Robert Johnson
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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Ruler

About the Robert Johnson transcriptions...

Given Robert Johnson's pronunciation and the quality of the recordings, it's often hard to tell what exactly he's singing. I've consulted several sources on Robert Johnson's' songs, on the internet as well as in printed and published form such as songbooks and I had to come to the conclusion that the dead right and certain transcription of a song probably doesn't exist or there is no way to be sure which one it is. So if you're looking for certified exact transcriptions, wander on blues boy or gal because you won't find them here. What you will find however, is transcriptions that I think are (most likely to be) correct and in many occasions alternative word(s) or phrases for a specific part of the song. Finally, for some songs you'll find bits and pieces of interesting background information, enjoy !.
Ruler

Table Of Content (41 songs, 41 soundclips)

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32-20 Blues
Come On In My Kitchen (1)
Come On In My Kitchen (2)
Cross Road Blues (1)
Cross Road Blues (2)
Dead Shrimp Blues
Drunken Hearted Man (1)
Drunken Hearted Man (2)
From Four Till Late
Hellhound On My Trail
Honeymoon Blues
I'm A Steady Rollin' Man
I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day

Kind Hearted Woman Blues (1)
Kind Hearted Woman Blues (2)
Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Little Queen Of Spades (1)
Little Queen Of Spades (2)
Love In Vain (1)
Love In Vain (2)
Malted Milk
Me And The Devil Blues (1)
Me And The Devil Blues (2)
Milk cow's Calf Blues (1)
Milk cow's Calf Blues (2)
Phonograph Blues (1)
Phonograph Blues (2)

Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)
Rambling On My Mind (1)
Rambling On My Mind (2)
Stones In My Passway
Stop Breakin' Down Blues (1)
Stop Breakin' Down Blues (2)
Sweet Home Chicago
Terraplane Blues
They're Red Hot
Traveling Riverside Blues
Walkin' Blues
When You Got A Good Friend(1)
When You Got A Good Friend(2)

Ruler

Kindhearted Woman Blues (Take 1)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 1st of 5 sessions, November 23 1936, San Antonio, Texas

from The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

I got a kindhearted woman, do anything in this world for me
I got a kindhearted woman, do anything in this world for me
But these evil-hearted women, man, they will not let me be

I love my baby, my baby don't love me
I love my baby, ooooh, my baby don't love me
But I really love that woman, can't stand to leave her be

Ain't but the one thing, makes Mister Johnson drink1
I's worried about2 how you treat me, baby, I begin to think
Oh babe, my life don't feel the same
You breaks my heart, when you call Mister So-and-So's name

She's a kindhearted woman, she studies evil all the time
She's a kindhearted woman, she studies evil all the time
You well's to kill me, as to have it on your mind

__________
Note 1: alternatively "dream" instead of "drink"
Note 2: alternatively "I swear by" instead of "I's worried about"
Note 3: a dialectic contraction of "had just as well", still in comon usage

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Ruler

Kindhearted Woman Blues (Take 2)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 1st of 5 sessions, November 23 1936, San Antonio, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

I got a kindhearted mama, do anything in this world for me
I got a kindhearted mama, do anything in this world for me
But these evil-hearted women, man, they will not let me be

I love my baby, my baby don't love me
I love my baby, ooooh, my baby don't love me
I really love that woman, can't stand to leave her be

Now there ain't but the one thing, makes Mister Johnson drink1
I get's worried2 about how you treat me, baby, I begin to think
Oh babe, my life don't feel the same
You breaks my heart, when you call Mister So-and-So's name

She's a kindhearted mama, she studies evil all the time
She's a kindhearted woman, but she studies evil all the time
You well's3 to kill me, as to have it on your mind

Some day, some day, I would shake your hand goodbye
Some day, some day, I would shake your hand goodbye
I can't give you anymore of my lovin', 'cause I just ain't satisfied

__________
Note 1: alternatively "dream" instead of "drink"
Note 2: alternatively "I's worried" instead of "I get's worried"
Note 3: a dialectic contraction of "had just as well", still in comon usage

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Ruler

Last Fair Deal Gone Down

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 3rd of 5 sessions, November 27 1936, San Antonio, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice


It's the last fair deal goin' down,
last fair deal goin' down
It's the last fair deal goin' down, good Lord,
on that Gulfport Island Road1

Please, Ida Belle, don't cry this time
Ida Belle, don't cry this time
If you cry about a nickel, you'll die 'bout a dime
She wouldn't cry, but the money won't2 mine

I love the way you do,
I love the way you do
I love the way you do, good Lord,
on this Gulfport Island Road1

My captain's so mean on me,
my captain's so mean on me
My captain's so mean on me, good Lord,
on this Gulfport Island Road

Take camp tain he and see, camp ain't he and see
At scal ain't be at seen3, good Lord,
on that Gulfport Island Road

Ah, this last fair deal goin' down,
it's the last fair deal goin' down
This' the last fair deal goin' down, good Lord,
on this Gulfport Island Road1

I'm workin' my way back home,
I'm working my way back home
I'm workin' my way back home, good Lord,
on this Gulfport Island Road

And that thing don't keep-a ringin' so soon
That thing don't keep-a ringin' so soon
And that thing don't keep-a ringin' so soon,
good Lord, on that Gulfed-and-Port Island Road

__________

[Robert Johnson memorial, Mt. Zion, Greenwood, Mississippi]

Note 1: The Gulfport Island or Gulf & Ship Island railroad linked the docks at Ship Island, Mississippi, just off the main land at the city of Gulfport on the Gulf of Mexico with the main railroad line at Jackson;
Note 2: won't is a dialectic substitute for weren't;
Note 3: Robert sure lost everyone here, a pure phonetical transcription here, can't make head nor tail of this part of the song. Hear the soundclip and please mail me if you think you know the words, bluesmanharry@bigfoot.com

Dennis Anderson offers this alternative text for this verse:

"The captain he can see, captain he can see
That captain he can see good lord
Oh that Gulfport Island Road"

Thanks to Dennis Anderson for this contribution.

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Ruler

Little Queen Of Spades (Take 1)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Now, she is a little queen of spades, and the men will not let her be
Mmm mmm, she is the little queen of spades, and the men will not let her be
Everytime she makes a spread, hoo, fair brown, cold chill just runs all over me

I'm gon' get me a gamblin' woman, if it's the last thing that I do
Eee hee eee, gon' get me a gamblin' woman, if it's the last thing that I do
Well, a man don't need a woman, hoo, fair brown, that he got to give all his money to

Everybody say she got a mojo, now, she's been usin' that stuff
Mmmm, mmmm, everybody says she got a mojo, 'cause she been usin' that stuff
But she got a way trimmin'1 down, hoo, fair brown, and I mean it's most too tough

Now little girl, since I am the king, baby, and you is a queen
Ooo eee, since I am the king baby, and you is a queen
Let's us put our heads together, hoo, fair brown, then we can make our money green

_________
Note 1: alternatively "tremblin' " instead of "trimmin' "

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Ruler

Little Queen Of Spades (Take 2)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Mmm, she is a little queen of spades, and the men will not let her be
Hoo ooo ooh, she is the little queen of spades, and the men will not let her be
Everytime she makes a spread, hoo, cold chill just runs all over me

Well, I'm gon' get me a gamblin' woman, if its the last thing that I do
Ooh hoo eee, gon' get me a gamblin' woman, if its the last thing that I do
A man don't need a woman, hoo, fair brown, he got to give all of his money to

Well1 everybody say she got a mojo, baby, you've been usin' that stuff
Hmm hmm hmm, everybody say she got a mojo, 'cause she been usin' that stuff
She got a way trimmin'2 down, hoo we', babe, and I mean it's most too tough

Well, well, little girl, since I am the king, fair brown, and you is a queen
Hoo ooh ooe, since I am the king, baby, and you is a queen
Let's we put our heads together, hoo, fair brown, then we can make our money green

_________
Note 1: alternatively "and" instead of "well"
Note 2: alternatively "tremblin' " instead of "trimmin' "

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Ruler

Love In Vain (Take 1)

tab v 1

tab v 2

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

(Spoken: I wanna go with our next one myself)

And I followed her to the station, with a1 suitcase in my hand
And I followed her to the station, with a1 suitcase in my hand
Well, it's hard to tell, it's hard to tell, when all your love's in vain
All my love's in vain

When the train rolled up to the station, I looked her in the eye
When the train rolled up to the station, and I looked her in the eye
Well, I was lonesome, I felt so lonesome, and I could not help but cry
All my love's in vain

When the train, it left the station, with two lights on behind
When the train, it left the station, with two lights on behind
Well, the blue light was my blues, and the red light was my mind
All my love's in vain

Ou hou ou ou ou, hoo, Willie Mae
Oh oh oh oh oh hey, hoo, Willie Mae
Ou ou ou ou ou ou hee vee oh woe
All my love's in vain

__________
Note 1: alternatively "her" instead of "a"

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Ruler

Love In Vain (Take 2)

tab v 1

tab v 2

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 4th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

And I followed her to the station, with my1 suitcase in my hand
And I followed her to the station, with my1 suitcase in my hand
Well, it's hard to tell, it's hard to tell, when all your love's in vain
All my love's in vain

When the train rolled up to the station, I looked her in the eye
When the train rolled up to the station, and I looked her in the eye
Well, I was lonesome, I felt so lonesome, and I could not help but cry
All my love's in vain

When the train, it left the station, with two lights on behind
When the train, it left the station, with two lights on behind
Well, the blue light was my blues, and the red light was my mind
All my love's in vain

Ou hou ou ou ou, hoo, Willie Mae
Oh oh oh oh oh hey, hoo, Willie Mae
Ou ou ou ou ou ou hee vee oh woe
All my love's in vain

__________
Note 1: alternatively "a" instead of "my"

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Ruler

Malted Milk

tab

ChordPro

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

I keep drinkin' malted milk1, try'n to drive my blues away
I keep drinkin' malted milk, try'n to drive my blues away
Baby, you just as welcome to my lovin', as the flowers is in May

Malted milk, malted milk, keep rushin' to my head
Malted milk, malted milk, keep rushin' to my head
And I have a funny, funny feelin', and I'm talkin' all out my head

Baby, fix me one more drink, and hug your daddy one more time
Baby, fix me one more drink, and hug your daddy one more time
Keep on stirrin' my malted milk mama, until I change my mind

My door knob keeps on turnin', it must be spooks around my bed
My door knob keeps on turnin', must be spooks around my bed
I have a warm, old feelin', and the hair risin' on my head

__________

Note 1: malted milk, a variation of a milk shake only you add a spoonful of malt, an extra ingrediant that gives it an additional malted flavor. Thanks to Jimmy See, soda "jerk" by confession. Malt is a wheat byproduct, grain (as barley) softened by steeping in water, allowed to germinate, and used especially in brewing and distilling. See also this discussion.

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Ruler

Me And The Devil Blues (Take 1)

tab v 1

b

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Early this mornin', when you knocked upon my door
Early this mornin', ooh, when you knocked upon my door
And I said, "Hello, Satan, I believe it's time to go"

Me and the devil, was walkin' side by side
Me and the devil, ooh, was walkin' side by side
And I'm goin' to beat my woman, until I get satisfied

She say you don't see why, that you will dog me 'round
(spoken: Now, babe, you know you ain't doin' me right, don'cha)
She say you don't see why, ooh, that you will dog me 'round
It must-a be that old evil spirit, so deep down in the ground

You may bury my body, down by the highway side
(spoken: Baby, I don't care where you bury my body when I'm dead and gone)
You may bury my body, ooh, down by the highway side
So my old evil spirit, can catch a Greyhound bus and ride

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Ruler

Me And The Devil Blues (Take 2)

tab v 1

tab v 2

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Early this mornin', when you knocked upon my door
Early this mornin', ooh, when you knocked upon my door
And I said, "hello, satan, I believe it's time to go"

Me and the devil, was walkin' side by side
Me and the devil, ooh, was walkin' side by side
I'm goin' to beat my woman, until I get satisfied

She say you don't see why, that I will dog her 'round
(spoken: Now, baby, you know you ain't doin' me right, now)
She say you don't see why, ooh, that I will dog her 'round
It must-a be that old evil spirit, so deep down in the ground

You may bury my body, down by the highway side
(spoken: Baby, I don't care where you bury my body when I'm dead and gone)
You may bury my body, ooh, down by the highway side
So my old evil spirit, can get a Greyhound bus and ride

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Ruler

Milkcow's Calf Blues (Take 1)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Tell me, milk cow, what on earth is wrong with you?
Tell me, milk cow, what on earth is wrong with you?
Well, well, you have a new calf, hoo hoo, and your milk is turnin' blue

Your calf is hungry, and I believe he needs a suck
(spoken: Now, you know that calf done got hungry)
Your calf is hungry, and I believe he needs a suck
Well, now, but the milk is turnin' blue, hoo hoo, and I believe he's outta luck

Now I feel like milkin' and my, cow won't come
I feel like churnin' it and my, milk won't turn
I'm cryin' plea-hease, please, don't do me wrong
You can give-a right milk and butter, now, baby, you-hoo, will stay at home

My milk cow been ramblin', hoo hoo, for miles around
My milk cow been ramblin', hoo hoo, for miles around
She been troublin' some other bull cow, hoo hoo
Lord, in this man's town

__________
Note: this song is probably derived form Kokomo Arnold's first release and very popular song Milk Cow Blues, recorded in 1934.

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Ruler

Milkcow's Calf Blues (Take 2)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 5th of 5 sessions, June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Tell me, milk cow, what on earth is wrong with you?
Ooo ooo eee, milk cow, what on earth is wrong with you?
Now, you have a little calf, hoo hoo, and your milk is turnin' blue

Now, your calf is hungry, I believe he needs a suck
Now, your calf is hungry, hoo hoo, I believe he needs a suck
But your milk is turnin' blue, hoo hoo, I believe he's outta luck

Now, I feel like milkin' and my, cow won't come
I feel like churnin' it and my, milk won't turn
I'm cryin', please, please, don't do me wrong
If you see my milk cow, baby, now-how, please, drive her home

My milk cow been ramblin', hoo hee, for miles around
My milk cow been ramblin', hoo hoo, for miles around
Well, now, can you suck on some other man's bull cow,
hoo hoo, in this strange man's town

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Ruler

Phonograph Blues (Take 1)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 1st of 5 sessions, November 23 1936, San Antonio, Texas

from The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Beatrice, she got a phonograph, and it won't say a lonesome word
Beatrice, she got a phonograph, but it won't say a lonesome word
What evil have I done, what evil has the poor girl heard

Beatrice, I love my phonograph, but you have broke my windin' chain
Beatrice, I love my phonograph, ooh, honey, you have broke my windin' chain
And you've taken my lovin', and give it to your other man

Now, we played it on the sofa, now, we played it 'side the wall
My needles have got rusty, baby, they will not play at all
We played it on the sofa, and we played it 'side the wall
But my needles have got rusty, and it will not play at all

Beatrice, I go crazy, baby, I will lose my mind
And I go cra'eeh, honey, I will lose my mind
Why'n't1 you bring your clothes back home, and try me one more time

She got a phonograph, and it won't say a lonesome word
She got a phonograph, ooh, won't say a lonesome word
What evil have I done, or what evil have the poor girl heard

__________
Note 1: alternatively "won't" instead of "why'n't", as a contraction of "why don't"

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Ruler

Phonograph Blues (Take 2)

tab

GuitarPro

soundclip


by Robert Johnson
recording of 1st of 5 sessions, November 23 1936, San Antonio, Texas
from
The Complete Recordings (CBS 467246 2 & Columbia/Legacy C2K-46222 & Columbia 4622 & Sony 64916), copyright notice

Beatrice got a phonograph, and it won't say a lonesome word
Beatrice got a phonograph, and it won't say a lonesome word
What evil have I done, what evil has the poor girl heard

Beatrice, I love my phonograph, but you broke my windin' chain
Beatrice, I love my phonograph, but you have broke my windin' chain
And you taken my lovin', and you give it to your other man

And we played it on the sofa, and we played it side the wall
And we played it on the sofa, and we played it side the wall
But boys, my needles have got rusty, and it will not play at all

Beatrice, I love my phonograph mmm, babe and I'm bound to lose my mind
Beatrice, I love my phonograph, and I'm 'bout to lose my mind
Why'n't1 you bring your clothes back home, baby, and try me one more time

Now my phonograph, mmm, babe, it won't say a lonesome word
My little phonograph, and it won't say a lonesome word
What evil I have done, what evil have the poor girl heard

Now Beatrice, won't you bring your clothes back home
Now Beatrice, won't you bring your clothes back home
I wanna wind your little phonograph, just to hear your little motor moan

__________
Note 1: alternatively "won't" instead of "why'n't", as a contraction of "why don't"

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Ruler

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Ruler

Created by:
Bluesman Harry
Page last updated on:
December 29 2000


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