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Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs

GUEST,Joseph Scott 10 Jun 15 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 15 Jun 15 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 15 Jun 15 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Stim 16 Jun 15 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Stim 16 Jun 15 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 23 Jun 15 - 05:27 PM
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Subject: Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 07:41 PM

Here are some recordings that seem to be among the most "generic" 16-bar blues songs with AAAB lyrics, lyrically, because they have lyrics that were also sung _in AAAB stanzas_ by a number of other artists:

"Goin' To Leave You Blues" Big Boy Cleveland
"I'm Leavin' Town" William Harris
"Cincinnati Blues" Jesse Fuller (1955 version)
"Who's Going Home With You" Rufe Johnson
"All Out And Down" Thomas Shaw
"Steamboat Man" Roy Harvey
"C. C. & O. Blues" Simmie Dooley and Pink Anderson
"Cross E Shimmy Dance Tune" Tom Bell
"K.C. Railroad Blues" Andrew and Jim Baxter
"Florida Bound" Edward Thompson
"Midnight Blues" William Moore

Ordinary sixteen-bar blues apparently peaked in popularity some time during the 1910s (but were also around in the previous decade). Lyrics were similar across the South: the "...river... deep and wide... on the other side" lyric was known to both Texas Alexander and Peg Leg Howell, the "I went to the depot, I looked up on the..." lyric was known to both Leadbelly and Willie Hill, the "... evening sun go down... last go round" lyric was known to both Thomas Shaw and Edward Thompson, the "Tell me baby what you got on your mind" lyric was known to both the Mississippi String Band and Rufe Johnson, the "last night... and your clothes ain't fitting you right" lyric was known to both William Harris and William Moore, etc.


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Subject: RE: Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 15 Jun 15 - 02:02 PM

These are 16 of the most common first-line-of-the-stanza lyrics in documented AAAB blues stanzas (in rough order of commonness, most common first):

I thought I heard... blowed/blow

Mama told me...

Went to the... looked up on the...

I hate to see the evening sun go down

... where'd you stay last night

... listen... what my mother/mama said

poor boy... long way/ways from home

... going up the country...

... what you got on your mind

... look/see ... what you done done

I'm going away to worry you off my mind

... buy me a pistol as...

... River... deep and wide

... low-down fireman... engineer

... I'm all out and down

... give me... long distance phone

I noticed after working out this list that none of the above lyrics has the word "blues" in it. It seems that mentioning the word "blues" in the lyrics of (what we call) blues songs became an outright fad in roughly 1911-1912 (having started up in roughly 1905-1906) -- 1911-1912 being a time when (what we call) 16-bar blues songs in general already were widespread, and 12-bar songs in general already were too.

"K.C. Moan" and its variants and "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" and its variants, e.g., which were both apparently around as of 1905, very rarely have the word "blues" in them by any early-born musicians.


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Subject: RE: Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 15 Jun 15 - 04:42 PM

"I hate to see the evening sun go down"

"'Tis sad to see Life's evening sun/Go down...." -- _The Local Preacher's Magazine..._, 1871.


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Subject: RE: Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 16 Jun 15 - 09:12 PM

Thanks for posting the song titles, Joseph. With Spotify or YouTube, it's pretty easy to listen to almost anything you want, but you are limited to what comes to mind--you're lists remind me of songs and artists that I've forgotten, or haven't listened to in years, or read or heard of, but never had a chance to listen to, etc, and I am there, so much, much obliged!

Also, it might be worth taking those first lines, which tend to be called "floating lines" or some such, and starting a separate thread--maybe with a view toward finding more sources like the one you cited.


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Subject: RE: Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 16 Jun 15 - 09:12 PM

Thanks for posting the song titles, Joseph. With Spotify or YouTube, it's pretty easy to listen to almost anything you want, but you are limited to what comes to mind--you're lists remind me of songs and artists that I've forgotten, or haven't listened to in years, or read or heard of, but never had a chance to listen to, etc, and I am there, so much, much obliged!

Also, it might be worth taking those first lines, which tend to be called "floating lines" or some such, and starting a separate thread--maybe with a view toward finding more sources like the one you cited.


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Subject: RE: Ordinary generic AAAB blues songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 23 Jun 15 - 05:27 PM

This one belongs on the list too:

"Sobbin' Woman Blues" Elizabeth Johnson

Her "buy me a pistol" stuff is also in "Sadie Lee Blues" by Peg Leg Howell (born 1888) and "Midnight Blues" by William Moore (born 1893), in AAAB stanzas. Her "going away to worry you off my mind" stuff is also in "Goin' To Leave You Blues" by Big Boy Cleveland and "Judge Boushe Blues" by Furry Lewis (Vestapol DVD version), in AAAB stanzas.

This is all a kind of ordinary folk blues of the 1910s that, in its 16-bar form, the pro entertainment blues industry black and white (including pro jazz musicians playing blues) seems to have never taken much interest in.


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