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Blues are the songs of despair, but gospel songs are the songs of hope - Mahalia Jackson

Author Topic: Fred McMullen Lyrics  (Read 780 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Fred McMullen Lyrics
« on: January 02, 2014, 11:05:09 PM »
Hi all,
Fred McMullen recorded "DeKalb Chain Gang" in 1933, with Curley Weaver backing him.  Fred McMullen was playing slide in Spanish tuning and Curley Weaver accompanied him out of G position in standard tuning.  Fred McMullen was a terrific slide player, one of the best, and was horribly under-recorded, with just a handful of titles.  I first heard this track on the old album "Country Blues Classics, Volume 1" on Chris Strachwitz's Blues Classics label.  McMullen and Weaver's duet sound is beautifully worked out, and Curley works in some tremendous long bass runs.  In the second solo, the duet, in the IV chord, switches from the underlying triple, swung eighth feel the song has been in up to that point to a duple, straight eighth feel, which sounds terrifically syncopated and funky.



SOLO

Eh, liquor and a gun caused me to ache and pain
Eh, liquor and a gun caused me with this achin' pain
And they give me six to twenty years on DeKalb County gang

And I'll tell all you people, that ain't no place to go
And I'll tell all you people, that ain't no place to go
Well, they treat you cruel, dog you from morning to night

SOLO

Well, they beat me and they slashed me, .45 in my side
Well, and they beat me and they slashed me, .45 in my side
I got dry from hot, mama, workin' all day long

Bring the rings, chains from around my leg
Take these rings and chains from around my leg
But I b'lieve, be long, they's gonna kill me dead

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 04:34:48 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 06:15:31 PM »
Hi all,
"Man of My Own" is not really a Fred McMullen cut, it's a Ruth Willis cut, but it features Fred McMullen very prominently in an accompaniment role, joined by his sidekick, Curley Weaver.  The duo's back-up is beautifully worked out, with Fred McMullen playing slide in Spanish tuning in the key of C, and Curley Weaver backing him up out of C position in standard tuning.  I first heard this song on the old Yazoo anthology, "Country Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics", and it's stuck with me all the years since.  Ruth Willis does such a strong job on the vocal.  I'd appreciate correction/corroboration on the bent bracketed phrase in the last verse.  I can't figure out why Fred McMullen wasn't recorded more.




I went down 18th Street, didn't have on no hat
Asking all the women where was my man at
REFRAIN: I'm leavin' you, baby, I'm leavin' you, baby
I'm leavin' you, baby, tryin' to find a man of my own

I'm gonna grab me a train, ride it 'til it stops
Not gonna stay 'round here and be your stumblin' block
REFRAIN: I'm leavin' you, baby, I'm leavin' you, baby
I'm leavin' you, baby, tryin' to find a man of my own

Woke up this mornin', at the break of day
Looked on my pillow where my man used to lay
REFRAIN: So I'm leavin' you, baby, I'm leavin' you, baby
I'm leavin' you, baby, tryin' to find a man of my own

SOLO

My suitcase is packed, trunk's already home
So it won't be long 'fore your mama be gone
REFRAIN: So I'm leavin' you, baby, I'm leavin' you, baby
I'm leavin' you, baby, tryin' to find a man of my own

You caused my heart to weep, you caused it to moan
So watch this mean old train I'm on
REFRAIN: So I'm leavin' you, baby, I'm leavin' you, baby
I'm leavin' you, baby, tryin' to find a man of my own

Edited 1/21 to pick up corrections from Gumbo and banjochris

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 09:17:43 AM by Johnm »

Offline harriet

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 04:23:43 AM »
Sounds like you got it right to me- an awkward phrasing of "why aren't I on the train" or something to that effect.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 07:06:55 AM »
Thanks for the help, Harriet.  I'll leave the lyrics as I have them.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 07:44:20 AM »
While I think I hear a consonant in the "says" part as if Ruth is singing "sets", I can't come up with a meaningful phrase for it.  ::)

I hear "didn't have on no hat" in the opening line.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 08:48:42 AM »
I think it's "So watch this mean old train I'm on."
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 09:16:39 AM »
Thanks very much for the help, Gumbo and Chris.  I will get the "on" in the first verse and the fix in the second line of the last verse.  That last verse, especially, had me stumped forever.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 12:44:36 PM »
I think it's "So watch this mean old train I'm on."
Chris

And now it's SO obvious ....  :D

Offline harriet

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 03:29:52 PM »
What Gumbo said!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2016, 02:55:54 PM »
Hi all,
Fred McMullen chose to play "Wait And Listen" with a slide in Spanish, but in the key of the V chord, so that his tonic chord lives at a seventh fret barre with his slide.  This is one of the most disorienting tunes to suss out via sound that I know of.  In his IV chord, G, he keeps walking into the third of the chord in the bass on the fifth string, as you would do in Vestapol, but unlike in Vestapol, the IV chord's root is the open fifth string--talk about confusing!  Fred McMullen's lyrics don't always make the most (or any) sense, and I think he may have been challenged to sing and play at the same time--understandably so, given his guitar part.  Oh well, here it is:



Well, you can wait and listen, hear me, when I cry, now don't you hear me talkin', pretty mam'
Well, you can wait and listen, hear me when I cry
When you hear me cryin', know that somethin'' all wrong

Ooooo, wait and listen, hear them, when he make, now don't you hear me talkin', pretty mam'
Well, you can wait and listen, get him, when he may
Well, it's true-ooo, baby, something church's tone

Well, he dug her grave with a long-handled silver spade, now don't you hear me talkin', pretty mam'
Well, he dug her grave with a long-handled silver spade
Well, he let her-ooo down with a great long leather line

SOLO (Spoken: Play it)

Well, I followed my baby, to the buryin' ground, now don't you hear me talkin', pretty mam'
Well, I followed my baby, to the buryin' ground
What make it sad-eee, baby, had done let 'er down

Mmmm, smoke like lightnin', church bell shine like gold, now don't you hear me cryin', ooooo
Smoke like lightnin', church bell shine like gold
Well, it was such and I cry, mama, see my baby layin' on the bed

OUTRO

All best,
Johnm

 

Offline Johnm

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Re: Fred McMullen Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2016, 05:34:12 PM »
Hi all,
I've been very happy to discover some more cuts featuring Fred McMullen and Curley Weaver that I wasn't aware of previously.  "Poor Stranger Blues" finds the duo employing the same division of labor that they had used on "DeKalb Chain Gang", with Fred McMullen playing slide in Spanish tuning and Curley Weaver supplying absolutely stellar backing out of G position in standard tuning.  This is simply wonderful duet playing; the way the two respond to each other instrumentally, play with the time and control the duration of their notes all combine for a sound that is sparkling in its finish.  And if that's not enough, they sing great together, with Curley's vocal harmony leaning on the VI note of the scale over both the I and IV chords--it's a great sound.  Is this the first recording of the song that became "I'm A Stranger Here"?  It seems likely.  I'm not at all sure I have the opening line of the second verse right and would appreciate correction/corroboration.  Here is the track:



INTRO

And I'm a stranger here, just passin' through your town
And I'm a stranger here, just passin' through your town
And just because that I'm a stranger, everybody want to throw me down

Even a badmouth sister in a stranger's land
Even a badmouth sister in a stranger's land
And that is reason why they calls me a strangerman

And my Mama told me, Daddy told me, too
And my Mama told me, Daddy told me, too
"And if you foolin' with these strangers, they be callin' you a stranger, too."

And then I'm goin' back home, try to be a man
And I'm goin' back home and try to be a man
And that is reason why that won't be no stranger there

SOLO

You come here, mama, give me your right hand
You come here, mama, give me your right hand
And I'll be dogged and treated like a stranger here

All best,
Johnm
       

 


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