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Origin: Joe Turner

DigiTrad:
JOE TURNER


JedMarum 07 Jan 00 - 10:09 AM
Rick Fielding 07 Jan 00 - 12:28 PM
catspaw49 07 Jan 00 - 02:49 PM
JedMarum 07 Jan 00 - 04:39 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Jan 00 - 05:28 PM
Mark Clark 07 Jan 00 - 08:14 PM
Stewie 07 Jan 00 - 08:25 PM
JedMarum 07 Jan 00 - 09:36 PM
Art Thieme 07 Jan 00 - 11:04 PM
Stewie 08 Jan 00 - 01:06 AM
JedMarum 08 Jan 00 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Richie 03 Nov 02 - 10:14 PM
GUEST,Richie 04 Nov 02 - 10:02 PM
GUEST,Richie 04 Nov 02 - 10:19 PM
Joe Offer 04 Nov 02 - 10:27 PM
Joe Offer 04 Nov 02 - 11:07 PM
Roger the Skiffler 05 Nov 02 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Q 05 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Richie 05 Nov 02 - 10:00 PM
GUEST,Q 05 Nov 02 - 10:03 PM
Brian Hoskin 06 Nov 02 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Q 06 Nov 02 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Q 06 Nov 02 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Richie 06 Nov 02 - 09:03 PM
Joe Offer 06 Nov 02 - 09:58 PM
GUEST,Richie 06 Nov 02 - 10:04 PM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 04:44 AM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 05:12 AM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Richie 07 Nov 02 - 07:09 AM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Richie 07 Nov 02 - 10:01 AM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Richie 07 Nov 02 - 10:36 AM
Art Thieme 07 Nov 02 - 10:53 AM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 11:51 AM
Brian Hoskin 07 Nov 02 - 11:54 AM
Roger the Skiffler 08 Nov 02 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Richie 10 Nov 02 - 11:37 AM
JedMarum 06 Feb 03 - 06:26 PM
JedMarum 06 Feb 03 - 06:42 PM
breezy 06 Feb 03 - 06:53 PM
Stewie 06 Feb 03 - 07:11 PM
Stewie 06 Feb 03 - 07:20 PM
JedMarum 07 Feb 03 - 09:05 AM
My guru always said 07 Feb 03 - 09:14 AM
Stewie 07 Feb 03 - 06:58 PM
Azizi 04 May 07 - 08:50 AM
Azizi 04 May 07 - 09:04 AM
Dan Schatz 26 Sep 11 - 07:25 PM
Dan Schatz 29 Sep 11 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 10 Dec 14 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 10 Dec 14 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 10 Dec 14 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 25 Nov 17 - 05:00 AM
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Subject: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 10:09 AM

I remember from my childhood music study days hearing a song along the way called Joe Turner (I think I had it for a guitar lesson one week). It's a cool little blues tune with 2 verses. I never heard anyone sing it, and it popped into my head the other day, so I checkd out the DigiTrad - sure enough; it's there with the same two verses I've heard, and a brief note explaining that this is probably the oldest known blues song.

Does anyone know any more about this tune? Are there more words? Where did it come from? Who sings it? What is it about?


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 12:28 PM

Hi Liam. Can't give you much info, but I'll send it back to the top. I understood that Joe Turner was a mythical figure in American black folklore (sort of like John Henry, Prester John, or Paul Bunyan.)

Rick


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 02:49 PM

Liam, I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but I found an audio clip on this done by Alvin Lotsham in 1954 on Jerbul Records. Hope this helps.

Here's a Sound Nibble

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 04:39 PM

spaw - interesting sound nibble ... but it wasn't the song I was lookin' for!


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 05:28 PM

As usual, I'm at home and the material is at school, but I think I have a version of it. Does this sound familiar?

They tell me Joe Turner's dead and gone
They tell me Joe Turner's dead and gone
He left me here to sing this song.

The second verse was something about 40 links of chain. I'll look it up on Monday!

Allison


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 08:14 PM

Big Bill Broonzy did a wonderful version in which he told the story of a great flood in "eighteen and niney-three" when the people lost everything they had. Joe Turner would leave food for the flood victims and take care of them in other ways. If you can find a recording of Broonzy's version, he had some really nice guitar work in there as well.

- Mark


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 08:25 PM

Joe Turner seems to have been 2 people - transmogrified from a 'mercy' man, almost an angel, into an ogre. I recall reading a reference somewhere - but, of course, I can't find it - that the 1920s Joe Turner may have been a real person, feared throughout the South as the chain gang boss whose job it was to deliver gangs of black prisoners to the prison farms. This would accord with the version in the DT. The Traditional Ballad Index gives the earliest record of that version as 1927. It gives references to Sandburg ('American Songbag'), Courlander ('Negro Folk Music USA') and the DT. Evidently, Courlander refers to the angelic Turner, a storekeeper who gave food and goods to people suffering as a result of a huge flood in the 1890s, but his fragment - the same as Sandburg's? - does not accord with that story. However, Big Bill Broonzy sang a blues about this Good Samaritan, 'Joe Turner No 1', and said it was the earliest blues he knew of - 'written back in 1892'. It's mostly talking, incredible guitar playing and the one line repeated twice:

They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone
They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone
They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone

Big Bill sang this and talked about it to Studs Terkel on a Folkways LP 'Big Bill Broonzy Interviewed by Studs Terkel'. I do not have time at the moment, but I will transcribe it for you later because it is quite fascinating. The 'mercy' man seems to be the earlier. However, the pieces are linked because whatever Joe Turner was - angel or devil - he's done 'been and gone'. Bill Bill says the original Joe Turner was 2 people - 'Joe was a negro and Turner was a white man'.

Mississippi John Hurt recorded a 'Joe Turner Blues' on his 'Last Sessions' (Vanguard). However, this was his original composition and nothing to do with any of this - except it's interesting that he used the name 'Joe Turner' as a person whom he despised.

Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 09:36 PM

Great info here.

The song I've known, and the one available in the DT definately sounds like Joe is a chain gang boss ... 'they tell me Joe Turner's come and gone, got my man, and he's gone.'

Stewie - if you do get around to transcribing that interview I'd love to see it. Could I still purchase that Studs Terkel recording?


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 11:04 PM

Big Bill recorded his song several times---twice on Folkways I believe. The 5 LP set of Big Bill Broonzy with Studs was on Verve but I've never seen it on CD.

Art


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 01:06 AM

Hi Liam, here is the interview and Big Bill's rendition of the song. I'm pretty sure you can get any of the Folkways stuff on cassette (and CD in some cases)as a custom order from Smithsonian/Folkways.

TERKEL: Bill , we think of blues all the time as sad and mournful songs, yet you sang a couple of uptempoed, humorous blues. In the blues, isn't there always a feeling somehow that tomorrow things'll be better – or am I just imagining things?

BROONZY: Well, all people, all blues singers, feel that way. They sing because they figure there's gonna be a change in something – that people, that it's not gonna be the same. It is the same way with you: you don't think tomorrow is gonna be just like today.

TERKEL: I'm referring, Bill, to a blues that you once mentioned as the earliest you ever heard – dealt with a man named Joe Turner.

BROONZY: Joe Turner – oh yeh, I know that one. Why Joe Turner was a man that all the people in the South, they really believed in him. They really believed there was a man like that – and which it was. And nobody knowed who he was until he died. And the word Joe Turner, that was 2 people – because Joe was a negro and Turner was a white man. And Turner was a man owned a big store there and people that got drought, caught in drought, got caught in storms and big floods and things – they'd lose their stuff. Why old man Turner would put Joe on a mule and put a sack of groceries or whatsoever he had and send it to these people's houses. And they never did see nobody that bring it and they never did know who brought it – nuthin'. So they figured that that was the guy – that was all.

TERKEL: Sort of a Good Samaritan.

JOE TURNER No 1

Spoken (with guitar accomp):
This song was written back in eighteen and ninety-two
It was a terrible flood that year
Lot of the people lost most everything they had
Their crops, their potatoes and corn, cotton and everything
And most of their livestock – horses, mules, cows, chickens, ducks, geese
And the only man they know that could help them was a guy by the name of Joe Turner
And they would start cryin' and singin' this song

(Short guitar intro)

Sung (with guitar):
They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone
Lord, they tell me Joe Turner been here and gone
They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone

Spoken (with guitar):
And they would go out huntin', lookin' for rabbits, coons and possums - anything they could catch to eat
Some would go fishin', some would go in the woods lookin' for nuts of all kinds – anything they could get to eat
And a lot of times they would come home and find food and stuff in their homes
And they would know that Joe Turner had been there
And they would start cryin' and singin' this song

(Short guitar intro)

Sung (with guitar):
They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone
Lord, they tell me Joe Turner been here and gone
They tell me Joe Turner been here and gone

Spoken (with guitar):
And they would go out, look in their yards and they would see wood
And they would find axes to cut the wood with, that Joe Turner had brought there and left for them
Joe Turner was a man was known to help all poor people – black and the white
And they would start singin' this song – sometimes they would do a little boogie too with this song

Long guitar instrumental.

Source: 'Big Bill Broonzy: Interviewed by Studs Terkel' Folkways FG 3586.


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 11:11 AM

Stewie - I have saved this transcript. Thank you very kindly for your effort, it is very much appreciated!


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOE TURNER BLUES
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 10:14 PM

Joe Turner Blues
Music by W.C. Handy; lyrics by Walter Hirsh
For a recording: Click here
Piano Score: Original Key Bb; Recorded in the Key of G
Traditional Blues Progression: GCGGCCGGDDGG

You'll never miss the water 'till your well runs dry,
'Till your well runs dry,
You'll never miss Joe Turner
'Till he says, "good-bye."

I'm gonna leave you baby, and the time ain't long,
No the time ain't long,
If you don't think I'm leaving,
Count the days I'm gone.

I bought a bulldog for to, watch you while you sleep,
Guard you while you sleep,
I'm goin' to the river,
'Cause the river's deep.

You never 'preciate the little things I do,
Not one thing I do,
An' that's the very reason,
Why I'm leavin' you.

Sometimes I feel like nothin', somethin' throwed away
Somethin' throwed away.
An' then I get my banjo,
Play the blues all day.

You're just a mean high yella, so we has to part,
Now we has to part,
You're just a mean high yella,
You ain't got no heart.

It seems every day babe, you are getting' worse,
Yes, you are getting' worse,
You've got a rich man's ideas,
*And a poor man's purse.

I'm going to hop a freight train, and I'm goin' to roam,
Yes, I'm goin' to roam,
I'm goin' to get the things,
I can't get at home.

(repeat 1st verse)

*I sing, "but I've got a poor man's purse."

Notes: I found this in one of my grandfather's books, no cover page or date. It's a remake of W.C. Handy's "Joe Turner Blues." >Since there aren't many versions in the DT, I thought I'd add this and do an MP3 file of it for people to use. This is just a rough recording with no rehearsal, just guitar and vocal. I do sing the melody as written.

Maybe we could have some mudcatters record versions of some of the songs in the DT that have no MP3 files. Or maybe they could be done with vocals. What do you think?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: lyr. add: JOE TURNER BLUES
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 10:02 PM

Sorry that the recording is cut short, I'll fix it his week when I get more time. Hope someone can use it anyway.

Does anyone know where this Walter Hirsh version comes from? I would guestimate it's from the 1930's or 1940's.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: lyr. add: JOE TURNER BLUES
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 10:19 PM

I know Walter Hirsh did lyrics for other jazz arrangements in the 1930's so I assumed this was the date. The score says music by W.C Handy, who by the way was a friend of my grandfather. I have an autographed copy (to my grandfather) of St. Louis Blues in my collection.

I assume Handy collaborated with Hirsh on this arrangement.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: lyr. add: JOE TURNER BLUES
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 10:27 PM

Hey, there's an entry in the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

Joe Turner

DESCRIPTION: "They tell me Joe Turner he done come (or "done come and gone") (x2), Got my man and gone." "He come with forty links of chain (x2), Got my man and gone."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1915 (copyright, W. C. Handy)
KEYWORDS: separation
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Sandburg, p. 241, "Joe Turner" (1 text, 1 tune)
Courlander-NFM, p. 137, (no title) (1 fragment)
Handy/Silverman-Blues, p. 104-107, "Joe Turner Blues" (1 text, 1 tune, extremely heavily adapted; the original tune, with a single verse, appears on page 17)
DT, JOETURNR*

ALTERNATE TITLES:
Going Down the River for Long
Notes: Courlander reports that this was based on an incident on 1892, when a flood cost a number of people their livelihood. A storekeeper named Turner (though not Joe Turner) anonymously supplied their needs until he died, whereupon the gifts stopped.
It should be noted, however, that this does not match Sandburg's song at all, though it has the same lyrics as Courlander's fragment. Presumably Courlander's source adapted an older song to a local need. In support of this, we note that Handy/Silverman, though dating the song to the same time, regard Turner (actually Joe Tourney, brother of the governor of Tennessee) as the leader of a chain gang.
The notes in Handy/Silverman regard this as the archetypal folk blues -- perhaps even the ancestor of the entire genre. The former statement may arguably be true; the latter I must seriously doubt. - RBW
File: San241

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2002 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 11:07 PM

I combined the two Joe Turner threads. Note Stewie's contention above that "Joe Turner Blues" and "Joe Turner" have only a name in common and are not related to each other in any other way. Still, it seems reasonable to group them together for comparison.
Nice recording, richie (click).
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 09:55 AM

Thread creep: There was of course the great blues shouter Big Joe Turner who sang with Basie and others whom I saw a couple of time in the 1970s. He died mid 1980s.
I'll be seeing another of the same name this Thursday with the Memphis Blues Caravan.He used to be B.B. King's bass player.
RtS


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM

In this one, Toe Turner was returning from the chain gang or prison, according to Odum and Johnson (The Negro and His Songs, p. 206-207) who printed this fragment.

Dey tell me Joe Turner he done come,
Dey tell me Joe Turner he done come,
Oh, dey tell me Joe Turner he done come.

2. Come like he ain't never come befo', etc.

3. Come with that fohty links o' chain, etc.

4. Tell-a me Joe Turner is my man, etc.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 10:00 PM

What is the date on that Guest-Q?

I have the same basic thing from Jerry Silverman's book. Your version, I belive is close to the original lyrics that Handy heard while in Memphis and adapted. I don't have any info on where Handy got his version.

From Jerry Silverman:

They tell me Joe Turner's come and gone
They tell me Joe Turner's come and gone (Oh, Lordy)
Got my man and gone.

He come with forty links of chain
He come with forty links of chain (Oh, Lordy)
Got my man and gone.

They tell me Joe Turner's come and gone
They tell me Joe Turner's come and gone (Oh, Lordy)
Done left me here to sing this song.

Come like he never come before,
Come like he never come before (Oh, Lordy)
Got my man and gone.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 10:03 PM

Odum and Johnson first published their book in 1925. Unfortunately they don't say who collected it or when.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 09:19 AM

Howard Odum also makes reference to the song in a paper for The Journal of American Folklore Vol XXIV July-September, 1911, entitled 'Folk-song and folk-poetry as found in the secular songs of the Southern Negroes'. It is clear in this article that he is looking at already well-established songs and notes:
" . . . it is not possible to learn the exact origin of the folk-songs, or to determine how much is original and how much traditional, it is not possible to classify negro-songs according to the exact locality or localities from which they come." (257)

Clearly then Odum considered this song to be a relatively old song in 1911.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 02:16 PM

Thanks, Brian. The article is noted in the references but no date is given, nor is the article referred to with any of the songs. The Odum-Johnson book is lacking with respect to details.

It seems odd that there is no mention of "Joe Turner Blues" in Paul Oliver, "Screening the Blues," in light of the apparent importance ascribed to it by Handy-Silverman et al.
When did Walter Hirsh write the lyrics given for Handy's "Joe Turner Blues"? I have the date 1926 from the Univ. Oregon website, but no details given, noted only as "typical 12 bar pattern."

It looks like there are four Joe Turners in three songs. 1. The storekeeper. 2., 3. The man who gathered for the prisons, and, in changed form, the man who returned from prison or the chain gang. 4. The Joe Turner who sings the song in "Joe Turner Blues" of Handy-Hirsh. Great singing, Richie. It would be nice to have the complete song in Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 02:52 PM

What are the original words to Handy's song? (ca. 1915). It should be in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 09:03 PM

-Guest Q

I'll put entire song on. I just recorded it for Mudcat so others could learn the song.

I'm interested to find out if Walter Hirsh collaborated with Handy or if Hirsh arranged it independently.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 09:58 PM

Here's the version in Sandburg's American Songbag (1927). the tune is exactly what we have in the Digital Tradition, which I learned after I transcribed the whole damn thing.
-Joe Offer-


JOE TURNER

W.C. Handy refers to Joe Turner as a grandaddy of blues. "In some sections it was called Going Down the River For Long, but in Tennessee it was always Joe Turner." Joe was a brother of Pete Turner, once governor of Tennessee, and clothed with police powers Joe Turner took prisoners from Memphis to Nashville, "handcuffed, to be gone no telling how long." Thus Handy explained the song to Dorothy Scarborough who recalled lines:
    Dey tell me Joe Turner's come to town.
    He's brought along one thousand links of chain;
    He's gwine to have one nigger for each link!
    He's gwine to have dis nigger for one link!
Handy used the old theme for building Joe Turner blues with such interesting lines as:
    Sweet Babe, I'm goin to leave you,
    And the time ain't long,
    No, the time ain't long,
    If you don't b'lieve I'm leavin'
    Count the days I'm gone.


Dey tell me Joe Turner he done come,
Dey tell me Joe Turner he done come,
Got my man an' gone.

Dey tell me Joe Turner he done come,
Dey tell me Joe Turner he done come,
Come with fohty links of chain.

Still no Handy version - but I'll betcha one of those posted above is what Handy sang.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 10:04 PM

Joe-

Ths verse you quote from Handy is almost identical to the verse 2 in the version I posted:

I'm gonna leave you baby, and the time ain't long,
No the time ain't long,
If you don't think I'm leaving,
Count the days I'm gone.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 04:44 AM

Handy writes quite a bit about Joe Turner in his autobiography Father of the Blues (first published in 1941):

"Still another story is Joe Turner Blues. Here you get folklore with a bang. It goes back to Joe Turney (also called Turner), brother of Pete Turney, one-time governor of Tennessee. Joe had the responsibility of taking Negro prisoners from Memphis to the penitentiary at Nashville. Sometimes he took them to the "farms" along the Mississippi. Their crimes when indeed there were any crimes, were usually very minor, the object of the arrests being to provide needed labor for spots along the river. As usual, the method was to set a stool-pigeon where he could start a game of craps. The bones would roll blissfully till the required number of laborers had been drawn into the circle. At that point the law would fall upon the poor devils, arrest as many as were needed for work, try them for gambling in a kangaroo court and then turn the culprets over to Joe Turney. That night, perhaps, there would be weeping and wailing among the dusky belles. If one of them chanced to ask a neighbor what had become of the sweet good man, she was likely to recieve the pat reply, "They tell me Joe Turner's come and gone."
      Repeat this line three times and you get what I've called folk blues. Living in a world of such amazing cruelty, bewildered by the doings of such men as Joe Turney, this simple people either sang or played whatever came into their minds.

He come wid forty links of chain,
Oh Lawdy!
Come wid forty links of chain,
Oh Lawdy!
Got my man and gone.

    Joe Turney had a way of handcuffing eighty prisoners to forty links of chain, and from this situation grew many kinds of verses, all fitting the same musical mold. In Kentucky they call it Goin' Down the River 'Fore Long. There it was a steamboat song, but for the tune it was Joe Turner right on. In Georgia you heard the same melody when they sang Goin' Down That Long Lonesome Road. You heard it all over the South, for that matter, but wherever it was sung the words dealt with a local situation.
    Following my frequent custom of using a snatch of folk melody in one out of two or three strains of an otherwise original song, I wrote Joe Turner Blues and adapted the twelve bars of old Joe Turner as one of its themes. Here Joe Turner himself was no longer the long-chain man; he was the masculine victim of unrequited love just as the singer in St. Louis Blues was the feminine, and he sang sadly and yet jauntily such thoughts as:

You'll never miss the water
Till your well runs dry;
Till your well runs dry.
You'll never miss Joe Turner
Till he says goodbye.
Sweet babe, I'm goin' to leave you
An' the time ain't long.
If you don't believe I'm leaving,
Count the days I'm gone.

It was difficult to get Joe Turner recorded. I came to New York for that purpose and while walking down Broadway I met my old friend Wilbur Sweatman - a killer-diller and jazz pioneer. He invited me home with him, and his wife Nettie prepared a lovely dinner, While dining she turned on the phonograph and lo and behold it played Joe Turner Blues which Sweatman had recorded not only on the Pathe but the Emerson records also."
(145-147)


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 05:12 AM

David Evans, in his book Big Road Blues (1982) also writes a little about the song. Much of what he says has been already stated above, but he also confirms that the song is "about a penal officer, actually named Joe Turney, who transported convicts in Tennessee between 1892 and 1896." He cites Archie Green's (1972) Only a Miner: Studies in Recorded Coal-Mining Songs as his source for this information. I am assuming this is where the dates come from, but I don't have a copy of Green's book to check.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 05:35 AM

A final note from me,

Guest Q,

Paul Oliver does mention Joe Turner (who he also refers to as Joe Tunney) in his book Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues, where he notes that he was a transfer agent or long-chain man.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 07:09 AM

Brian- thanks for the info. Here's what Jerry Silverman has in his
110 American Folk Blues:

When Pete Turney was the Governor of Tennessee in 1892, He made his brother Joe the "long-chain man." It was Joe Turney's job to transport convicts from Memphis to the Nashville penitentiary. So when Joe came to town it was bye-bye for some woman's man. Through a typical folk metamorphosis his name was changed to Joe Turner. This is , perhaps, the oldest recorded blues. It is sometimes referred to as "the Granddaddy of the Blues."

Should we assume the lyrics I posted are Handy's (Hirsh) published version?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 07:36 AM

That seems a reasonable assumption Richie.

One thing Silverman appears to have wrong is exactly when Peter Turney was Governor, a quick check on Internet sites show he was Governor from 1893 until 1897. For instance see here

Brian


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 10:01 AM

Brian-

I'm not trying endorse Silverman but Pete Turney was Governor in 1892 as Silverman stated, and perhaps that's when his brother was appointed. He didn't say Pete Turney was first appointed govenor in 1892 although that is the impression he gives.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 10:30 AM

I was just working on the basis of the information given on the website I've put the link to, where it gives his dates as 1893-1897. I've no idea how accurate their information is, but it is the Tennessee State Library and Archive site (though I concede that doesn't guarantee accuracy).


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 10:36 AM

Brian,

Your info is appreciated and looks accurate to me. You've really added a lot of quality info for us.

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 10:53 AM

Roger the Skif.

Are you thinking of JOE WILLIAMS who sang with Basie (maybe not Turner)?

Big Joe Williams, a whole different person, was a country blues singer from Mississippi who I got to know pretty well in Chicago about 1961.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 11:51 AM

No Art, Roger's right Big Joe Turner (b. Joseph Vernono Turner, 18 May 1911 Kansas City, d. 24 Nov 1985 LA) did tour at one time with Count Basie's band.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 11:54 AM

Here's a bio of Big Joe Turner click


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 08 Nov 02 - 09:19 AM

Yes, I saw BJT once with Basie and once with a travelling blues package: he was walking with a cane and had to sit down to sing. I have records of him and of Joe Williams.
BTW I missed the NJT (no 2) gig last night as I stupidly twisted my ankle yesterday and am still semi-mobile!
RtS


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 10 Nov 02 - 11:37 AM

After checking carefully, the version of "Joe Turner" I posted says, "Words and music by W.C. Handy; Lyrics revised by Walter Hirsh;
So...the lyrics are Handy's lyrics, just revised.

I've fixed the mp3 file to the song so folks can hear the entire song to learn it.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 06:26 PM


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 06:42 PM

They tell me Joe Offer's fixed this thread
They tell me Joe Offer's fixed this thread
Fixed 'em words, from his head

_____________________

Thanks Joe!


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: breezy
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 06:53 PM

We have a song about a J. T. who was a fisherman from Hull, who lost his life during WW11 in the Aegean sea and whose grave is on the Greek island of Leros.
A rather poignant number that only a few of us have heard.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 07:11 PM

Green ('Only A Miner' p163) notes that Governor Buchanan was defeated soundly in August 1892 and that his 'successor, Pete Turney, a Bourban Democrat, visited Coal Creek in 1863' and finally removed the troops. At page 165, Green writes: 'Handy asserted that the blues were indeed traditional. To illustrate, he told Miss Scarborough that his 'Joe Turner Blues' stemmed from a folksong he had known for more the thirty years'.

Green gives the dates of Peter Turney's governorship as 1892 to 1896. He describes Turney's brother Joe, mentioned above, as 'a penal officer who transported criminals from courts to prisons and work sites: 'A perfunctory comment on the officer's action was noted in a local newspaper: "Capt Joe Turney the agent of the lessees of the State Prison was in town Wednesday and took John Daugherty to the penitentiary on a charge of felonious assault' (Green p 195). Green goes on note: 'Handy had composed his blues about Joe Turney "around an old Negro song", retaining the melody but resetting the plot to change Turney from a dreaded official - the long-chain man - to an absent masculine lover'. He goes on to note that 'this explanation made comprehensible a fragment Miss Scarborough had heard years before but never understood' - he then quotes the stanza posted above by Joe Offer in respect of Sandburg.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 07:20 PM

If the quote from Dave Evan's book, posted above by Brian Hoskin, is correct, it looks like Joe was on the job only as long as his brother was governor.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: JedMarum
Date: 07 Feb 03 - 09:05 AM

I love this place!


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: My guru always said
Date: 07 Feb 03 - 09:14 AM

I know the one about the guy buried in Greece (wonderful song), but I don't think it's anything to do with this Joe Turner song. George Papavgeris wrote it fairly recently.


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Subject: RE: Where'd JOE TURNER come from?
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Feb 03 - 06:58 PM

I just noticed a typo in my 7.11 post above: in the second line the date should read 'visited Coal Creek in 1893' NOT '1863'. Perhaps a kind clone could fix it.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Azizi
Date: 04 May 07 - 08:50 AM

Dorothy Scarborough's 1925 collection of "Negro Folk Rhymes" [1963 Folklore Associates Edition, pps 265-266] includes an interview that she and her African American collaborator Ola Lee Gulledge had with W.C. Handy:

[Note: this excerpt includes the fully spelled 'n' word for folkloric purposes]

[Scarborough]: "Are blues any relation to Negro folk music?"

Handy replied instantly 'Yes-they are folk music'...
Each one of my blues is based on some old Negro song of the South, some folk song that I heard from my mammy when I was a child. Something that sticks in my mind, that I hum to myself when I'm not thinking about it. Some old song that is part of the memories of my childhold and of my race. I can tell you the exact song I used as a basis for any one of my blues. Yes, the blues that are genuine are really folk songs".

I expressed an interest to know of some definite instance of what he meant, and for answer he picked up a sheaf of music from his desk.

"Here's a thing called "Joe Turner Blues", he said. "That is written around an old Negro song I used to hear and play thirty or more years ago. In some sections it was called "Going Down The River for Long," but in Tennessee it was always "Joe Turner". Joe Turner, the inspiration of the song, was a brother of Pete Turner, once govenor of Tennessee. He was an officer and he used to come to Nashville after a Kangaroo Court. When the Negroes said of anyone, "Joe Turner's been to town," they meant that the person in question had been carried off handcuffed, to be gone no telling how long".

I recalled a fragment of folk-song from the South which I had never before understood, but whose meaning was now clear enough.

Dey rell me Joe Turner's come to town.
He's brought along one thousand links of chain;
He's gwine to have one nigger for each link;
He's gwine to have dis nigger for one link!

Handy said that in writing "Joe Turner Blues" he did away with the prison theme and played up a love element, so that Joe Turner became, not the dreaded sheriff, but the absent lover.

Here is the result as Handy sent it out, though folk-songsters over the South have doubtless wrought many changes to it since then:"

[See my next post for these lyrics which are very much like the version of "Joe Turner Blues" that was posted by GUEST,Richie at 03 Nov 02 - 10:14 PM]


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Subject: RE: Where'd Joe Turner come from?
From: Azizi
Date: 04 May 07 - 09:04 AM

JOE TURNER'S BLUES
{W.C. Handy}

You'll never miss the water 'till your well runs dry,
Till your well runs dry.
You'll never miss Joe Turner till he says, "good-bye."

Sweet Babe, I'm goin' to leave you, and the time ain't long,
The time ain't long.
And if you don't believe I'm leavin', count the days I'm gone.

{Chorus}
You'll be sorry, be sorry from your heart [uhm},
Sorry to your heart {uhm},
some day when you and I must part.

And every time you hear a whistle blow,
Hear a steamboat blow,
You'll hate the day you lost your Joe.

I bought a bulldog for to watch you while you sleep,
Guard you while you sleep;
Spent all my money, now you call Joe Turner "cheap".

You never 'preciate the little things I do,
Not one thing I do.
And that's the very reason why I'm leaving you.

Sometimes I feel like somethin' throwed away,
Somethin' throwed away.
And then I get my guitar, play the blues all day.

Now if your heart beat like mine, it's not made of steel,
No,'t aint made of steel.
And when you learn I left you, this is how you'll feel.


[from Dorothy Scarborough & Ola Lee Gulledge's 1925 book "Negro Folk Rhymes" [1963 Folklore Associates Edition, p. 266]


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Subject: RE: Origin: Joe Turner
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 26 Sep 11 - 07:25 PM

This thread represents everything good about the Mudcat.

Gamble Rogers recorded Big Bill Broonzy's version of Joe Turner Blues (1892 Blues), but added a second part to the story, which described the entire community getting together and sharing a meal. I suspect, though he didn't take credit for it, that this was Gamble's own contribution. Does anyone know any more about that part of the story?

I'm hoping to include this song/story in my upcoming CD project, and I often perform it live. (Here's a link to the video.)

It would be wonderful to learn more about the folklore of Joe Turner - both Joe Turners, really - the angel and the ogre.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Origin: Joe Turner
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 29 Sep 11 - 12:50 PM

Incidentally, does anyone know anything more about that flood? Was there a historical event associated with this song? I can't find anything notable on the 'net about floods in the South in 1892.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Origin: Joe Turner
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 03:01 PM

Carroll County [TN] _Democrat_, Dec. 7, 1888: "JOE
TURNEY, the irrepressible recruiting agent for the penitentiary, was
here last Tuesday on his way from Decatur and Henderson Counties where
he had been after some prisoners."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Joe Turner
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 03:21 PM

Like W.C. Handy, Big Bill (who was 30 years younger than Handy) would come across an old folk song and change it however he felt like changing it. Unlike Handy, Broonzy couldn't be relied on to be truthful about having done that, or about when he was born, or which state he was born in, or whatever. It reminds me of that Monty Python joke: supposing your mother is cremated, you can have some ashes "which you can pretend were hers." If Broonzy tells a story, you can pretend it's true.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Joe Turner
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 04:01 PM

"Sunday morning, July 5, 1891, forty convicts were delivered to the mine, and were put to work immediately at tearing down the building the miners had formerly lived in, and erecting a stockade, which was afterwards called Joe Turney Branch Prison." -- _Annual Report, Vol. 2_, by Tennessee Commissioner Of Labor and Inspector Of Mines, 1893.

So "Joe Turney" wasn't just the name of a man, it was the name of a prison.

At the time of his death in 1912, Joseph Woodson Turney was working for an insurance company.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Joe Turner
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 05:00 AM

It was about 1882 to 1900 that Joe Turney transferred prisoners. (See e.g. _The Tennessean_ 6/2/1882 and 3/10/1903.)


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