Archive for the 'Blues' Category



Tell Ole Gil


h1 Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

We don’t know exactly what kind of trouble Gil ran into but one might suspect from the first verse it had something to do with those “downtown gals” or perhaps their male “protectors.”

Lyrics:
Capo on second fret
[G] Tell old [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home, this [G] mornin’ [Em] [G] [Em] ,[G] 

Tell ol’ [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home this [Am] evenin’[D] [Am] [D] ,[G] Tell old [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home, [G] 
Leave them [Em] downtown [Am] gals [D] alone,
[G] This mornin’, [Bm] this [Am] evenin’,[D] [G] so soon! [Bm] [Am] [D]

Gil he left by the alley gate, this mornin…
Old sal said, “Now, don’t be late.”…
They brought Gil home in a hurry-up wagon, this mornin’,
They brought…poor dead Gil–his toes were a-draggin’…

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Tell old Gil when he gets home, this mornin’,

Tell ol’ Gil when he gets home,
Leave them downtown gals alone,
This mornin’, this evenin’, so soon!

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Black Mt. Rag / Soldier’s Joy


h1 Thursday, April 1st, 2010

This came out of a Jam session with Roland White and Marty Stuart at Marty’s house in Nashville. Clarence White had taught me how to play this tune in 1968. It took me a long time to get it up to speed!

It’s in the key of C.

Old Plank Road


h1 Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Uncle Dave Macon “The Dixie Dew Drop,” recorded this song on 5-string banjo, with guitar by Sam McGee in New York City on April 14, 1926. Macon was born in 1870, the son of proprietors of the Macon Hotel, a theatrical boarding house, where he learned many songs from hotel guests. By 1888 he had become a professional entertainer and would record over a hundred songs between 1932 – 1938. This is one of the chain gang songs he performed. It’s a wild interpretation with lots of shouting. The chorus “Won’t get drunk no more” echoes his regret for being busted and having a ball and chain, but doesn’t smack of true remorse.
Lyrics:

Roughly in the key of D playing the melody

Rather be in Richmond with all the hail and rain
Than to be in Georgia boys wearin’ that ball and chain

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

I went down to Mobile, but I got on the gravel train
Very next thing they heard of me, had on that ball and chain

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Doney, oh dear Doney, what makes you treat me so
Caused me to wear that ball and chain, now my ankle’s sore

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Knoxville is a pretty place, Memphis is a beauty
Wanta see them pretty girls, hop to Chattanoogie

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

I’m going to build me a scaffold on some mountain high
So I can see my Doney girl as she goes riding by

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

My wife died on Friday night, Saturday she was buried
Sunday was my courtin’ day, Monday I got married

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Eighteen pounds of meat a week, whiskey here to sell
How can a young man stay at home, pretty girls look so well

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out


h1 Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Written in the 1920s before the Great Depression by Jim Cox and made popular by Bessie Smith’s hit record, this song was prophetic of events to transpire in the United States and the world.

Now almost 100 years later – here we are again! I played this in the key of B on my Martin D-12-42RM, 5-string banjo and mandolin. The chord notation is in C.

Lyrics:

(by Jimmie Cox)

[C] Once I lived the [E7] life of a [A7] millionaire,
[d min.] Spending all my [A7] money, I didn’t [d min.] care.
[F] Takeing my [B7] friends [C] for a mighty fine [A7] time,
[D7] Buying bootleg liquor, [G7] champagne and wine.

Then I began to fall so low,
Lost all my good friends, had no place to go.
If I ever get my hands on a dollar again,
I’m gonna hold on to it till that eagle grins.

‘Cause no, no, nobody knows you
When you’re down and out.
In your pocket, not one penny,
And all your good friends, you haven’t any.

If you ever get back on your own two feet again,
Everybody’s going to want to be your old long-lost friend.
It’s mighty strange, without a doubt,
Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

If you ever get back on your own two feet again,
Everybody’s going to want to be your old long-lost friend.
It’s mighty strange, without a doubt,
Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

500 Miles


h1 Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Hedy West (April 6, 1938 – July 3, 2005) was an American folksinger and songwriter. Her song “500 miles,” has been covered by Bobby Bare (a Billboard Top 10 hit in 1963), The Highwaymen, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter & Gordon, The Brothers Four and many others. A great number of Hedy’s songs, including the raw materials for “500 Miles” came from her paternal grandmother Lily West who passed on the songs she had learned as a child.

This has a sweet melody and a sad story of poverty and desolation.

Lyrics:

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

Lord I’m one Lord I’m two Lord I’m three Lord I’m four
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home
Five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home

Not a shirt on my back not a penny to my name
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way
This a-way this a-way this a-way this a-way
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

Going Down The Road Feeling Bad


h1 Tuesday, July 1st, 2008


Artwork By Bob Dylan

Kind of a poignant traveling song. Originally done in 2/4 time, I’ve recorded it in 4/4 with lots of chiming 12-string lead guitar.
Lyrics:

[G] Going down the road feeling bad
[C] Going down the road feeling [G] bad
[C] Going down the road feeling [G] bad
[Em] Lord, [D7] I ain’t gonna be [Am] treated this [G] way

Going where the water tastes like wine
Going where the water tastes like wine
Going where the water tastes like wine
Lord, I ain’t gonna be treated this way

Going where the climate feels fine
Going where the climate feels fine
Going where the climate feels fine
Lord, I ain’t gonna be treated this way

Going where the people treat me right
Going where the people treat me right
Going where the people treat me right
Lord, I ain’t gonna be treated this way

Going down the road feeling bad
Going down the road feeling bad
Going down the road feeling bad
Lord, I ain’t gonna be treated this way

I Know Where I’m Going


h1 Sunday, June 1st, 2008


Song page from the Old Town School of Folk Music circa 1957

The picture above tells the whole story. I learned this song at the Old Town School of Folk Music in the late 50s. If you right click (ctrl click for Apple) and save the image you’ll have a full scan of the page from the book I got at the Old Town School complete with notes and chords. I’m doing it in the key of F# instead of C. It’s a pretty love song for June.
Lyrics:

I know where I’m going
I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
But Dear Lord knows who I’ll marry

I have stockings of silk
Shoes of bright green leather
Combs to buckle my hair
And a ring on every finger

Feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are bonny
But I would leave them all
For my handsome winsome Johnny

Some say he’s bad
And I say he’s bonny
Fairest of them all
Is my handsome winsome Johnny

I know where I’m going
I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
But Dear Lord knows who I’ll marry

Wanderin'


h1 Friday, April 1st, 2005

loire_valley1.jpg

This was originally a post World War I lament of a soldier returning
to hard times in America. I've interpreted it as a tribute to traveling and have
written a few new verses to reflect my love of wanderin'
Lyrics:
[C] My daddy is an engineer, [Em] my brother drives a hack
My [F] sister takes in washing and the [Dm] baby balls the jack
[C] And it looks like I'm [Em] never going to [Am] cease my [Dm] -
[G7] – [C] wandering

I've been out a-wandering both early and late
From New York City to the Golden Gate
And it looks like I'm never going to cease my wandering

Been across this country so many times before,
But I never lose the feeling, that's what God made me for
And it looks like I'm never going to cease my wandering

Been working in the city, working on the farm
I always have a guitar underneath my arm
And it looks like I'm never going to cease my wandering

Played most every country, played most every town
Want to keep on playing, this whole wide world around
And it looks like I'm never going to cease my wandering

There's fish in the ocean, and eels in the sea
And everywhere I haven't been, that's where I want to be
And it looks like I'm never going to cease my wandering

Traditional, New lyrics by Roger McGuinn (C) McGuinn Music 2005 / BMI

Oh Freedom


h1 Wednesday, September 1st, 2004

This is a great old spiritual. I recorded it during a thunder storm in Florida and decided to leave the thunder on the track to give it more ambiance. Freedom is often taken for granted, but is sorely missed when it's gone.
Lyrics:
[G]Oh freedom [D]Oh freedom [G]Oh freedom [D]over me
[G] And before I'll be a [Em] slave, [C] I'll be burried in my [Am] grave
[G] And go home to my [D] Lord and be [G] free

[G]No more moanin' [D]No more moanin'[G]No more moanin' [D]over me
[G] And before I'll be a [Em] slave, [C] I'll be burried in my [Am] grave
[G] And go home to my [D] Lord and be [G] free

[G]No more weepin' [D]No more weepin'[G]No more weepin' [D]over me
[G] And before I'll be a [Em] slave, [C] I'll be burried in my [Am] grave
[G] And go home to my [D] Lord and be [G] free

[G]No more shootin' [D]No more shootin'[G]No more shootin' [D]over me
[G] And before I'll be a [Em] slave, [C] I'll be burried in my [Am] grave
[G] And go home to my [D] Lord and be [G] free

[G]There'll be singin' [D]There'll be singin'[G]There'll be singin' [D]over me
[G] And before I'll be a [Em] slave, [C] I'll be burried in my [Am] grave
[G] And go home to my [D] Lord and be [G] free

[G] And before I'll be a [Em] slave, [C] I'll be burried in my [Am] grave
[G] And go home to my [D] Lord and be [G] free

Salty Dog Blues


h1 Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

poodereck.jpg

This is one of the songs I recorded in 1958 at my house at 57 E. Division Street in Chicago. It's a country blues. I was speaking with a man from a radio station in Belgium who mentioned that his favorite songs from the Folk Den were these historical recordings, so I went into my archive and found one.
Lyrics:
CH:
[G] Oh salty [E7] dog, oh salty [A] dog, well you're [D7] sly as a fox
you salty [G] dog

[G] Well [E] God made a woman, made her might funny
Made the [A] stuff around her lips taste like honey
[D7] Won't you be my salty [G] dog?

CH:
Oh salty dog, oh salty dog, well you're sly as a fox you salty dog

Well I got a nickel you got a dime, you spend yours and I'll save mine
Honey won't you be my salty dog?

CH:
Oh salty dog, oh salty dog, well you're sly as a fox you salty dog

Down by the wild wood sittin' on a log, singin' a song about a salty dog
Honey won't you be my salty dog?

CH:
Oh salty dog, oh salty dog, well you're sly as a fox you salty dog

[Spoken]
You know, one time I took my girl to a real fine restaurant, thought
I'd buy her something real nice – got the most expensive thing on the menu.
Well that turned out to be some kind of tongue with fancy dressing on it. When my girl
saw that man, she really flipped! She said, 'I ain't gonna eat nothing that
comes out of no animal's mouth.' So I called over the waiter. I said
'Waiter, bring her a hard boiled egg.'

CH:
Oh salty dog, oh salty dog, well you're sly as a fox you salty dog

Well I got a nickel you got a dime, you spend yours and I'll save mine
Honey won't you be my salty dog?

CH:
Oh salty dog, oh salty dog, well you're sly as a fox you salty dog