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Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)

Related threads:
Lyr/Chords Req: When I Was A Cowboy . . . (19)
Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (33)


murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 05 Dec 97 - 09:15 PM
Joe Offer 05 Dec 97 - 10:12 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 05 Dec 97 - 10:23 PM
Dale Rose 06 Dec 97 - 01:32 PM
Joe Offer 06 Dec 97 - 07:13 PM
alison 08 Dec 97 - 08:27 PM
Joe Offer 09 Dec 97 - 04:24 AM
Alan of Australia 09 Dec 97 - 08:23 AM
Joe Offer 06 Apr 98 - 02:11 AM
GUEST 28 Jan 07 - 06:35 PM
Rusty Dobro 29 Jan 07 - 12:28 PM
Cluin 29 Jan 07 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,MarkS 29 Jan 07 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Jason Luna 17 Mar 07 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,meself 17 Mar 07 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,Captain Colin 17 Mar 07 - 09:30 PM
Roger the Skiffler 18 Mar 07 - 03:21 AM
GUEST 18 Mar 07 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Captain Colin 18 Mar 07 - 11:36 AM
Jim Dixon 23 Mar 07 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,Jim 23 Mar 07 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Captain Colin 23 Mar 07 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,meself 23 Mar 07 - 09:03 PM
Azizi 23 Mar 07 - 09:09 PM
Azizi 23 Mar 07 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,meself 23 Mar 07 - 09:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Mar 07 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,Captain Colin 23 Mar 07 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Captain Colin. 24 Mar 07 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Will Drover 25 Mar 07 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Jim 28 Mar 07 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Captain Colin. 28 Mar 07 - 09:21 PM
GUEST,Will Drover 29 Mar 07 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,wayne 04 Sep 07 - 12:51 AM
GUEST,billy 15 Sep 07 - 08:17 AM
GUEST 10 Nov 07 - 11:54 PM
12-stringer 11 Nov 07 - 12:30 AM
iancarterb 11 Nov 07 - 12:45 AM
GUEST,ddpro 30 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM
GUEST,Lightnin' 28 Nov 08 - 07:29 AM
Lighter 28 Nov 08 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,amy 06 Feb 09 - 09:55 PM
GUEST,flatfoot 07 Feb 09 - 12:37 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Feb 09 - 01:06 PM
GUEST 09 Apr 09 - 07:00 PM
Art Thieme 10 Apr 09 - 05:33 PM
GUEST 16 May 09 - 07:50 PM
GUEST 18 Oct 09 - 04:56 PM
open mike 18 Oct 09 - 06:47 PM
Mark Ross 19 Oct 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Sophie FFS 19 Oct 09 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,Blue 02 Feb 11 - 10:28 AM
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Subject: When I was a cowboy
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 09:15 PM

I understand most of the works in Leadbelly's "When I Was a Cowboy", but I can't make out the following:

xxxxxxx were you ever on the western plains (repeated)// when me and a bunch of cowboys ran into Jessie James.

The xxxxxxx sounds like Odi, Hart, and Spanner. Hart was a western movie hero of the time. I wonder if he is addressing three cowboy heros.

Thanks for any info.

By the way: I couldn't find the song in the database.

Murray


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHEN I WAS A COWBOY (from Lead Belly)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 10:12 PM

WHEN I WAS A COWBOY
(as sung by Lead Belly)

When I was a cowboy, way out on de Western Plains,
When I was a cowboy, way out on de Western Plains,
I made a million dollars pullin’ de bridle reins.

refrain:
Coma-cow-cow, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

Oh, de hardes’ battle was ever on a Bunker Hill,
When we an’ a bunch o’ cowboys run into Buffalo Bill.

Oh, de hardes’ battle was ever on-a Western plains,
When me an’ a bunch o’ cowboys run into Jesse James.

When me an’ a bunch o’ cowboys run into Jesse James.
De bullets was a-fallin’ jes’ like a shower rain.

Coma-cow-cow, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

(from "American Ballads and Folk Songs," John and Alan Lomax)

No Odi, Hart, and Spanner, Murray, but I think this is the song you're looking for. If you search the database with brackets for [when I was a cowboy], you should find two songs that start with that line, but they're two versions of a song called "Dallas County Jail." Hope this one does the trick for you, Murray.
-Joe Offer-

Coma-cow-cow, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea


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Subject: RE: When I was a cowboy
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 10:23 PM

Thanks Joe.

That is the song I was after. I haven't really listened to folk music since the 60s when there was a good folk station in Phila. Since they could be relied upon to play the good stuff consistently, I never built up a record collection. Now I think I will start up a CD collection-- not an easy task here in Australia.

Murray


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Subject: RE: When I was a cowboy
From: Dale Rose
Date: 06 Dec 97 - 01:32 PM

There is a good recorded version of The Sporting Cowboy by Watts & Wilson on When I Was A Cowboy, Vol. 1,Yazoo 2022, 1996. The album title comes from the first line of that particular song, which is in the database, as Joe mentions above. The CD contains twenty-three cowboy classics from the 20's and 30s.


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Subject: Tune Add: WHEN I WAS A COWBOY
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Dec 97 - 07:13 PM

Oops! It doesn't work. The error message says "expected string [MThd] was not found. What did I do wrong, Alan? I'm going to try once more here.

MIDI file: WHENIW~1.MID

Timebase: 192

Text: When I Was A Cowboy
Copyright: Copyright © 1995 All Rights Reserved
TimeSig: 2/4 24 8
Key: F
Name: Unnamed-000
Start
0000 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 79 050 0142 0 79 000 0002 1 81 050 0046 0 81 000 0002 1 79 050 0094 0 79 000 0002 1 77 050 0094 0 77 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 77 050 0192 0 77 000 0000 1 77 050 0094 0 77 000 0002 1 74 050 0142 0 74 000 0002 1 72 050 0046 0 72 000 0002 1 74 050 0286 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 79 050 0142 0 79 000 0002 1 81 050 0046 0 81 000 0002 1 79 050 0094 0 79 000 0002 1 77 050 0094 0 77 000 0002 1 74 050 0190 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0192 0 74 000 0000 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0142 0 74 000 0002 1 69 050 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 67 050 0286 0 67 000 0002 1 70 050 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 70 050 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 70 050 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 67 050 0094 0 67 000 0098 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 70 050 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 74 050 0142 0 74 000 0002 1 70 050 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 67 050 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 72 050 0094 0 72 000 0002 1 72 050 0190 0 72 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0046 0 74 000 0002 1 72 050 0046 0 72 000 0002 1 69 050 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 69 050 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 67 050 0286 0 67 000
End

To download the November 10 MIDItext 97 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Unnamed-000
M:2/4
Q:1/4=
K:F
d2d2d2g2|-gag2f2d2|d2f4f2|d3cd4|-d2d2d2d2|
g3ag2f2|d4d4|d2d3AG2|-G4BBd2|B2d2G2z2|GGd2B2d2|
-dBG2GGc2|c4GGd2|d2dcAAG2|-G4||


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Subject: RE: When I was a cowboy
From: alison
Date: 08 Dec 97 - 08:27 PM

Hi Joe,

It worked all right for me. I'm listening to the tune now. I've got the music in front of me too.

Slainte

Alison


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Subject: RE: When I was a cowboy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Dec 97 - 04:24 AM

OK, Alison, now it seems to work. I wonder what I was doing wrong yesterday. Seems to work quite well, in fact. So, anybody else have new tunes to post?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: When I was a cowboy
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 09 Dec 97 - 08:23 AM

G'day Joe,
Glad to see you've got it working. The tune you posted (both versions) worked OK. The only problem is that it doesn't specify tempo. One of my MIDI players didn't like that. Sometime soon I will fix MIDItext to take care of that.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: Tune Add: WHEN I WAS A COWBOY
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Apr 98 - 02:11 AM

Posting corrected MIDITXT tune

MIDI file: WHENIW~1.MID

Timebase: 192

Text: WHEN I WAS A COWBOY
Copyright: Copyright © 1995 All Rights Reserved
TimeSig: 2/4 24 8
Key: F
Name: Unnamed-000
Start
0000 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 79 050 0142 0 79 000 0002 1 81 050 0046 0 81 000 0002 1 79 050 0094 0 79 000 0002 1 77 050 0094 0 77 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 77 050 0192 0 77 000 0000 1 77 050 0094 0 77 000 0002 1 74 050 0142 0 74 000 0002 1 72 050 0046 0 72 000 0002 1 74 050 0286 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 79 050 0142 0 79 000 0002 1 81 050 0046 0 81 000 0002 1 79 050 0094 0 79 000 0002 1 77 050 0094 0 77 000 0002 1 74 050 0190 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0192 0 74 000 0000 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0142 0 74 000 0002 1 69 050 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 67 050 0286 0 67 000 0002 1 70 050 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 70 050 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 70 050 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 67 050 0094 0 67 000 0098 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 70 050 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 74 050 0142 0 74 000 0002 1 70 050 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 67 050 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 72 050 0094 0 72 000 0002 1 72 050 0190 0 72 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 050 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 050 0046 0 74 000 0002 1 72 050 0046 0 72 000 0002 1 69 050 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 69 050 0046 0 69 000 0002 1 67 050 0286 0 67 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Unnamed-000
M:2/4
Q:1/4=120
K:F
d2d2d2g2|-gag2f2d2|d2f4f2|d3cd4|-d2d2d2d2|
g3ag2f2|d4d4|d2d3AG2|-G4BBd2|B2d2G4|GGd2B2d2|
-dBG2GGc2|c4GGd2|d2dcAAG2|-G4||


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 07 - 06:35 PM

There's a great version of this song on Van Morrison's Philosopher's Stone album. It's listed on the album as Western Plain.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 12:28 PM

I think Rory Gallagher did it too....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Cluin
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 12:41 PM

Ian & Sylvia recorded it on their "Play One More" album of 1966.

And Peter Rowan recorded it, bluegrassy style in 1978.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,MarkS
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 04:46 PM

Happy Traum has this on one of his CDs as well
Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Jason Luna
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:08 PM

Here is the actual lyrics------

When I was a cowboy, out on de Western Plain,
When I was a cowboy, out on de Western Plain,
I made a half a million pullin' on de bridle reins.

Coma-cow-cow, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.
Coma-cow-cow, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

Oh, de hardes' battle was there ever on a western plain,
Oh, de hardes' battle was there ever on a western plain,

When me an' a bunch of cowboys run into Jessee James.

Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.
Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

When me an' a bunch o' cowboys run into Jesse James
When me an' a bunch o' cowboys run into Jesse James
De bullets was a-fallin' jes' like a shower'n rain.

Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.
Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

Oh, de hardes' battle was there ever on Bunkers Hill,
Oh, de hardes' battle was there ever on Bunkers Hill,
When me an' a bunch o' cowboys run into Buffalo Bill.

Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.
Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

De boys had it all in for a man on the outskirts of town, and there had made the horses drunk, they had made those 45's drunk, and the boys was already in there got drunk, and all around that mans house, them horses was a walking, and them 45's was a talking, and it sounded best be god to that man, and here what de said:

Your house catched a fire, and there aint no water round.
If your house catches a fire, and there aint no water round

throw your jelly out the window, let the dog gone shack burn down

Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.
Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.

Come all you cowboys dont you wanna go
Come all you cowboys dont you wanna go
ta meet the lone rangers on ranging buffalo.

Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.
Coma-cow-cow yicky, coma-cow-cow, yicky-yicky-yea.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:24 PM

Umm - what makes those lyrics more "actual" than any of the other lyrics?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Captain Colin
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 09:30 PM

What's always intrigued me is why your jelly, of all things, would be the first thing to rescue should your doggone shack burns down. And why is it taken for granted in the song that everyone has a jelly on hand at all times on their premises, ready for rescuing? Surely very few people, then as now, would be likely to - I know I certainly don't. Even if I did it would be given a low priority for rescue in the unfortunate event of a conflagration. Is it an allegory, or a deliberate obfuscation of some kind? Some kind of euphemism perhaps? Or is he singing "telly"? I can't believe that's so as the damage caused to your telly by throwing it out the window would obviously defeat the object. Surely there's more to this than the simple piece of well-intentioned advice it first appears. What's going on? It's deeply puzzling.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 03:21 AM

"jelly" could be gelignite in which case you'd want to throw it out of the way of the fire! Or ....moonshine was traditionally drunk out of jelly glasses....?


RtS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 08:29 AM

jelly, um, ROLL, guys. i.e. don't let your baby burn.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Captain Colin
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 11:36 AM

Jelly roll as in Jelly Roll Morton? That can't be right- it's an even more preposterous notion than a chivers jelly. And what's a baby got to do with it? Gelignite? Surely not. Moonshine? Nice idea Roger but did cowboys drink moonshine? I think not. I remain baffled. Any other notions?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 06:57 AM

"Throw your jerry out the window; let the doggone shack burn down."
–posted here at Mudcat

"Throw your trunk out the window, let the doggone shack burn down"
–WESTERN PLAIN as sung by Van Morrison, quoted here.

"Throw the chili out the window and let the dag burn shack burn down."
–quoted in a memorial page to Doug Sahm (of the Sir Douglas Quintet); no specific attribution

"Throw my baby out the window, let the joint burn down"
–CARNIVAL TIME (apparently a favorite Mardi Gras song), sung by Al Johnson, quoted here

"Push my suitcase out the window and let the fool house burn on down"
–CALIFORNIA BLUES, by Jimmie Rodgers, as sung by Tim O'Brien, quoted here.

"Just put my trunk out the window and let the house burn on down"
–CALIFORNIA BLUES, by Jimmie Rodgers, as sung by Merle Haggard, quoted here

"Landlady throw that gallon jug out the window, let the shack burn on down"
–quoted in an apparent work of fiction, here

–all found by Googling for "out the window let the * burn down"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 10:54 AM

Not being able to understand Lead Belly, I always sang "Throw the children out the window". I think I'll continue with that.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Captain Colin
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 08:45 PM

Well, that's interesting Jim & Jim but if Leadbelly's not singing "telly" (which I can't imagine he is) then he's definitely singing "jelly", as posted by Jason Luna (suspicious name) above. So if we assume that the most treasured possession in the shack isn't an actual chivvers-type jelly then what an earth can it possibly be? It's a conundrum I'd like to solve before I shuffle off this mortal coil but it rather looks as though nobody knows. You would have thought that the Lomaxes would have asked about it when they had chance, but if they knew the answer it seems to have kept it to themselves.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:03 PM

There must be more than one recording of Leadbelly singing this - in the version I'm familiar with - which I haven't heard in twenty years or so - it seems to me he says "trunk", and "Let the damn shack burn down". A few other verses as well. To the effect of (don't know if I've changed them over the years):

The guns they roared like thunder,
And the bullets fell like rain; (repeat)
My comrade fell beside me,
A bullet through his brain.

The guns they flashed like lightning,
The bullets fell like hail; (repeat)
That was on our way to Denver,
On the old Dodge City trail.

If you're afraid to fight, boys,
If you're afraid of death; (repeat)
Better stay out of the badlands,
Keep out of Jesse's path.


I don't think I made all that up ...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:09 PM

I agree with GUEST 18 Mar 07 - 08:29 AM wrote.

I believe that 'jelly' in Leadbelly's song is a shortened form of the African American slang term 'jelly roll'. See this information from http://nfo.net/usa/etymol.html "THE ROOTS OF "JAZZ"" A little bit of Etymology.

"'jelly roll'
--Black slang from the nineteenth century for the vulva, with various related meanings, i.e. sexual intercourse, a loving woman, a man obsessed with finding same. "'What yo' want?' she asked softly. 'Jelly roll?'" (Thomas Wolfe, 'Look Homeward Angel,' 1929). The term probably derives from 'jelly,' meaning semen: "Give her cold jelly to take up her belly, And once a day swinge her again" (John Fletcher, 'The Beggar's Bush,' 1622). Related expressions include 'jelly bag,' referring both to the scrotum and the female genitals; 'jerk [one's] jelly,' to masturbate; and 'jelly,' a good-looking woman. 'Jelly Roll' appears in many blues songs, such as "I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None o' My Jelly Roll," "Nobody in Town Can Bake a Jelly Roll Like Mine," and "Jelly Roll Blues," the last by Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe "Jelly Roll" Morton (1885-1941)."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:15 PM

I meant to write that "I agree with what GUEST 18 Mar 07 - 08:29 AM wrote"

The next sentence of my previous post to this thread is my own-not guest's post.

**

Since I'm here, though this is somewhat off-topic, here's a very interesting, thorough website on Jelly Roll Morton:


http://www.doctorjazz.co.uk/page10.html


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:22 PM

Correction - I think - to my previous post. I believe at some point in the distant past I melded my Leadbelly version with a version from an anthology of field-recorded cowboy songs ...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:30 PM

Guest on March 18 was correct. Jelly is slang for one's female sexual partner, to put it plainly. One's jelly roll.

Moonshine, of course, is 18th century English slang for gin smuggled in from Holland.
It became applied in America to illegal whiskey in the 19th c. and to homemade white lightning. Cowboys would certainly know the term.

Joke from "Army & Navy Life," October, 1906:
The judge asked the prisoner what was his Christian name. The prisoner replied "Joshua," and the judge answered, "Are you the man that made the sun shine?" and the prisoner replied, "No, sir, your Honor, I'm the one that made the moonshine."

J. E. Lighter, Historical Dictionary of American Slang," vol. 2.
Also see Frances Grose, 1785, "A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, and the OED.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Captain Colin
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 09:50 PM

I see Azizi. Thank you Q.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Captain Colin.
Date: 24 Mar 07 - 01:45 PM

Well I'm not sure whether throwing your female partner out the window of your burning doggone shack would be a gallant act of chivalry or the exact opposite, but anyway that seems to settle it. Thanks to all respondents.


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Subject: ADD Version: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Will Drover
Date: 25 Mar 07 - 11:27 AM

Hamish Imlach also sang a version of this, which he claimed was written by Leadbelly. It appears on Old Rarity, and also on the live album The Sporting Life.


WESTERN COWBOY
(as sung by Hamish Imlach, after Leadbelly)

When I was a cowboy, out on the Western Plains
When I was a cowboy, out on the Western Plains
I made a half a million, pulling on the dry rein

Coma-cow-cow, coma-yippie, cow-cow, yippie-yippie yea.

Fought me the hardest battle that was ever on Bunkers Hill
Fought me the hardest battle that was ever on Bunkers Hill
When me and a bunch of cowboys ran into Buffalo Bill.

Fought me the hardest battle that was ever on the Western plains
Fought me the hardest battle that was ever on the Western plains
When me and a bunch of cowboys ran into Jesse James.

Coma-cow-cow, coma-yippie, cow-cow, yippie-yippie yea.

When me and a bunch of cowboys went in with Jesse James.
When me and a bunch of cowboys went in with Jesse James.
The bullets they were falling, just like a shower of rain

Coma-cow-cow, coma-coma-cow-cow, coma-coma-yea.

I went round to my girl's house, she was rocking in a rocking chair
I went round to my girl's house, she was rocking in a rocking chair
She said Hey Western cowboy, please don't leave me here

Coma-cow-cow, coma-yippie, cow-cow, yippie-yippie yea.

If your house catches afire, and there ain't no-one around
If your house catches afire, and there ain't no-one around
Throw your good girl out the window, let the goddam shack burn down

Coma-cow-cow, coma-yippie, cow-cow, yippie-yippie yea.

When I was a cowboy, out on the Western Plains - reprise


This seems to confirm that the "jelly" thrown out of the window refers to his woman.

And I take it to be an act of chivalry, saving his woman instead of worrying about the house.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 03:33 PM

I hear it as "Pullin' on the driving rein".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Captain Colin.
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 09:21 PM

Well I dunno Will, wouldn't a true gentleman exit the blazing shack carrying his beloved jelly cradled gently in his ever-loving arms? Hurling her out the window is better than nothing of course but seems a little cavalier to me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Will Drover
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:03 PM

Guess there ain't time. Our hero may be planning to try chucking a few more things out the window before the flames and smoke get to him. And it's only a one-storey shack !


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,wayne
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 12:51 AM

Dude! the frikking house is on FIRE. There aint no time for CHIVALRY.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,billy
Date: 15 Sep 07 - 08:17 AM

John Denver also recorded this song on his RARE (Only 250 copies were pressed as a demo and for freinds and family) "John Denver Sings" in 1966, between his Mitchell trio days and his first record for RCA. He also sings it "throw your Jelly Roll out the window".
There is a website with MP3's from the album, Google "john denver sings 1966"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 11:54 PM

What are the chords? Especially the 3rd line. I never seem t get it right?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: 12-stringer
Date: 11 Nov 07 - 12:30 AM

Re: GUEST, 10 Nov 07 -- from the Oak "Leadbelly Songbook" (1962), these are the chords:

[A7]When I was a cowboy, out on the western plains
When I was a cowboy, out on the western plains
[E7]I made a half a [A7]million, [E7]pullin' on the bridle [A7]reins,
Come a [E7] cow-cow-yicky, come a cow-cow yicky yicky [A7]yea.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: iancarterb
Date: 11 Nov 07 - 12:45 AM

Guest with no name-
Try this. I've always sung it in E, but it's all I7, IV7, and V7:

I7                      IV7             I7
When I was a cowboy, out on the western plains.(repeat)
IV7    V7      I7       IV7          V7    I7   
I made a half a million pullin' on the bridle reins.
       IV7                V7                  I7
Come a cow cow yicky come a cow cow yicky yicky yea. repeat


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,ddpro
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM

ALL OF THE SONG LYRICS FROM THE 1966 ALBUM "JOHN DENVER SINGS"


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Subject: ADD Version: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Lightnin'
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 07:29 AM

WESTERN COWBOY
Huddie Ledbetter

Western Cowboy    3:40    Trk 1
Huddie Ledbetter - vocal
Recording Date: July 1, 1934 Angola - Louisiana State Prison
Album: Leadbelly Important Recordings 1934-1939 Disc A
JSP Records remastered JSP UK Records 7764 2006

When I was a cowboy
Out on the western plains
When I was a cowboy
Out on the western plains
I made a half a million
Pullin' on the bridle reins

Come a ki-ki--yicky
Cow, ki-yicky-yicky-yeah

I went to my girl's house
She's sittin' d'ere alone
Went to my girl's house
She's sittin' d'ere alone
I'm a poor western cowboy
A long way from home

Come a ki-ki--yicky
Cow, ki-yicky-yicky-yeah

When I left my girl's house
She was rockin' in her rockin' chair
When I left my girl's house
She was rockin' in her rockin' chair
Poor western cowboy
Please don't you leave me here

Come a ki-ki--yicky
Cow, ki-yicky-yicky-yeah

Went to my girl's house
Sitting deep down in my saddle
Went to my girl's house
Sitting deep down in my saddle
I'm the best western cowboy
That ever herd cattle

Come a ki-ki--yicky
Cow, ki-yicky-yicky-yeah

Oh, de hardest battle
Was there ever on the western plains
Oh, de hardest battle
Was there ever on the western plains
When me an a bunch of cowboys
Run into Jesse James

Come a ki-ki--yicky
Cow, ki-yicky-yicky-yeah

Me an a bunch of cowboys
Run into Jesse James
Me an a bunch of cowboys
Run into Jesse James
All the bullets was a-fallin'
Just like a shower rain

Come a ki-ki--yicky
Cow, ki-yicky-yicky-yeah

Come all you cowboys
Don't you wanna go?
Come all you cowboys
Don't you wanna go?
Gon see the ranges
On the range in Buffalo

Come a cow ki--yicky
Cow, cow, yicky-yicky-yea

Take de hardest battle
Was there ever on Bunker Hill
Oh, de hardest battle
Was there ever on Bunker Hill
When me an' a bunch of cowboys
Run into Buffalo Bill

Come a cow ki--yicky
Cow, cow, yicky-yicky-yea

Come all you cowboys
Don't you wanna hear?
Come all you cowboys
Don't you wanna hear?
O'vr nineteen hundred
Bullets around your ear

Come a cow ki--yicky
Cow, cow, yicky-yicky-yeah.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 09:54 AM

Thanks, Lightnin'. When the Lomaxes published the song they cut out the stanzas they must have deemed uninspired. (Though "Over nineteen hundred/ Bullets around your ear" seems to look ahead 35 years to the movie "The Wild Bunch.")


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,amy
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 09:55 PM

i sing the third line as, "made a half a million, pullin' on the BRIDLE reins..." seems pretty straightforward, as sung by a cowboy on the back of his horse.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,flatfoot
Date: 07 Feb 09 - 12:37 AM

.

When I cant make out a word or two, I make up something that fits. I always try to match the theme and spirit of the original, of course.

Seems to me that this is the way folk music is supposed to work, no?

ff.

.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Feb 09 - 01:06 PM

Probably the worst song that Lead Belly sang.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 07:00 PM

I like this song...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 05:33 PM

Check out Josh White's great cabaret/bar showpiece song---- "Jelly Jelly!"

It's jelly, jelly, jelly,
Jelly stays on my mind,
Jelly roll killed my daddy,
Drove my mama stone blind.

(v.d.)

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST
Date: 16 May 09 - 07:50 PM

As i remember:

"When your house catches on fire and there aint no water round"

I wonder if like most singers of an oral tradition Leadbelly would of changed his lyrics on a regular basis. No sense in being pedantic with lyrics. One of my greatest pleasures was to join in singing parts of Will ya will ya Wa ya ,Backwards "There was a old wood and she lived in a woman" "she stuck the baby in the penknifes heart"etc. Deserved song this fate A

YELLA GIRL was leadbellys worst


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 09 - 04:56 PM

Jelly was an old slang term for body. So I always tok him to mean jut gat your self out of there and let your stuff burn.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: open mike
Date: 18 Oct 09 - 06:47 PM

the best version of this i know of is from
Katy Moffat's album Cowboy Girl
http://www.westernjubilee.com/KatyMoffatrecordings.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Mark Ross
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 10:19 AM

I think I read that the Lomax's said that this was Lead Belly's version of the CHISHOLM TRAIL.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Sophie FFS
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 10:53 AM

Tom Kitching and Gren Bartley do a great version on their latest album.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Blue
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 10:28 AM

Best version was Rory Gallagher's acoustic. Wilko Johnson does a brilliant electric version on a fairly recent album, but catch him play it live if you really want to get it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Miz Jeany
Date: 06 Mar 11 - 12:24 AM

Maria Moldonado Sings a fantastic(al) version on Jim Kweskins album Garden of Joy, Reprise RS6266


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Catamariner
Date: 30 Oct 13 - 07:07 PM

An absolutely beautiful version of this with great guitar, fiddle, vocal and harmonica work was recorded in Sligo earlier this year at the Harp Tavern and is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJsuyMCJX4U Seamie O'Dowd (sings, fiddle), Rick Epping (mouth organ), and Cathy Jordan ("The Unwanted"). Starts at 4:10 with Cathy, the Geantrai program host for this episode, introducing the song. The Irish do Western so very well, and Cathy Jordan has a gutsy sound that goes beautifully with her choices of Irish Trad songs or harmonizing "Out on The Western Plains."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: Lighter
Date: 30 Oct 13 - 09:05 PM

One terrific rendition! Everybody dig it!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I Was a Cowboy (Leadbelly)
From: PHJim
Date: 31 Oct 13 - 12:03 AM

GUEST,Miz Jeany, Perhaps you mean Maria D'Amato, who would later marry Geoff Muldaur and become Maria Muldaur.

This is one of my favourite Lead Belly songs. On my recordings, Lead Belly omits the two verses about his girl and the verse about bullets round his ears.


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