Bessie Smith
Special thanks to
Dorus Sturm for transcribing and contributing many of the lyrics!
Ruler
Page 2 of 3

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All lyrics on this site are for private study, scholarship, or research purposes only. Read the copyright notice before printing/copying anything from this page.

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

Table Of Content (86 songs, 75 soundclips)

You are now in page 2

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

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

Haunted House Blues

soundclip


by J.C. Johnson
recording of January 8 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Don't bring no ghosts in the front, hurry 'em round to the backdoor!

This house is so haunted with dead men I can't lose
This house is so haunted with dead men I can't lose
And a sneaky old feeling gives me those haunted house blues

I can't sleep no more, I done lost my appetite
I can't sleep no more, done lost my appetite
'Cause my mistreating daddy hangs around me day and night

He moans when I'm sleeping, he wakes me at 2 a.m.
He moans when I'm sleeping, he wakes me at 2 a.m.
And he makes me swear I'll have no other man but him

Now I'm so worried and I'm blue all the time
Now I'm so worried and I'm blue all the time
Go tell the undertaker to fix that old coffin of mine

Lord, help us to get right!

I'm scared to stay here, I'm scared to leave this town
I'm scared to stay here, I'm scared to leave this town
But a feeling just tells me to burn this house on down
Tear this house on down

Top

Ruler

I'm Going Back To My Used To Be

soundclip


by J. Cox
recording of October 4 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Clara: I feel sad
Bessie: You feel blue
Clara: I can hardly sleep at night
Bessie: For your man was sore all the time
Clara: And I know I didn't treat him right
Bessie: You're going back to your first love
Clara: 'Cause a good man is hard to find
Bessie: I say you'll have such a grand good man
Clara: Believe me he is sure on my mind

Clara: I'm going back
Bessie: Yeah, you carrying it on back
Clara: I'm going back to my used to be
Bessie: You're going back
Clara: I'm going back, 'cause my man was sure good to me
When last winter when times was rough
Bessie: Look out there, Clara,
Clara: You know your man was in the pool yard strutting his stuff
I'm going back
Bessie: Clara, you say you're going back
I'm going back to my used to be
Bessie: And it's this morning
Clara: Back to my used to be
Bessie: What can you use him for
Clara: Crazy about my used to be
Bessie: He ain't good-looking
Clara: I love my used to be

__________
Note: duet with Clara Smith.

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Ruler

I Ain't Got Nobody

soundclip


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

There's a saying going 'round and I begin to think it's true
It's awful hard to love someone, when they don't care 'bout you
Once I had a lovin' man, as good as many in this town
But now I'm sad and lonely, for he's gone and turned me down, now
I ain't got nobody and nobody cares for me

I got the blues, the weary blues
And I'm sad and lonely, won't somebody come and take a chance with me?
I'll sing sweet love songs honey, all the time
If you'll come and be my sweet baby mine
'Cause I ain't got nobody, and nobody cares for me

Won't somebody go and find my man and bring him back to me
It's awful hard to be alone and without sympathy
Once I was a loving gal, as good as any in this town
but since my daddy left me, I'm a gal with her heart bowed down

Top

Ruler

If You Don't, I Know Who Will

soundclip


by Brymn / Bessie Smith / Williams
recording of June 15, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Daddy, I want some furs and things
Daddy, I want the diamond rings
Aeroplanes, motor cars and such
If your little mama ain't askin' too much
From you, from you
Won't you give me what I want, daddy do

If you don't I know who will
If you don't I know who will
You may think that I'm just bluffin'
But I'm one gal ain't supposed to want for nothin'
I got my wantin' habits on
I've had 'em on since this morn1
Man, you've got to help me 'long
If you don't, it's good-bye John
Squeeze me till I feel the thrill
Love me till I get my fill
'Cause if you don't and say you won't
I know who will, Mr. So-and-So
I know who will

If you don't I know who will
If you don't I know who will
You might think that I'm just bluffin'
But I'm one gal ain't supposed to want for nothin'
I've got my wantin' habits on
I've had 'em on since this morn
Man, you've got to help me 'long
If you don't, it's goodbye John
Squeeze me till I feel the thrill
Love me till I get my fill
'Cause if you don't and say you won't
I know who will, my other papa
I know who will

__________
Note 1: morn, dawn or morning.

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Ruler

I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl

soundclip


by Brymn / Small / Williams
recording of November 20 1931
from
Complete Recordings, Vol. 5: The Final Chapter (Columbia/Legacy 57546), copyright notice

Tired of bein' lonely, tired of bein' blue,
I wished I had some good man, to tell my troubles to
Seem like the whole world's wrong, since my man's been gone

I need a little sugar in my bowl,
I need a little hot dog, on my roll
I can stand a bit of lovin', oh so bad,
I feel so funny, I feel so sad
I need a little steam-heat, on my floor,
Maybe I can fix things up, so they'll go
What's the matter, hard papa, come on and save you mama's soul
'Cause I need a little sugar, in my bowl, doggone it,
I need a little sugar in my bowl

I need a little sugar, in my bowl,
I need a little hot dog, between my rolls
You gettin' different, I've been told,
move your finger, drop something in my bowl
I need a little steam-heat on my floor,
Maybe I can fix things up, so they'll go

(spoken: Get off your knees, I can't see what you're drivin' at!
It's dark down there!
Looks like a snake! C'mon here and drop somethin' here in my bowl,
stop your foolin', and drop somethin', in my bowl)

Top

Ruler

In The House Blues

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

Settin' in the house with everything on my mind
Settin' in the house with everything on my mind
Lookin' at the clock and can't even tell the time

Walkin' to my window, an' lookin' out of my door
Walkin' to my window, an' lookin' out of my door
Wishin' that my man would come home once more

Can't eat, can't sleep, so weak I can't walk my floor
Can't eat, can't sleep, so weak I can't walk my floor
Feel like hollerin' murder, let the Police Squad get me once more

They woke me before day with trouble on my mind
They woke me before day with trouble on my mind
Wringin' my hands and screamin', walkin' the floor hollerin' and cryin'

Catch 'em, don't let them blues in here
Catch 'em, don't let them blues in here
They shakes me in my bed, can't set down in my chair

Oh, the blues has got me on the go
Oh, they've got me on the go
They runs around my house, in and out of my front door

Top

Ruler

It Makes My Love Come Down

soundclip


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

When I see two sweethearts spoon1, underneath the silv'ry moon
It makes my love come down, I wanna be around
Kiss me, honey, it makes my love come down

Cuddle close, turn out the light, do just what you did last night
It makes my love come down, I wanna be in town
Sweet, sweet daddy, it makes my love come down

Wild about my toodle-oh2, when I gets my toodle-oh
It makes my love come down, want every pound
Hear me cryin', it makes my love come down

Likes my coffee, likes my tea, daffy3 about my stingaree
It makes my love come down, I wanna be around
Oh, sweet papa, it makes my love come down

If you want to hear me rave, honey, give me what I crave
It makes my love come down, actin' like a clown
Can't help from braggin', it makes my love come down

Come on and be my desert sheik, you're so strong and I'm so weak
It makes my love come down, to be love-land bound
Red hot papa, it makes my love come down

If you want me for your own, kiss me nice and leave me alone
It makes my love come down, it makes my love come down
Take me bye-bye, it makes my love come down

When you take me for a ride, when I'm close up by your side
It makes my love come down, ridin' all around
Easy ridin' makes my love come down

__________
Note 1: to spoon, to make love by caressing, kissing, and talking amorously;
Note 2: toodle, still looking for the meaning of this word, mail me please if you know a/the meaning;
Note 3: daffy, crazy or foolish, in this context it means crazy.

Top

Ruler

I've Got What It Takes

by Clarence Williams / H. Jenkins
recording of May 15 1929, New York City
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy 52838),
copyright notice

Oh Stingy Ginny saved up all her pennies
Straight to the bank she would go
The sharks would have their hands around her
But none could get her dough1

Ginny's fellow was a slick high yeller
Sent away to jail one day
He cried for bail, then turned real pale
When I heard Ginny say

Oh I've got what it takes
But it breaks my heart to give it away
It's in demand
They wants it every day

I've been saving it up for a long long time
To give it away would be more than a crime
Your eyes may roll, your teeth may grit
But none of my money will you git
You can look at my bank book
But I'll never let you feel my purse

'Cause I'm a woman, believes in safety first, safety first
Said if you want my money, here's my plan
I'm saving it up for a real good man
I've got what it takes
But it breaks my heart to give it away

She said I've got what it takes
But it breaks my heart to give it away
It's in demand
Folks cryin' for it every day

I've been saving it up for a long long time
To give it away would be more than a crime
Your eyes may roll, your teeth may grit
But none of this small change will you git
You can look at my bank book
But I'll never let you put your hands on my purse

Lord I'm a woman, believes in safety first, safety first
Say if you want my money, here's my plan
I'm not savin' it up for no naked man
I've got what it takes
But it breaks my heart to give it away

__________
Note 1: dough, slang for money.

Top

Ruler

Jailhouse Blues

soundclip


by Bessie Smith / Clarence Williams
recording of September 21, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091),
copyright notice

Lord, this house is goin' to get raided, yes, sir!

Thirty days in jail, with my back turned to the wall, to the wall
Thirty days in jail, with my back turned to the wall
Look here, mister jail keeper, put another gal in my stall

I don't mind being in jail, but I got to stay there so long, so long
I don't mind being in jail, but I got to stay there so long, so long
Well, every friend I had is done shook hands and gone

You better stop your man from ticklin' me under my chin, under my chin
You better stop your man from ticklin' me under my chin
'Cause if he keeps on ticklin', I'm sure gonna take him on in

Good morning blues, blues how do you do, how do you do?
Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
Well, I just come here to have a few words with you

Top

Ruler

Keep It To Yourself

soundclip


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

If your man is nice and sweet
Serving you lots of young pig meat
Oh yes, keep it to yourself

If you know you are standing fast
Got him worried where you at
Oh yes, keep it to yourself

He don't fall for no one
He don't call for no one
He don't give nobody none of his L.O.V.E.
'Cause it's yours

If your man is full of action
Givin' you lots of satisfaction
Oh yes, keep it to yourself

If you gotta have a kiss and a sweet
Makes me week way down in my knees
Oh yes, keep it to yourself

If he tries to treat you right
Give him lovin' every night
Oh yes, keep it to yourself

He don't fall for no one
He don't call for no one
He don't give nobody none of his L.O.V.E.
'Cause it's yours

With your man you got the best go
Don't broadcast it on nobody's radio!
Oh yes, keep it to yourself

Top

Ruler

Keeps On A-Rainin'

soundclip


by Max Kortlander / Williams
recording of 1923 or 1924
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

One dark and stormy night, Bill Jones was feeling blue
Things didn't seem just right, so he didn't know just what to do
I said: Bill, please tell me, ain't you satisfied?
He looked around so pitiful, then to me he replied

Keeps on a-rainin', look how it's rainin'
Papa he can't make no time
Wind keeps blowing, cold wind blowing
Soon I'll find a southern clime1
In the wintertime when it starts to snow
You know you pretty mama's got to have some dough
Keeps on rainin', look how it's rainin'
Papa he can't make no time

Ain't the snow just beautiful, some people say
But I'd rather see it in a moving picture play
Keeps on snowin', look how it's snowin'
Papa he can't make no time

__________
Note: subtitle "Papa, He Can't Make No Money";
Note 1: clime, climate.

Top

Ruler

Lady Luck Blues

soundclip


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

Bad luck has come to stay
Trouble never end
My man has gone away
With a girl I thought was my friend
I'm worried down with care
Lordy, can't you hear my prayer

Lady Luck, Lady Luck
Won't you please smile down on me
There's the time, friend of mine
I need your sympathy
I've got a horseshoe on my door
I've knocked on wood till my hands are sore
Since my man's done turned me loose
I've got those Lady Luck blues, I mean
I've got those Lady Luck blues

Lady Luck, Lady Luck
Won't you please smile down on me
There's the time, friend of mine
I need your sympathy
I've got his picture turned upside down
I've sprinkled goofer dust all around
Since my man is gone I'm all confused
I've got those Lady Luck blues
Find my good man
I've got those Lady Luck blues

Top

Ruler

Long Road

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

It's a long road, but I'm gonna find the end
It's a long road, but I'm gonna find the end
And when I get back, I'm gonna shake hands with a friend

On the side of the road, I sat underneath a tree
On the side of the road, I sat underneath a tree
Nobody knows the thought that came over me

Weepin' and cryin', tears fallin' on the groun'
Weepin' and cryin', tears fallin' on the groun'
When I got to the end I was so worried down

Picked up my bag, baby, and I tried it again
Picked up my bag, baby, and I tried it again
I got to make it, I've got to find the end

You can't trust nobody, you might as well be alone
You can't trust nobody, you might as well be alone
Found my long lost friend and I might as well stayed home

Top

Ruler

Lost Your Head Blues

soundclip


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

I was with you, baby, when you didn't have a dime
I was with you, baby, when you didn't have a dime
Now since you got a lot of money, you have thrown a good gal down

Once ain't for always and two ain't for twice
Once ain't for always and two ain't for twice
When you get a good gal, you'd better treat her nice

When you were lonesome, I treated you kind
When you were lonesome, I treated you kind
But since you've got money, it has changed your mind

I'm goin' to leave you, baby, and I ain't goin' to say goodbye
I'm goin' to leave you, baby, and I ain't goin' to say goodbye
But I'll write you a letter and tell you the reason why

Days are lonesome, nights are so long
Days are lonesome, nights are so long
I'm a good gal, but I just been treated wrong

Top

Ruler

Mama's Got The Blues

soundclip


by Martin / Williams
recording of 19
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Some people say that the weary blues ain't bad
Some people say the weary blues ain't bad
But it's the worst old feeling that I've ever had
Woke up this morning, with the jinx around my bed
I woke up this morning with the jinx around my bed
I didn't have no daddy to hold my aching head

Brown skin's deceitful, but a yellow man is worse
Brown skin's deceitful, but a yellow man is worse
I'm gonna get myself a black man and play safety first

I got a man in Atlanta, two in Alabama, three in Chattanooga
Four in Cincinnati, five in Mississippi, six in Memphis, Tennessee
If you don't like my peaches, please let my orchard be

Top

Ruler

Mean Old Bed Bug Blues

soundclip


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

Gals, bed bugs sure is evil, they don't mean me no good
Yeah, bed bug sure is evil, they don't mean me no good
Thinks he's a woodpecker and I'm a chunk of wood

When I lay down at night, I wonder how can a poor gal sleep
When I lay down at night, I wonder how can a poor gal sleep
When some is holding my hand, others eating my feet

Bed bug as big as a jackass1, will bite you and stand and grin
Bed bug as big as a jackass, will bite you and stand and grin
Will drink all the bed bur for them turn around and bite you again

Something moan in the corner, I went over and see
Something moan in the corner, I went over and see
It was the bed bug a prayin', Lord, gimme some more cheese

__________
Note 1: jackass, male donkey. In other context also used for a stupid person or a fool.

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Ruler

Midnight Blues

soundclip


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

Daddy, daddy, please come back to me
Daddy, daddy, please come back to me
Your mama's lonesome as she can be

You left me at midnight, clocks were striking twelve
Left me at midnight, clocks were striking twelve
To face this cruel world all by myself

Woke up at midnight, sad and blue
Missed my daddy from my side
Left alone to bemoan my fate
That's why I'm sighing, crying, I just can't refuse

I feel so troubled, heartbroken, too
Woe and misery I can't hide
At twelve o'clock I unlock my hate
I've got the meanest kind of lonesome midnight blues

Top

Ruler

Mistreating Daddy

soundclip


by Porter Grainger / B. Ricketts
recording of December 4 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Daddy, mama's got the blues
The kind of blues that's hard to lose
'Cause you mistreated me
And drove me from your door
Daddy, you ain't heard the news
There's another papa in your shoes
You ain't even got a chance with me no more
So be on your p's and q's1

Mistreating daddy, mistreating mama all the time
Just because she wouldn't let you
Mistreating daddy, mama's drawed the danger line
Yes, you'll cross it, I'll get you
If you see me setting on another daddy's knee
Don't bother me, I'm as mean as can be
I'm like the butcher right down the street
I can cut you all apieces like I would a piece of meat
Mistreating daddy, you used to knock your mama down
When you knew I fell for you
Had me so nervous, I would start dogging 'round
Yes, every time I saw you
But now I've got you off of my mind
And found another daddy who's just my kind
Mistreating daddy, I've got another papa now

I've got a tip for people talking about
I will grab my daddy and turn him wrong side out
Mistreating daddy, I've got a good papa now

__________
Note 1: p's and q's, something (as one's manners) that one should be mindful of or being on one's best behavior. From the phrase "mind one's p's and q's", alluding to the difficulty a child learning to write has in distinguishing between p and q.

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Ruler

Muddy Water (A Mississippi Moan)

soundclip


by P. DeRose / Harry Richman / Jo Trent
recording of March 2, 1927
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47474),
copyright notice

Dixie1 moonlight, Swanee shore
Headed homebound just once more
To my Mississippi delta home
Southland has that grand garden spot
Although you believe or not
I hear those breeze a-whispering:
"Come on back to me"
Muddy water 'round my feet
Muddy water in the street
Just God don't shelter
Down on the delta
Muddy water in my shoes
Reeling and rocking to them lowdown blues
They live in ease and comfort down there
I do declare
Been away a year today
To wander and roam
I don't care it's muddy there
But see it is my home
Got my toes turned Dixie way
'Round the delta let me lay
My heart cries out for muddy water

__________
Note: " "Muddy Water" is a great record despite the puerility of its lyrics – it's a pop tune that, of all things, sentimentalizes the recurrent Mississippi floods! Compare the guff about "Dixie moonlight, Swanee shore" with the honest and compelling imagery of Bessie's personal reaction to the great Mississippi flood of the same year (1927), which she experienced while on tour (see – or rather hear – Bessie's "Back Water Blues")". George Avakian;
Note 1: Dixie, name for the Southern states of the U.S. First used in the song Dixie (1859) by Daniel D. Emmett;
Note 2: Swanee, or Suwannee, a 250 miles (400 kilometers) long river that flows from South-East Georgia & North Florida South-West into the Gulf of Mexico.

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Ruler

My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More

by
recording of
from ,
copyright notice

Once I used to brag about my handy man, but I ain't braggin' no more
Somethin' strange has happened to my handy man, he's not the man he was before
Wish somebody could explain to me, about this dual personality
He don't perform his duties like he used to do, he never hauls the ashes 'less I tell him to
Before he hardly gets to work he says he's through, my handy man ain't handy no more

He's forgotten his domestic science, and he's lost of his self-reliance
He won't make a single move unless he's told, he says he isn't lazy, claims he isn't old
But still he sits around and lets my stove get cold, my handy man ain't handy no more

Time after time, if I'm not right there at his heels, he lets that poor horse in my stable miss his meals
There's got to be some changes 'cause each day reveals, my handy man ain't handy no more

He used to turn in early and get up at dawn, and full of new ambitions, he would trim the lawn
Now, when he isn't sleeping all he does is yawn, my handy man ain't handy no more

Once he used to have so much endurance, now, it looks like he needs life insurance
I used to brag about my handy man's technique, around the house he was a perfect indoor sheik
But now the spirit's willing but the flesh is weak, my handy man ain't handy no more

__________
Note: I'm pretty sure this is a Bessie Smith song but it is not listed on the Complete Recordings albums nor on any other I looked at. If you have any information on this song please mail me, thanks.

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Ruler

My Man Blues

soundclip


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

Clara: who was that man I saw you with the other day?
Bessie: that was my smooth black daddy that we call Charlie Gray
Don't you know that's my man?
Yes, that's a fact
I ain't seen your name printed up and down his back
You better let him be
What old gal?
Because you ain't talkin' to me
That's my man, I want him for my own
(spoken: No! No!)
He's my sweet daddy
You'd better leave that man alone

See that suit he's got on?
I bought it last week
I've been buyin' clothes for five years for that is my black sheik
Is that you honey?
(Charlie) 'Tain't nobody but, who's back here?
It sounds like Charlie
It is my man, sweet papa Charlie Gray
Your man?
How do you git that way?

Now, look here, honey, I been had that man for umpteen year
Child, didn't I turn your damper1 down?
Yes, Clara, and I've cut you every way but loose!
Well, you might as well be get it fixed
Well, then...

I guess we got to have him on cooperation plan
I guess we got to have him on cooperation plan
(spoken: Bessie! Clara!)
(Bessie and Clara together) Ain't nothin' different 'bout that rotten two time man

How about it?
Suits me!
Suits me!
Well then...!

__________
Note: plain text style is Bessie, italic is Clara;
Note 1: damper, a device that damps as a valve or plate (as in the flue of a furnace) for regulating the draft.

Top

Ruler

My Sweetie Went Away

soundclip


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

I've got a lovesick tale to tell to you
Though it ain't no affair of mine
It's 'bout a gal named Sue and a boy named Lou
They were fighting all the time
Sue came home one afternoon
And found an empty dining room
Without a word her turtledove had flown
She began to moan

My sweetie went away but he didn't say where
He didn't say when, he didn't say why
Oh, bid me goodbye
I'm blue as I can be
I know he loved another one but he didn't say who
He didn't say when, he didn't say what
His mama has got
That took my sweetie from me
I'm like a little lost sheep
And I can't sleep
But I keep trying to forget
My trifling papa has left his mama all alone, I groan
My sweetie went away but he didn't say where
He didn't say when, he didn't say why
I know I'll die
Why don't he hurry home

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Ruler

New Orleans Hop Scop Blues

soundclip


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

Old New Orleans is a great big old southern town, where hospitality you will surely find
The population there is very, very fair, with ev'rything they do
White folks do it too, they have a dance surely it's something rare there

Glide, slide, prance, dance, hop, stop
Take it easy honey!
Hmm
I can never git tired of dancin' those Hop Scop Blues
Once more you glide, slide, prance, dance
The Hop Scop Blues will make you do a lovely shake
They'll make you feel so grand when you join hand in hand,
I'll never git tired of dancin' those Hop Scop Blues

Once more you glide, slide, prance, I said dance, oh, hop, now stop
Take it easy honey!
Oh
I can never git tired of dancin' those Hop Scop Blues
Look out now!
You glide, slide, I said prance, dance
Hop Scop Blues will make you do a lovely shake
They'll make you feel so grand when you join hand in hand,
I'll never git tired of dancin' those Hop Scop Blues

Top

Ruler

Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine

soundclip


by Clarence Williams / Spencer Williams
recording of 1923 or 1924
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

In a bakery shop today
I heard Miss Mandy Jenkins say
She had the best cake, you see
And they were fresh as fresh could be
And as the people would pass by
You would hear Miss Mandy cry

Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine, like mine
No other one in town can bake a sweet jelly roll so fine, so fine
It's worth lots of dough, the boys tell me so
It's fresh every day, you'll hear 'em all say
Don't be no dunce, just try it once
You'll be right in line
Somebody told me I made the best jelly roll in town, I say in town
You must admit that I'm a jelly roll bakin' hound, bakin' hound
Good jelly roll, jelly roll is so hard to find
We always get the other kind
Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine

Somebody told me I made the best jelly roll in town, I say in town
You must admit that I'm a jelly roll bakin' hound, bakin' hound
Good jelly roll, jelly roll from a bakery shop
Will surely make a pool frog hop
Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like mine, like mine

Top

Ruler

Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

soundclip


by Ida Cox / B. Feldman
recording of 1929
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy 52838),
copyright notice

Once I lived the life of a millionaire,
spending my money, I didn't care
I carried my friends out for a good time,
buying bootleg liquor, champagne and wine

Then I began to fall so low,
I didn't have a friend, and no place to go
So if I ever get my hand on a dollar again,
I'm gonna hold on to it till them eagle's grin

Nobody knows you when you down and out
In my pocket not one penny,
and my friends I haven't any
But If I ever get on my feet again,
then I'll meet my long lost friend
It's mighty strange, without a doubt
Nobody knows you when you down and out
I mean when you down and out

Mmmmm, when you're down and out,
mmmmm, not one penny
And my friends I haven't any,
mmmmm, well I felt so low
Nobody wants me round their door,
mmmmm, without a doubt,
No man can use you wen you down and out
I mean when you down and out

Top

Ruler

Oh Daddy Blues

soundclip


by Elisha Herbert / W. Russell
recording of April 11 1923, New York City
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Just like a flower I am fading away
The doctor call to see me most every day
But he don't do me no good, why?
Because I'm lonesome for you
And if you care for me
Then you will listen to my plea
Oh, daddy, look what you doin', look what you doin'
Oh, daddy, you with your foolin', think what you're losin'
All the little love I gave you
Is goin' to make you feel so awfully blue
When you miss me and long to kiss me
You'll curse the day that you ever quit me
Oh, daddy, think when you're all alone
You'll get so lonely just wait and see
But there will be someone else makin' love to me
Then daddy, daddy, you won't have no mama at all

Oh, daddy, look what you doin', look what you doin'
Oh, daddy, you and your foolin', think what you losin'
All the little love I gave you
Is goin' to make me feel so awfully blue
When you miss me, and long to kiss me
You'll curse the day that you ever quit me
Oh, daddy, think when you're all alone
You know that you are getting old
You'll miss the way I baked your jelly roll
And daddy, daddy, you won't have no mama at all

Top

Ruler

Outside Of That

soundclip


by Trent / Williams
recording of March 20, 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

I've got the meanest man in the land
But his love is that sticking brand
His kiss just lingers on my lips
And thrill me to my fingertips
People say I'm a fool
He's heartless and also cruel

But outside of that, he's all right with me
Outside of that, he's sweet as he can be
I love him as true as stars above
He beats me up, but how he can love
I never loved like that since the day I was born
I said for fun, I don't want you no more
And when I said that, I made sweet papa sore
He blacked my eyes, I couldn't see
Then he pawned the things he gave to me
But outside of that, he's all right with me

I said for fun, I don't want you no more
And when I said that, I made sweet papa sore
When he pawned my things I said: you're a dirty old thief
Now, then he turned around and knocks out both of my teeth
Outside of that, he's all right with me

Top

Ruler

Pickpocket Blues

soundclip


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

My best man, my best friend,
told me to stop peddlin'1 gin
They even told me to keep my hands
out people's pocket where their money was in

But I wouldn't listen or have any shame,
'long as someone else would take the blame
Now I can see it all come home to me
I'm sittin' in the jailhouse now
I mean, I'm in the jailhouse now

I done stop runnin' around with this one
and these good lookin' browns
Any time you see me, I was good time bound,
with this one, that one, most all in town
I'm in the jailhouse now,
I'm sittin' in the jailhouse now

__________
Note 1: peddlin', to travel about with wares, in this case gin, for sale. In a wider sense: to sell, or offer for sale from place to place.

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Ruler

Pinchbacks - Take 'Em Away

soundclip


by Bessie Smith / Irving Johns
recording of April 4 1923
from
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47091), copyright notice

Girls, I wanna tell you about these sweet men
These men goin' around here tryin' to play cute
I'm hard on you boys, yes sir!

I fell in love with a sweet man once
He said he loved me too
He said if I'd run away with him
What nice things he would do
I'd travel around from town to town
How happy I would feel
But don't you know he would not work
Girls, take this tip from me

Get a working man when you marry
And let all these sweet men be
Child, it takes money to run a business
And with me I know you girls will agree
There's one thing about this married life
That these young girls have got to know
Say, if a sweet man enter your front gate
Turn out your light and lock your door

Yes, get a working man when you marry
Let all these pinchbacks1 be
Child, it takes money to run a business
And with me I know you girls will agree
And if this panic stays on much longer
I'll hear all these young girls say
That it's a long way to Oklahoma
But these little pinchbacks, take them away

__________
Note 1: pinchbacks, pinchbecks in modern day spelling, an alloy of copper and zinc used especially to imitate gold in jewelry. Also, something counterfeit or spurious. In the context of the song it is used for men who give their lovers cheap fake gold jewelry.

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Ruler

Please Help Me Get Him Off My Mind

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

I've cried and worried, all night and I laid and groaned
I've cried and worried, all night and I laid and groaned
I used to weigh two hundred now I'm down to skin and bones

It's all about a man who always kicked and dogged me 'round
It's all about a man who always kicked and dogged me 'round
And when I try to kill him that's when my love for him comes down

I've come to see you gypsy, beggin' on my bended knees
I've come to see you gypsy, beggin' on my bended knees
That man's put something on me, oh take it off of me, please

It starts at my forehead and goes clean down to my toes
It starts at my forehead and goes clean down to my toes
Oh, how I'm sufferin' gypsy, nobody by the good Lord knows

Gypsy, don't hurt him, fix him for me one more time
Oh, don't hurt him gypsy, fix him for me one more time
Just make him love me, but, please mam, take him off my mind

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Ruler

Poor Man's Blues

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

Mister rich-man, rich-man, open up your heart and mind
Mister rich-man, rich-man, open up your heart and mind
Give the poor man a chance, help stop these hard, hard times

While you're livin' in your mansion you don't know what hard times means
While you're livin' in your mansion you don't know what hard times means
Poor working man's wife is starvin', your wife is livin' like a queen

Please, listen to my pleading, 'cause I can't stand these hard times long
Oh, listen to my pleading, can't stand these hard times long
They'll make a honest man do things that you know is wrong

Poor man fought all the battles, poor man would fight again today
Poor man fought all the battles, poor man would fight again today
He would do anything you ask him in the name of the U.S.A.

Now the war is over, poor man must live the same as you
Now the war is over, poor man must live the same as you
If it wasn't for the poor man, mister rich-man what would you do?

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Ruler

Preachin' The Blues

soundclip


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

Down in Atlanta, GA, under the viaduct ev'ry day, drinking corn and hollerin' hooray
Pianos playing till the break of day
But as I turned my head, I loudly said, "Preach 'em blues, sing them blues"
They certainly sound good to me
I've been in love for the last six months and ain't done worrying yet
Moan'em blues, holler them blues
Let me convert your soul
'Cause just a little spirit of the blues tonight
Let me tell you, girls, that your man ain't treating you right
Let me tell you I don't mean no wrong
I will learn you something if you listen to this song
I ain't here to try to save your soul, just want to teach you how to save your good jelly roll

Going on down the line a little further now
There's many a poor woman down
Read on down to chapter nine,
woman must learn how to take their time
Read on down to chapter ten,
taking other women's men, you are doing a sin
Sing'em, sing'em, sing them blues
Let me convert your soul
Now one sister by the name of Sister Green
jumped up and done a shimmy you ain't never seen
Sing'em, sing'em, sing them blues
Let me convert your soul

Top

Ruler

Put It Right Here (Or Keep It Out There)

soundclip


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

I had a man for fifteen years
Give him his room and board
Once he was like a Cadillac
Now he's like an old worn out Ford
He never brought me a lousy dime
And put it in my hand
So there'll be some changes from now on
According to my plan

He's got to get it, bring it, and put it right here
Or else he's gonna keep it out there
If he must steal it, beg it, or borrow it somewhere
Long as he gets it, I don't care
I'm tired of fryin' pork chops
To grease his fat lips
And he has to find another place
For to park his old hips
He must get it, and bring it, and put it right here
Or else he's gonna keep it out there

The bee gets the honey, and brings it to the corn
Else he's kicked out of his home sweet home
To show you that they brings it, watch the dog and the cat
Everything even brings it, from a mule to a gnat1
The rooster gets the worm, and brings it to the hen
That oughta be a tip to all you no-good men
The groundhog even brings it and puts it in his hole
So my man has got to bring it, doggone his soul

He's got to get it, bring it, and put it right here
Or else he's gonna keep it out there
If he must steal it, beg it, or borr' it somewhere
Long as he gets it child, I don't care
I'm gonna tell him like the China man: when you don't bring 'em check
You don't get 'em laundry, if you break 'em down neck
You got to get it, bring it, and put it right here
Or else you gonna keep it out there

__________
Note 1: gnat, any of various small usually biting flies.

Top

Ruler

Reckless Blues

soundclip


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

When I wasn't nothin' but a child
When I wasn't nothin' but a child
All you men tried to drive me wild

Now I'm growin' old
Now I'm growin' old
and I've got what it takes to get all of you men told

My mama says I'm reckless, my daddy says I'm wild
My mama says I'm reckless, my daddy says I'm wild
I ain't good lookin' but I'm somebody's angel child

Daddy, mama wants some lovin'
Daddy, mama wants some huggin'
Darn it pretty papa, mama wants some lovin' I vow
Darn pretty papa, mama wants some lovin' right now

Top

Ruler

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Ruler

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


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