The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #121526   Message #2657415
Posted By: Barry Finn
15-Jun-09 - 11:48 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Early in the Mornin' (prison work song)
Subject: ADD Version: Early in the Morning
Hi Yoda & welcome to mudcat

There are 2 different distinct prison worksong by the name of "Early In The Morning". Both Ken & I do one, sometimes together, sorry it's not the one you're looking for.
The one you're looking for is found as you know on the Alan Lomax Collection--"Southern Journey, Vol. 5: Bad Man Ballads" recorded at Camp B Lambert, Miss on Sept, 1959 from the singing of Johnny Lee Moore & group.
It can also be found sung slightly different but used for the same type of work (logging-standinng on a felled tree after it's branches have been cleared & chopping down, with the axe between one's feet in order to cut the long log into small bits- a moderatly paced song) on "Prison Worksongs on the Arhoolie lable (CD-448) recorded at the Louisiana State pen at Angola by Dr Harry Oster 1959, ffrom the singing of Johnny Butler & group. Also on, & most recently collected by Bruce Jackson on Rounder records at the Ellis facility in Texas on March 1966. This recording can also be found in Jackson's accompanying printed collection under the same title name as the CD "Wake Up Dead Man" still very much available on CD (CD2013) & in print on page 269-273) published by Harvard University Press 1972. This was collected from the singing of Willie "Cowboy" Craig & group

Jackson's lyrics aren't full though some what close to Ken's posted above but with a different chorus. The group had trouble singing this older song which starts out with lyrics often assocated & found in the singing of "Midnight Special" & then follows into a verse found in "Hammering On A Live Oak Log". The singer here starts off in a regular 8 beat phrase but after 2 verses changes to a 7 beat phase, with the group havng a hard time followint the switch the leader changes to a different song. Here is those 2 verses with chorus;


Wake up in the mornin', when the ding dong ring
Go a marching to the table, got the same damn thing
Well it's nothing on the table, but spoon and a pan
If you say anything about it, catch the heel out of the man

Hollerin' oh my Lordy, oh my Lordy, Lord
Hollerin' oh my Lordy, oh my Lordy, Lord

Well I'm down in the bottom, on a live oak log
Well I'm down there rolling, like a lowdown dog
Well the Captain and the Sargent, come a riding alone
Say, You get togo to hammering, if you want to go home

On the "Wake Up Dead Man" recording it's pretty much the same tune but done a bit faster than the Lomax version

The next version is done quite differently. Using the basic tune as the others it varies quite a bit with the phrasing, rhythm & pacing.


Early in the mornin' by the ding dong ring
Wake up in the mornin', serve the same old thing

Oh man, oh, oh, oh man

Wasn't I lucky last summer when I got my time
My buddy got 100, I got 99

Whose that man , buddy, on that big white horse
I don't know his name but they call him bsoo

If you see my sister tell her to pray for me
Tell my mother don't write to me

Tell my buddy he got to write no mo'
I got a long time, sinner, they gonna see me no mo'

there are another 15 verses but I don't think this is close to the one you want so I'll end it here.

I'm glad to know there's at least someone whose interested in these songs. Ken, Neil & me are finding it a bit hard to work our repitoire of prison worksongs into our performances all any ne wants are those damn sea shanties. I was begining to think that in the near future we may never find an audience for this genre anymore, outside of a few mudcatters lkie Roger who also has a knack for these songs.

Hi Roger & hi to you too Ken, lets get together at the Getaway & sing at least 4 or 5 of these things in Oct before we forget them

Ken, you & I should work up a bunck for England.