Archive for the 'Blues' Category



St. James Infirmary


h1 Wednesday, February 5th, 2003

One of the great blues from New Orleans, originally 'Gambler's Blues.'
Lyrics:
[Em] I went down to [Am] St. James [Em] Infirmary.
[Em] I saw my [C] baby [B7] there.
[Em] Lying on a [Am] long white table,
[C] So sweet, [B7] so cold, [Em] so fair.

I went up to see the doctor.
'She's very low,' he said.
I went back to see my baby
And great god she was lying there dead.

I went down to Old Joe's Bar-room.
Down on the corner by the square.
They were serving drinks as usual.
And the usual crowd was there.

On my left stood Joe MacKennedy.
His eyes were blood-shot red.
He turned to the crowd around him
And these are the words that he said.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her.
Wherever she may be.
She may search this wide world over
But she'll never find another man like me.

When I die please bury me
In a high top stetson hat.
Put a gold piece on my watch chain.
So the boys will know I died standing pat.

Get six gamblers to carry my coffin.
Six chorus girls to sing my song.
Put a jazz band on my tailgate
To raise hell as we roll along.

This is the end of my story.
So let's have another round of booze.
And if any one should ask you just tell them
I've got the St. James Infirmary Blues.

Rock Island Line


h1 Monday, April 1st, 2002

Lead_Belly.jpg

The Rock Island Line

One of the great songs performed by Lead Belly and interpreted by numerous

artists, over the years, such as the Weavers. Many interpreters have added

their own humorous words, but these are the original lyrics created and sung by Lead Belly.

Lyrics:
The Rock Island Line

(Huddie Ledbetter 'Lead Belly')

Chorus:

[G] Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line

Oh the Rock Island Line is the [D] road to ride

[G] Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line

If you [C] want to ride, you gotta [G] ride it like you're flyin'

Get your [C] ticket at the station on the [D] Rock Island [G] Line

[G] A-B-C double X-Y-Z

[D] Cat's in the cupboard and she cain't [G] find me

CH

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong

Lawd you gonna miss me when I'm gone

CH

Jesus died to save our sins

Glory to God I'm gonna see Him again

CH

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore

Smotin' the water with a two-by-four

CH X2

______________________________________________________________________________

Recording copyright 2002 Roger McGuinn / McGuinn Music

Bring Me a Little Water, Sylvie


h1 Wednesday, August 1st, 2001

While traveling on the Judy Collins Wildflowers Festival Tour, I had a few days off and decided to spend it in Bucks County PA with friends, John and Mary Ann Davis. It was there that I recorded Lead Belly's 'Bring Me Little Water Sylvie.' John accompainied me on bass and the old blues singer Rusty James (AKA Leon Redbone) stopped by to add a low vocal soul.
Lyrics:
D
Bring me little water Sylvie
A
Bring me little water now
D G
Bring me little water Sylvie
A D
Every little once in a while

Don't you hear me calling Sylvie?

Don't you hear me calling now?

Don't you hear me calling Sylvie?

Every little once in a while

Getting' mighty thirsty Sylvie

Getting' mighty thirsty now

Getting' mighty thirsty Sylvie

Every little once in a while

Bring me little water Sylvie

Bring me little water now

Bring me little water Sylvie

Every little once in a while

Can't you hear me Sylvie?

Can't you hear me now?

Can't you hear me Sylvie?

Every little once in a while

Getting' hot and thirsty Sylvie

Getting' hot and thirsty now

Getting' hot and thirsty Sylvie

Every little once in a while

Bring me little water Sylvie

Bring me little water now

Bring me little water Sylvie

Every little once in a while

Bring me little water Sylvie

Bring me little water now

Bring me little water Sylvie

Every little once in a while

Bring me little water Sylvie

Bring me little water now

Bring me little water Sylvie

Every little once in a while

Can't you hear me calling Sylvie?

Can't you hear me calling now?

Can't you hear me calling Sylvie?

Every little once in a while

House of the Rising Sun, The


h1 Tuesday, May 1st, 2001

Camilla and I are on a world tour. We stopped in France to do an interview with our friend, the famous screenwriter Jean-Marc Vasseur. While at his lovely home in Boissy Les Perche, we recorded this version of one of his favorite traditional songs, 'House of the Rising Sun.'
Lyrics:
Em G Am C

There is a house in New Orleans

Em D B7

They call the Rising Sun

Em G Am C

It's been the ruin of many poor boy

Em B7 Em

And me oh Lord am one

My mother is a tailor

She sews them new blue jeans

My father is a gambling man

Down in New Orleans

The only time I seen him

With his suitcase and his trunk

The only time he's satisfied

Is when he's on a drunk

Go tell my baby sister

Not to do what I have done

But to shun that house in New Orleans

They call the Rising Sun

There is a house in New Orleans

They call the Rising Sun

It's been the ruin of many poor boy

And me oh Lord am one

Makes A Long Time Man Feel Bad


h1 Wednesday, November 1st, 2000

When I worked for Bobby Darin in 1962, he and I used to do this song. I would play my 12-string guitar doing this rather fast lick and Bobby always wanted it a little faster. Twin spotlights lit the center of the stage. Bobby was on the mic to my left. We performed this as a folk duo with me singing the high harmony.
Lyrics:
Dm C Dm

Makes a long time man feel bad

Dm C Dm

Makes a long time man feel bad

Dm C G F

Can't get no letters, can't even roam

Dm C Dm

Makes a long time man feel bad

Alberta let your hair grow long

Alberta let your hair grow long

Let it grow on down till it reaches the ground

Alberta let your hair grow long

I'd walk five hundred miles

I'd walk five hundred miles

I'd walk five hundred miles good Lord

If they'd let me go on home

Well sure my mama must be gone

Well sure my mama must be gone

Well sure my mama must be gone good Lord

Makes a long time man feel bad

Makes a long time man feel bad good Lord

Makes a long time man feel bad

2000 McGuinn Music / Roger McGuinn

Dink's Song


h1 Wednesday, March 1st, 2000

Dinks1.jpg

John A. Lomax made his memorable recording. Lomax tells the tale in his remarkable book, Adventures Of A Ballad Hunter, published by MacMillan in 1947:

'A few miles away from College Station (ie the Texas A&M College, where Lomax first began collecting folk songs) runs the Brazos River. The broad bottom lands of that river were covered with large cotton plantations. There, one day in 1908, behind lowered curtains in the home of a bachelor overseer I first saw jazz danced between the sexes. Even this rough man was unwilling to allow the public to know that he permitted young Negroes to dance in the postures now accepted as a matter of course in barrel-houses and honkytonks in cities of the South. I discovered at this time the Ballet Of The Boll Weevil, Dink's Fare You Well, Oh Honey and many 'blues'. Carl Sandburg, whom I place first among all present amateur folk singers, uses regularly the first two songs on his programmes. He says that Dink's song reminds him of Sappho.

I found Dink washing her man's clothes outside their tent on the bank of the Brazos River in Texas. Many other similar tents stood around. The black men and women they sheltered belonged to a levee-building outfit from the Mississippi River Delta, the women having been shipped from Memphis along with the mules and the iron scrapers, while the men, all skilful levee-builders, came from Vicksburg. A white foreman volunteered: 'Without women of their own, these levee Negroes would have been all over the bottoms every night hunting for women. That would mean trouble, serious trouble. Negroes can't work when sliced up with razors.'

The two groups of men and women had never seen each other until they met on the river bank in Texas where the white levee contractor gave them the opportunity presented to Adam and Eve – they were left alone to mate after looking each other over. While her man built the levee, each woman kept his tent, toted the water, cut the firewood, cooked, washed his clothes and warmed his bed. Down on the dumps nearer the river, clouds of drifting dust swirled from the feet of moving mules and from piles of shifted earth, while the shouts of the muleskinners sometimes grouped themselves into long-drawn-out couplets with a semi-tune – levee camp hollers:

I looked all over the corral,
Lawd, I couldn't find a mule with his shoulder well.

Lawd, they won't 'low me to beat 'em,
Got to beg 'em along.

But Dink, reputedly the best singer in the camp, would give me no songs. 'Today ain't my singin' day,' she would reply to my urging. Finally, a bottle of gin, bought at a nearby plantation commissary, loosed her muse. The bottle of liquor soon disappeared. She sang, as she scrubbed her man's dirty clothes, the pathetic story of a woman deserted by her lover when she needs him most – a very old story. Dink ended the refrain with a subdued cry of despair and longing – the sobbing of a woman deserted by her man.

Lyrics:
E A E
If I had wings like Norah's dove
C#m A
I'd fly up the river to the one I love
E A E B7 E
Fare thee well, oh my honey, fare thee well

I've got a man, he's long and tall
Moves his body like a cannon ball
Fare thee well, oh my honey, fare thee well

One of these days and it won't be long
Call my name and I'll be gone
Fare thee well, oh my honey, fare thee well

I remember one night, a drizzling rain
Round my heart I felt a pain
Fare thee well, oh my honey, fare thee well

If I had listened to what my mama said
I'd be at home in my mama's bed
Fare thee well, oh my honey, fare thee well

(c) 2000 McGuinn Music / Roger McGuinn

Ain' No Mo' Cane On De Brasis


h1 Monday, November 1st, 1999

cane.jpg

This is a Southern chain gang song
Lyrics:
G D Em
It ain' no mo' cane on de Brazis
Am D Bm
Oh… Oh Oh
C Am G Em
Done groun' it all in molazzis,
Am D G
Oh… Oh Oh

B'lieve I'll do like ol' Riley,
Ol' Riley walked de Brazis.

One o' dese mornin's an' it won' be long,
You gonna call me an'I'll be gone.

Oughta come on de river in nineteen-O-fo',
You could fin' a dead man on every turn row.

Oughta come on de river in nineteen an' ten,
Dey was drivin' de women jes' like de men.

I looked at my Ol' Hannah' an'she's turnin'red,
I looked at my podner an' he's almos'dead.

Well, I wonder what's de matter, somepin' mus' be wrong
We're stil I here rollin, Shorty George done gone.

Go down, Ol' Hannah, doncha rise no mo',
Ef you rise any mo' bring judgment day.

It ain' no mo' cane on de Brazis
Done groun' it all in molazzis,

(c) 1999 McGuinn Music / Roger McGuinn

Trouble In Mind


h1 Sunday, August 1st, 1999

Trouble_In_Mind.jpg

This is a traditional blues that I learned in Chicago in the late 1950s.

The arrangement is reminiscent of 1920s New Orleans, Bourbon Street style.

Lyrics:
E E7
Trouble in mind, I'm blue
A F#7
But I won't be blue always,
E C#7
You know the sun's gonna shine
F#7 B7 E
And brighten my backdoor some day.

I'm all alone at midnight
And my lamp is burnin' low
I Ain't never had so much
Trouble in my mind before.

Trouble in mind, it's true
I have almost lost my mind,
When I get a little up front,
I always end up behind.

I'm Goin' down to the river
I'm gonna take my rockin' chair
And if the blues don't leave me
I'm gonna rock away from there.

Oh You, you've been a mean and evil woman
Yeah you, you sure did treat me unkind
Well, I'm gonna be your hard hearted daddy
I'm gonna' make you lose your mind.

Yeah I got trouble, trouble, oh trouble
I got trouble on my weary mind,
When you see me laughin'
I'm laughin' just to keep from cryin'.

Trouble in mind, I'm blue
But I won't be blue always,
Cause you know the sun's gonna shine
And brighten my backdoor
I said the sun's gonna shine
And brighten my backdoor
I said the sun's gonna shine
And brighten my backdoor someday

� 1999 McGuinn Music / Roger McGuinn

Alabama Bound


h1 Saturday, May 1st, 1999

4004.jpg

The Lomaxes called this song a traditional levee-camp song (Lomax 1940). Collectors working for the Library of Congress recorded versions all over the South, including one by pianist Jelly Roll Morton (1885-1941). 'Ragtime' Henry Thomas (1874- ?), another blues singer working the area around Texas at the same time as Lead Belly, recorded a very similar version entitled 'Don't You Leave Me Here.'

I've recorded this on the 12-string in 'drop D' tuning, that is with the low E string tuned down to D.

Lyrics:
[A] I'm Alabama bound
I'm [D] Alabama bound
And if the [A] train don't stop and turn around
I'm Alabama bound

Oh, don't you leave me here (2x)
But if you mus go anyhow
Just leave a dime for beer.
Oh don't you be like me (2x)
Drink your good sweet cherry wine
And let that whiskey be.
Oh well the bread is gone
Oh well the gravy's gone
And they're still standin' in that line
With their long clothes on

900 Miles


h1 Monday, February 1st, 1999

900.gif

This is a song that I used to hear around the folk circles of Chicago. It has been recorded by numerous artists, including Woody Guthrie.

I'm using my new Martin D12-42RM signature model 12-string.

Lyrics:
Em

Well I'm walkin' down the track, I got tears in my eyes

Tryin' to read a letter from my home

cho: If that train runs me right, I'll be home tomorrow night

G D Em

'Cause it's nine hundred miles where I'm goin'.

G D Em

And I hate to hear that lonesome whistle blow

G D Em

'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

Well the train I ride on is a hundred coaches long

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

I will pawn you my watch, I will pawn you my chain

Pawn you my gold diamond ring.

Well if you say so, I will railroad no more

Sidetrack my train and come home.