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Blind Willie McTell
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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* addition of December 2000
Ruler

Table Of Content (19 songs, 9 soundclips)

You are now in page 1

Page 1

B & O Blues #2
Broke Down Engine
Come On Around to My House Mama
Coolin' Board
Death Room Blues
Delia
East St. Louis Blues
I Got To Cross The River Jordan
Kind Mama
Lord, Send me An Angel

Love Makin' Mama
Mama T'ain't Long (Be)Fo(re) Day
Old Time Religion
Runnin' Me Crazy
* Searching The Desert For The Blues
Statesboro Blues
Talkin' To Myself
The Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues
Weary Hearted Blues

Ruler

B & O Blues #2

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1933

from The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234) & Doing That Atlanta (1927-1935) (Yazoo 1037), copyright notice

I'm gon' grab me a train, I'm goin' back to Baltimore
Well I'm gon' grab me a train, goin' back to Baltimore
I'm gonna find my baby, 'cause she rode that B & O1

I'm goin' to act like a rambler, and I can't stay home no more
I'm goin' to act like a rambler, and I can't stay home no more
'Cause the gal I love she rode that B & O

She said, "Daddy, I'm leavin', and I can't come back no more"
She said, "Daddy, I'm leavin', and I can't come back no more"
And if she don't come back, I'm goin' down in Ohio

(Ah play it now, you'd feel bad when she should leave you too,
trouble, boy, trouble...)

I never would have thought that my baby would treat me so
Well, I never would have thought that my baby would treat me so
Ah she broke my heart, when she grabbed that B & O

Now she wants to come back, and I can't use that child no more (not at all)
Now she wants to come back, and I can't use that child no more
'Cause I got another hot mama, and she lives in Baltimore

(Play it a little bit now boy, stand by you gonna hear it again, next year...)

__________
Note 1: B & O, railroad line

Top

Ruler

a

Broke Down Engine

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 19

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (Document 5006, 5007, 5008), copyright notice

Feel like a broke down engine, ain't got no drivin' wheel
Feel like a broke down engine, ain't got no drivin' wheel
You all been down and lonesome, you know just how a poor man feels

Been shooting craps and gambling, mama, and I done got broke
Been shooting craps and gambling, mama, and I done got broke
I done pawned my pistol, baby, my best clothes been sold

Lordy, Lord, Lordy, Lord, Lordy, Lord, Lordy, Lord,
Lordy, Lord

I went down in my praying ground, fell on my bended knees
I went down in my praying ground, fell on my bended knees
I ain't crying for no religion, Lord, give me back my good girl please

If you give me back my baby, I won't worry you no more
Give me back my baby, I won't worry you no more
Don't have to put her in my house, Lordy, just lead her to my door

Lordy, Lord, Lordy, Lord, Lordy, Lord, Lordy, Lord,
Lordy, Lord

Can't you hear me, baby, rappin' on your door?
Can't you hear me, baby, rappin' on your door?
Now you hear me tappin', tappin' across your floor

Feel like a broke down engine, ain't got no drive at all
Feel like a broke down engine, ain't got no drive at all
What make me love my woman, she can really do the Georgia crawl

Feel like a broke down engine, ain't got no whistle or bell
Feel like a broke down engine, ain't got no whistle or bell
If you're a real hot mama, come take away daddy's weeping spell

Top

Ruler

Come On Around To My House Mama

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 19

from The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (Document 5006, 5007, 5008), copyright notice

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody there but me
Call me a hotshot rider and a cheater, colored from Tennessee
Take it easy, don't get rough, just wanna tell you that I know my stuff

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody home but me
In the evening, ain't nobody home but me
In the morning, ain't nobody there but me

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody there but me
That's why you hear me screaming and crying, going back to Tennessee
Can't read and write, can't spell my name, I can really drive your man's heart insane

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody home but me
I mean, ain't nobody there but me
I love my corn and I love my booze, I really give your man the blues

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody home but me
I mean, ain't nobody there but me
Pull down your window, lock up your blind
I'll tell you something that'll change your mind

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody home but me
Late at night, ain't nobody there but me
Went to the door, the door was locked
Think my baby done changed the lock

Come on around to my house baby, ain't nobody there but me
That's why you hear me moaning, going back to Tennessee
Wake up in the morning 'bout half past three
Think my baby done pooped on me

Come on around to my house mama, ain't nobody there but me
In the evening, ain't nobody home but me
In the morning, ain't nobody there but me
I'm by myself, ain't nobody home but me

Ain't nobody home but me
You hear me talking, ain't nobody there but me
About now, ain't nobody there but me

Top

Ruler

Coolin' Board


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 19

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1933-1935) (Document 5008), copyright notice

Undertaker, undertaker, please take it slow
You're takin' the one I love, won't bring her back no more
Don't a man feel bad, when his baby's on the coolin' board
Don't a man feel bad, when the hearse pulls up to his door

Undertaker, undertaker, don't drive so fast,
seem like every minute going to be my last
I tried to help her, people, I did all that I could,
one out of a million who meant me any good

When I walked up to her bedside, her breath was gettin' low
She looked at me and said, "Honey, I can't love you no more"
My heart struck sorrow, my tears falling down,
watching my baby settled into the ground

Said I walked up to where they're throwing dirt in Ella's face
Wanted to jump into her grave and take her place
I realize I won't see my girl again,
swear to God I loved her, she was my only friend

Top

Ruler

Death Room Blues


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1933

from The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (Document 5006, 5007, 5008) & Atlanta Blues, 1933 (John Edwards Memorial Found 106), copyright notice

Tombstones is my pillow, cold grounds is my bed
Tombstones is my pillow, cold grounds is my bed
The blue skies is my blanket, and the moonlight is my spread

Early one morning, death walked into my room
Early one morning, death walked into my room
Oh well it took my dear mother, early one morning soon

She left me moanin' and cryin', moanin' like a turtledove
She left me moanin' and cryin', moanin' like a turtledove
Death walked in and got my dear mother, and the only friend I loved

Mmm, eehh, cryin', Lord have mercy, and she was the only friend I loved

Ever since my mother died and left me all alone
Ever since my mother died and left me all alone
All my friends have forsaken me, people I haven't even got no home

Mmm, feel like moanin' and cryin'
Mmm, feel like moanin' and cryin'
Death walked in a got my mother, and that was the only dear friend of mine

Top

Ruler

Delia

soundclip


by Traditional
recording of 19

from Complete Library of Congress Recordings (1940) (Document BDCD-6001)Legendary Library of Congress Session (Elektra 301), copyright notice

Delia, Delia, how can it be?
You love that old rounder, but you don't love me
Well, that's one more rounder gone
Delia, Delia sitting all around
Some of your old rounders gonna pay my way back home
Sitting on the housetop, high as I can see
You love that old rounder, but you don't love me

Delia's poor mother took a trip out West
When she returned, Delia lyin' in rest
Delia's mother wept, Delia's father moaned
They'd have wanted their poor child to die at home
Rubber tired buggy, two-seated hack,
took Delia to the graveyard, never brought her back

Kenny lookin' high, Kenny lookin' low,
Shot poor Delia with that hated .44
Delia, Delia, wouldn't take no one's advice
Last words I heard her say were, "Jesus Christ!"
Judge said to Kenny, "Here's a natural fact:
you going to wait in jail till Delia come back"

Kenny's in the basement, drinking from a silver cup
Delia's in the graveyard, never come back up
Kenny said to judge, "What's the fuss about?
Just that no good woman trying to put me out"

Top

Ruler

East St. Louis Blues


Traditional OR by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1933

from The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1933-1935) (Document 5008), copyright notice

I walked all the way from East Saint Louis
I never had but that one, one thin dime

I laid my head in a New York woman's lap
She laid her little cute head in mine

She tried to make me bleed by the rattlings of her tongue
The sun would never, never shine

I pawned my sword and I pawned my chain
Well I pawned myself but I fell to shame

I tried to see you in the fall
When you didn't have no man at all

I'd love to meet you in the spring when the bluebird's almost ready to sing
Faree, honey, faree well

You can shake like a cannon ball, get out and learn that old Georgia crawl
Faree, honey, faree well

(Play it boy...)

And I laid my head in a barroom door
And I can't get drunk, drunk no more

Now if you can't do the sugary get yourself on out of this house to me
Faree, baby, faree well

I tried to see you in the spring when the bluebird's almost ready to sing
Faree, honey, faree well

And I walked on back to East Saint Louis
Never had but that one, one thin dime

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Ruler

I Got To Cross The River Jordan


traditional
recording of 1940, Atlanta, Georgia

from Legendary Library of Congress Session (Elektra 301 or Melodeon 7323), copyright notice

I got to cross that river of Jordan
Lord, I got to cross that for myself
Says, nobody here can cross that for me
Lord, I got to cross that for myself

And I got to meet my dear old my mother
I got to meet her for myself
Left nobody here can meet her for me
Lord, I got to meet her for myself

I got to stand my trial and my judgment
I got to stand that for myself
Left nobody here can stand that for me
So I got to stand that for myself

Jordan river is so hard to swim in
I got to cross that for myself
Says, nobody here can cross that for me
Lord, I got to cross that for myself

I got to face my dear savior
I got to face him for myself
Says, nobody here can face him for me
Lord, I got to face him for myself

And I got to work soul salvation
Lord, I got to work that for myself
Left nobody here can work that for me
Says, I got to work out for myself

So I got to meet my mother and father
I got to meet them for myself
Says, nobody here can meet them for me
Lord, I got to meet them for myself

Ain't nobody here can stand that for me
Lord, I got to stand that for myself

So I got to lie so lonesome graveyard
I got to lie there for myself
Ain't nobody here can lie there for me
Lord, I got to lie there for myself

Top

Ruler

Kind Mama

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 19

from The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234) & Atlanta Blues, 1933 (John Edwards Memorial Found 106), copyright notice

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
She ain't got nobody to hold her hand

Way down yonder on Cripple Creek
Hemp don't grow but sixteen feet
Would go to bed but it ain't no use
They pile up on the bed like chickens on a roost

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
And she ain't got nobody to hold her hand

The rooster chew tobacco and the hen dip snuff
Said he can't shimmy but he struts his stuff

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
And she ain't got nobody to hold her hand

See that fella with that derby1 on
Look good to me just as sure as you're born
I'll tell you the truth and it's a natural fact
Shoulda been a rule 'gainst being that black

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
And she ain't got nobody to hold her hand

See that fellow that's standing right there
He don't live here but he's somewhere
Little patch of hair right around his mouth
Like he swallowed a mule and left his tail hanging out

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
She ain't got nobody to hold her hand

Wake up in the morning at a half past three
Thanks pretty mama done put out what I need

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
And she ain't got nobody to hold her hand

Soon in the morning at half past four
Hot shot rider rappin' at her door

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
She ain't got nobody in town to hold her hand

Went to the door and the door was locked
Think that baby tryin' to eagle rock

She's a real kind mama looking for another man
And she ain't got nobody here to hold her hand

__________
Note 1: derby, a man's stiff felt hat with dome-shaped crown and narrow brim. See illustration.

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Ruler

Lord, Send Me An Angel


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 19

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1931-1933) (Document 5007), copyright notice

Good Lord, good Lord, send me an angel down
Can't spare you no angel, I'll send you a teasin' brown
That new way of loving, swear it must be the best
These Georgia women won't let Mr. McTell rest

There was a cry on the corner, went to see what it could be
Must be some women, tryin' to get the best of me
Went down to the sheriff, suitcase in my hand
All the women run cryin', saying, "Mr. Mac, won't you be my man?"

My baby studyin' evil, and I'm studyin' evil too
Gonna hang round here to see what my baby gon' do
I can't be trusted, and I can't be satisfied
When the men see me comin', they go pin their womens to their side

Love my loving, like to get it any time of day
To get my right lovin', I'm going to south Georgia right away
I got three womens, yellow, brown and black
Take the governor of Georgia to judge which one I like

One woman's Atlanta yellow, the other is Macon brown
But the Statesboro blackskin will turn your damper1 down
So bye bye baby; I'll see you some sweet day
And you'll be sorry you drove your man away

__________
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

Love Makin' Mama


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1933

from The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1931-1933) (Document 5007) & Atlanta Blues, 1933 (John Edwards Memorial Found 106), copyright notice

You may fall from the mountain, drown in the deep blue sea
You ain't did the right fallin', till you fall in love with me
You's a love makin' mama, sweet as you can be
Ah you may be a little rockin', but baby you all right with me

Now for your love baby, I'll be your slave
When Gabriel blows his trumpet, I rise from my grave
'Cause you's a love makin' mama, sweet as you can be
Ah you may be a little rockin', but baby you all right with me

Now I'm goin' to put in my order mama, for two weeks ahead
I'd rather eat your cookin' than my own home bread
You's a love makin' mama, sweet as you can be
Ah you may be a little rockin', but baby you all right with me

(Aw play it now, that's the way I like it....)

Now I give you all my money, your clothes I dye
I give you my lovin' baby till the day I die
You's a love makin' mama, sweet as you can be
Ah you may be a little rockin', but honey you all right with me

Now from your feet baby, to the top of your head
I'll give you my lovin' till the day I'm dead
Sweet lovin' mama, sweet as you can be
You may be a little rockin' but honey you all right with me

Love makin' mama, sweet as you can be
You may be a little rockin', but baby you all right with me

Top

Ruler

Mama T'ain't Long (Be)Fo(re) Day

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of October 18. 1927, Atlanta, Georgia

from Last Session (Yazoo 1005), copyright notice

Wake up mama don't you sleep so hard
Wake up mama don't you sleep so hard
For its these old blues walkin' all over your yard

I've got those blues, I'm not satisfied
I've got those blues, I'm not satisfied
That's the reason I'm sure long way to cry

Blues arrived at midnight, won't turn me loose 'till day
Blues arrived at midnight, won't turn me loose 'till day
I didn't have no mama to drive these blues away

The big star fallin', mama t'ain't long (be)fo'(re) day
The big star fallin', mama t'ain't long (be)fo'(re) day
Rain or sunshine drive these blues away

Oh come here quick, come on mama, I got you....
Mmm...

Top

Ruler

Old Time Religion


traditional
recording of 1940, Atlanta, Georgia

from Legendary Library of Congress Session (Elektra 301 or Melodeon 7323), copyright notice

Give me that old time religion, amen
Give me that old time religion, amen
Give me that old time religion, give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion, amen

It was good for our mother, amen
It was good for our mother, amen
It was good for our mother, it was good for our mother
It was good for our mother, amen

It was good for the Hebrew children, amen
It was good for the Hebrew children, amen
It was good for the Hebrew children, it was good for the Hebrew children
It was good for the Hebrew children, amen

Give me that old time religion, amen
Give me that old time religion, amen
Give me that old time religion, it will take me up to heaven
It will take me through that valley, amen

Top

Ruler

Runnin' Me Crazy


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1933

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1933-1935) (Document 5008) & The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234), copyright notice

Said I'm almost crazy, and I'm all here by myself
Said I'm almost crazy, I'm all here by myself
Ah these women 'bout to run me crazy, Lord she's got someone else

Lord she's 'bout to run me crazy, these reckless women worryin' me
Said she's 'bout to run me crazy, reckless women worryin' me
She don't have to treat me so bad, 'cause she lives in Tennessee

Lord you'll either run me crazy woman, or either make me lose my mind
Say you'll either run me crazy, or make me lose my mind
'Cause you keep me worryin', troubled all the time

Lord these womens will run you crazy, they'll drive your heart in pain
Man women will run you crazy, and drive your heart in pain
They'll spend all your money, turn around and run you insane

(Ah play it, Ah your woman sure did treat you bad boy...)

Well she spent all my money, and then she drove me outdoors
Lord she spent all my money, turn around and drove me outdoors
And I was almost crazy 'cause I had nowhere to go

If you get a reckless woman, man don't never let her break your rules
You run down on a reckless woman, man don't never let her break your rules
And when you know anything you'll be almost crazy with the blues

Top

Ruler

Searching The Desert For The Blues

soundclip


by Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1931-1933

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1931-1933) (Document DOCD-5007) & Blind Willie McTell 1927-1949 (Wolf WSE102), copyright notice

You may search the ocean, you might go 'cross the deep blue sea
But Mama, you'll never find another hot shot like me

I followed my baby from the station to the train
And the blues came down like night and showered me

I left her at the station wringing her hands and crying
I told her she had a home, just as long as I had mine

I've got two women, and you can't tell them apart
I've got one in my bossom, and one I got in my heart

The one in my bossom, she's in Tennessee
And the one in my heart, don't even give a darn for me

I used to say a married woman was the sweetest thing that ever been born
But I've changed that thing, you better leave married women alone

Take my advice: let these married women be
'Cause their husbands'll grab you, beat you ragged as a cedar tree

When a woman say she love you 'bout good as she do herself,
I don't pay her no attention, tell that same line to somebody else

I really don't believe no woman in the whole round world do right,
act like an angel in the daytime, mess by the ditch at night

I'm going, pretty mama, please don't break this rule;
that's why I'm searching these deserts for the blues

I'm going, pretty mama, searching these deserts now
That's why I'm walking my baby home anyhow

Lord, oh Lord
Lordy, Lordy, Lord
Oh Lordy Lord
Lord, Lord, Lord

When a woman say she love you 'bout good as she do herself,
I don't pay her no attention, tell that same line to somebody else

Lord, Lord
Lord, Lord, Lord

Top

Ruler

Scarey Day Blues

soundclip


by Blind Willie McTell
recording of October 1931, Atlanta

from Doing That Atlanta (1927-1935) (Yazoo 1037) & Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (Document DOCD-5006) & The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia/Legacy 475701 or C2K-53234), copyright notice

My good gal got a mojo, she's tryin' to keep it hid1
My gal got a mojo, she's tryin' to keep it hid
But Georgia Bill2 got something to find that mojo with

I said she got that mojo and she won't let me see
She got that mojo and she won't let me see
And every time I start to love her she's tried to put that jinx on me

Well, she shakes like the Central3 and she wobbles like the L&N4
She shakes like the Central and she wobbles like the L&N
Well, she's a hot-shot mama and I'm scared to tell her where I been

Said my baby got something, she won't tell her daddy what it is
Said my baby got something, she won't tell her daddy what it is
But when I crawls into my bed, I just can't keep my black stuff still

__________
Note 1: tryin' to keep it hid, the concealment of the mojo hand is what has led to confusion about the meaning of the word. Many acoustic rural blues songs of the 1920s-30s refer to mojos, among them a dozen that carry a floating verse about "keeping a mojo hid". Since the least conspicuous way for a woman to wear a hidden mojo is hanging from a string under her skirt - or, as Coot Grant put it, above her knee - a male blues singer is making a double entendre when he declares he's going to find that mojo. It's a sexual joke, but the mojo itself is not sexual;
Note 2: Georgia Bill, the reference in the third line to "Georgia Bill" is explained by the fact that Willie Samuel McTell recorded for several competing labels under an assortment of pseudonyms including Georgia Bill, Hot Shot Willie, Blind Sammie, and Barrelhouse Sammy. "Scarey Day Blues" was a "Georgia Bill" recording, cut in Atlanta in October, 1931 for the Okeh label;
Note 3: Central, probably the the Illinois Central (I.C.) railroad line running from Miami (Florida), through Jacksonville and Birmingham to Chicago (Illinois).;
Note 4: L&N, the Louisville (Kentucky) & Nashville (Tennessee) Railroad (L&N) was chartered March 5 1850 and a 186 mile line was opened between its namesake cities on October 27, 1859. Pictures of the L&N are available at the site of the The Louisville & Nashville Railroad Historical Society;

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Ruler

Statesboro Blues

soundclip


by Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1928

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (Document 5006, 5007, 5008), copyright notice

Wake up mama, turn your lamp down low
Wake up mama, turn your lamp down low
Have you got the nerve to drive papa McTell from your door

My mother died and left me reckless, my daddy died and left me wild, wild, wild
Mother died and left me reckless, daddy died and left me wild, wild, wild
No, I'm not good lookin', I'm some sweet woman's angel child

You're a mighty mean woman, to do me this a-way
You're a mighty mean woman, to do me this a-way
Going to leave this town, pretty mama, going away to stay

I once loved a woman, better than I ever seen
I once loved a woman, better than I ever seen
Treat me like I was a king and she was a doggone queen

Sister, tell your brother, brother tell your auntie, auntie, tell your uncle, uncle tell my cousin, cousin tell my friend
Goin' up the country, mama, don't you want to go?
May take me a fair brown, may take me one or two more

Big Eighty1 left Savannah, Lord, and did not stop
You ought to saw that colored fireman when he got that boiler hot
Reach over in the corner, hand me my travelin' shoes
You know by that, I got them Statesboro blues

Sister got 'em, daddy got 'em
Brother got 'em, mama got 'em
Woke up this morning, we had them Statesboro blues
I looked over in the corner, grandpa and grandma had 'em too

__________
Note 1: Big Eighty, probably the name of a railroad line.

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Ruler

Talkin' To Myself

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of April 17. 1930, Atlanta, Georgia

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (Document 5006, 5007, 5008) & Last Session (Yazoo 1005), copyright notice

Scat ...
Good Lord, good Lord, send me an Angel down
"Can't spare you no angel but I'll sure send you a teasin' brown"

That new way of lovin', mama it must be best
These-a Georgia women just won't let Mr. Samuel rest

Look at the crowds out on the corner, wondered who could it be?
It wasn't a thing but the women trying to get to me

I even went down to the depot, with my suitcase in my hand
Crowd of women runned crying: "Mr. Samuel won't you be my man"?

My Mama she told me when I was a boy playin' mumble peg1:
"Don't drink no black cow's milk2, don't you eat no black hen's egg2"

Black man give you a dollar mama, he won't think its nothin' strange
A yellow man will give a dollar but he'll want back ninety-five cents change

If they call me cheater, pretty boy I'll real cheat you
If you will allow me a chance, I'll gnaw your backbone half in two

I took a trip out on the ocean, want the sound of the deep blue sea
I found a crab with a swim trying to do the shimmy

I want to tell you something mama, seem mighty doggone strange
You done made me mess around gal and break my jojo string3

Honey I ain't gonna be the old work ox no more
You done 'mess around' let your doggone ox get hauled

My mama she got a mojo, place she try to keep it hid
Papa Samuel got something to find that mojo with

I even heard a rumblin', deep down in the ground
It wasn't a thing but the women tryin' to run me down

__________
Note 1: mumble peg, ;
Note 2: black cow's milk and black hen's egg, omens of bad luck;
Note 3: break my jojo string, probably a phallic double-entendre.

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The Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues

soundclip


by Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1940

from Complete Library of Congress Recordings (1940) (Document BDCD-6001)Legendary Library of Congress Session (Elektra 301), copyright notice

Little Jesse was a gambler, night and day
He used crooked cards and dice
Sinful guy, good hearted but had no soul
Heart was hard and cold like ice

Jesse was a wild reckless gambler
Won a gang of change
Although' a many gambler's heart he led in pain
Began to spend a-loose his money
Began to be blue, sad and all alone
His heart had even turned to stone

What broke Jesse's heart while he was blue and all alone
Sweet Lorena packed up and gone
Police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down
Boys I got to die today

He had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers at his bedside
Here are the words he had to say

Guess I ought to know
Exactly how I wants to go
(How you wanna go, Jesse?)

Eight crapshooters to be my pallbearers
Let 'em be veiled down in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard, Bubba
And eight men comin' back

I want a gang of gamblers gathered 'round my coffin-side
Crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters'll never grieve over me
My life been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
High sheriff playin' blackjack, lead the parade

I want the judge and solic'ter who jailed me 14 times
Put a pair of dice in my shoes (then what?)
Let a deck of cards be my tombstone
I got the dyin' crapshooter's blues

Sixteen real good crapshooters
Sixteen bootleggers1 to sing a song
Sixteen racket men2 gamblin'
Couple tend bar while I'm rollin' along

He wanted 22 womens outta the Hampton Hotel
26 off-a South Bell
29 women outta North Atlanta
Know little Jesse didn't pass out so swell

His head was achin', heart was thumpin'
Little Jesse went to hell bouncin' and jumpin'
Folks, don't be standin' around ole Jesse cryin'
He wants everybody to do the Charleston3 whilst he dyin'

One foot up, a toenail dragging
Throw my buddy Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze

The dyin crapshooter's, leavin' the world
The dyin' crapshooter's, goin' down slow
With the dyin' crapshooter's blues

__________
Note: Willie McTell recorded "Dying Crapshooter's Blues" on three occasions: first in 1940, in Atlanta for John Lomax's folk song recordings for the Library of Congress; next in Atlanta in 1949 for the then-brand-new Atlantic Records, under the pseudonym "Barrelhouse Sammy"; and last in 1956 in Atlanta for record store owner & blues fan Ed Rhodes. None of these recordings were released commercially during McTell's lifetime. The 1949 recording (probably the best of the three) in available on Atlantic's "Atlanta Twelve String" CD, and the 1956 version, which is prefaced by a long spoken introduction, should still be available on CD (I think the disc is called "Last Session"). In his 1956 intro to the song, McTell claims that "Dying Crapshooter's Blues" was in fact written at the request of a dying gambler named Jesse, who gave McTell a list of all the things he wanted at his funeral. Whether or not the funeral actually was carried out as requested is dubious; McTell claims that Jesse's father put up funds and that they got "everything but the women", but I don't know if the cops were really tending bar and playing blackjack...
The song itself is based directly on a much older blues song, "St. James Infirmary," which I think has been credited to Blind Lemon Jefferson. McTell stated in 1956 that he "stole music every which-way" to complete "Dying Crapshooter's Blues," and he probably didn't finish it until the mid-1930's, since it doesn't appear on any of his prolific 1927-1935 recordings. Nonetheless, it's definitely one of his best original songs. Thanks to Adam Powers;

Note 1: bootlegger, someone who manufactures, sells, or transports alcoholic liquor illegally;
Note 2: racket, a fraudulent scheme, enterprise, or activity. Usually illegitimate enterprise made workable by bribery, intimidation or extortion. Also slang for occupation, business;
Note 3: Charleston, a popular dance of the twenties.

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Weary Hearted Blues

soundclip


by probably Blind Willie McTell
recording of 1933

from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1933-1935) (Document 5008) & The Definitive Blind Willie McTell (Columbia C2K-53234), copyright notice

Looka here pretty mama, I'll tell you what I'll do
I'll make these lots of dollars and bring 'em all home to you
Now I'm weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why I'm cryin' these weary hearted blues

I'll give you my money, baby I'll admire
I'll do as all for you mama, you require
Still I'm weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why that I'm cryin' these weary hearted blues

I'll even hold your head when you are feelin' bad
I'll sing and dance for you mama, when you're sad
Now I'm weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why I'm cryin' these weary hearted blues

I wanna tell all you mens nice and kind
You lose your best woman, don't you fool with mine
'Cause I'm weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why I'm cryin' these weary hearted blues

Now a white man go to the river, take him a seat and sit down
The blues overtake him, he jump overboard and drown
Yes he's weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why we're cryin' these weary hearted blues

Now a colored man go to the river, take him a seat and sit down
He takes the blues, he come home back to town
And yet he weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why I'm cryin' these weary hearted blues

I wants all you men to let my good gal alone
I give her a dollar in the street and I'll give her two at home
'Cause I'm weary, weary hearted and blue
And that's why I'm cryin' these weary hearted blues

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Created by:
Bluesman Harry
Page last updated on:
December 16 2000


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