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Bessie Smith
Special thanks to
Dorus Sturm for transcribing and contributing many of the lyrics!
Ruler
Page 1 of 3

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* additions of Jan./Feb. 2000, ** additions of June 2000
Ruler

Table Of Content (86 songs, 75 soundclips)

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After You've Gone
A Good Man Is Hard To Find
** Aggravatin' Papa
* Ain't Gonna Play No 2nd Fiddle
** Any Woman's Blues
* At The Christmas Ball
Baby Doll
Baby Won't You Please Come Home
* Backwater Blues (1)
Backwater Blues (2)
** Beale Street Mama
** Bleeding Hearted Blues
Blue Blues
Boweavil Blues
Cake Walking Babies From Home
** Cemetery Blues
Charlie Green, Play That Thing
Chicago Bound Blues
Devil's Gonna Git You
Dirty No-Gooder's Blues
Downhearted Blues
Down In The Dumps
** Eavesdropper's Blues
Empty Bed Blues
Foolish Man Blues
** Frosty Morning
Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer
Graveyard Dream Blues
Gulf Coast Blues
Hard Time Blues

** Haunted House Blues
** I'm Going Back To My Used To Be
I Ain't Got Nobody
**
If You Don't, I Know Who Will
I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl
In The House Blues
It Makes My Love Come Down
I've Got What It Takes
Jailhouse Blues
Keep It To Yourself
** Keeps On A-Rainin'
** Lady Luck Blues
Long Road
Lost Your Head Blues
** Mama's Got The Blues
Mean Old Bed Bug Blues
** Midnight Blues
** Mistreating Daddy
** Muddy Water (A Mississippi Moan)
My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More
My Man Blues
** My Sweetie Went Away
New Orleans Hop Scop Blues
** Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Oh Daddy Blues
** Outside Of That
Pickpocket Blues
** Pinchbacks - Take 'Em Away
Please Help Me Get Him Off My Mind
Poor Man's Blues
Preachin' The Blues
Put It Right Here (Or Keep It Out There)
Reckless Blues

Rocking Chair Blues
Safety Mama
** Sam Jones Blues
See If I'll Care
Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair
Shipwreck Blues
Sorrowful Blues
Squeeze Me
Standin' In The Rain Blues
St. Louis Blues
** St. Louis Gal
'T Ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do
Take Me For A Buggy Ride
Thinking Blues
Wasted Life Blues
Weary Blues
** Whoa, Tillie, Take Your Time
Wild About That Thing
Worried Life Blues
** Yodling Blues
Young Woman's Blues
You've Got To Give Me Some

Ruler

After You've Gone

soundclip


by Henry Creamer / Turner Layton
recording of March 2 1927
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Now won't you listen dearie while I say,
how could you tell me that you're goin' away?
Don't say that we must part, don't break my aching heart
You know I've loved you truly many years, loved you night and day
How can you leave me, can't you see my tears?
Listen while I say

After you've gone, and left me crying
After you've gone, there's no denying
You'll feel blue, you'll feel sad
You'll miss the dearest pal you've ever had
There'll come a time, now don't forget it
There'll come a time, when you'll regret it
Some day, when you grow lonely
You heart will break like mine and you'll want me only
After you've gone, after you've gone away

After I'm gone, after we break up
After I'm gone, you're gonna wake up
You will find, you were blind
To let somebody come and change your mind
After the years, we've been together
Their joy and tears all kinds of weather
Someday, blue and downhearted
You'll long to be with me right back where you started
After I'm gone, after I'm gone away

Top

Ruler

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

soundclip


by Eddie Green
recording of 1927 or 1928
from
1927-1928 (Classics 870), copyright notice

My heart's sad and I am all forlorn, my man's treating me mean
I regret the day that I was born and that man of mine I've ever seen
Happiness, it never lasts a day, my heart is almost breaking while I say
A good man is hard to find, you always get the other kind

Just when you think that he is your pal, you look for him and find him fooling 'round some other gal
Then you rave, you even crave to see him laying in his grave
So, if your man is nice, take my advice and hug him in the morning, kiss him ev'ry night,
give him plenty lovin', treat him right
For a good man nowadays is hard to find, a good man nowadays is hard to find

Top

Ruler

Aggravatin' Papa

soundclip


by Britt / Robinson / Roy Turk
recording of February, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

I know a triflin'1 man, they call him Triflin' Sam
He lives in Birmingham, way down in Alabam'
Then the other night he had a fight,
with a gal named Mandy Brown
She plainly stated he was aggravating,
as she shouted out to him

Aggravatin' papa, don't you try to two-time me2,
I said don't two-time me
Aggravatin' papa, treat me kind or let me be,
I mean just let me be
Listen while I get you told
Stop messin' round sweet jelly roll
If you stay out with a high-brown baby
I'll smack you down and I don't mean maybe
Aggravatin' papa, I'll do anything you say
Anything you say
But when you go struttin', do you strut around my way, so papa
Just treat me pretty, be nice and kind
The way you're treating me will make me lose my mind
Aggravatin' papa, don't you try to two-time me

Just treat me pretty, be nice and sweet
I got a darn forty-four3 that don't repeat
Aggravatin' papa, don't you try to two-time me

__________
Note 1: triflin', to talk in a jesting or mocking manner or with intent to delude or mislead, to treat someone or something as unimportant;
Note 2: two-time me, to betray (a spouse or lover) by secret lovemaking with another;
Note 3: forty-four, caliber of a hand gun.

Top

Ruler

Ain't Gonna Play No 2nd Fiddle

soundclip


by Perry Bradford
recording of 1924 or 1925
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (1924-1925) (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47471), copyright notice

Let me tell you daddy,
momma ain't gonna sit here and grieve
Pack up your stuff and get ready to leave

I stood your foolishness long enough,
so now I'm gonna call your bluff
Oh, I'm gonna call your hand,
so, now daddy here's my plan

Ain't gonna play no second fiddle 'cause,
I'm used to playin' lead

You must think that I am blind,
you've been cheatin' me all the time
Whoa yeah, you still flirt
And you'll notice I ain't hurt,
to see you with my chum
Do you think that I am dumb

You 'cause me to drink,
when I sit down and think
And notice that you never take heed
I went to your house the other night,
caught you and your good girl havin' a fight

Ain't gonna play no second fiddle 'cause
I'm used to playin lead

Caught you with your good-time tramp1,
so, now I'm gonna put out your lamp
Oh, poppa, I ain't sore
You ain't gonna mess up with me no more
I'm gonna flirt with another guy2,
then you're gonna hang your head an' cry2

Ain't gonna play no second fiddle 'cause
I'm used to playin' lead

__________
Note 1: tramp, Dorus Sturm suggests "vamp" instead of tramp;
Note 2: guy & cry, Dorus Sturm suggests "sheik" & "weep" instead of guy and cry.

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Ruler

Any Woman's Blues

soundclip


by Lovie Austin
recording of October 16 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

My man ain't acting right, he stays out late at night
And still he says he loves no one but me
But if I find that gal, that tries to steal my pal
I'll get her told, just you wait and see
I feel blue, I don't know what to do
Every woman in my fix1 is bound to feel blue too, 'cause

I love my man better than I love myself
Lord, I love my man better than I love myself
And if he don't have me, he won't have nobody else

My man's got teeth like a lighthouse on the sea
My man's got teeth like a lighthouse on the sea
And ev'rytime he smiles he throws them lights on me

His voice sounds like chimes, I mean the organ kind
His voice sounds like chimes, I mean the organ kind
And ev'rytime he speaks his music ease my troubling mind

__________
Note 1: in my fix, in my place or position. Derived from fixing a position, by a ship for instance.

Top

Ruler

At The Christmas Ball

soundclip


by Fred Longshaw
recording of November 18 1925, New York City
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (1924-1925) (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47471), copyright notice

"Hey Bessie it's Christmas here"
Here! Here! Hurray for Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year, and to me it brings good cheer,
and to everyone who likes wine and beer
Happy New Year is after that, happy I'll be, that is a fact
That is why I like to hear, folks I say that Christmas is here

Christmas bells will ring real soon, even in the afternoon
There'll be no chimes shall ring at the Christmas Ball
Everyone must watch their step, or they will loose their rep1
Everybody full of fare at the Christmas Ball

(Excellent Joe Smith solo)

Grab your partner one an' all, keep on dancing 'round the hall
Then there's no one to fall, don't you dare to strut
If your partner don't act fair, don't worry there's some more over there
Seekin' a chance everywhere at the Christmas Ball

__________
Note: 27,675 copies of this record were sold, her Downhearted Blues sold ten times as many!;
Note 1: rep, short for reputation.

Top

Ruler

Baby Doll

soundclip


by Bessie Smith / Webman
recording of 19
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Honey, there's a funny feeling 'round my heart,
and it's bound to drive your mama wild
It must be something they call the Cuban Doll1,
it weren't your mama's angel child

I went to see the doctor the other day, he said I's well as well could be
But I said, "Doctor, you don't know really what's worrying me"
I want to be somebody's baby doll so I can get my loving all the time
I want to be somebody's baby doll to ease my mind
He can be ugly, he can be black, so long as he can eagle rock and ball the jack
I want to be somebody's baby doll so I can get my lovin' all the time,
I mean to get my lovin' all the time

Lord, I went to the gypsy to get my fortune told,
she said you in hard luck, Bessie, doggone your bad luck soul
I want to be somebody's baby doll so I can get my lovin' all the time,
I mean to get my lovin' all the time

__________
Note 1: Cuban Doll, still looking for the meaning, mail me please if you know a/the meaning.

Top

Ruler

Baby Won't You Please Come Home

soundclip


by Clarence Williams / Charles Warfield
recording of April 11 1923, New York City
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

I've got the blues, I feel so lonely
I'll give the world if I could only
Make you understand
It surely would be grand

I'm gonna telephone my baby
Ask him won't you please come home
'Cause when you're gone, I'm worried all day long

Baby won't you please come home
Baby won't you please come home
I have tried in vain
Ever more to call your name
When you left you broke my heart
That will never make us part
Every hour in the day
You will hear me say
Baby won't you please come home, I mean
Baby won't you please come home

Baby won't you please come home
'Cause your mama's all alone
I have tried in vain
Never more to call your name
When you left you broke my heart
That will never make us part
Landlord gettin' worse, I've got to move May the first
Baby won't you please come home, I need money
Baby won't you please come home

Top

Ruler

Backwater Blues Version 1

soundclip


by Bessie Smith
recording of February(?) 17 1927, New York City
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47474),
copyright notice

When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
Then trouble's takin' place in the lowlands at night

I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
There's been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to go

Then they rowed a little boat about five miles 'cross the pond
Then they rowed a little boat about five miles 'cross the pond
I packed all my clothes, throwed them in and they rowed me along

When it thunders and lightnin' and when the wind begins to blow
When it thunders and lightnin' and the wind begins to blow
There's thousands of people ain't got no place to go

Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then looked down on the house were I used to live

Backwater1 blues done call me to pack my things and go
Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go
'Cause my house fell down and I can't live there no more

Mmm, I can't move no more
Mmm, I can't move no more
There ain't no place for a poor old girl to go

__________
Note: This was one of her most successful records; it was recorded just before the catastrophic great Mississippi flood of 1927;
Note 1: backwater, mostly old river beds which are left to take the excess flood water to relieve pressure on the levees (embankments). As the height of the water is excessive, however, breaches in the levee walls are deliberately made at certain points to allow particular areas to flood and thus lessen the pressure of water. These are the "backwaters," which occur in the St. Francis Basin to the west of the river between Memphis and Helena, in the great Yazoo-Mississippi Delta north of Vicksburg, in the Tensas Basin west of Natchez, and at other selected points.

Top

Ruler

Backwater Blues Version 2

soundclip


by Bessie Smith
recording of 19
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47474),
copyright notice

When it rained five days and the skies turned dark as night
When it rained five days and the skies turned dark as night
There was trouble taking place in the lowlands at night

I woke up this morning, wouldn't even get out of my door
I woke up this morning, wouldn't even get out of my door
Enough trouble to make poor girl wonder where she gonna go

They rowed a little boat, about five miles 'cross the farm
They rowed a little boat, about five miles 'cross the farm
I packed up all my clothing, throwed it in and they rowed me along

It thundered and it lightened and the winds began to blow
It thundered and it lightened and the winds began to blow
There was a thousand women, didn't have no place to go

I went out to the lonesome, high old lonesome hill
I went out to the lonesome, high old lonesome hill
I looked won on the old house, where I used to live

Backwater1 blues have caused me to pack up my things and go
Backwater blues have caused me to pack up my things and go
'Cause my house fell down and I can't live there no more

Hmm, I can't live there no more
Hmm, I can't live there no more
And there ain't no place for a poor old girl to go

__________
Note: This was one of her most successful records; it was recorded just before the catastrophic great Mississippi flood of 1927;
Note 1: backwater, mostly old river beds which are left to take the excess flood water to relieve pressure on the levees (embankments). As the height of the water is excessive, however, breaches in the levee walls are deliberately made at certain points to allow particular areas to flood and thus lessen the pressure of water. These are the "backwaters," which occur in the St. Francis Basin to the west of the river between Memphis and Helena, in the great Yazoo-Mississippi Delta north of Vicksburg, in the Tensas Basin west of Natchez, and at other selected points.

Top

Ruler

Beale Street Mama

soundclip


by Robinson / Roy Turk
recording of March 15, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Minnie Neal down in Beale1, gave her papa the air
Left him cold, got him told, said she didn't care
Poor Joe, her beau, looked just like he would die
If you were near him, you would hear him, start his mournful cry

Beale Street1 papa, why don't you come back home
It isn't proper to leave your mama all alone
Sometimes I was cruel, that was true
But papa you know mama never two-times2 you
Ooh-ooh, I'm blue
So how come you do me like you do, I'm crying
Beale Street papa, don't mess around with me
There's plenty of petting that I can get in Tennessee
I still get my sweet cookies constantly
But not the kind you serve to me
So Beale Street papa, come back home

So how come you do me like you do, I'm crying
Beale Street papa, don't mess around with me
There's plenty of petting that I can get in Tennessee
I bought a rifle, razor and a knife,
a postal card can't save my life
So Beale Street papa, come back home

__________
Note 1: Beale Street, one of the most famous streets in Memphis and where the blues were born. It was the home to famous blues musicians such as W.C. Handy who wrote the first blues song here in 1909. Take the Beale Street Historical Tour with the Memphis Guide;
Note 2: two-time you, to betray (a spouse or lover) by secret lovemaking with another.

Top

Ruler

Bleeding Hearted Blues

soundclip


by Lovie Austin
recording of June 14, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

When you're sad and lonely
Thinking about you only
Feeling disgusted and blue
Ah, your heart is aching
Yes, it's almost breaking
No one to tell your troubles to
That's the time you'll hang your head,
And begin to cry

All your friends forsake you,
Trouble overtakes you
And your good man turns you down
Evil talk about you
Everybody doubt you
And your friends can't be found
Not a soul to ease your pain
You will plead in vain
You've got those bleeding hearted blues
Say baby, tell me what's on your mind
Pretty papa, tell me what's on your mind
You keep my poor heart achin'
I'm worried all the time

I give up every friend that I had
Yes, I give up every friend that I had
I give up my mother
I even give up dear old dad

Top

Ruler

Blue Blues

by Bessie Smith
recording of
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy 52838),
copyright notice

Blue, blue, I got a tale to tell you, I'm blue
Something comes over me, daddy, and I'm blue about you
Listen to my story, and ev'rything'll come out true

When your man is gone, your rent is all due,
he's not coming back, you know he's all thru
You weep and cry, feel like you could die
If you was a bird you'd take wings and fly

There is one thing that'll make you blue
When you ain't got a daddy to tell your troubles to
Step right out and sing, start right in to wing
Keep feelin' in your heart, you start right in to drink

If you've ever been blue, you know a woman feels
If you've ever been blue, you know a good woman feels
You're a worried child, honey, yes indeed

Blue, blue, I got a tale to tell you, I was blue
Something fell on me, daddy, I was blue over you
You done listen to my story, and ev'rything come out true

Top

Ruler

Boweavil Blues

soundclip


by Lovie Austin / Ma Rainey
recording of
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Hey boweavil1 don't bring them blues no more
Hey boweavil don't bring them blues no more
Boweavil's here, boweavil's everywhere you go

I'm a lone boweavil, been out a great long time
I'm a lone boweavil, been out a great long time
For to sing this song, to ease boweavil's troublin' mind

I don't want no sugar put into my tea
I don't want no sugar put into my tea
The mens are so evil, I'm scared they might poison me

I went downtown
I bought myself a hat
I brought it back home
I laid it on the shelf
I looked in my bedroom
Tired sleepin' by myself
I'm tired sleepin' by myself

__________
Note 1: bo or boll weevil or weavil, a grayish weevil, super-family of beetles that infests the cotton plant and feeds on the squares and bolls. drawing

Top

Ruler

Cake Walking Babies From Home

soundclip


by Chris Smith / Harold Troy / Clarence Williams
recording of
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (1924-1925) (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47471), copyright notice

Cake walkers1 may come, cake walkers may go,
but I wanna tell you 'bout a couple I know
High steppin' pair, Debonair
When it comes for bus'ness not a soul can compare

Here they come, look at 'em, demonstratin',
goin' some, ain't they syncopatin'?
Talk of the town, teasin' brown pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down
Dancin' fools ain't they demonstratin'?
They're a class of their own

Now the only way to win is to cheat 'em,
you may tie 'em but you'll never beat 'em
Strut your stuff, they're the cake walkin' babies from home
Strut your stuff, strut your stuff, cake walkin' babies from home

Here they come, look at 'em, syncopatin',
goin' some, ain't they demonstratin'?
Talk of the town, teasin' brown pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down
Dancin' fools ain't they syncopatin'2?
They're a class of their own

Now the only way to win is to cheat 'em,
you may tie 'em but you'll never beat 'em
Strut your stuff, they're the cake walkin' babies form home
Strut your stuff, strut your stuff, cake walkin' babies from home

__________
Note 1: cakewalk, a black American entertainment having a cake as prize for the most accomplished steps and figures in walking. Also, a stage dance developed from walking steps and figures typically involving a high prance with backward tilt. It is also used to indicate a one-sided contest or an easy task;
Note 2: syncopatin', a rhythmical alteration which consists in welding into one tone the second half of one beat with the first half of the beat which follows.

Top

Ruler

Cemetery Blues

soundclip


by S. Loney / Spencer Williams
recording of September 26, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Folks, I know a gal named Cemetery Lize, down in Tennessee
She has got a pair of mean old graveyard eyes, full of misery
Every night and day, you can hear her sing a blues away

I'm going down to the cemetery 'cause the world is all wrong
I'm going down to the cemetery 'cause the world is all wrong
Down there with the spooks, to hear 'em sing my sorrow song

Got a date to see a ghost by the name of Jones
Got a date to see a ghost by the name of Jones
Makes me feel happy to hear him rattle his bones

He's one man I always know just where to find
He's one man I always know just where to find
When you want true lovin' go and get the cemetery kind

He ain't no fine dresser, he don't wear nothing but a sack
Yeah, he ain't no fine dresser, he don't wear nothing but a sack
Everytime he kisses me that funny feeling creeps up my back

Top

Ruler

Charlie Green, Play That Thing

by
recording of
from ,
copyright notice

I know a fool who blows a horn
He comes from way down south
You never heard such blowin' since you was born
When he puts that trombone to his mouth
He cries and moans, he grunts and groans
He sounds just like a cow
Ain't no one doin' his stuff
'Cause he won't show 'em how

Charlie Green! Blow that thing!
I mean that slide trombone
Make it talk, make it sing
Where did you get that tone?
If Gabriel could hear you blow
He'd let you lead his band, I know
Oh Charlie Green, blow that thing!
I mean that slide trombone

Charlie Green! Blow that thing!
I mean that slide trombone
You could even make a king
Jump right off his throne
And he'd break a leg, I know
Doin' the Charleston1 when you blow
Oh Charlie Green. Blow that thing!
I mean that slide trombone

Charlie Green! Blow that thing!
I mean that slide trombone
Make it talk, make it sing
I mean that slide trombone
You never saw such a shakin' of the hips
Like when he's got it to his lips
Oh Charlie Green. Blow that thing!
I mean that slide trombone

__________
Note: Charlie Green was Bessie's Trombone player so it could be a Bessie Smith song. However, I could not find this song or any song that has a similar title on any of the 5 Complete Recordings albums. If anyone knows more about this song please mail me, thanks;
Note 1: charleston, a popular dance of the twenties.

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Ruler

Chicago Bound Blues

soundclip


by Lovie Austin
recording of
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Late last night, I sold away and cried
Late last night, I sold away and cried
Had the blues for Chicago, I just can't be satisfied

Blues on my brain, my tongue refused to talk
Blues on my brain, my tongue refused to talk
I was followin' my daddy but my feet refuses to walk

Mean old fireman, cruel old engineer
Lord mean old fireman, cruel old engineer
You took my man and left his mama standing here

Big red headline, tomorrow Defender1 news
Big red headline, tomorrow Defender news
"Woman dead down home, these old Chicago blues"
I said blues

__________
Note 1: Chicago area newspaper with mainly black readers, still in existence today.

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Ruler

Devil's Gonna Git You

soundclip


by Porter Grainger
recording of 1928
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy 52838),
copyright notice

It's a long, long lane that has no turning
And it's a fire that always keeps on burning
Mister devil down below
Pitchfork in his hand
And that's where you are going to go
Do you understand?
Devil's gonna git you
Devil's gonna git you
Oh, the devil's gonna git you
Man, just as sure as you's born

Devil's gonna git you,
Devil's gonna git you,
Oh, the devil's gonna git you,
The way you're carryin' on

You go away, stay for weeks
On your doggone spree1
Come back home, get in my bed
And turn your back on me
Oh the devil's gonna git you
I mean the devil's gonna git you
Man the devil's gonna git you
Sure as you's born

Dirty two-timer2, dirty two-timer,
Dirty two-timer, you ain't coming clean

Oh the devil's gonna git you
I mean the devil's gonna git you
Oh the devil's gonna git you
You know what I mean

I don't want no two-time stuff
From my regular man
Don't want nothing that's been used
'Cause it's second-hand
The devil's gonna git you
Oh the devil's gonna git you
Man the devil's gonna git you
Sure as you're born to die

__________
Note 1: spree, an unrestrained indulgence in or outburst of an activity "she or he went on a buying spree";
Note 2: two-timer, to betray (a spouse or lover) by secret lovemaking with another.

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Ruler

Dirty No-Gooder's Blues

soundclip


by Bessie Smith
recording of 19
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy 52838),
copyright notice

Did you ever fall in love with a man that was no good?
Did you ever fall in love with a man that was no good?
No matter what you did for him, he never understood

The meanest thing he could say would thrill you through and through
The meanest thing he could say would thrill you through and through
And there wasn't nothin' too dirty for that man to do

He'd treat you nice and kind till he win your heart and hand
He'd treat you nice and kind till he win your heart and hand
Then he git so cruel that man, you just could not stand

Lawd, I really don't think no man's love can last
Lawd, I don't think no man's love can last
They'll love you to death then treat you like a thing of the past

There's nineteen men livin' in my neighborhood
There's nineteen men livin' in my neighborhood
Eighteen of them are fools and the one ain't no doggone good

Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd
Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd
That dirty no-good man treats me just like I'm a dog

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Ruler

Downhearted Blues

soundclip


by Lovie Austin / Alberta Hunter
recording of February 16, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Gee, but it's hard to love someone when that someone don't love you
I'm so disgusted, heartbroken, too
I've got those down hearted blues
Once I was crazy 'bout a man
He mistreated me all the time
The next man I get he's got to promise to be mine, all mine

If I could only find the man oh how happy I would be
To the good Lord ev'ry night I pray
Please send my man back to me
I've almost worried myself to death wond'ring why he went away
But just wait and see he's gonna want me back some sweet day

Trouble, trouble, I've had it all my days
Trouble, trouble, I've had it all my days
It seems that trouble's going to follow me to my grave

Got the world in a jug, the stopper's in my hand
Got the world in a jug
The stopper's in my hand
Going to hold it, baby, till you come under my command

Say, I ain't never loved but three men in my life
No, I ain't never loved but three men in my life
'T'was my father, brother and the man who wrecked my life

'Cause he mistreated me and he drove me from his door
Yeah, he mistreated me and he drove me from his door
But the good book says you'll reap just what you sow

Oh, it may be a week and it may be a month or two
Yes, it may be a week and it may be a month or two
But the day you quit me honey, it's coming home to you

Oh, I walked the floor and I wrung my hands and cried
Yes, I walked the floor and I wrung my hands and cried
Had the down hearted blues and couldn't be satisfied

__________
Note: Bessie Smith's first recording and a hit record that made her famous as well. He, he's, man, brother, father respectively she, she's, gal/woman, sister and mother when the speaker is male.

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Ruler

Down In The Dumps

soundclip


lyrics by Leola P. Wilson / music by Wesley Wilson
recording of 19
from
Complete Recordings, Vol. 5: The Final Chapter (Columbia/Legacy 57546), copyright notice

My man's got somethin', he gives me such a thrill
Every time he smiles at me, I can't keep my body still
I done cried so much, look like I've got the mumps1
I can't keep from worryin' 'cause I'm down in the dumps2

I had a nightmare last night, when I laid down
When I woke up this mornin', my sweet man couldn't be found
I'm goin' down to the river, into it I'm goin' to jump
Can't keep from worryin' 'cause I'm down in the dumps

Someone knocked on my door last night when I was asleep
I thought it was that sweet man of mine makin' his 'fore day creep
Wasn't nothin' but my landlord, a great big chump
Sat 'way from my door Mr. landlord, 'cause I'm down in the dumps

When I woke up my pillow was wet with tears
Just one from that man o' mine seems like a thousand years
But I'm gonna straighten up, straighter than Andy Gump
Ain't no use of me tellin' that lie 'cause I'm down in the dumps

I'm twenty-five years old, that ain't no old maid
I got plenty of vim and vitality, I'm sure that I can make the grade
I'm always like a tiger, I'm ready to jump
I need w whole lot's of lovin' 'cause I'm down in the dumps

__________
Note 1: mumps, a viral infectious disease, fever is one of the symptoms;
Note 2: down in the dumps, a gloomy state of mind.

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Eavesdropper's Blues

soundclip


by J.C. Johnson
recording of January 9 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

I heard the folks were talking here yesterday
As I listened by the door
Would eavesdrop1 'cause they never hear no good, they say
And I heard things that hurt me so

They said I had a man I give my money to
They said I had a man I give my money to
And if I was broke he would turn my eyes all blue

They talked about my pa who was blind in one eye
They talked about my pa who was blind in one eye
They said he was a sinner and was too mean to cry

I never knock nobody, wonder why they picked on me
I never knock nobody, wonder why they picked on me
There's goin' to be a funeral if they don't let me be

I never stopped to listen, to try and hear no good news
I never stopped to listen, to try and hear no good news
I hear things about me, give me those eavesdropper's blues

__________
Note 1: eavesdrop, to listen secretly to what is said in private. Etymology: probably back-formation from eavesdropper, literally, one standing under the drip from the eaves (= the lower border of a roof that overhangs the wall).

:

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Empty Bed Blues

soundclip


by J. C. Johnson
recording of March 28 1928, New York City
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy 52838),
copyright notice

I woke up this morning with a awful aching head
I woke up this morning with a awful aching head
My new man had left me, just a room and a empty bed

Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find
Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find
Oh, he could grind my coffee, 'cause he had a brand new grind

He's a deep sea diver with a stroke that can't go wrong
He's a deep sea diver with a stroke that can't go wrong
He can stay at the bottom and his wind holds out so long

He knows how to thrill me and he thrills me night and day
Oh, he knows how to thrill me, he thrills me night and day
He's got a new way of loving, almost takes my breath away

Lord, he's got that sweet somethin' and I told my girlfriend Lou
He's got that sweet somethin' and I told my girlfriend Lou
From the way she's raving, she must have gone and tried it too

(Part 2)

When my bed get empty make me feel awful mean and blue
When my bed get empty make me feel awful mean and blue
My springs are getting rusty, sleeping single like I do

Bought him a blanket, pillow for his head at night
Bought him a blanket, pillow for his head at night
Then I bought him a mattress so he could lay just right

He came home one evening with his spirit way up high
He came home one evening with his spirit way up high
What he had to give me, make me wring my hands and cry

He give me a lesson that I never had before
He give me a lesson that I never had before
When he got to teachin' me, from my elbow down was sore

He boiled my first cabbage and he made it awful hot
He boiled my first cabbage and he made it awful hot
When he put in the bacon, it overflowed the pot

When you git good lovin', never go and spread the news
Yes, he'll double-cross you, and leave you with them empty bed blues

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Ruler

Foolish Man Blues

soundclip


by Bessie Smith
recording of 19
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47474),
copyright notice

Men sure is deceitful and they's gettin' worser ev'ry day
Men sure is deceitful and they's gettin' worser ev'ry day
Act like a bunch of women, they's just-a gab, gab, gabbin' away

There's two things got me puzzled, there's two things I can't stand
There's two things got me puzzled, there's two things I can't stand
A mannish actin' woman and a skippin' twistin' woman actin' man

I used to love a man, he always made my poor heart ache
I used to love a man, he always made my poor heart ache
He was crooked as a corkscrew and evil as a copperhead snake

I know a certain man who spent a year runnin' a poor gal down
I know a certain man who spent a year runnin' a poor gal down
And when she let him kiss her, the fool blabbed it all over town

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Ruler

Frosty Morning

soundclip


by E. Brown
recording of January 8 1924
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

How come I'm blue as can be, how come I need sympathy
I know what's troubling me, listen and you'll see
Because the good man that I got, left me all alone
Woke up this morning at four, when I heard him slamming my door

Did you ever wake up on a frosty morning and discover your good man gone
Did you ever wake up on a frosty morning and discover your good man gone
If you did you'll understand, why I'm singing sad moanful songs

Well, he didn't provide and he wasn't handsome, so he might not appeal to you
Well, he didn't provide and he wasn't handsome, so he might not appeal to you
But he gave me plenty loving and I never had to beg him too

Now my damper1 is down and my fire ain't burning and a chill's all around my bed
My damper is down and my fire ain't burning and a chill's all around my bed
When you lose the man you love, then a gal is just as good as dead

__________
Note 1: damper, a device that damps as a valve or plate (as in the flue of a furnace) for regulating the draft.

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Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer

soundclip


by Wesley Wilson
recording of
from
Complete Recordings, Vol. 5: The Final Chapter (Columbia/Legacy 57546), copyright notice

(spoken:
Twenty-five cents?
Ha! No! No!
I wouldn't pay twenty-five cents to go in nowhere 'cause listen here)

Up in Harlem ev'ry Saturday night when the high-browns git together it's just too tight,
they all congregates at an all night strut and what they do is tut-tut-tut
Old Hannah Brown from 'cross town gets full of corn and starts breakin' 'em down
Just at the break of day you can hear old Hannah say,
"Gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer"
Send me gate

I don't care
I feel just like I wanna clown
Give the piano player a drink because he's bringin' me down
He's got rhythm, yeah!
When he stomps his feet, he sends me right off to sleep
Check all your razors and your guns
We gonna be rasslin' when the wagon comes
I wanna pigfoot and a bottle of beer
Send me 'cause I don't care
Slay me 'cause I don't care

Gimme a reefer and a gang o' gin
Slay me, 'cause I'm in my sin
Slay me 'cause I'm full of gin

Check all your razors and your guns
Do the shim-sham shimmy till the risin' sun

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Ruler

Graveyard Dream Blues

soundclip


by Ida Cox
recording of September 26 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Blues on my mind, blues all around my head
Blues on my mind, and blues all around my head
I dreamed last night that the man that I love was dead

I went to the graveyard, fell down on my knees
I went to the graveyard, fell down on my knees
And I asked the gravedigger to give me back my real good man please

The gravedigger look me in the eye
The gravedigger look me in the eye
Said "I'm sorry lady but your man has said his last goodbye"

I wrung my hands and I wanted to scream
I wrung my hands and I wanted to scream
But when I woke up I found it was only a dream

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Ruler

Gulf Coast Blues

soundclip


by Clarence Williams
recording of February 16, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

I've been blue all day, my man's gone away
He has left his mama cold for another gal I'm told
I tried to treat him kind, I thought he would be mine
That man I hate to lose, that's why mama's got the blues

The man I love he has done left this town
The man I love he has done left this town
And if it keeps on snowing, I will be Gulf Coast bound

The mail man passed but he didn't leave no news
The mail man passed but he didn't leave no news
I'll tell the world he left me with those Gulf Coast blues

Some of you men sure do make me tired
Some of you men sure do make me tired
You've got a mouthful of "gimme", a handful of "much oblige"

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Ruler

Hard Time Blues

soundclip


by Bessie Smith
recording of
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47474),
copyright notice

My man said he didn't want me
I'm getting tired of his dirty ways
I'm going to see another brown
I'm packin' my clothes
I'm leavin' town, getting outdoors
lettin' him know and he'll see a hard time
Now there's no need of cryin', just put me off your mind,
then you'll see a hard time
When your good woman is gone you'll see a hard time

(spoken: Don't say a word, just listen)
The risin' sun ain't gonna set in the east no more
The risin' sun ain't gonna set in the east no more
'Cause I'm a good woman I can get a man any place I go

You can say what you please, you will miss me
There's a lots-a things you are bound to see,
when your friends forsake you and your money's gone
Then you'll look around all your clothes is gone
Down on your knees you'll ask for me,
there's no one else you will want to see
Then you'll pray a prayer that men pray ev'rywhere, Lord
When your good woman is gone
When your good woman is gone

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Ruler

Created by:
Bluesman Harry
Page last updated on:
June 25 2000


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