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Author Topic: Tarter & Gay Lyrics  (Read 613 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Tarter & Gay Lyrics
« on: January 04, 2014, 10:45:20 PM »
Hi all,
Stephen Tarter and Harry Gay had only two titles issued but they had one of the most beautiful duet sounds ever recorded in the Country Blues.  Blues researcher Kip Lornell uncovered information on them by speaking to Lesley Riddle, who knew them both and played with them and heard them play around Kingsport, Tennessee. Riddle thought they both may have come from Gates City or Big Stone Gap, just across the border, in Virginia.  Tarter, who is reputed to have been a spectacular multi-instrumentalist, played lead and sang lead on their two numbers and Gay played very expert back-up.
On "Unknown Blues", Tarter plays out of C position in standard tuning, while Gay backs him out of F position in standard tuning.  Their playing is notable for its relaxed grooving, wealth of ideas and sparkling sound.  They really were a great duo.  The rendition leaves a great deal of space for guitar solos, not surprisingly.

SOLO

Some blues are something terrible, they do keep you full of pain
Some blues are something terrible, they do keep you full of pain
The blues that keeps you worried, they're the blues that you can't explain

SOLO

The blues fall on me this morning, pour like the drops of rain
Blues fell on me this morning, poured like the drops of rain
They give me such a feeling, I wanted to catch a passenger train

SOLO

Change in the ocean, change in the deep blue sea
Change in the ocean, change in the deep blue sea
Change in my brown but there h'ain't no change in me

SOLO

Now, blues, won't you give my poor heart ease?
It's blues, give my poor heart ease
Give me a few more minutes and I'll try to explain to you, please

SOLO X 2

All best,
Johnm



   
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 10:58:39 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Tarter & Gay Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2014, 02:51:23 PM »
Hi all,
The other song Tarter & Gay had released in 1928 was "Brownie Blues".  For that song, which is pitched identically to their recording of "Unknown Blues", at F, Stephen Tarter played out of E position in standard tuning, capoed or tuned to sound at F, and Harry Gay played his second guitar part out of F position in standard tuning.  This duo guitar set-up with one guitar playing in F position and the other capoed up one fret and playing in E position is not as rare as you might imagine; the Pruitt twins utilized the very same arrangement in their accompaniment for Lottie Kimbrough's "Red River Blues", and Long Cleve Reed and Papa Harvey Hull may have used it for one of their tunes.  The primary gain in the set-up is having the seconding guitar playing out of F position, for F is much the best position in standard tuning for playing bass runs--they sit beautifully for the left hand, and your lowest root is nice and low, at the first fret of the sixth string.  Tarter & Gay once again, on "Brownie Blues" accord equal or more than equal space for guitar solos relative to the vocal.  The song sounds to be very much a set piece, for the duo plays substantially the same pass for every solo. 
The subject matter of the lyrics is quite common in blues recorded in the 1920s and relatively rare after that.  Almost every song Jim Jackson recorded had similar references.  By the time Son House recorded "Was I Right or Wrong" for the Library of Congress in the early 1940s, such lyrics seemed of a bygone era.

SOLO

Now it's, run here, brownie, set down on my knee
Now it's, run here, brownie, set down on my knee
Just pray to the world, babe, how you mistreatin' me

SOLO

Want no jet-black woman, burn no bread for me
Want no jet-black woman, burn no bread for me
Jet-black is evil and she sure might poison me

SOLO

Jet-black is evil, so is yella too
Jet-black is evil, so is yella too
I'm so glad I'm brown-skinned, don't know what to do

SOLO

My Mama's dead, oh, so is my Papa too
My Mama's dead, oh, so is my Papa too
I'm so glad I'm brown-skinned, don't know what to do

SOLO X 2

All best,
Johnm