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Lyr/Origin Req: Alberta, Let Your Hair Hang Low

Richie 30 May 09 - 12:07 PM
pdq 30 May 09 - 12:29 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 May 09 - 12:32 PM
Barry Finn 30 May 09 - 01:31 PM
Bat Goddess 30 May 09 - 01:41 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 30 May 09 - 01:48 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 30 May 09 - 01:58 PM
pdq 30 May 09 - 02:00 PM
Richie 30 May 09 - 02:18 PM
Richie 30 May 09 - 02:21 PM
Richie 30 May 09 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Peace 31 May 09 - 02:26 AM
Richie 31 May 09 - 07:55 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 31 May 09 - 02:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 31 May 09 - 02:38 PM
Peace 31 May 09 - 09:16 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 01 Jun 09 - 12:04 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 01 Jun 09 - 12:33 AM
Jim Dixon 08 Dec 11 - 10:40 PM
Jim Dixon 08 Dec 11 - 11:08 PM
Nigel Parsons 09 Dec 11 - 05:30 AM
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Subject: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Richie
Date: 30 May 09 - 12:07 PM

Hi,

There's a version of this by Doc Watson in the DT. The Ballad index has this:

Alberta, Let Your Hair Hang Low
DESCRIPTION: Alberta is asked to let her hair hang low, to say what's on her mind, and not to treat the singer unkind. AABA verses: "Alberta, let your hair hang low (x2), I'll give you more gold than your apron will hold, If you'll just let your hair hang low."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1944
KEYWORDS: love hair nonballad
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Botkin-MRFolklr, p. 576, "Alberta, Let Yo' Hair Hang Low" (1 text, 1 tune)
MWheeler, pp. 85-87, "Alberta, Let Yo' Hair Hang Low" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 74, ""Alberta (1 text)

This is not the Aberta (by Clapton and others) that is actually a version of Corinne Corrina.

The 1944 version by Wheeler (Steamboatin' Days) is probably not the earliest version. On the Roger McGuinn site they say it orginates in the 1800's.

Does anyone have any lyric versions or info?

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: pdq
Date: 30 May 09 - 12:29 PM

I believe the name "Roberta" is sometimes used in place of "Alberta".

Also, the phrase "let your hair hang down" can be found in place of "let your hair hang long".

Perhaps searching those changes will bring up more information.


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 May 09 - 12:32 PM

"Hair hang low" verse used in Roberta (Ledbetter) and "Five Long Years" (see thread 94878). Recordings are later than Wheeler. Also used in "Walk Right In," a song by Cannon used by Janis Joplin; also later.


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Barry Finn
Date: 30 May 09 - 01:31 PM

Roberta, Alberta
"let you hair down long,
be your barber when I get home"

the above is part of a prison worksong both names are used

Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 30 May 09 - 01:41 PM

From "No More Cane On These Brazos" from the prison worksong tradition --

"Verna (?), why don't you let your hair hang down?
Oh, oh, oo-oh,
Let it hang right down til it touches the ground.
Oh, oh, oh."

Linn


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Subject: Lyr/Chords Add: ALBERTA
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 30 May 09 - 01:48 PM

Here's the version of the song as performed by Doc Watson. Pernell Roberts (Adam on the classic TV western _Bonanza_. The verses were written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes.


ALBERTA
(Arranged by Charles Kratz)

    G                F          G
Alberta, let your hair hang down

G            Bm          Am   G
I saw her first on an April morn
          G                     Bm         Am    D7
As she walked through the mist in a field of hay
       G            Gm       D7 C       G   
Her hair lit the world with its golden glow
                           Bm               D7      G
And the smile on her face burned my heart away

                      F          G
Alberta, let your hair hang down
                      F    Am D7
Alberta, let your hair hang down
      C               G                Bm          Em
I'll give you more gold than your pockets can hold
          G            D7          G
If you only let your hair hang down

I thought my golden time had come
But the field of hay was soon cut down
In a few short weeks it all was gone
And my golden girl just a painful song

Alberta, what's on your mind?
Alberta, what's on your mind?
I'm feeling so sad 'cause you treat me so band
Alberta, what's on your mind?

Alberta, let your hair hang down

Charles


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 30 May 09 - 01:58 PM

The chords have slipped a bit in transition from my Appleworks document to the internet: If you can't make them fit, try listening to Doc perform it: It's on "The Essential Doc Watson," and is available from iTunes.

Charles


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: pdq
Date: 30 May 09 - 02:00 PM

I'm fairly sure that The Blues Project (the rock group) released this song a few months before Doc Watson. The vocal on their version is almost certainly that of Danny Kalb.


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Richie
Date: 30 May 09 - 02:18 PM

Here's a related version "Roberta, Let your hair grow long." The song has melody line here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=2dmclpLO18UC&pg=RA1-PA76&lpg=RA1-PA77&dq=roberta+let+your+hair&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html

There's no consistancy or repetition,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Richie
Date: 30 May 09 - 02:21 PM

Here's some info from Roots of Bob dylan blog:

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Bob Dylan, "Alberta (Let Your Hair Hang Low)"
Bob Dylan recorded "Alberta" for Self Portrait (1970) in two pleasant versions. I always liked this song but story behind it is somehow more interesting than Dylan's recording itself.

"Alberta" is often confused with the songs from the "Corrina"-family. That is a different group of songs that can be traced back to the well-known recording of "Corrine, Corrina" by Bo Chatman (i.e. Bo Carter ) and Charlie McCoy for Brunswick (December 1928). The general problem with "Corrina" and "Alberta" is that there are different songs using the same girls' names - capitalizing on the original song's popularity - and related songs using different girls' names.

So there were other "Corrinas", for example Blind Boy Fuller's "Corrine What Makes You Treat Me So" (1937) or Walter Davis' "Corrine" (1939) and there were other "Albertas". Lead Belly's "Alberta" (1935) is a completely different song, his adaption of "Corrina" is called "Roberta" (1935; and Eric Clapton renamed her "Alberta" when he borrowed this song for his Unplugged concert). Jazz Gillum recorded an "Alberta Blues" in 1938, but that is basically a variant of "Big Road Blues".

This "Alberta" is no 12-bar AAB Blues, it has a different structure (AABA):


Alberta let your hair hang low
Alberta let your hair hang low
I'll give you more gold than your apron can hold
If you'd only let your hair hang low
[...]

Another song of this family with a very different melody but including one verse with related lyrics is "I Wish I Was A Mole in The Ground", recorded in 1928 by Bascom Lamar Lunsford:


I wish I was a mole in the ground
Yes I wish I was a mole in the ground
If I's a mole in the ground I'd root that mountain down
And I wish I was a mole in the ground

[...]

Oh Capie let your hair roll down
Capie let your hair roll down
Let your hair roll down and your bangs curl round
Oh Capie let your hair roll down
[quoted from: Folktunes.org]


"Baby Let Me Follow You Down" - recorded by Dylan for his first LP - belongs to the same family but utilizes yet another set of melodies . As is known this song can be traced back (via Eric von Schmidt and Geno Foreman; Dave van Ronk and The Reverend Gary Davis may have been involved, too) to Blind Boy Fullers "Mama Let Me Lay It On You" (first recorded 29.4.1936). This was an adaption of Walter Coleman, "Mama Let Me Lay It On You" (recorded 8.2.1936) and that song in turn was an adaption of "Can I Do It For You?" (1930) by Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy:


Wanna do somethin' to you.
Wanna do somethin' to you.
Do anything in this world I can,
I wanna do somethin' to you, hear me sayin',
I wanna do somethin' for you.

No, you can't do nothin' to me.
No, you can't do nothin' to me.
I don't care what in the world you do,
You can't do nothin' for me, hear me sayin',
You can't do nothin' for me.
[...]

I can't say at the moment if "Can I Do It For You?" had also been derived from an earlier song. But it produced other offsprings besides "Mama Let Me lay It On You", for example "Don't You Tear My Clothes" (State Street Boys, 1935; Washboard Sam, 1936; Harlem Hamfats, 1937 etc) and "Let Your Linen Hang Low" , recorded in 1937 by the Harlam Hamfats with Rosetta Howard and Joe McCoy on vocals. The lyrics of latter look like a cross between "Alberta" and "Can I Do It For You?":


Let your linen hang low
Let your linen hang low
I'd do anything in the world I know
If you let your linen hang low [...]

These songs all share not only the AABA-structure of the lyrics but also the basic motif: "I'll do anything for you, if you do something or let me do something".

The very first trace of "Alberta, Let Your Hair Hang Low" is a song collected by Mary Wheeler in Western Kentucky and published in 1944 in her book Steamboatin' Days, Folk Songs Of The River Packet Era. There is no earlier evidence of this "Alberta" available and it is simply not known how old it is and how it is related to songs like "Let Your Linen Hang Low" or "I Wish I Was A Mole in The Ground". Maybe it's an older variant or maybe Mrs. Wheeler's informant had simply put it together himself from records or performances he had heard.


Alberta, let yo' hair hang low,
Alberta, let yo' hair hand low,
I'll give you mo' gold than yo' apron will hold,
'Ef you'll jes let yo' hair hang low.

Alberta, what's on yo' mind,
Alberta, what's on yo' mind,
You keep me worried, you keep me bothered, all the time.
Alberta, what's on yo' mind?

Alberta, don't you treat me unkind,
Alberta, don't you treat me unkind,
'Cause I'm worried, 'cause I'm bothered, all the time.
Alberta, don't you treat me unkind.
[quoted from the website Cowboy Angel Blues ]

The song was reprinted in 1955 in Benjamin A. Botkin's A Treasury of Mississippi River Folklore. Bob Gibson recorded it in 1957 for his LP Carnegie Concert (now available on the compilation Joy Joy! The Young And Wonderful Bob Gibson (1996)). I haven't been able to check if he used the tune published by Ms. Wheeler or if he made up a new one but in his introductory remark he explicitly refers to her book. This version was also printed in Jerry Silverman's important and influential Folk Blues songbook (1958) and in Sing Out! Vol. 8 No. 3 (1959). The melody is very different from the one later used by Dylan.

An mp3 of Roger McGuinn singing "Alberta" using Gibson's melody is available on his Folk Den site: "This is a song sung by the stevedores who worked on the Ohio River. There were two types of river songs. The first was the fast 'Jump Down Turn Around' type. The other kind was slow and bluesey. That could be because when it came time to load and unload these boats, it was a pretty busy session. There was lots of time in between to sing songs like this one." He gives no source but I presume this explanation was taken (via Bob Gibson) from Mary Wheeler's book.
A score of the melody is available from the Digital Tradition Database
In the following years the song became something of a Folk Revival standard and it was recorded by other artists, for example:

Chad Mitchell Trio, At The Bitter End, 1962 (backed by Jim McGuinn, Bill E. Lee and Fred Hellerman, recording available on imeem)
Odetta, Sings Folk Songs (1963, as "Roberta"). In 2001 she recorded it again for Lookin' For A Home , but this time this "Alberta" was conflated with Lead Belly's "Alberta"
Pernell Roberts, Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies, 1963 (with some additional lyrics & music most likely written by Roberts himself: mp3 ,recording available on bonanzaworld.net )
Blues Project, Live At The Café Au Go Go, 1966
Doc Watson, Southbound, 1966 (Roberts' version, recording available on imeem)
Bob Dylan may have known any of this versions but his source and inspiration when recording it for Self Portrait most likely was Sing Out!. A lot of songs recorded in 1969/70 can be found in the pages of this magazine and later reprints. It's in fact possible to create a concordance between Self Portrait and Sing Out!. These collections obviously helped him to find something to record during these series of sessions either by inspiring him to return to older songs he already knew or by offering songs he didn't know or had already forgotten. As with other songs for this album - for example "Belle Isle" - he created a new melody, maybe because he didn't like the original tune or because he couldn't read musical notation. His version sounds somehow closer to his own "Corinna" and to "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" than to Bob Gibson's "Alberta", but I wouldn't say it's "dull" (Gray, p. 3).

Literature:

Many thanks to Stew with whom I discussed these songs at that time & who has supported me with some of the information and links used here.

Transcription of "Alberta" by Eyolf Ostrem at dylanchords.info
Todd Harvey, The Formative Dylan. Transmission And Stylistic Influences, 1961 - 1963, Lanham, Maryland & London 2001, p. 20-22 (about "Baby Let Me Follow You Down")
Robert M.W.Dixon/John Godrich/Howard Rye, Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943. Fourth Edition, Oxford 1997
Robert MacLeod, Document Blues 1, Edinburgh 1994, p. 528f (lyrics of "Can I Do It For You Part 1")
The Traditional Ballad Index: Alberta, Corrina, I Wish I Was A Mole in The Ground, Keys Of Canterbury
Recording of "I Wish I Was A Mole in The Ground" c/o Juneberry78s.com but also available at the Internet Archive
Cowboy Angel Sings: Corrina, Alberta
James Prescott, Folk Song Index
Jane Keefer, Folk Music - An Index To Recorded Sources
Christer Svensson, Stealin', Stealin, Pretty Mama Don't You Tell On Me', Endless Road fanzine No. 4 , 1983 (he was to my knowledge the first one who noticed the role of Sing Out as an important source for Self Portrait)
BobDylanRoots.com: Eric Von Schmidt (about "Baby Let Me Follow You Down")
Michael Gray, The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, London & New York 2006


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Richie
Date: 30 May 09 - 02:49 PM

Anyone have these lyrics? I have the first recording as:

First recording Austin Harmon Recorded at Maryville, Tennessee, by Herbert Halpert, April, 1939. AFS 2619 "Honey, Let Your Hair Hang Down."   



This seems to be an early variant:

John Mason Brewer's 1968 book "American Negro Folklore" gives an early version:

O honey,let your hair hang down, Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord,
O honey, let your hair hang down,
O honey, let your hair hang down.

Anyone have info about this African-American origin?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 31 May 09 - 02:26 AM

As an aside, the line "Let your hair hang down/long" was a reference to pubic hair and the prisoner wanting his gal to 'remain true to him'. (Was told that by someone back in 1965 or so. Can't recall who, but he played banjo and thoise folks are mos'ly honest.


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Richie
Date: 31 May 09 - 07:55 AM

There seems to be some confusion also about "Sally Let your Bangs Hang Down" which I thought was first done by Cliff and Bill Carlisle in 1939 and is a song identified with Rose Maddox. This is a different song.

Apparently it is a song first done by Cox in 1936 [referenced by Tony Russell]. The problem is there are versions of "Alberta Let your Hair Hang Low" titled "Omie Let Your Bangs Hang Down."

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 31 May 09 - 02:24 PM

Peace, honest tho' most of us banjo players seem to be, that seems an unlikely interpretation of the line--pubic hair hangs low (or down) in the absence of panties, and with the next line being "I'll give you more gold than your apron can hold, it sounds like [if the hair indicated is indeed pubic hair] it would mean "take off your panties [and make love to me] and I'll reward you with lotsa cash."

Charles


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 May 09 - 02:38 PM

Yep, that one seems to stretch the elastic in the panties beyond the breaking point.


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: Peace
Date: 31 May 09 - 09:16 PM

Well, maybe yes and maybe no. However, banjo players is honest.

It was something I heard wayyyyy back in time so it's more than possible I'm out to lunch. That said, what then DOES it mean?


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 12:04 AM

Peace,

I have my doubts about it referring to pubic hair, and see "Let your hair hang low" as equivalent to "let your hair down," loosen up, let yourself go, love me.

Charles


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Subject: RE: Lyr & Orig: Alberta, Let your hair hang
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 12:33 AM

Or I suppose another way of putting it is the man is asking Alberta to undo her "going out" hairdo in preparation for going to bed--with him, of course. Which all adds up to the same thing.

Charles (moving this message over from another thread to which I had mistakenly posted it)


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Subject: Lyr Add: ALBERTA (Big Bill Broonzy)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 10:40 PM

Maybe this doesn't have anything in common with the other songs but the name, but it's worth having.


ALBERTA
As sung by Big Bill Broonzy on "Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs" (Smithsonian Folkways, 1956)

Alberta, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
Alberta, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
I been gamblin' all night an' I lost all of my money,
So, ride, Alberta, ride.
Ride, ride to me.
I don't care what time o' night,
Long as you just treat me right.
Baby, ride, ride to me.

Oh, ride, Alberta, ride.
Ride, ride to me.
You don't need no saddle, baby.
You don't need no gun.
Baby, just ride, ride to me.

Oh, ride, Alberta, ride.
Ride, ride to me.
Tighten down your hat.
I don't care where you at.
Baby, just ride, ride to me.

Oh, ride, Alberta, ride.
Ride, ride to me.
Oh, saddle up your pony.
Put ev'rything you got on it.
Baby, just ride, ride to me.


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Subject: Lyr Add: ALBERTA (Leadbelly)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 11:08 PM

ALBERTA
As sung by Leadbelly on "25 Lead Belly Nuggets Vol. 1" (2011)

Oh, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
Don't you hear me calling you?
Yes, Alberta, yeah, you call it what you want, boy, Alberta to do.

Oh, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
Will you tell me where did you stay last night?
Woman, you didn't come home till a little bit before daylight.

Oh, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
Tell me what in the hell you mean.
The way you sneakin' out on me beats all I ever seen.

You's a brown-skin woman; you's a brown-skin woman.
You'll never put your ...(?) down,
An' a jet-black woman'll make a jackrabbit hug a hound.

Oh, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
Will you tell me what in the hell you mean.
They way you been actin' been drinkin' benedictine.

Oh, Alberta, oh, Alberta,
Don't you yell because you ?
Know you're three time seven; you'll do just what you want to do.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Alberta, Let Your Hair Hang Low
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 09 Dec 11 - 05:30 AM

There's also the second verse of "Walk Right In":
Walk right in, sit right down
Baby, let your hair hang down
Walk right in, sit right down
Baby, let your hair hang down
Everybody's talkin' 'bout a new way of walkin'
Do you want to lose your mind?
Walk right in, sit right down
Baby, let your hair hang down


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