Archive for the 'Blues' Category



John Henry


h1 Saturday, August 1st, 1998

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The legend of John Henry dates back to the early 1870s during the building of the Big Bend Tunnel through the West Virginia mountains by C & O Railroad workers. To carve this tunnel, then the longest in the United States, men worked in pairs to drill holes for dynamite. One man used a large hammer to pound a huge drill, while another man screwed it into the rock.

John Henry was renowned for his strength and skill in driving the steel drills into the solid rock. One day the captain brought a newly invented steam drill to the tunnel to test. Which was stronger, man or machine? John Henry, the strongest steel driver of them all, beat the steam drill, but according to the song, the effort killed him.

Lyrics:
A
When John Henry was a little baby,
E7
Just a sittin' on his mammy's knee,
A7 D7
Said the Big Bend Tunnel on that C & O Road
A
Gonna be the death of me, Lord God
E7 A
Going to be the death of me.'

Well John Henry said to the captain,
I'm gonna take a little trip downtown
Get me a thirty pound hammer with that nine foot handle
I'll beat your steam drill down, Lord God
I'll beat your steam drill down

Well John Henry hammered on that mountain
Till his hammer was striking fire
And the very last words that I heard that boy say was
Cool drink of water 'for I die, Lord God
Cool drink of water 'for I die

Well they carried him down to the graveyard
And they buried him in the sand
And every locomotive came a roarin' on by
They cried out, 'There lies a steel drivin' man, Lord God
There lies a steel drivin' man.

Well there's some say he came from Texas
There's some say he came from Maine
Well I don't give a damn where that poor boy was from
You know that, he was a steel drivin' man, Lord God
John Henry was a steel drivin' man

Well when John Henry was a little baby,
Just a sitting on his mammy's knee,
Said the Big Bend Tunnel on that C & O Road
Gonna be the death of me, Lord God
Gonna to be the death of me.'

� 1998 McGuinn Music – Roger McGuinn

Pushboat


h1 Wednesday, July 1st, 1998

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This Mississippi River song speaks of the hard life
spent by the boatmen who piloted pushboats. These narrow craft traveled
downstream, being steered by a long pole, pushed against the bank. This
was a very labor intensive occupation. There were long hours of slow
going, and songs like this made the time seem to pass a little more
quickly.
Lyrics:
G
Working on a push boat
G
From Cattletsburg to Pike,
Am C
I’m working on a push boat,
Em C
For Old Man Jeffery’s Ike. X2

Working on a push boat
For fifty cents a day;
Buy a dress for Cynthie Jane,
And throw the rest away. X2

Working on a push boat,
Water’s mighty slack;
Taking sorghum ‘lasses down
And bringing sugar back. X2

Going down Big Sandy
With Pete and Lazy Sam;
When I get to Cattletsburg,
I’ll buy myself a dram. X2

I wish I had a nickel,
I wish I had a dime;
I’d spend it all on Cynthie Jane
And dress her mighty fine. X2

The weather’s mighty hot, boys,
Blisters on my feet;
Working on a push boat
To buy my bread and meat. X2

Working on a push boat,
Working in the rain;
When I get to Cattletsburg,
Hello, Cynthie Jane! X2

� McGuinn Music 1998 Roger McGuinn

James Alley Blues, The


h1 Monday, June 1st, 1998

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The James Alley Blues is song number 61 in the Harry
Smith Anthology. It was originally recorded by Richard (Rabbit) Brown
in New Orleans, LA, on March 5, 1927. Brown was one of the first
musicians to learn the twelve bar blues pattern, and was one of the most
important New Orleans folk singers to record. He was famous for his
dramatic guitar playing, which was similar in style to that of blues
man, Willie Johnson.

I have tuned to the key of the original recording which is somewhere
between C and C#, and have emulated the tempo, and blues licks Brown
played.

Lyrics:
D
The times ain�t now nothin� like they used to be
G D
The times ain�t now nothin� like they used to be
A7 D
I�ll tell you the truth; won�t you take my word from me?

I�ve seen better days, but I ain�t puttin� up with these
I�ve seen better days, but I ain�t puttin� up with these
I had lot better times with the women down in New Orleans

Cause I was born in the country she thinks I�m easy to lose
Cause I was born in the country she thinks I�m easy to lose
She wants to hitch me to a wagon and drive me like a mule

I bought her a gold ring and I paid the rent
I bought her a gold ring and I paid the rent
She wants me to wash her clothes, but I got good common sense

If you don�t want me then why don�t you just tell me so?
If you don�t want me then why don�t you just tell me so?
It ain�t like a man got nowhere to go

I give you sugar for sugar, but all you want is salt for salt
I give you sugar for sugar, but all you want is salt for salt
If you can�t get along with me, then it�s you own fault

You want me to love you, but then you just treat me mean
You want me to love you, but then you just treat me mean
You�re my daily thought; you�re my nightly dream

Sometimes I just think that you�re too sweet to die
Sometimes I just think that you�re too sweet to die
And other times I think you ought to be buried alive

� 1998 McGuinn Music – Roger McGuinn

Brandy Leave Me Alone


h1 Sunday, February 1st, 1998

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This can be taken either as a love song, or as a cry
for deliverance from alcohol abuse. It’s origins are said to be African.
In honor of February 14, I prefer to interpret this as a romantic song.
Lyrics:
E
Oh, Brandy, leave me alone
A
Oh, Brandy, leave me alone
B7
Oh, Brandy, leave me alone
E
Remember I must go home

My home it is far away
My home it is far away
My home it is far away
Remember I cannot stay

Oh Brandy, you broke my heart
Oh Brandy, you broke my heart
Oh Brandy, you broke my heart
Remember that we must part

Oh, Brandy, leave me alone
Oh, Brandy, leave me alone
Oh, Brandy, leave me alone
Remember I must go home

My home it is far away
My home it is far away
My home it is far away
Remember I cannot stay

Oh Brandy, you broke my heart
Oh Brandy, you broke my heart
Oh Brandy, you broke my heart
Remember that we must part

� 1998 McGuinn Music – Roger McGuinn

Alberta


h1 Saturday, February 1st, 1997

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This is a song sung by the stevedores who worked on
the Ohio River. There were two types of river songs. The first was the
fast ‘Jump Down Turn Around’ type. The other kind was slow and blusey.
That could be because when it came time to load and unload these boats,
it was a pretty busy session. There was lots of time in between to sing
songs like this one.
Lyrics:
[D] Alberta let your [C] hair hang [D] low,[C]
[D] Alberta let your [C] hair hang [D] low,
[G] I’ll give you more [Bm] gold than your [F#m] apron can [G] hold
[D] If you’ll just let your [C] hair hang low [D]

Alberta what’s on you mind
Alberta what’s on you mind
You keep me worried, you keep me bothered all the time
Alberta what’s on you mind

Alberta don’t treat me unkind
Alberta don’t treat me unkind
My heart feels sad ’cause I want you so bad
Alberta don’t treat me unkind

Alberta let your hair hang low,
Alberta let your hair hang low,
I’ll give you more gold than your apron can hold
If you’ll just let your hair hang low

Happy Valentine’s Day
Roger McGuinn � 1998 McGuinn Music

In The Evenin’


h1 Wednesday, January 1st, 1997

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This is another song that I recorded at my home, 57
East Division Street in Chicago, in 1957, on a Pentron reel-to-reel tape
recorder, at 7 1/2 IPS. I used to sing this at the Cafe Roue, on Rush
Street, where I was paid ten dollars a night.

Happy New Year!!!

Lyrics:
In The Evenin’

E A7 E A7

In the evenin, in the evenin

E A7 E7

Baby when the sun goes down

A A7 A A7

In the evenin, in the evenin

E E7

Baby when the sun goes down

A E A A7 E

Ain’t it lonesome baby when you’re not around

A E B7

And the sun goes down

When the fun, the fun’s all over

Baby when the whiskey’s all gone dry

A man gets to thinkin’

A guy was born to die

In the evenin’ in the evenin’

Baby when the sun goes down, and you’re not around

It’s goodbye my friends and pals

I’ve got to be goin’ my way

But I, I’m gonna see you all

Some old rainy day

In the evenin’ in the evenin’

Baby when the sun goes down, and you’re not around

In the evenin, in the evenin

Baby when the sun goes down

In the evenin, in the evenin

Baby when the sun goes down

Ain’t it lonesome baby when you’re not around

And the sun goes down

� 1998 McGuinn Music – Roger McGuinn