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When they took me to the studio first - that was Joe McCoy and Mayo Williams - they let me wait about for hours because the studio wasn't free. So I said to myself "What the hell's the use of this; I better go home to see to my customers and give them that moonshine" - Kokomo Arnold, in Paul Oliver's Blues Off the Record

Author Topic: Ramblin' Thomas Lyrics  (Read 7184 times)

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Online 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 »

Online 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 »

Online 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

Offline Stuart

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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.

Online Johnm

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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

Offline banjochris

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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

Offline banjochris

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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.

Offline banjochris

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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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