   And the doctor said the groundhog was undermindin' [sic] her, and you know, that was take effect on her brain

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:57:34 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #28 on: June 16, 2011, 11:51:07 AM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas returned to A position in standard tuning, "No Baby Blues" territory, for "Little Old Mama Blues".  This is bracingly assured playing, really masterful.  Ramblin' Thomas' last session sounds like it was recorded in a stairwell--there is a beautiful natural reverb, which was the only kind available at that point.  The lyrics here are almost all recycled from earlier recordings of his.  He was still such a young man at this session, just thirty years old, and still audibly evolving in his music.  Here is "Little Old Mama Blues":



   SOLO

   I know my baby sure don't know I'm here
   I know my baby sure don't know I'm here
   And if she do, she sure don't feel my care

   If you get you one woman, sure better get you two
   If you get you one woman, you sure better get you two
   Better get you twenty-four so, swear, it won't worry you

   SOLO

   I got a little old mama, long tall mama, too
   I got a little old mama, got a long tall mama, too
   I ain't gonna tell my little old mama what my long tall mama can do

   She may be your baby, but she call me papa, too
   She may be your baby, but she call me papa, too
   And she'll do for me just the same as she do for you

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:58:29 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #29 on: June 16, 2011, 09:32:32 PM »
Hi all,
Ramblin' Thomas recorded "Ramblin' Mind Blues" at his first session, in February of 1928.  He played the song out of G position in standard tuning, like "Lock And Key Blues" and "Sawmill Moan", also recorded at that session.  All three of the songs are exceptional, and he never recorded another number out of G position.  He pronounced the word "hoist" in verse three "heist".  Here is "Ramblin' Mind Blues":



   SOLO

   And I laid down last night, tried to take my rest
   And I laid down last night, tried to take my rest
   And my mind got to ramblin' like the wild geese in the West

   And I'm goin' to west Texas, won't be back 'til Fall
   And I'm goin' to West Texas, and I won't be back until Fall
   If the blues overtakes me I won't be back at all

   Says, I had one woman that would make a passenger train hop the rail
   Says, I had one woman would make a passenger train hop the rail
   But now I got one to make a tomcat hoist their tail

   SOLO

   Then I started to write but I b'lieve I'll go myself
   Then I started to write but I b'lieve I'll go myself
   Says, a letter's too short and a telegram may get left

All best,
Johnm
   

« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 12:59:33 PM by Johnm »

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2020, 01:00:26 PM »
Hi all,
I was able to find performance links for all of Ramblin' Thomas's songs in this thread.  Enjoy!
All best,
John,m

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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2020, 09:54:05 AM »
Hi Johnm,

This is great that you are adding all these YT vids for the many lyric threads.

I think the example of So Lonesome, the first song transcribed, is a really clean version and possibly the original transcription was done with the less clean version I am used to. Listening to this one I think the last line of the 3rd verse is:

Said "stay home, brother, please don't stray away"

I also think you should relisten to the various places you have transcribed "Lord" as only the one at the beginning of the second verse seems like a possibility to me and the others seem more like "man" or "and" or just "aaah".

Wax
« Last Edit: July 02, 2020, 11:13:41 AM by Johnm »
"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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Re: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics
« Reply #32 on: July 02, 2020, 11:18:56 AM »
Thanks for the suggestion, Wax, I will re-listen as you suggest. 

I'm glad you like the idea of adding performance links to the lyric threads.  I've realized for some time that the threads are of considerably less interest and value without the performance links in there.  Just reading the lyrics without being able to hear them sung is a very distant second best to being able to read and hear them sung together in real time.  I'm trying to add performance links to all of the threads I can find them for, not just the multiple page threads of better-known artists.  There is so much more up on youtube than there was when this site started that I've been able to find some really obscure stuff that I'm sure would not have been available on youtube when many of the threads were originally posted.
All best,
Johnm

 


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