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Blind Lemon Jefferson
Ruler
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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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back to the Blind Lemon Jefferson index page

* = additions of March 2000

Table Of Content (15 songs, 13 soundclips)

You are now in page 1

Page 1

* Big Night Blues
* Change My Luck Blues
* Hangman's Blues
'Lectric Chair Blues
* Lonesome House Blues
* Long Distance Moan
* Mosquito Moan
One Kind Favor

* Pneumonia Blues
Prison Cell Blues
Rising High Water Blues
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
* Shuckin' Sugar Blues
* That Black Snake Moan
* That Crawling Baby Blues

Ruler

Big Night Blues


by probably Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of March 1929, Chicago

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1929) (Document DOCD-5020) & Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson (Wolf 16) & King of the Country Blues [LP] (Yazoo 1069) copyright notice

My feets is so sore, can't hardly wear ma shoes
My feets is so sore, can't hardly wear ma shoes
Out last night with wild women and it left me with those big night blues

I grabbed ma sugar an' I danced sweet mama till the clock struck twelve
I grabbed ma sugar an' I danced sweet mama till the clock struck twelve
I had to wrestle so hard with my good gal, an' I ain't feelin' so well

I'm going back to that wild party, get with the wild women again
I'm going back to that wild party, get with the wild women again
Well I ain't goin' leave home, till I have me a quart of gin

__________
Note: issued by Paramount under catalogue no. 12801.

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Ruler

Change My Luck Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of in February 1928, Chicago, Illinois

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022), copyright notice

Hey, hey, mama, that ride has come and gone
I say hey, hey, mama, that ride has come and gone
I just can't see what in the world is you waiting on

I've done met a mama, she ain't long in or tall
I say I got another mama, she ain't long in or tall
But to tell you the truth, man, she's as soft as a butter ball

She got every movement from her head down to her toe
She got every movement from her head down to her toe
And she can break in on the dollar, man busting it where she goes

She was my best mama, but she wouldn't treat me right
I said she was my best mama, but she wouldn't treat me right
She wouldn't do nothin' but barrelhouse all night long

I'm gonna get a mama, I mean with lots of buck
I'm gonna get a mama, I mean with lots of buck
I want to be gone mama, so I can change my luck

Be gone mama, be gone

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Ruler

Hangman's Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of July 1928, Chicago

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928) (Document DOCD-5019), copyright notice

Hangman's rope sho' is tough and strong
Hangman's rope sho' is tough and strong
They gonna hang me because I did something wrong

I wanna tell you the gallis1 Lord's a fearful sight
I wanna tell you the gallis Lord's a fearful sight
Hang me in the mornin', and cut me down at night

Mean ole hangman is waitin' to tighten up that noose
Mean ole hangman is waitin' to tighten up that noose
Lord, I'm so scared I'm trembling in my shoes

Jury heard my case and they said my hands was red
Jury heard my case and they said my hands was red
And judge he sentenced me be hanging till I'm dead

Crowd 'round the courthouse and the time is going fast
Crowd 'round the courthouse and the time is going fast
Soon a good-for-nothin' killer is gonna breath his last

Lord, I'm almost dyin', gasping for my breath
Lord, I'm almost dyin', gasping for my breath
And a triflin'2 woman waiting to celebrate my death

__________
Note: in some states that had the death penalty, hanging was still the preferred method of execution until the 1950's. Nowadays all states have converted to poison injections, gas or the electric chair. Issued by Paramount under catalogue no. 12679B;
Note 1: gallis, gallows, a frame usually of two upright posts and a transverse beam from which criminals are hanged, called also gallows tree;
Note 2: triflin', to talk in a jesting or mocking manner or with intent to delude or mislead or to treat someone or something as unimportant.

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Ruler

'Lectric Chair Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of February 1928, Chicago, Illinois

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928) (Document DOCD-5019) & Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson (Wolf 16), copyright notice

I want to shake hands with my partner and ask him how come he's here
I want to shake hands with my partner, ask him how come he's here
I had a wreck with my family, they're gonna send me to the electric chair

I wonder why they electrocute a man at the one o'clock hour of night
And I wonder why they electrocute a man at the one o'clock hour of night
Because the current is much stronger, when the folks has turned out all the lights

I sat in the electrocutin' room, my arms folded up and cryin'
I sat in the electrocutin' room, my arms folded up and cryin'
And my baby asked the question, was they gonna electrocute that man of mine?

Lemon, get me a taxi to take me away from here
Lemon, get me a taxi to take me all away from here
I haven't had a good friend in this world, since they lead Lemon to the electric chair

I feel like jumpin' in the ocean, I feel like jumpin' in the deep blue sea
I feel like jumpin' in the ocean, and like jumpin' into the deep blue sea
But nothin' like that wrecked in my heart when they brought my electrocuted daddy to me

__________
Note: issued by Paramount under catalogue no. 12608.

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Ruler

Lonesome House Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of early 1927, Chicago, Illinois

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022), copyright notice

I had a dream last night all about my gal
I had a dream last night all about my gal
You can tell that sweet papa ain't feelin' so well

I'm goin' away mama, just to wear you off my mind
I'm goin' away sweet mama, just to wear you off my mind
So if I live here in Chicago, money's gonna be my crime

This house is lonesome, my baby left me all alone
I said this house is lonesome, my sugar left me all alone
If your heart ain't rock, sugar's must be marble stone

Play that thing...
Sure is good...
Play it like you live...

I got the blues so bad, it hurts my feet to walk
I got the blues so bad, it hurts my feet to walk
This house is on my brain, it hurts my tongue to talk

Lonesome house blues...

__________
Note: a second guitar accompanyment on this song may have been played by Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter.

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Ruler

Long Distance Moan

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of September 1929, Richmond, Indiana

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022), copyright notice

I'm flyin' to South Carolina, I've got to go there this time
I'm flyin' to South Carolina, I've got to go there this time
Woman and tell me, Texas, about to make me lose my mind

Long distance, long distance, would you please give me a credit call
Long distance, long distance, would you give me please your credit call
Walk up to my girl in South Carolina, who looks like her hands done squalled1

Just wanna ask my baby, what in the world is she been doin'
Wanna ask my baby, what in the world is she been doin'
Give your lovin' to another joker and its sure gonna be my ruin

Eh, long distance, I can't help but moan
Mmm mmm, I can't help but moan
My baby's voice sounds so sweet, almost wrecked the telephone

You don't know your love, you're wrapped deep so far from you
You don't know your love, your letter, I said she's so far from you
You can get a long distance moan, and you don't care what you do

I think I hear the tele buzzin', get my darlin' off my mind
Oh you tele-parties, get my baby off my mind
This long distance moan about to worry me to death this time

__________
Note 1: squalled, phonetically correct, no clue what it could mean in this context or if it is really the correct text. If you do please mail me.

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Ruler

Mosquito Moan

soundclip


by probably Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of October 1929, Richmond

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022), copyright notice

I bought a spray last night 'n I sprayed all over my house
I bought a spray last night 'n I sprayed all over my house
Mosquitoes all around my door won't let nobody come out

Mosquitoes all around me, mosquitoes everywhere I go
Mosquitoes all around me, mosquitoes everywhere I go
No matter where I go, they sticks their bills in me

I would say gallinipper1, these gallinippers bites too hard
I would say gallinipper, these gallinippers bites too hard
I stepped back in my kitchen and they springing up in my back yard

__________
Note: Issued by Paramount under catalogue No. 12899;
Note 1: gallinipper, any of various insects such as a large mosquito or crane fly, mainly used in the south and midland.

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Ruler

One Kind Favor


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of 19

from , copyright notice

Just one kind favor I ask of you
One kind favor I ask of you
One kind favor, I ask of you
To see that my grave is kept clean

If you ever hear a church bell toll
If you ever hear a church bell toll
If you ever hear, a church bell toll
You'll know by that I'm dead and gone

Dig my grave with a silver spade
Dig my grave with a silver spade
Dig my grave, with a silver spade
Mark the place where I would lay

Just one kind favor I ask of you
One kind favor I ask of you
One kind favor, I ask of you
See that my grave is kept clean
See that my grave is kept clean
See my grave is kept clean

__________
Note: see also See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

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Ruler

Pneumonia Blues

soundclip


by probably Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of September 24 1929, Richmond

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1929) (Document DOCD-5020), copyright notice

I'm achin' all over, baby, b'lieve I got the pneumonia this time
I'm achin' all over, baby, b'lieve I got the pneumonia this time
An' it's all on account of that low-down gal of mine

Slippin' round the corners, running up alleys too
Slippin' round the corners, running up alleys too
Watching my woman trying to see what she goin' do

Sat out in the streets one cold, dark, stormy night
Sat out in the streets one cold, dark, stormy night
Trying to see if my good gal going to make it home all right

Wearin' B.V.D.'s1 in the winter, prowling 'round in the rain
Wearin' B.V.D.'s in the winter, prowling 'round in the rain
Runnin' down baby, give me this pneumonia pain

__________
Note: diseases of the lungs accounted for a large number of deaths among the black community in the late 1920's and early 1930's, mainly caused by insufficient clothing, housing and medical care. Especially recently arrived migrants form the south, unaccustomed to the cold northern climate, improperly housed and with hardly any or no access to medical care had to pay a high price in human lives. Issued by Paramount under catalogue no. 12880;
Note 1: B.V.D.'s, trademark, generally used for underwear.

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Ruler

Prison Cell Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of February 1928, Chicago, Illinois

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Ace CDCH 399) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928) (Document DOCD-5019) & Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022) & King of the Country Blues [LP] (Yazoo 1069) & Matchbox Blues (Indigo 2075), copyright notice

Getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell
Lord, I wouldn't have been here if it had not been for Nell

Lay awake at night and just can't eat a bite
Used to be my rider but she just won't treat me right

Got a red-eyed captain and a squabbling boss
Got a mad dog sergeant, honey, and he won't knock off

I'm getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell
Lord, I wouldn't 've been here if it had not been for Nell

I asked the government to knock some days off my time
Well, the way I'm treated, I'm about to lose my mind

I wrote to the governor, please turn me a-loose
Since I don't get no answer, I know it ain't no use

I'm getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell
Lord, I wouldn't have been here if it had not been for Nell

I hate to turn over and find my rider gone
Walking across my floor, Lordy, how I moan

Lord, I wouldn't have been here if it had not been for Nell
I'm getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell

__________
Note: issued by Paramount under catalogue no. 12622.

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Ruler

Rising High Water Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of May 1927, Chicago, Illinois

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Ace CDCH 399) & Blind Lemon Jefferson, Vol. 2 (Document 5018) & Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022) & Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson (Wolf 16), copyright notice

Backwater1 rising, Southern peoples can't make no time
I said, backwater rising, Southern peoples can't make no time
And I can't get no hearing from that Memphis girl of mine

Water in Arkansas, people screaming in Tennessee
Oh, people screaming in Tennessee
If I don't leave Memphis, backwater spill all over poor me

People, since its raining, it has been for nights and days
People, since its raining, has been for nights and days
Thousands people stands on the hill, looking down were they used to stay

Children stand there screaming: mama, we ain't got no home
Oh, mama we ain't got no home
Papa says to the children, "Backwater left us all alone"

Backwater rising, come in my windows and door
The backwater rising, come in my windows and door
I leave with a prayer in my heart, backwater won't rise no more

__________
Note: this song refers to the catastrophic great Mississippi flood of 1927. Issued by Paramount under catalogue no. 12487;
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.

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Ruler

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

soundclip


traditional OR by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of 1928

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928) (Document DOCD-5019) & King of the Country Blues [LP] (Yazoo 1069) & Matchbox Blues (Indigo 2075), copyright notice

Well, there's one kind of favor I'll ask of you
Well, there's one kind of favor I'll ask of you
There's just one kind of favor I'll ask of you
You can see that my grave is kept clean

And there's two white horses following me
And there's two white horses following me
I got two white horses following me
Waiting on my burying ground

Did you ever hear that coffin' sound
Have you ever heard that coffin' sound
Did you ever hear that coffin' sound
Means another poor boy is under ground

Did you ever hear them church bells tone
Have you ever hear'd them church bells tone
Did you ever hear them church bells tone
Means another poor boy is dead and gone

Well, my heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold
And, my heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold
Well, my heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold
Now I believe what the bible told

There's just one last favor I'll ask of you
And there's one last favor I'll ask of you
There's just one last favor I'll ask of you
See that my grave is kept clean

__________
Note: see also One Kind Favor. Blind Lemon Jefferson's most famous folk song contains a wish that has been fulfilled by some of his many admirers. A group of contemporary artists came together to get him a new headstone. The grave is in the segregated section of the Wortham, Texas, cemetery on Highway 14, some 85 miles south of Dallas. So, if you're in the 'hood... This is a picture of his grave. For more info and pictures see this site.

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Ruler

Shuckin' Sugar Blues

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of circa June 1926, Chicago, Illinois

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022), copyright notice

I've got your picture, and I'm going to put it in a frame
I've got your picture, I'll put it in a frame, Shuckin' Sugar
And then if you leave town, we can find you just the same

Now if you don't love me, please don't dog me around
If you don't love me, please don't dog me around, Shuckin' Sugar
Like you dog me around, I'll know you'll put me down

I know my baby, thinks she wanting all of me
I know my baby, thinks she wanting all of me, Shuckin' Sugar
Everytime she smiles, she shines a light on me

Oh big fair brown, something's goin' on wrong
Oh big fair brown is, something's goin' on wrong, Shuckin' Sugar
Its this woman I love, she's gone from here and gone

Ah, listen fair brown, don't you wanna go
Ah, listen fair brown, don't you wanna go, Shuckin' Sugar
Well, you take it 'cross the water, where a brown-skinned man can't go

All them worries here, worries everywhere
I have worries here, worries everywhere, Shuckin' Sugar
Man, I just started home and I might be worried there

Well, I'm of tired of marriage, and I'm tired of this settlin' down
I said I'm tired of this marriage, tired of this settlin' down, Shuckin' Sugar
I only wanna be like I am in a different kind of town

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Ruler

That Black Snake Moan

soundclip


by Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of circa June 1926, Chicago, Illinois

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022), copyright notice

I - I ain't got no mama now
I - I ain't got no mama now
She told me late last night, "You don't need no mama no how"

Mmm, mmm, black snake crawlin' in my room
Mmm, mmm, black snake crawlin' in my room
Some pretty mama better come and get this black snake soon

Ohh-oh, that must have been a bed bug, baby a chinch can't bite that hard1
Ohh-oh, that must have been a bed bug, honey a chinch can't bite that hard
Ask my sugar for fifty cents, she said "Lemon, ain't a child in the yard"

Mama, that's all right, mama that's all right for you
Mama, that's all right, mama that's all right for you
Mama, that's all right, most seen all you do2

Mmm, mmm, what's the matter now?
Mmm, mmm, honey what's the matter now?
Sugar, what's the matter, don't like no black snake no how

Mmm, mmm, wonder where my black snake gone?
Mmm, mmm, wonder where this black snake gone?
Black snake mama done run my darlin' home

__________
Note: Jefferson's first single for Paramount was also his most successful recording. An excellent example of how Blind Lemon used overtly suggestive sexual imagery without becoming salacious;
Note 1: Chinch bug, defined in different terms as a type of bed bug and as another insect which is destructive to types of lawn grass;
Note 2: lyric is garbled, "Most seen all you do" is a best guess.

[Blind Lemon Jefferson on Okeh record label]

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Ruler

That Crawling Baby Blues

soundclip


by probably Blind Lemon Jefferson
recording of October 10 1929, Richmond

from Blind Lemon Jefferson (Milestone 47022) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1929) (Document DOCD-5020) & King of the Country Blues [LP] (Yazoo 1069), copyright notice

Heard a baby crying, what do this mama mean
Heard a baby crying, what do this mama mean
He's crying 'bout his sweet milk, and she won't feed him Jersey cream

Well, he crawled from the fireplace, stopped in the middle of the floor
Well, he crawled from the fireplace, stopped in the middle of the floor
Says, "Mama, ain't that your second daddy standing back there in the door?"

Well she grabbed my baby, spanked him and tried to make her leave him alone
Well she grabbed my baby, spanked him and tried to make her leave him alone
I tried my best to stop her and she said, "The babe ain't none of mine"

The woman rocks the cradle, I declare she rules the home
The woman rocks the cradle, I declare she rules the home
Married man rocks some other man's babe, fool thinks he is rockin' his own

__________
Note: issued by Paramount under catalogue No. 12880.

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Ruler

Created by:
Bluesman Harry
Page last updated on:
May 28 2000


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