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Lyr Req: John Henry Blues (Two Poor Boys)

DigiTrad:
HENRY THE ACCOUNTANT
JOHN HENRY
JOHN HENRY 2


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Roberto 30 Dec 07 - 03:08 PM
Stewie 30 Dec 07 - 10:48 PM
Roberto 31 Dec 07 - 02:47 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 31 Dec 07 - 06:14 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 31 Dec 07 - 05:21 PM
Roberto 01 Jan 08 - 04:08 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHN HENRY BLUES (Two Poor Boys)
From: Roberto
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 03:08 PM

John Henry (John Henry Blues)
Two Poor Boys (Joe Evans & Arthur McClain)

The problem is there are at least three takes of this song recorded by Evans & McClain. My transcription is from the one on Before the Blues (Yazoo). Hope Mick and Stewie are still around, and every other helping hand.

John Henry was a li'l baby boy
Settin' on his mama's knee
Had a nine-pound hammer hold in his arms:
Gonna be the death of me, O partner
Gonna be the death of me
Gonna be the death of me
Gonna be the death of me

John Henry went to that Big Bend Tunnel
… big (?) …
John Henry was so small and that rock was so tall
Laid down his hammer and he cried, O partner
Laid down his hammer and he cried
Laid down his hammer and he cried, O partner
Laid down his hammer and he cried

John Henry told to his shaker
Said, Shaker did you ever pray?
Cause if I miss this piece of steel
Tomorrow be your buryin' day
Tomorrow be your buryin' day
Tomorrow be your buryin' day, O captain
Tomorrow be your buryin' day

Who's gonna shoe your pretty little feet?
Who's gonna glove your li'l hand?
Who's gonna kiss your rosy l'il cheeks, when
I'm in a distant land?
I'm in a distant land
I'm in a distant land, O captain
I'm in a distant land

John Henry took sick and went to bed
Sent for a doctor and he come
Took a chair down the side of John Henry's bed, says:
You sick and can't get well, O partner
Sick and can't get well
Sick and can't get well
Sick and can't get well

... (?)John Henry to the White House
Buried him in the sand
??? (His poor wife, very last words that she said???)
Here lays my steel-drivin' man, O partner
Here lays my steel-drivin' man


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Two Poor Boys' John Henry
From: Stewie
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 10:48 PM

Hi again, Roberto.

Line in second stanza:
(To) see if he could get a job

Not that it matters, but after the first 'I'm in' line in stanza 4, one of them mutters: 'Oh, mmm'

Last stanza, line 1:
It sounds a bit like 'Had', but I think it's the way they are pronouncing 'Carried'. I'd go for: 'Carried John Henry ...'

Last stanza, line 3:
This is very difficult to decipher. My best shot at it, after listening several times, is:

Met by his wife, here's the words that she said

Hopefully, Mick will be along with his take.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Two Poor Boys' John Henry
From: Roberto
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 02:47 AM

Thanks, Stewie. Another great John Henry. Best wishes. R


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Two Poor Boys' John Henry
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 06:14 AM

Sorry lads - I don't have this.

I can tell you from v1 on album samples that it's not Take B (that has mm-mm-mm instead of O partner.

Also in both the A and B takes v1 line 3 has:

holded in his arms

rather than hold.

If either of you has it on the computer you can email me the troublesome bits and I'll gladly cast an ear over them (pretty much any audio format OK). (I've PMed my email address to both).

Best wishes to both for the New Year

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Two Poor Boys' John Henry
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 05:21 PM

Thanks for the file Roberto. I've had a listen and by and large I'd agree with Stewie's readings of it. My full list would be:

v1:
Had a nine-pound hammer holded in his arms:

v2:
See if he could git a job

v3:
When 1st voice sings O partner, 2nd voice sings Oh

v4:
At end of line 4, 2nd voice sings Ah mm-mm
At end of line 6 when 1st voice sings O captain, 2nd voice sings Mm-mm

v5:
Sent for a doctor and in he come
At the end of line 4 there is no O partner

v6:
Car'd John Henry to the White House
??He's?? by his wife, here's the words that she said


The only thing I'm not happy about is the start of line 3 in v6. I don't think it's met as Stewie has, but I'm not certain about He's as I've put. I'll listen some more to that and if I have any better ideas I'll post them.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Two Poor Boys' John Henry
From: Roberto
Date: 01 Jan 08 - 04:08 AM

I think that in the last verse, line 3, it could be: Had by his wife, here's the words that she said. In this case, this would be the text (and a lot of thanks to Mick and Stewie):

John Henry was a li'l baby boy
Settin' on his mama's knee
Had a nine-pound hammer holded his arms:
Gonna be the death of me, O partner
Gonna be the death of me
Gonna be the death of me
Gonna be the death of me

John Henry went to that Big Bend Tunnel
See if he could git a job
John Henry was so small and that rock was so tall
Laid down his hammer and he cried, O partner
Laid down his hammer and he cried
Laid down his hammer and he cried, O partner
Laid down his hammer and he cried

John Henry told to his shaker
Said, Shaker did you ever pray?
Cause if I miss this piece of steel
Tomorrow be your buryin' day
Tomorrow be your buryin' day
Tomorrow be your buryin' day, O captain
Tomorrow be your buryin' day

Who's gonna shoe your pretty little feet?
Who's gonna glove your li'l hand?
Who's gonna kiss your rosy li'l cheeks, when
I'm in a distant land? – (Ah mm-mm)
I'm in a distant land
I'm in a distant land, O captain (Mm-mm)
I'm in a distant land

John Henry took sick and went to bed
Sent for a doctor and in he come
Took a chair down the side of John Henry's bed, says:
You sick and can't get well
Sick and can't get well
Sick and can't get well
Sick and can't get well

Car'd John Henry to the White House
Buried him in the sand
Had by his wife, here's the words that she said:
Here lays my steel-drivin' man, O partner
Here lays my steel-drivin' man


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