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Somebody shoot me while I'm happy - Fats Waller, on a good night

Author Topic: SOTM December 2019, Catfish Blues  (Read 10436 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2007, 11:14:54 AM »
John D. alluded to a version of "Catfish" by Teddy Williams earlier in this thread that appeared on an old Arhoolie anthology, and wondered if anyone knew anything more about Teddy Williams. 
He's not so much as mention in Mitchell's 1971 "Blow My Blues Away" but if you go to http://www.wirz.de/music/revivfrm.htm and look at LP1009 released in 1971 you can see a photo of him on the back sleeve of it!

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2007, 12:14:29 PM »
The same George Mitchell CD set (vol 4) that has the Teddy Williams version also has (on a different CD as far as I can gather), a version of Catfish by Albert Macon And Robert Thomas. All these CDs are on emusic now.

Muddyroads

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2007, 05:34:48 AM »
What surprises me most is the two South Carolina guys having versions of it.

What?  Just becasue we live a state of stunted development you think nobody had a record player? 

Mud

Offline Johnm

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2007, 08:55:38 AM »
Hi Muddyroads,
So you're saying people in South Carolina do have record players?  My apologies, it was an honest mistake.  Actually, the point I was making had nothing to do with South Carolina, per se.  I would have had the same question as to how "Catfish" or any other regional tune wound up hundreds of miles away from its region and how it was carried there.  Records seem like the best bet, but Pink traveled a lot with a medicine show; maybe he heard it played in Mississippi or some Mississippi player made his way up the East Coast and Pink or Baby Tate heard him.  Since both Pink and Baby Tate are dead, it doesn't seem like there is any way of finding out where they got "Catfish".
All best,
Johnm 

Muddyroads

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2007, 07:24:28 AM »
I think we think that folks were not as mobile as they were.  Granted, travel was not as easy as today.  I remember summer nights riding all night while my father drove through the mountains to visit relatives.  You traveled at night because it was cooler.  The same trip today takes less than six hours or about 1/2 the time.  But the urge to travel especially when one is young, is hard to deny, so they did.  Some times out of wanderlust and some times out of necessity.

You are right about all of the old timers being dead.  There are one or two white guys who sat at their knee when they were young, but they too have now seen most of their days. 

Catfish is an iconic blues.  Maxwell Street Jimmy had my favorite version of that piece.  It remains a personal favorite.  And I have never been to Chicago!



Muddy
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 06:21:11 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2007, 10:07:09 PM »
Hi all,
I just found another version of "Catfish" that has no catfish in it.  That is to say, musically, it is "Catfish", but it doesn't include the catfish verse, much like Tommy McClennan's "Deep Blue Sea Blues".  It is from "R. L. Burnside's First Recordings", and it is called "Come On In" there.  It's a really nice version but feels a little truncated.  Lyrically, and in terms of the guitar licks, it also bears a pretty close relationship to the versions of the song by Pink Anderson ("Baby I'm going Away") and Baby Tate ("Baby I'm Going").




All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 06:16:58 AM by Johnm »

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2007, 01:10:42 PM »
Good thread and good song!

I don't understand the first post, though, about Robert Petway being unintelligible.  I always understood every word of "Catfish" from the time I first heard it, and that was when I hadn't been listening to blues for very long. 
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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tommersl

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2007, 02:42:07 PM »
I think the secret of the charm of this recording is that nobody covered it the way they did it, it was McClennan's licks that many copied. McClennan's version sounds more modern and this one with the bass line sounds and the electrifying chords and Petway's voice sounds more old rural. I mean it sounds more drum and bass than most other songs of the era.

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2007, 03:56:56 PM »
Did anyone mention James "Son" Thomas' version? On his Beefsteak Blues CD, recorded live. It's quite different musically and lyrically from other versions. And very cool. Even the hallmark verse:

I done fished, fished in the ocean. I done fished in the deep blue sea.
But I can't catch no fishes so don't mention no fishes to me.

« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 06:22:37 AM by Johnm »

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2007, 07:53:26 PM »
Yes, and all the dirty lyrics are wonderful too!  I've entertained folks many times with the verses I learned off that album!
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2007, 12:48:36 PM »
Just found this thread.  Wish I'd been around when it started, as Catfish is just about my favorite CB tune.

One version I'm surprised no one mentioned is Bobo Thomas's, on the flip side of Elmore James's first (Trumpet) recording of "Dust My Broom" (1951).  Don't know how much of a hit that was, but I guess it was something, so you'd have Catfish swept along on Broom's coattails, so to speak.



B.B. King recorded it, near as I can tell, about 1961.  Bobo Thomas sang six verses; King sings the same six, in the same order, but between the fifth and sixth he sticks in the standard "I'm going and your crying won't make me stay" verse that Tommy McClennan sang as the first verse.  Writing credit to King/Josea -- am I wrong to find that annoying?

I do find it interesting that both McClennan and Petway sang the title verse second, though with different first verses (but both about leaving).  And with different titles from that verse.

I like to consider that Muddy Waters did his version of Catfish in three parts: "Rolling Stone," "Still a Fool," and "She's All Right."  These three songs link together quite nicely -- all, of course, with the Catfish music.  I don't know if Muddy ever performed them that way, but I do know that when Jimi Hendrix did Catfish, he took one verse out of "Still a Fool."

Max Haymes in the linked essay puts forward Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues as the first appearance on record of the Catfish line.  Well, it also appears in "State Street Men Blues" by Leola Wilson, recorded in 1926, as "I'd rather be a catfish swimming in the deep blue sea."  I think Skip James is the only other singer I've heard who would "rather be" a catfish, as opposed to wishing he was, or just supposing he was.  Bobo Thomas merely feels like a catfish.

Skippy's also the only one I know of to use the Catfish verse as a chorus.  And when he sings "I don't want to be no tadpole, and I don't want to be no bullfrog; and if I can't be-be a catfish, I won't swim at all," is that connected at all to Tommy McClennan changing the catfish to a bullfrog?  And is the double-be a reference to King?  And did James record this before 1968?  Oh, so many questions, so little time!

YouTube has a few good clips of various people doing this. T-Model Ford does a version that, through the crappy audio, sounds based on the Petway rather than the McClennan.  And nowadays a lot of versions are based on the Hendrix.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 06:23:47 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2007, 02:43:14 PM »
Hi Bricktown Bob,
Thanks very much for the information on the additional versions of "Catfish".  My listening to post-War amplified blues has been pretty spotty, so I am always happy to learn of music from that period that ties back into the older stuff.  I agree, though, what a song!  I don't know that I have ever heard a version I didn't like, and that's saying something.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Rivers

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2007, 04:44:07 PM »
In my version I acknowledge I am, in fact, a catfish.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2007, 01:24:56 AM »
Hi Bricktown Bob,
Thanks very much for the information on the additional versions of "Catfish". 
I'll second that, most useful and brought to mind a feature that Bob Groom started in his Blues World magazine. It was titled "Story Of A Blues" and commenced in issue 42 (Autumn 1972) with the explanation "The idea of this feature is to list the different rec ordings of a particular theme and so trace its history on record." It proved to be very popular with much reader participation, but of course limited to what was then available on LP or 78 collections.

Would it be out of place of me to suggest something similar here perhaps kicked off with Bob's Catfish/Deep Blue Sea etc post?

Offline Slack

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Re: Catfish
« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2008, 09:11:12 PM »
Weeeeeelllll, you gotta love diggin' these old threads out.

Add  Cecil Barfield's version -- whcih is reason enough to download his CD's i think.

http://www.amazon.com/George-Mitchell-Collection-Vol-Disc/dp/B0011YX47K/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1204948807&sr=1-7

Love this description:
---
COMPLETELY AMAZING mush-mouthed blues... various comments from the store whilst playing this single: "Is he singing backwards?" "Sounds like he's singing with a mouth full of mashed potatoes!" and "What the hell is that?" Cecil does his thing over a trancey acoustic guitar that could be from Nambia as well as Albany, Georgia, in 1976 when this was recorded. Safe to say, Saturday Night Fever, disco, and polyester get-ups were not the rage in Cecil's neck of the woods.

First of a series of singles culled from George Mitchell's recordings of rural blues, and all are great so far, but this one will have you jonesing for more. Meet your new hero- CECIL BARFIELD!

 :P






 


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