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Lyr Add: Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers off of Me

Gene 23 Oct 97 - 12:42 AM
Jon W. 23 Oct 97 - 10:31 AM
Gene 23 Oct 97 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,song detective 02 Jul 10 - 06:03 AM
Joe Offer 02 Jul 10 - 12:31 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jul 10 - 01:49 PM
Joe Offer 02 Jul 10 - 03:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jul 10 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Song Detective 03 Jul 10 - 07:35 AM
GUEST 27 Feb 11 - 02:34 PM
Arkie 28 Feb 11 - 12:03 PM
Jim Dixon 08 Aug 11 - 06:10 PM
Jim Dixon 10 Aug 11 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Aug 11 - 11:07 AM
GUEST 23 Mar 13 - 01:39 AM
GUEST 26 Nov 17 - 08:27 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: KEEP THEM COLD, ICY FINGERS OFF OF ME
From: Gene
Date: 23 Oct 97 - 12:42 AM

Here's one of my favorite "GHOST" songs...from the 40's!

KEEP THEM COLD, ICY FINGERS OFF OF ME
Artist:
Writer:

Bill Johnson was a feller, that believed in Haints and Sights
He used to dream about 'em, when he went to bed at night
And when he'd dream about 'em, you could nearly always tell
He'd just pull back the covers, he'd jump right out and yell.

Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me
Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me
I don't mind them naked bones
I can stand that hollow groan ...
But, Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me.

One night as Bill was passin' a graveyard on the hill
Something dressed in white jumped out and made a grab at Bill
Bill says you may catch me, but I'll make you do your best
Before we start to travel, I'll make one last request.

Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me
Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me
You may run me out of breath
You may scare me half to death
But, Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me.

Bill went to see the doctor, had a misery in his chest
The doctor looked at him and said take off your coat and vest
He started tappin' on his ribs, which give Bill such a shock
That he just grabbed the doctor's hand and he says now look out doc.

Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me
Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me
You can cure my aches and ills
With your powders and your pills
But, Keep Them Cold (***) Icy Fingers Off Of Me.

(***=wierd guitar sound)


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Subject: RE: ADD/LYR: COLD, ICY FINGERS
From: Jon W.
Date: 23 Oct 97 - 10:31 AM

Great song, Gene. Any way you can get us the tune?


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Subject: RE: ADD/LYR: COLD, ICY FINGERS
From: Gene
Date: 23 Oct 97 - 11:07 AM

Hi Jon - before the crash of 97, I could make and send a FILE.WAV of a song....as an attachment....haven't been able to get the sound working again...guess I could do it from my son's place...

a typical 2:30 minute song takes up about 3meg PLUS for a wav file...so I often just include just a verse and chorus...

if interested in a wave: email me at: ah827@rgfn.epcc.edu


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Subject: RE: ADD/LYR: COLD, ICY FINGERS
From: GUEST,song detective
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 06:03 AM

This is the song Elvis Presley sang {there was another, too} at his high school talent show, which he won.
I haven't heard it, but from the lyrics, it certainly has a chilling {excuse the pun} similarity, at least lyrically to "Blue Suede Shoes"! Kind of shocking, at first. "You can do {this}, you can do {that} [some transcriptions use "can" rather than "may" throughout]
BUT
Keep them cold, cold icy fingers offa me {Elvis was said to have given it an extra "cold" in his rendition}.

The famous "Shoes":

"You can knock me down, step on my face, slander my name all over the place"
BUT Don't You Step on My Blue Suede Shoes,"
"You can do anything that you wanna do, but uh, huh, honey, lay offa them shoes!"

Also, Elvis recorded a somewhat raunchier version - mixed with "Mojo Workin'" of Broonzy's "Keep Your Hands Off of Her."
"Keep Your Hands off of her - Don't Belong to you"
"She's mine, all mine, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO!"

Again, there's possession, permission to do other stuff, except to keep one's hands or whatever off of either skin, or shoes, or one's "girl." In all cases, these songs are lyrically connected.
Two were known songs before "Blue Suede Shoes" was written {I've left out Elvis's raunchier side-trips with it}. And we know that Elvis knew both very well, from the inside out. He picked out the identity of the chord progression and melody of "Keep Your Hands Off of Her" and "Mojo Workin"" so he was intimately familiar with it, and he sang the other in high school, the same year he wore, get this ACTUAL blue suede shoes to his high school prom.
Johnny Cash has claimed the credit for introducing Perkins to the idea of a song about "Blue Suede Shoes" and Perkins says he saw a boy in the audience say "lay off of the suedes" just coincidentally the same night. {I thought they turn the lights low when performers are performing . . . Perkins says he even saw a scuff mark}. At first, both Cash and Perkins seem to agree that Perkins said "why would I want to sing about shoes instead of a pretty girl." Then, Perkins says, this event in the audience made up his mind.
Several different dates have been given for the composing of "Blue Suede Shoes." And Perkins can be seen stroking a pair of them during a very early film of all of them {including a very early Buddy Holly}, on a date BEFORE Perkins says he wrote the song - or rather, either of the dates. Another date has been discounted.
Not saying anything odd happened here: Elvis did do very creative things with existing material, but I'm not saying that: just food for thought. Clearly Perkins made an actual "SONG" of it, without a doubt: I just wonder where it came from, really, and why Perkins himself said he didn't see why anyone would want to sing about shoes!
Good thing for him that he decided it was a good idea. Whoever had the idea: Cash says he had the idea first, and we know that the lyrical content is similar to songs Presley knew, and that he could have been fussing with back stage {he was the last to go on}, and that Perkins wrote it up "on a paper sack," he said - though, during these tours, they had to hit the road immediately after their set. He has said he wrote it backstage on this paper sack, on other times, he said he wrote it in bed that night.
All of this is very confusing, considering that Perkins sang in '94, telling an apocryphal account of Elvis NOT wanting to record Carl's song at all, so Carl could thank the long dead performer. He said the following: "King," he said, pointing toward the Heavens, "here's OUR SONG." Ostensibly, he meant that it is very associated with Elvis. But it was a strange thing to say, especially since Carl was ill and didn't have long to live.
As I said, I am just thinking aloud.
Be interested in anyone's take on it.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 12:31 PM

I wonder who wrote this song, and when. I couldn't find it listed at the Harry Fox Agency, and I couldn't find a recording on Spotify. Bear Family Records has five recordings available: by Fairley Holden, Pee Wee King, two by the Stanley Brothers, and a parody (no doubt) by Homer and Jethro. I finally did find a Stanley Brothers recording at YouTube.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 01:49 PM

John Lair, 1894-1985, composed the song; it is so credited on several covers,including the ones by Elvis and the Stanley Bros.

He managed the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, an important show in the 1940s-1950s. A harmonica virtuoso. Composed over 500 songs.
Important also to gospel; introducing many Albert Brumley songs.

Abstracted from several websites.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 03:47 PM

This page is a very interesting article titled "Can There Any Good Thing Come Out Of Bakersfield?" The article has a good transcription of the song.

COLD, ICY FINGERS
(John Lair, 1894-1985)

Bill Jackson was a fellow that believed in hainted sights
He used to dream about them when he went to bed at night
And when he dreamed about them you could nearly always tell
He'd just pull back his covers and jump right up and yell
Keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me
Keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me
I don't mind your naked bones
Don't mind your hollers and your groans
But keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me

One night as Bill was passin' a graveyard on a hill
Somethin' dressed in white jumped out and made a grab at Bill
Bill said you may not catch me but I'll make y' do your best
But 'fore we start t' travel, I'll make one last request
Keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me
Keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me
You can chase me out of breath
You can scare me half to death
But keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me

Bill went to see a doctor with a misery in his chest
The doctor looked at Bill and said take off your coat and vest
He started tappin' on Bill's wrist and gave Bill such a shock
That Bill just jumped right back and said now wait a minute Doc
Keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me
Keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me
You can cure my aches and ills
With your powders and your pills
But keep them cold icy fingers off 'a me


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers (John Lair)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 04:51 PM

That "cold, icy hand" or "cold icy fingers" is a subject in several African-American spirituals. I believe John Lair would have been familiar with them.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers (John Lair)
From: GUEST,Song Detective
Date: 03 Jul 10 - 07:35 AM

Thanks, folks.

Yes, I have seen the "other" talent show story, and it IS amazing that Humes was not "offended" by the talk of cold fingers at night . . . but he got away with it. That would not last long!

More about the gospel connection, but how can Lair be "credited" on Elvis's version, when he never recorded it to be "credited" to anyone? I mean, he only sang it in a high school.

Perhaps you're thinking of "Hands Off," but he is clearly doing the Broonzy version, but with aggression and some very naughty words added as well {and subtracted by Victor}.

I'm intrigued by the gospel connection: as far as I had known, the first versions of the suggestive "Hands Off" were described as "tent show" staples, and Broonzy wanted to make a record from it, and so "cleaned it up." From Samuel Charters. It is interesting to have a name! Also interesting that this "nasty" little song started out in the gospel field, and so very long ago.

The early versions, as per Charters, we very brief: just "Hands off off it/Don't you dare touch it/Don't belong to you." How this could relate to God, I don't know. That is intriguing. The unsuitability of this for a popular record is obvious, even when it was expanded, so Broonzy decided to make it about a female, and make it "clean." This seems the obvious source for Elvis's later pastiche {he mentioned Broonzy in an early interview as some of the "Mississippi singers" he really liked, but that they were considered "low down": "at home" - where he said he'd get in trouble for listening to them - and this is vague in light of recent information about Elvis's "'tween" years living on The Hill in Tupelo - a very "churchy" black neighborhood directly to the west of Shake Rag. "Home" could mean his parents' actual place to live, or the community itself, which would know a lot more about the impropriety of Shake Rag than his parents. One local musician, Charles Clanton, told Michael Rose - the video-biographer of the Tupelo years, that "the onliest way I knew Elvis was as a kid." He's means little kid, of course: they left when he was just 13, and Clanton saw him {he knew him from the daylight, when their string band rehearsed} - he doesn't say if it was one time or more - catching a "peek" at one of the juke joints in Shake Rag on a Saturday night, "late." Which means he snuck out to do so. The other {former} youngsters from the "Hill" area speak of "Shake Rag" as kind of off-limits, saying it was real "low-down" - using the same language that Elvis used at about 21. Apparently, the children who lived on "The Hill," were told not to go there, or listen to the music, especially, I'd think, on late Saturday nights. Which was, of course, when it got interesting. Clanton said there was a lot of suggestive dancing taking place, and that perhaps that is where Elvis first saw what was later called "wiggling." Actually, it was just dancing, but mainstream America of the '50s did not see it as simply dancing or moving to music. He did know that "low-down" music was considered inappropriate for children, and said "which never bothered me, I guess."}

In this interview, he mentions Broonzy. So, it seems clear that he either heard the song "Keep Your Hands Off Her" live and remembered it, or looked for his records later on. Both can be true, of course, and that is likely. By '55, he would have access to just about any records he wanted, and by '70, it was taken for granted. The question is whether he heard the REAL "low-down" versions of "Hands Off" - and there is information that he sang "Birthday Cake" {a version of "Hands Off"} at about 19 when just beginning his official career. "Birthday Cake" is VERY hard to find: best bet is on a Jerry Lee Lewis compilation. It goes back to the "low-down" version of "Hands Off." And it was considered a country tune! It had crossed over the divide, as had "Cold, Icy Fingers." Some versions of "Hands Off" have titles like "Keep Your Fingers Out of It." This refers to one's "cake" or something like that, but clearly connects to "Cold, Icy Fingers" - at least lyrically. They really are all variations of the same theme. I would be more interested in the chord progressions than melody or tempo. That can be manipulated.

We do know that Sam Phillips sent Perkins on a "learning tour" of Memphis, with Elvis, and he showed him Lansky's, introduced him, and picked out an outfit: black slacks and a bright blue shirt. We do not know if Perkins liked or ever wore this outfit in concert. It certainly was not his taste up to that time. Phillips was trying to "rockabilly"-him, in all respects, using Elvis as tutor. This would be the source of the later "Shoes" extension, "Put Your Cat Clothes On." Perkins saw it, clearly, in some ways as "blacking up." Or, it felt that way for him. And it really didn't suit him: he was, and remained, more of a country artist, and his best work was "Dixie Fried" a wild song about white, after-hours Honky Tonkin' and knife fighting that seemed to owe little or nothing to Beale Street . . . It was strictly country, and Perkins loved the fantasy, if that's what it was, of young white men going wild in the wee hours of the morning: "it's almost dawn, and the cops are gone, so let's all get Dixie Fried." This would not be a song that interested Elvis in any way, shape or form. {He did sing boldly about criminality in a Jordanaires' "I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water" about a son doomed to follow his father's unhappy footsteps.}

"Blue Suede Shoes" - at first, anyway, did not interest Carl Perkins. "Why," he asked, rhetorically, "would anybody want to sing about shoes? I'd rather sing about a pretty girl." So the idea was not his. So Cash intervenes at this point, and says he suggested it due to his service experience. Now, maybe I'm nuts, but I don't see how Army boots relate to "Blue Suede Shoes." And since they were quite uncommon at the time, and we know that Elvis actually wore them, this leaves us with many questions. In Robert Johnson's "Hot Tamales," he inserts a spoken part where he warns others not to "mess with" the hot tamales." The chord progression is similar, and the song fits in with the family of songs, plus you get this revelation: "one for a nickel, two for a dime." Thus, "One for the money, two for the show." To me, clearly, the song is blues based, with several country and western swing cross-overs, as well. All rooted, Charters says, in an old "tent-show" gag: a kind of naughty joke. If it had gospel roots, that makes it even more interesting in terms of border-crossings.

In the classic rock 'n' roll song, we know that NO ONE ever steps on those shoes. But it is in a solid blues tradition, most familiar to Presley - and Perkins also knew some blues, since "Matchbox" goes right to Blind Lemon Jefferson - the original source, btw, for "That's All Right Mama" in his "That Black Snake Moan." Few credit Jefferson, who deserves more than a little credit - Crudup never mentions Jefferson. {Of interest here: some songs on "Loving You" have undeniable blues roots: "Party" is a riff off of a Roy Brown song, and may have been inspired by the interaction between Presley and Lieber/Stoller, since Brown was always a fave for Elvis, and Brown, a major influence on the likes of Jackie Wilson and others, always insisted they knew each other early on.}

So, you see my point: these other songs are traceable, but the composition of "Shoes" is filled with many conflicting accounts. And since all participants have now passed - two quite early, one very early, well, we cannot know for sure.

The onus is on us, now, to look at the information, and see what makes the most sense. I do not know, except that I am confused.

Have at it and thanks.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers (John Lair)
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 02:34 PM

That wierd sound is a Hand saw.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Cold, Icy Fingers (John Lair)
From: Arkie
Date: 28 Feb 11 - 12:03 PM

Have not heard this song in ages and am glad to have picked up on this thread for the reminder of the song and all the information provided.

A thirty second preview can be found at the link below. It is not the best version I have heard, in my opinion, but it does give one an idea of the tune. It does not have the eerie sound embedded.


Cold Icy Fingers


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers off of Me
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 06:10 PM

You can hear the Stanley Brothers sing KEEP THEM COLD ICY FINGERS OFF OF ME at YouTube.


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Subject: Lyr Add: KEEP THEM COLD ICY FINGERS OFF OF ME
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 09:33 AM

Here's how the Stanley Brothers sing this song. (See the link above.) Note the verses are in a different order:


KEEP THEM COLD ICY FINGERS OFF OF ME
As sung by the Stanley Brothers

Bill Johnson was a feller that believed in haints an' sights.
He used to dream about 'em when he went to bed at night,
An' when he'd dream about 'em, you could nearly always tell.
He'd just throw back the cover an' jump right out an' yell:
"Keep them cold icy fingers off o' me.
Keep them cold icy fingers off o' me.
I don't mind them naked bones.
I can stand them holler groans,
But keep them cold icy fingers off o' me."

Bill went to see the doctor; had a mis'ry in his chest.
The doctor looked at Bill an' said, "Take off that coat an' vest."
He started tappin' on his ribs; that gave Bill such a shock.
He just grabbed that doctor's hand an' said, "Now look-a here, Doc.
Keep them cold icy fingers off o' me.
Keep them cold icy fingers off o' me.
You may cure my aches an' ills
With your powders an' your pills,
But keep them cold icy fingers off o' me."

One night when Bill was passin' a graveyard on the hill,
Somethin' dressed in white jumped out an' made a grab at Bill.
Now, Bill said, "You may catch me, but I'll make you do your best.
Before we start to travel, let me make one last request:
Keep them cold icy fingers off o' me.
Keep them cold icy fingers off o' me.
You may run me out of breath.
You may scare me half to death,
But keep them cold icy fingers off o' me."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers off of Me
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 11:07 AM

Thanks, Genie and Jim. It's fun to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers off of Me
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 01:39 AM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers off of Me
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 08:27 AM

A coincidence perhaps, but Bill Jackson was also the protagonist in Phil Harris's "Dark Town Poker Club."


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