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ADD: If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' on It

MamaTamba 26 Nov 99 - 11:22 PM
WyoWoman 26 Nov 99 - 11:33 PM
catspaw49 26 Nov 99 - 11:37 PM
WyoWoman 26 Nov 99 - 11:45 PM
SeanM 26 Nov 99 - 11:53 PM
MamaTamba 26 Nov 99 - 11:53 PM
WyoWoman 27 Nov 99 - 12:05 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 12:16 AM
WyoWoman 27 Nov 99 - 12:19 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 12:26 AM
SeanM 27 Nov 99 - 12:33 AM
MamaTamba 27 Nov 99 - 12:44 AM
SeanM 27 Nov 99 - 12:56 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 01:04 AM
MamaTamba 27 Nov 99 - 01:48 AM
MamaTamba 27 Nov 99 - 02:53 AM
Llanfair 27 Nov 99 - 04:56 AM
bob schwarer 27 Nov 99 - 07:09 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 08:00 AM
Micca 27 Nov 99 - 08:05 AM
Margo 27 Nov 99 - 08:11 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 08:19 AM
Alice 27 Nov 99 - 09:55 AM
paddymac 27 Nov 99 - 10:03 AM
bob schwarer 27 Nov 99 - 11:02 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 11:09 AM
RWilhelm 27 Nov 99 - 11:13 AM
wildlone 27 Nov 99 - 11:15 AM
catspaw49 27 Nov 99 - 11:15 AM
Barbara 27 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM
MamaTamba 27 Nov 99 - 12:11 PM
WyoWoman 27 Nov 99 - 01:03 PM
_gargoyle 27 Nov 99 - 10:00 PM
WyoWoman 27 Nov 99 - 10:04 PM
Stewie 28 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM
WyoWoman 29 Nov 99 - 12:29 AM
harpgirl 29 Nov 99 - 12:37 AM
WyoWoman 29 Nov 99 - 01:05 AM
RWilhelm 29 Nov 99 - 10:53 AM
WyoWoman 30 Nov 99 - 12:44 AM
GUEST 10 May 14 - 12:36 PM
Joe Offer 27 Nov 15 - 02:12 AM
Joe Offer 27 Nov 15 - 03:03 AM
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Subject: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: MamaTamba
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:22 PM

My connecteds were so impressed with the incredibley fast AND accurate response to my last query (about Poke Salad Annie) that they posed a new puzzle.

There's some recently played tune (in the CA SFBay area) mentioning: a)Ruth; b) (If I) can't sell it...(I'm) gonna sit down on it... and c)...does it look like I'm starvin'?

I seem to have become the designated questioner.

Thanks for your help, MamaTamba


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:33 PM

Oh, yeah. I've got that on the "Essential Women of the Blues" CD. Ruth Brown, "If I Can't Sell It (Gonna Keep Sittin' on It)"

I don't have time right now, but if someone doesn't post the lyrics relatively soon, I'll transcribe them for you. Did you check the DigiTrad to see if they're already there? I'll also root around a little bit and see what I can come up with...

You can order that CD from House of Blues, I think. Double CD set and it's completely awesome. I highly recommend it.

WyoWoman


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:37 PM

I can see I gotta start listening to the radio...........Well that'd be pretty drastic....No...just can't do it. Sorry Mama, no help from me....(and the word is "Polk" BTW(:<))**BG**(Big Grin)

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:45 PM

Catspaw, do you know this song? If not, you simply must hear it. It's outrageous -- right down your alley.

If I can't sell it
Gonna keep sittin' on it
I ain't gonna give this good stuff away

I did find the "Essential Women of the Blues" on amazon.com, but I didn't find the lyrics on the blues lyrics site (this isn't surprising. It's guy-blues, mostly.)

They'll appear as if by magic here soon, and if not... I'll write 'em down. I've been wanting to learn that one for a while anyway...


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: SeanM
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:53 PM

I think I remember a recent thread on the song as well... actually, I think it spawned out of a mildly related topic. Danged if I can find it though...

M


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: MamaTamba
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:53 PM

WyoWoman...thanks, I'll check. Didn't even think of it 'cause I had no idea what they were talking about. Thought my friends might have been listening to something really esoteric. I'll reconnect AFTER checking

Spaw...You sure have a 'tude. I don't know you...but I'm already intimidated by you. What the heck do you intend by answering my previous query here instead of where I asked it? AND what the heck do you mean "POLK"??? That was the ONLY one of the three variations ruled out by my southern friends.

MamaTamba


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:05 AM

He's a Yankee. What could he possibly know of poke salit? Pay him no nevermind. None of *us* do. Except occasionally, of course.

No, MamaT, your friends heard a bonafide Wild Woman of the Blues song. Sassy as all get-out and very fun. It's an entire song of double entendre.

And, come to think of it, I think the song was brought up --maybe by moi -- on a thread about suggestive lyrics or something. Hmmmm. This is ringing a bell...But I don't think anyone wrote down the lyrics. (This isn't particularly helpful, I know, but maybe if we keep shooting the breeze, someone will show up with the lyrics...)

Catspaw, if you wander over to the tavern I'll stir you up some poke salit. Show you what poke is all about, baby...


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:16 AM

Hey Mama.....I was just funnin' you from your other thread. Yeah, I'm a jerkin' yankee. Southerners refer to my type as "Damn Yankees"....We moved south and STAYED! All kidding aside I love the south and wasn't being tudey...but I am capable of it as WW knows**BG**

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:19 AM

Ah, Catspaw. We all know you're a pussycat.

'Sides, a little tude every now and then keeps us all from falling asleep.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:26 AM

Ah Pansy, I love you dear.....

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: SeanM
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:33 AM

Just refreshed the thread in question... not much help, but here is the thread in question. Perhaps between the two, someone will have the Answer.

M


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: MamaTamba
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:44 AM

Hey guys, I don't know who's kidding and who isn't!

Is Catspaw truely a pussycat??? Scares the bejesus outta me.

Catspaw...I'm a net virgin...this is the first site I've ever signed on to. I'm an OLD and creaky Newbie...be gentle...for now. Promise I'll catch up..or drop out. BTW, I'm a transplanted Yankee too. I'm a California...it's getting too crowded now...gal.

Meanwhile, could you big guns aim at each other, instead of me, for a week or two...while I try to learn the ropes?

P.S. Knocked their socks off with an informed reply...Thanks WyoWoman (I found you, why can't anybody else search???)

MamaT


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: SeanM
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:56 AM

MamaT, don't worry 'bout 'spaw. He's (mostly) harmless, as long as they keep him medicated.

As far as The Search, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. I crossposted to the other thread that mentioned it, and refreshed it up the list as well... hopefully, it'll bring something about for you.

And don't worry too much about the "Big Guns" around here (Though I believe the current preferred phrase is "Gang of Twelve"). One thing that this group is good at is polite discourse (SHHH! I'm trying to make a point, guys!). No matter how heated things get, we all try to mantain a civil level of discussion. You just happened to catch Catspaw's wandering interest. Give him a few minutes and he'll find something new and shiny to pounce one .

Once again, good luck on the search. Join in, take what you will, leave a bit of your own thoughts behind... welcome in.

M


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 01:04 AM

Yeah, don't leave Mama.....If you need help, just ask. did you receive the message? I am really harmless (and I rarely admit that, although everyone knows it).

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: MamaTamba
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 01:48 AM

Thanks all...it's a great community!

Sean...thanks for your tcb forward (I followed the link, but got somewhat bogged down in the insider-speak)

spaw...thanks, you really scared me. I'm not ready for the fast and furious you top dogs do with each other. I feel a little like my backyard semi-tames (birds, squirrels, cats, possums, etc., - hide-watch and dart)

Sean...watch those comments about medicated!

WyoWoman...just reconstructed how I DID find this site. Believe it or not...it was searching for info about frogs for my grandsons. This site turned up because some lyrics mentioned frogs. I'm compulsive, so I checked every item on the search result...and because I'm a folk music groupie...I thought I had landed in a "pile"

Until I learn more/find a better way to connect/get amentor...I'll just keep posting those errant thoughts and questions about music.

luv ya, MamaT


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: MamaTamba
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 02:53 AM

Spaw...I got the message... almost by accident..and sent responses which I'm not sure actually went "out"... for the time being...thanks.

For the rest of you (except those already named here and at Poke Salad)...what the heck is this site...short attention span theater?

I've been auditing the list of threads...and it's like gunslinger city. After the initial who got there first - most of you seem to drop off.

Somebody - have the b---s to explain to me whether this is a research site, a community or an arcade game


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: Llanfair
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 04:56 AM

MamaT, I think you'll find that the answer to all your questions is yes.
This community is world-wide, so, not only do you get different attitudes, you get varying cultures as well. The coming and going is mainly due to the time differences-it's nearly 10am here, but also to the fact that a number of people who use the site, including me, are children of the 60's, and are therefore beginning to feel the effects of age.
Having said that, when it comes to Folk and Blues, EVERYONE has something to offer, even those who delight in being offensive.
but then, what do I know, I'm British!!!! Hwyl, Bron.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: bob schwarer
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 07:09 AM

Now I gotta get some pokeweed out of the freezer. Wife makes me pull it up when she finds it in the yard, but I have a secret spot.

Q. "What were you doing out in the field"?

A. "We was just pokin"

True story

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 08:00 AM

Somehow I knew you're the polk-sneakin' kinda' guy Bob.......Karen hates it too, but she tolerates about a twice yearly "dosage" for me.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: Micca
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 08:05 AM

OK, he says, donning the idiots hat what the F*** is poke (or if you prefer 'spaw Polk) weed, is it one of these alleged vegetables like Cilantro that you transponders use or is it a "weed" as in "smokeable" or Jimson, as in "Native American hallucenogenic"( that would be a bastard of a salad!!!!)? From the posts so far it is hard to tell if its a real edible or slang for something entirely different, as asking for "a poke salad" here in the UK could get you a poke in the eye with the blunt end of someones hand.**BG** Thanks Mama T this has provided me with the odd wry grin on a cold November morning.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: Margo
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 08:11 AM

Micca, there is another thread about Poke salit with an explanation of the weed. I don't remember what the name of the thread is. Nyah nyah. Margo :O)


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 08:19 AM

Ya know Micca.....I ain't never tried lighting the stuff up, but uh..........Nah, laid off all that stuff 25 years ago. Its just another edible weed like mustard/turnip greens, kale, etc. And typically, you either love it or hate it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: Alice
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 09:55 AM

I know the lyrics you ask about as part of

KEEP ON TRUCKIN' MAMA

"If I can't sell it, gonna keep sittin'on it
Never catch me givin' it away."


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: paddymac
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 10:03 AM

Micca - I can't claim any expertise in re poke weed, but, if I hadn't had too much 'shine when I've had it, I recollect that folklore says it is edible only at a youthful stage and toxic thereafter. Perhaps somebody else can elaborate.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: bob schwarer
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 11:02 AM

My wife likes to eat poke well enough, but doesn't like to see it growing in the front yard. I'll let it grow anywhere it wants.

As for old poke being toxic, I don't know. I've eaten quite a bit of big poke; when it gets a couple of feet high. Also took small leaves off a BIG plant. Asked an agronomist sort one time but didn't get a definite answer.

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 11:09 AM

Can't help but notice you're still alive Bob..........

I'd heard that too, but maybe its just a clever ploy put out by the Anti-Polk lobby.

Spaw


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Subject: Lyr Add: I'LL KEEP SITTIN' ON IT (Georgia White)
From: RWilhelm
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 11:13 AM

Ruth Brown may have recorded it but it was originally recorded by Georgia White in 1936. She is credited with writing it.

I'LL KEEP SITTIN' ON IT - Georgia White

If I can't sell it I'll keep sitting on it
Before I'll give it away
You've got to buy, don't care how much you want it
I mean just what I say
Just feel that nice old bottom built for wear or tear
I really hate to part with such a lovely chair
If I can't sell it I'll keep sitting on it
Before I'll give it away

If I can't sell it I'll keep sitting on it
Before I'll give it away
You've got to buy, don't care how much you want it
I mean just what I say
When you want something good you've got to spend your jack
I guarantee you'll never want your money back
If I can't sell it I'll keep sitting on it
Before I'll give it away


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: wildlone
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 11:15 AM

Hi Mama, stick around it gets to be real fun at times.
wl Dorset UK.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 11:15 AM

AND WE ALL THANK YOU!!!! Great Job Wilhelm!!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: Barbara
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM

Good! Wilhelm got the lyrics. I was hoping the BS didn't get too deep before we covered the song. Gang, we can be hard on the newbies when they don't know that we're kidding.
Mama Tama, all of us here love folk music and blues and other kinds of songs, too, and between us we have a pretty extensive collection of lyrics. The database (which you can use by putting a word or title in that little blue box in the top corner and clicking on "go", also lives here at this site, and has even more lyrics.
Over time this forum has developed some regulars and a character all its own. It keeps changing, and you are welcome to join in and be part of what makes it change.
There is a certain bawdy element here that some of us like and some don't. Catspaw can generally be counted on to make anything handy into a double entendre. And he is a sweet, caring guy, as you will find out if you hand around long enough.
Some of us like the forum questions and answers to be mostly about music, and some of us like to BS. In an attempt to sort out the BS threads from the music ones, we label anything clearly not music search related "BS". As you can tell from this thread, it doesn't always work.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: MamaTamba
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:11 PM

INDEED, INDEED! Thank you all. Now I remember why I thought this was going to be my kinda place....MamaT


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 01:03 PM

MamaT -- And as for the "old-tymers," most of us get to be that fairly quickly here on the 'Cat. Especially those of us like me, Princess Has No Life, who likes the people on this site as much as any she wanders into during her day and who has plenty of time on her hands that she could be doing something useful but chooses to be playing on this forum/chatroom/video arcade/tavern called the Mudcat Cafe.

I only came aboard in May, looking for some lyrics, and lurked around without saying anything for a few days before I actually jumped in. I was very polite for a while, until I realized I was in company as rowdy as I actually am, and as harmless. Now, the me that's online is pretty much the me people who encounter me daily know.

So, welcome aboard. Play at will.

(And if you want to see what the community is really about, do a search for the thread on Catspaw's illness, or read the Happy Birthday greetings, or the "healing circle' postings, in addition to anything and everything about music and music lyrics. Some days, I get completely fed up with the B.S. and only look at the lyrics and/or music discussions. Other days I'm ready to play and I only dip into the B.S. threads. Just do what interests you and let the other stuff go on by. But I warn you, this place will quickly become completely addictive. It's been said before and it bears repeating...You'll even come to depend on ol' Catspaw to make you guffaw, as he dependably does from time to time.)

And many thanks, RWilhelm, for those lyrics. There actually are some more and I'll try to get them transcribed today.

WW


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: _gargoyle
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 10:00 PM

Sorry you picked up other people's trash Wilhelm...

I was waiting for "Girly from Wyoming" to eat her own words....ie. "I don't have time right now, but if someone doesn't post the lyrics relatively soon, I'll transcribe them for you."

She does have a way attracting co-dependents


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 10:04 PM

That'd be you, right?


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Subject: Lyr Add: MANDY LANE (Chad Mitchell)
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM

Alice, I think the 'Keep on Truckin' Mama' that you refer to may be Chad Mitchell's 'Mandy Lane'. Mitchell tied together some blues floaters with his own original lyrics to come up with a great little song:

MANDY LANE

There's a sundown girl her name is Mandy Lane
She's a free livin' mama on a high level plain
Gentleman calls at her front gate
You can hear him holler both early and late

Keep on truckin' mama
Truckin' till the break of day
I said keep on truckin' mama
Truckin' till the break of day
Oh you're the best truck driver this end of town
And you do your drivin' from your hips on down
Keep on truckin' mama
Truckin' till the break of day
I say, truckin' till the break of day

Now you keep on doin' what you done last night
They put youse-youse back in jail
I said you keep on doin' what you done last night
They put youse-youse back in jail
Well you come through the door just a-raisin' sand
Tell what you been doin' by the way you stand
Keep on truckin' mama
Truckin' till the break of day
I say, truckin' till the break of day

Now big industry's come into our town
We got profit and progress just a-spreadin' all around
We got a big cotton mill and a plastics plant
And a sign in Mandy's window down on Fourth and Grand
Says: if I can't sell it, gonna keep sittin' on it
Never catch me givin' it away
Say, now if I can't sell it, gonna keep sittin' on it
Never catch me givin' it away
Don't care how keen my competition might be
I ain't givin' samples away for free
If I can't sell it, gonna keep sittin' on it
Never catch me givin' it away
I say, never catch me givin' it away

Now if I can't move it out on the open market
Takin' all my business back home
Now if I can't move it out on the open market
Startin' me a little industry at home
Don't care if your name is Richard, Bill or Tom
Knock on the door and it's a 'hello John'
If I can't sell it, gonna keep sittin' on it
Never catch me givin' it away
I say, never catch me givin' it away
Oh no, never catch me givin' it …
Well, hardly ever – never catch me givin' it away

Copyright W. Chad Mitchell Teena Music Corp ASCAP

Source: The Mitchell Trio 'Slightly Irreverent' Mercury SR 60944

I can post the lyrics of a couple of women's blues 'single entendre' songs - the first time I saw that description was years ago on liner notes by Roy Bookbinder - if anyone is interested: Kansas Katie's 'Deep Sea Diver' and Lil Johnson's 'Press My Button'.

Cheers, Stewie.


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I CAN'T SELL IT (from Ruth Brown)
From: WyoWoman
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 12:29 AM

Okay. Here are the words I got from the Essential Women of Blues CD, recording by Ruth Brown. According to Wilhelm, this was first written by Georgia White, but I didn't find her name on the CD cover (If you want to see how NOT to design your CD cover, get this CD. Terrible graphics.)

The credit for this one says, "(Hill/Razaf) Joe Davis Music, Inc. ASCAP"

IF I CAN'T SELL IT
as recorded by Ruth Brown

(Spoken)
I own a second hand furniture store
And I think my prices are fair.
But this real cheap guy came in one day
Saw this chair he wanted to buy
But he wouldn't — claimed the price was too high.
So I looked him straight in the eye,
And this was my reply...

If I can't sell it, I'm gonna sit down on it.
I ain't gonna give it away.
Now darlin, if you want it, you gonna have to buy it.
And I mean just what I say.

Now how would you like to find this
Waitin' at home for you every night?
Only been used once or twice,
but it's still nice and tight.

So if I can't sell it ... etc.

Now you can't buy a better of legs in town,
And a back like this? Not for miles around.
And that is why

If I can't sell it ... etc.

Because it's made for comfort,
Built for wear and tear.
Where else would you find such an easy chair?

It's lush, plush, slick and sleek
Darlin,' a high-class piece like this
At any price is cheap,
So if I can't sell it ... etc.

Now look at this nice bottom.
Ain't it easy on the eye?
Guaranteed to support
Any weight or size.

If I can't sell it ...
(Instrumental lead)

Now I have really had my fill
of folks coming around
with their hands stuck out
wanting something and they don't want to give up nothing.
Now put your hand in your stash
and bring up some cash

'Cause if I can't sell it, .... etc.

So there you go -- WW


from Joe Offer (27 Nov 2015): This page (click) says lyrics for "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' on It" were written by Andy Razaf, with music by Alex Hill - first recorded by Georgia White in 1936.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: harpgirl
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 12:37 AM

..ya beat me to it girl...I love to hear Ruth Brown sing "Black Coffee"...In Arkansas we eat poke when it first shoots up...an early salat green...too tough when it "gits hi"...harpgirl


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 01:05 AM

Are you familiar with Saffire: Uppity Blues Women? I was just listening to "Bitch with a Bad Attitude" and feeling inspired...


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: RWilhelm
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 10:53 AM

I copied the lyrics from a book called _The Nasty Blues_ compiled by Tom Hall. He said Georgia White wrote it but on a CD I have of her version it says Alexandria Hill and Andy Razaf. Anyway, it seems to have gone through some changes.


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Subject: RE: can't sell it...gonna sit on it
From: WyoWoman
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:44 AM

The folk process lives!

ww


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I'll Keep Sittin' on It (Georgia White)
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 14 - 12:36 PM

now... does someone have chords? janet klein just put a uke version on youtube i'd love to do. thanks. john birsner, high desert ukulele club


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Subject: If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin On It (Razaf)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Nov 15 - 02:12 AM

This 1989 NY Times article (click) says that Andy Razaf wrote the lyrics for "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin on It," - "with which Ruth Brown brings down the house in ''Black and Blue'' at the Minskoff." Here's the article:

    A Lot of Hit Songs From an Unsung Lyricist
    By STEPHEN HOLDEN
    Published: February 8, 1989

    The most prolific and versatile lyricist to be represented on Broadway this season remains virturally unknown, his name buried in the fine print of the Playbill song credits for Ain't Misbehavin' and Black and Blue.

    Andy Razaf, who wrote the words for seven tunes in Ain't Misbehavin' and five in Black and Blue, including both title songs, is not a name that rings a bell in the minds of most people. Yet in the 1920's and 30's, Razaf, the American-born son of a Malagasy nobleman, wrote the lyrics for "Ain't Misbehavin'" "Honeysuckle Rose" "S'posin," "The Joint Is Jumpin'" "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now," "Memories of You," "Stompin at the Savoy," "You're Lucky to Me," "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town" and many other American standards.

    When he died in 1973, he had written more than 500 songs, yet he continues to be overshadowed by his collaborators: Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson and W. C. Handy.

    Bawdy Songs Were First
    More than a superb craftsman in a sassy pop-jazz vernacular that seems perennially fresh, Razaf was an influential innovator. He first made his reputation writing bawdy blues songs like the hilariously salacious "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin on It," with which Ruth Brown brings down the house in Black and Blue at the Minskoff. But he soon graduated to subtler fare. "Black and Blue," which was written for the 1929 Broadway show Hot Chocolates, was considered by John Hammond to be America's first racial protest song.

    During the same period in which he wrote with Fats Waller, Razaf also collaborated with Paul Denniker, an Englishman, on hits for Rudy Vallee. The duo was one of Tin Pan Alley's first integrated songwriting teams.

    Probably no one knows more about Razaf's life than Barry Singer, a 31-year-old music historian who runs Chartwell Booksellers in Manhattan and who has spent much of the last decade researching and writing an unpublished biography, Rasaf: A Life (With Lyrics). His account is a story of artistic triumph impeded and scarred by racial discrimination.

    Grandson of a Diplomat
    Razaf was born Andreamenentania Rasafkeriefo in 1895 in Washington. His grandfather, John Waller (no relation to Fats), was a freed slave who educated himself and became a powerful figure in Kansas politics. For helping to deliver the black vote in Kansas to President Benjamin Harrison, he was made United States consul in Madagascar. There he became friendly with the royal family; his daughter married one of the queen's nephews. When the French took over the island, Waller was briefly imprisoned because of his closeness to the royal family; his wife and children fled to the United States. Andy Razaf was born a couple of weeks after their arrival.

    In a family that valued poetry, Razaf was writing verses at the age of 10. He was only 17 when he sold his first song, "Baltimo,'" shortly after getting a job as an elevator operator in a Tin Pan Alley office building. With the outbreak of World War I, Razaf turned from songwriting to poetry, writing militant verses protesting racial oppression for such journals as The Messenger, The Emancipator, The New Negro and The Crusader. In 1920, he left New York for a year to pitch for a semi-pro baseball club in Cleveland. But when Mamie Smith, the first blues singer to be commercially recorded, scored an enormous hit with "Crazy Blues," he returned to Harlem to write blues lyrics.

    "Although he quickly showed himself to be the most talented writer of bawdy blues lyrics, he hated writing lyrics he considered demeaning to blacks," Mr. Singer said. "Nevertheless, he wrote hundreds of them, including 'Kitchen Man' and 'My Handy Man,' which Alberta Hunter revived at The Cookery."

    Self-Presentation
    Razaf introduced himself to Fats Waller on a Harlem street in 1921 after seeing him win a local piano competition. Their first published collaboration, "When You're Tired of Me, Just Let Me Know," appeared in 1924. Four years later, the team made it to Broadway with the revue "Keep Shufflin.'" At the same time, they were hired to write revues for Connie's Inn, the Cotton Club's chief competitor. In 1928 their revue Hot Feet proved so popular that it was moved to Broadway under the title Hot Chocolates. Its score included both "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Black and Blue." Louis Armstrong conducted and during intermissions would sing and play "Ain't Misbehavin.'"

    According to Mr. Singer, Razaf wrote "Black and Blue" after Dutch Schultz, the bootlegger who supplied beer to Connie's Inn and who was the main investor in "Hot Chocolates," insisted the show have another number before moving to Broadway.

    "He demanded a comedy song for a lady who says how tough it is to be black," Mr. Singer said. "He literally put a gun to Andy's head and told him that if he didn't write it he would never write again. The opening-night response to the song was silence -people were stunned. Then they went crazy. Andy hadn't written the comedy song Schultz wanted, but because it was a hit, Schultz left him alone."

    Two Different Temperaments
    In the 30's, as Fats Waller became a huge international star, his white managers discouraged his collaboration with Razaf, Mr. Singer said. Their relationship was not helped either by the fact that in temperament the two were polar opposites. "Andy was a dapper gentleman, even a little stuffy, and Waller a free spirit who was hard to control," Mr. Singer said.

    One of Razaf's most loyal friends proved to be Eubie Blake, with whom he had collaborated on the revue Blackbirds of 1930, which yielded the standard "Memories of You." When the swing era arrived, Razaf was hired by big-band leaders to provide lyrics for rhythm songs, the most famous being "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "In the Mood."

    Razaf never ceased campaigning for racial justice. After the 1940 movie Tin Pan Alley depicted a white man composing "Honeysuckle Rose," he wrote an open letter to 20th Century-Fox that was published in Variety, decrying the scene as "a gross misrepresention and insult." The studio responded with its own letter chiding him for "poor sportsmanship."

    Ignored by the Movies
    In 1946, five years after moving to Englewood, N.J., with the third of his four wives, Razaf entered politics, running for the City Council. But he lost narrowly amid charges of ballot tampering. Razaf settled in Los Angeles in 1949, and although he was treated as a black statesman by California politicians, the movie business barely acknowledged him. Less than two years later, he had a stroke that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Bound to a wheelchair for the remaining two decades of his life, he wrote sporadically and carried on a voluminous correspondence with music publishers, trying to keep his name and songs alive.

    "Andy had a tremendous sense of honor that hamstrung him in many ways," Mr. Singer said. "He criticized black musicians for not performing black composers' works frequently enough. When rock-and-roll came in, he wrote furious letters about it. But he was also fair in his anger. In the 50's, responding to all the rumors that he had written some of Irving Berlin's songs, he made a public statement saying Berlin was the finest songwriter in history and that he had never written a note or a line of his music."

    One of Razaf's most ardent champions is Bobby Short, who first met Razaf 40 years ago in Los Angeles and who recorded an album of his songs two years ago for Atlantic Records called Guess Who's in Town.

    "Andy was very down-to-earth and didn't seem to enjoy what fame he had had," Mr. Short recalled the other day. "If he had a major weakness, it was for pretty women. For all the wonderful songs of his that we know, there are just as many that are still unsung. 'Black and Blue' is very beautiful, but I'm just as mad about 'Lonesome Swallow.' I would say he is probably the outstanding black lyricist we've ever had."

This page (click) says lyrics for "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' on It" were written by Andy Razaf, with music by Alex Hill - first recorded by Georgia White in 1936.

Andy Razaf (1895-1973) was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. Here are some of his songs: “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Honeysuckle Rose”, “In the Mood”, “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, “Memories of You”, “12th Street Rag”, “Black and Blue”, “S’posin’”, “Make Believe Ballroom”, “Christopher Columbus”, “Milkman’s Matinee”, Concentratin’ On You”, “You’re Lucky to Me”, “Porter’s Love Song”, “Knock Me a Kiss”, “Dusky Stevedore”, “My Special Friend”, “That’s What I Like “Bout the South”, “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now”, “Blue Turning Gray Over You”, “Shoutin’ in the Amen Corner”, “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You?”, “On Revival Day”, “Stealing Apples”, “How Can You Face Me?”, “Massachusetts”, “My Handy Man”, “My Fate is in Your Hands”, “The Joint is Jumpin’”, “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town”, “If It Ain’t Love”, “The Burning Bush of Israel”, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”, “Seeds of Brotherhood” and “Precious Rosary.”
Detailed list of Andy Razaf Songs (click)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I'll Keep Sittin' on It (Georgia White)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Nov 15 - 03:03 AM

...and here's Ruth Brown singing "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' on It" from the 1989 revue Black and Blue:
...and a much earlier recording by Georgia White:
...and an inspiring performance by Ms. Edie Cheezburger:


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Mudcat time: 18 August 12:43 AM EDT

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