Sampson Pittman
Ruler
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Ruler

Table Of Content (4 songs, 4 soundclips)

You are now in page 1

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Cotton Farmer Blues
I Been Down In The Circle Before
John Henry
Welfare Blues

Ruler

Cotton Farmer Blues

soundclip


by Sampson Pittman
recording of October 15. 1938, Detroit, Michigan

from The Devil Is Busy (Laurie 7002), copyright notice

Farmer went to his merchant just to get some meat and meal
Farmer went to his merchant just to get some meat and meal
But the merchant told the farmer, "You got boll weavils1 in your field"

You‘ve got a good cotton crop but it‘s just like shooting dice
You‘ve got a good cotton crop but it‘s just like shooting dice
Now, you‘re gonna work the whole year ‘round, buddy, yet, the cotton won‘t bring no price

Now, you go to the commissary, he will give you plenty of meal and meat
Now, you go to the commissary, he will give you plenty of meal and meat
Now, he‘ll give you half a price for your cotton, not a doggone thing for your seed

(spoken: That‘s too bad, too bad)

Yes, boys, if I could get 50 cents a day
Yes, boys, if I‘s getting 50 cents a day
And if they‘d just raise me to a dollar, don‘t you know, I‘d give that crop away

(spoken: Play it one time. Yeah, man, play it, it don‘t cost you nothing. I know these farmers, you see. That‘s the reason I‘m telling you like I said, you [won‘t get nothing?])

Now, boys, it ain‘t but the one thing, boys, that make me begin to think,
when they mistreat me every time it looks like I just got to have another drink
Yes, boys, and I‘m going away to stay
Because I ain‘t gonna let no merchant try to steal me this way

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

 

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Ruler

I Been Down In The Circle Before

soundclip


by Sampson Pittman
recording of October 16. 1938, Detroit, Michigan

from The Devil Is Busy (Laurie 7002), copyright notice

(Spoken: Boys, ain‘t no need to try and tell me nothing. You can‘t tell me nothing ‘bout the circle because [?] the circle ‘cause I worked for every contractor up and down the line. And I know just exactly what they‘ll do and how to [?]. That‘s why you hear me say: I ain‘t no stranger, you can‘t tell me nothing. I been down there lots of times.)

I worked on the levee1, long time ago,
there ain‘t nothing ‘bout the levee camp, boy, that I don‘t know
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Son, I ain‘t no stranger, been down in the circle before

Now, there ain‘t but the one contractor that I fear, God willing,
George Mullin they don‘t allow him back here
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Son, I ain‘t no stranger, I been down in the circle before

Now, there‘s Mr. Forrest Jones and he‘s so long and tall,
he killed a merchant man and he‘d love to kill us all
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Son, I ain‘t no stranger, I been down in the circle before

(Spoken: Play it one time, play it)

Now, Mr. Charlie Loran, he‘s the mercy-man, the best contractor,
partner, that‘s up and down the line
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Well, I ain‘t no stranger, I been down in the circle before

Now, when you leave, I‘d [take ?] by Highway 44,
the first camp you get to, it is called Rainy More
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Said, I ain‘t no stranger, I been down in the circle before

I ain‘t gonna shed sorrow, I ain‘t gonna break down,
drinking while I‘m wheeling, getting mean, all [?]
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Son, I ain‘t no stranger, I been down in the circle before

Now, our friend in Arkansas, tell him what to do,
they done told him to come to Arkansas, I told him no, no, no
Partner, partner, partner, don‘t you think I know
Son, I ain‘t no stranger, I been down in Arkansas before

(Spoken: Goodbye)

__________
Note 1: origin: from the old French word levée, act of raising, from lever to raise. An embankment for preventing flooding, or a river landing place, also, a continuous dike or ridge (as of earth) for confining the irrigation areas of land to be flooded. A levee camp therefore is a work camp for building or improving dikes to prevent rivers from flooding the land, primarily in the Mississippi Delta area.

 

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Ruler

John Henry

soundclip


by Sampson Pittman
recording of October 16. 1938, Detroit, Michigan

from The Devil Is Busy (Laurie 7002), copyright notice

John Henry was a man that was known for bad fighting
He could lay down a fellow on his back
He could line up a railroad track, yes, baby, line up a railroad track

John Henry had a baby and the dress she wore was red
And she walked up and down the railroad tracks,
and I‘m going 'round my man till I‘m dead, yes, Lord
going 'round my man till I‘m dead
Going 'round my man till I‘m dead, yes, baby,
going round my man till I‘m dead

John Henry had a baby and he held [him in the palm] of his hand
When he looked out in the yard and found a piece of steel, he said,
"Son, let that be a piece of you, yes, baby"
He said, "Son, let that be a piece of you"

Now, John Henry had a woman and her name was Polly Ann
When John Henry laid down and died a natural death,
Polly drove that steel just like a man, yes, Lord
Drove that steel just like a man

 

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Ruler

Welfare Blues

soundclip


by Sampson Pittman
recording of October 16. 1938, Detroit, Michigan

from The Devil Is Busy (Laurie 7002), copyright notice

Welfare helping people that cannot help themselves
Welfare helping people that cannot help themselves
I said, "Boys, they ain‘t gonna help you unless you‘ve lived in Detroit one year"

Once your case is open they‘ll give you plenty of food and clothes
Once your case is open they‘ll give you plenty of food and clothes
I said, "Boys, they won‘t help you till you have told everything you know"

You go down to the welfare, they‘ll make you sit there all day
Go down to the welfare, they‘ll make you sit there all day
Until they know they ain‘t gonna help you, they‘ll make you sit there and wait

Oh, boys, I believe I‘ll go there myself
Yes, boys, I believe I‘ll go there myself
I say, I tell‘em I ain‘t got nothing and I declare that I need their help

 

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Ruler

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Ruler

Created by:
Bluesman Harry
Page last updated on:
June 8 2000


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