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Origins: I Know You Rider

DigiTrad:
I KNOW YOU RIDER


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Lyr/Tune Req: I Know You Rider (24)
Lyr Req: I Know You Rider (6)


GUEST,Johnny Harper, jjmusic@ix.netcom.com 28 Oct 01 - 08:54 PM
GUEST,Russ 29 Oct 01 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 29 Oct 01 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,forsythespcl@alltel.net 29 Oct 01 - 11:35 AM
JudyR 29 Oct 01 - 02:57 PM
Arbuthnot 29 Oct 01 - 09:00 PM
Amos 29 Oct 01 - 10:15 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Apr 05 - 10:45 PM
Amos 25 Apr 05 - 11:19 PM
GUEST,joseacsilva 26 Apr 05 - 09:48 AM
GLoux 26 Apr 05 - 10:31 AM
jeffp 26 Apr 05 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,WmDelacroix 09 Jan 06 - 04:54 PM
Once Famous 09 Jan 06 - 06:09 PM
Peace 09 Jan 06 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Cluin 09 Jan 06 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 10 Jan 06 - 12:55 PM
jeffp 10 Jan 06 - 01:39 PM
Lonesome EJ 10 Jan 06 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 10 Jan 06 - 02:16 PM
jaze 10 Jan 06 - 06:34 PM
Wayne Mitchell 10 Jan 06 - 11:52 PM
Barry Finn 11 Jan 06 - 02:05 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 11 Jan 06 - 03:04 PM
Once Famous 11 Jan 06 - 05:28 PM
M.Ted 12 Jan 06 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 13 Jan 06 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 13 Jan 06 - 06:50 AM
Suffet 13 Jan 06 - 10:41 AM
jaze 13 Jan 06 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 16 Jan 06 - 08:46 AM
GUEST 16 Jan 06 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 16 Jan 06 - 02:35 PM
Suffet 16 Jan 06 - 06:21 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jan 06 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,Catherine M. 17 Jan 06 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 18 Jan 06 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Jan 06 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 01 Feb 06 - 03:33 PM
TinkerandCrab 01 Feb 06 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Gerry 01 Feb 06 - 09:53 PM
Suffet 02 Feb 06 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 03 Feb 06 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,jones 21 Feb 06 - 12:34 AM
PoppaGator 21 Feb 06 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Eric Levy 06 Feb 07 - 10:59 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 07 Feb 07 - 07:03 PM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Eric Levy 09 Feb 07 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 09 Feb 07 - 06:53 PM
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Subject: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GUEST,Johnny Harper, jjmusic@ix.netcom.com
Date: 28 Oct 01 - 08:54 PM

"I Know You Rider" is very well known in versions by the Grateful Dead and other performers who have learned it from them. However the song clearly predates the existence of the Dead as a group in any form. The Byrds recorded a great version in 1966 (it wasn't released until years later but is now available on the explanded "Fifth Dimension" CD), and also Vince Martin and Fred Neil issued a version in 1964! It was the lead-off cut of their Elektra album Martin & Neil, Tear Down the Walls -- Fred's first LP -- you can occasionally find this as a Japanese import CD. Is Fred the first guy to perform the song in a version recognizable as being essentially the same song the Dead did later? Or are there other pre-Dead versions I haven't run across?

Please note that in asking this question, I don't mean to ask if there are traditional blues uses of the VERSES the Dead sing. I know there are plenty of those. But "I Know You Rider" as we know it now is a distinctive song in its own right, not just a traditional blues lyric. It's characterized by a distintive melody line, a descending line which is sung over a cycle of major triads (without dominant 7ths), rather than over the normal 12-bar blues changes (I, IV, V with dominant 7ths). It's a song which is rooted in traditional blues but has its own identity and character. The Martin-Neil and Byrds versions are definitely the same song the Dead popularized. But who originated it? Any comments very welcome! E-mail me directly, jjmusic@ix.netcom.com, and/or post results here. Thanks! -- Johnny Harper


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 09:05 AM

Is it the same version the Seldom Scene/John Duffy did? Don't know the SS date off the top of my head.


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 11:01 AM

Tossi Aaron, long time Phila. resident, knew this song (don't know where she got it) and recorded it for Prestige (?) in about 1962. . . had taught it to MANY guitar students including friends of mine, in the late 1950s. That's the earliest version I know but it's obvious that Tossi didn't make it up.


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GUEST,forsythespcl@alltel.net
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 11:35 AM

I know a neat version by "The Big Three" (an early Cass Eliott group). It's on a 3 cd set called "troubadors of the folk era" .


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: JudyR
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 02:57 PM

Thank you for reminding me of that exciting song which all the coffee house singers were doing in the early 60's. It brings back such memories.

I put in "I Know You Rider" and "origins" on Google and this is part of what I got: "I Know You Rider," "C. C. Rider," "Easy Rider," and even "Trouble In Mind" are blues that have all borrowed from each other... I realize you already said you knew it had blues antecdents but that it was its own song. It said to look at the book Folk Song USA, Alan Lomax, Editor, New American Library. NOTE THIS: Recordings on file by: Dan Eillers, Dan Keding, Frank Hamilton (Long Lonesome Home), Lead Belly (Easy Rider).

I don't know the others, but if Leadbelly recorded it, that would have predated the Fred Neil version, although, again, it is listed as "Easy Rider." Hmmm.....


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: Arbuthnot
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 09:00 PM

My uncertian memory says that the source version was first recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson, but I don't recall the official title - I do remember that the guy playing it to me pointed out that there were aspects in the lyrics which indicated that it was written by a blind man


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: Amos
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 10:15 PM

I remember it from the Fifties as well, being song by youthful wannabe folkies. Blind Lemon sure sounds right, but I have no authoritative source.

A


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 10:45 PM

As far as I know, I'm the guy that started the "I Know You Rider" chain.

I found it in John and Alan Lomax's "Our Singing Country," arranged it, sang it a lot around Philadelphia circa 1959-60. Tossi Aaron learned it, put it on an LP, it circulated, a bunch of people started singing it. It subsequently got picked up at the Martha's Vineyard hoots and James Taylor seems to have learned it there.

Lots of others have put it on record since. So far as I'm aware no earlier version was in circulation before mine.


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 11:19 PM

Bob:

A pleasure to see you in these hollowed halls!! Hope you come back often!


Amos


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GUEST,joseacsilva
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 09:48 AM

Hi Johnny,
          Jorma Kaukonen recorded a great version of this song.You should check it.
      cheers
             Joe


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: GLoux
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 10:31 AM

Bob,

Are you still around Philadelphia?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: 'I Know You Rider' origins
From: jeffp
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 11:12 AM

So one would be safe in crediting it as "Traditional"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,WmDelacroix
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:54 PM

"Traditional" seems a good credit for this one. Leadbelly's "Easy Rider" recording for Folkways doesn't bear much resemblance to The Dead's "I Know You Rider"--it's significantly different in both lyric and melody, the only common thread being the term "rider." It seems to be a standard of the blues lexicon. --- William Delacroix


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Once Famous
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:09 PM

The Kingston Trio had a popular version of this on an album from 1963. Judy Henske is given credit for writing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Peace
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:16 PM

Thing is with this kinda song: there are a thousand versions. Someone somewhere wrote the first stanza. After that, it likely became 'add as you go' singing. Lyric improvisation as it were.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Cluin
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:23 PM

I've got a nice live version by Peter Rowan & Tony Rice.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 12:55 PM

No, I'm far from Philadelphia now, as W.C. Fields liked to boast.

I should correct, and amplify on, my earlier post, and try to give a history of the song as best I know it, in response to some of the guesses (a few of which are wide of the mark) and questions above.

I got the song in the mid-1950s from the Lomaxes' 1934 American Ballads and Folk Songs (not Our Singing Country as I first remembered). It's on p. 196. Apparently I was the first to pick it up and sing it, though it had lain around unnoticed in that well-known collection for twenty years.

Peace's guess is right on the money. The Lomax headnote says "An eighteen-year-old black girl, in prison for murder, sang the tune and the first stanza of these blues." The Lomaxes added a number of "floating verses" from other, uncredited sources, and named it "Woman Blue."

So I resurrected and debuted the song. I followed the tune given in Lomax, roughly but not exactly, changed the song from a woman's to a man's viewpoint, dropped two verses, and was its first arranger, voice and guitar in a heavy drag downbeat, sort of an early folk-rock sound.

I sang it a lot in folk circles around Philadelphia, in concerts, around Boston, mostly at the legendary Old Joe Clarke's, and in Dartmouth Outing Club hiker/climber/skier circles, which took me around New York State and New England circa 1957-60. I also sang it in the west, in Wyoming/Tetons "Teton Tea Parties" and on the West Coast, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles, late summer-early fall '59. Then I went in the Army (sorta like prison) and everything went on hold.

As previously stated, Tossi Aaron learned the song from me in Philadelphia around 1959. She sang it on her Prestige LP. The song traveled around for years among a few East and West Coast folksingers but was not sung by very many people (most white kids took a while to crash the blues).

No well-known singer recorded it until the Kingston Trio. They presumably got it from some West Coast singer who heard me in '59 -- it's possible they heard it from Tossi Aaron's LP, but that LP didn't get much West Coast circulation as far as I know. I never knew Dave Guard personally but he could perhaps have heard me in a West Coast hoot or concert, or else got it from someone who did. The Trio may well have been the Seldom Scene's source, as they drew from all sorts of music stylists.

The next breakout singer to record it was James Taylor in, I think, 1967. He picked it up during his teen years, probably at the hoots on Martha's Vineyard. It may have come from the Trio LP, Tossi's LP, or from some hiker or beach bum who got it from me via New England hoot circles.

Janis Joplin got the song almost simultaneously, perhaps from James, or vice versa. Her source could, I think, have been someone on the West Coast who'd heard it from me, or could have been James. Janis, blues freak that she was, was presumably Jerry Garcia and the Dead's source, perhaps via Jorma Kaukkonen who was the real blues fanatic in that crowd.

Later versions, like the Byrds, Martin-Neil, Rowan & Rice and so on, all derive from those early ones. There is, I think I can state categorically, no other source or root for this song apart from Lomax and me. I have never heard any other song that could be credibly a version of it.

Don't be misled by the Google associations. The song has nothing to do with C.C/Easy Rider or any of the other Rider songs; it is distinct and quite different.

Neither Blind Lemon Jefferson nor Leadbelly recorded the song in any form I know of, and I've heard virtually everything by both men. However, a Lomax verse I didn't use, "Did you ever wake up and find your rider gone?" is heard in various 1920s recordings, and "Sun goin' to shine in my back door some day / Wind's gonna rise up, blow my blues away" is of course universal from c. 1920 on.

The rest of the verses sound like good solid traditional blues but are unique to this song. However, because they were supplied by the Lomaxes, I think we have to worry, as with much Lomax material, that they may have been tinkered with by Alan Lomax, who did more rewriting than he admitted. They're great verses, though, and make the song what it is.

The unnamed Lomax source (doesn't that frost ya? couldn't they have given her name? or did they think that would have endangered her in prison?) is the originator of the core song. Wish we knew her name so we could credit her.

Probably I shoulda copyrighted it. (Everybody else since has.) But in those days a lot of us believed traditional songs were free as the air and should not be locked down. The music industry, obviously, disagreed.

You could, if you wish, credit it Traditional, arr. Bob Coltman.

I'm proud to be the guy who, after Lomax, started the song on its musical rounds. All credit to the Lomaxes for putting it together, and to Tossi, who knew a good song when she heard one.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: jeffp
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 01:39 PM

Thank you, Bob. That is fascinating. I had only been familiar with the Grateful Dead and Seldom Scene versions. I'm considering using this song in an upcoming CD project. I'll credit you as you wish.

Jeff


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 01:47 PM

Thanks for the background, Bob. Posts like that are my reason for coming to this forum.
Is there a recording of your original version of this song?

LEJ


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 02:16 PM

I wish!

Molly Scott and I worked out a pretty interesting slow blazing duet folkrock version in the 1970s, performed once in a Charlemont, MA concert and never recorded to my knowledge.

I never "waxed" (Mylared? laserpitted?) "I Know You Rider" and now I'm afraid I'm past it for that particular song.

I'll reluctantly defer to other artists on this one. Clue: I did it in key of D with 6th string lowered to D, strong, slow, swinging and heavy on the downbeat. Quite different from, say, James Taylor's take on it, which was sort of thoughtful and laid-back.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: jaze
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 06:34 PM

There is a version on Joan Baez' revised and expanded Ist lp/cd. It was recorded at the time of that first lp but not included.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Wayne Mitchell
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 11:52 PM

Interesting. The only version I'm familiar with was done by The Serendipity Singers on their Take Your Shoes Off album in 1964. It's a fast, hard-driving rendition, from the woman's point of view, and it includes the verse which Bob C. says he didn't use: "Did you ever wake up and find your rider gone." Are there other versions which include the verse? The song is unattributed on that album.

Wayne M.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Barry Finn
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 02:05 AM

Hi Bob C, Just an aside . Old Joe Clark's is still alive & well with Sandy Shehian (SP?) at the helm.
Barry


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Subject: LYR ADD: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 03:04 PM

Interesting about the Baez. Funny thing, I met Joan at someone's Carmel house in, I think it was, September 1959 and she sang, and I sang, and my travel buddy Bill Briggs sang, but I don't remember whether I sang I Know You Rider or not, so I don't know if she heard it from me. It's possible.

Re the Serendipities, that's a cover I didn't know about.

Barry, thanks for letting me know about Old Joe's. Sandy's a great choice for the place. That's been the school of many a Boston area musician and a great place to hang out. I sang a lot there and learned a lot too.

Thought some of you might like to see a text of the song as I revised, arranged and performed it 1959-75 or so.


I KNOW YOU RIDER
Traditional, arranged by Bob Coltman.

I know you rider, gonna miss me when I'm gone,
I know you rider, gonna miss me when I'm gone,
Gonna miss your man, baby, from rollin' in your arms.

I laid down last night, babe, tried to take my rest…
But my mind kept ramblin' like wild geese in the west.

I know my woman bound to love me some…
'Cause she throws her arms round me like a circle round the sun.

I'm goin' down to the river, set down on a log…
If I can't be your man, honey, sure won't be your dog.

I cut your wood, baby, and I made your fire…
I tote' your liquor babe, from the Fresno Bar.

Just as sure as the birds fly high in the sky above…
Life ain't worth livin' if you ain't with the one you love.

I'm goin' down the road, get some better care…
I'm goin' back to my used-to-be rider, for I don't feel welcome here.

Sun gonna shine in my back door some day…
Wind gonna rise up, blow my blues away.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Once Famous
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 05:28 PM

Bob C.

The Trio's recording of it was already at least 2 years after Dave guard had left and was replaced by John stewart, FYI. However, Judy Henske was pretty close to Dave and to the trio in san Francisco.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 01:48 PM

Bob,

I was thinking about this song a couple weeks ago, so your post gives some closure to a question that has puzzled me for years.

On behalf of every garage band that ever beat this song to death, I thank you for creating a great song.
It was really easy to learn and play, and it sounded great. Along with a very very, few other songs, it was something you could break in any situation where people had guitars but didn't quite know what to do, and make everybody happy--

As to James Taylor , have you ever noticed that the chords to "Fire and Rain" are suspiciously similar to the chords to "I Know You Rider"--food for thought, anyway--


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 05:41 AM

Martin,

Re the Trio recording, yeah, it had occurred to me that I hadn't checked the date it came out. I assumed Dave Guard would have been the likeliest one to pick the song up, but of course any Trio member, or friend of a member, might have.

John Stewart, hmmm. Actually, Judy Henske (whom I never met either, to my knowledge, but I met a lot of people, including some fairly striking singers whose names I didn't necessarily get, at singing parties on the coast) might be the one who scarfed up the song for the Trio...it was the sort of song that might well have caught her ear.

Any Californians have inside information on the song's earliest days there? I'd be interested to hear more. Because I was in the army and out of folk song circles c. 1960-63, which must have been the song's later circulating years, that's the piece I know least about.

All part of the evolving story...

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 06:50 AM

Got curious and went looking to see if I could establish some further chronology.

(Excuse the indulgence, those who feel we've already spent too much time on the nitty-gritty, but this is fascinating to unsnarl...much of this I'm learning for the first time; I had no idea the song had such a wide circulation!)

The Kingston Trio recording seems to have been "Rider," credited to Shane/Reynolds/Henske, on their July 1963 Sunny Side LP. (Please correct me if this is not the song; I haven't managed to hear it to be sure. At any rate mid-'63 seems to be the earliest possible date they could have recorded the song, which is what I was trying to establish.)

But pretty certainly Judy Henske is their link to the song. If the dates I found are correct, she issued a single, "I Know You Rider"/"Love Henry," on January 1, 1963.

Now. Did Joan Baez did hear the song from me at that party in 1959? The more I think of it the more possible that seems, because that was a hot item in my repertoire then, and I was singing it everywhere I went. If so, the most direct transmission would be if Judy heard it from Joan. Or there could have been some intermediaries.

By the way, Judy Henske's version is pretty different, only uses the first and last verses of my version, adding a couple of other floating blues verses. The Trio version is similar but uses yet other loan verses.

Interestingly, I happened to run across the Martin/Neil lyrics and they use a verse version I hadn't remembered, one I at first revised, and later discarded:

                Lovin' you, baby's, just as easy as rollin' off a log...

So maybe they heard an early version, like Tossi Aaron's for example.

Also in the course of searching I found a statement that Tossi used this as her "signature song." She apparently called it "Rider."    I wonder if she, and the Trio after her, shortened the title out of some anxiety whether I might have copyrighted it as "I Know You Rider." Could that also have been why it was left off the Baez album?

Tossi, if she's still living, or her husband Lee Aaron, might know more. Tossi, are you out there?

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Suffet
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 10:41 AM

Bob,

In The Coffee House Songbook (Oak Publications, 1966), Jay Edwards and Robert Kelley credit two sources for the song: you and Bill Briggs jointly, and someone whom they call "Stoney?" with a question mark. They collected the song from you and Briggs in the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming in the summer of either 1959 or 1960. They also collected the song from "Stoney?" in New Orleans some time between 1963 and 1965.

Can you shed any light on this? Stoney obviously learned the song later from one source or another, but did you teach it to Bill Briggs? Did the two of you perform it together for Edwards and Kelley? Do you even remember Edwards and Kelley?

My questions are not purely academic. You may be able to establish your copyright to the arrangement even at this late date, since there is independent documentation through Edwards and Kelley. Irwin Silber may still have their manuscript, as he was the owner of Oak Publications. If you wish to contact him, his e-mail address is: isilber@jong.com

Best of luck.

--- Steve Suffet


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: jaze
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 05:24 PM

Bob, Joan Baez' first lp came out in 1960. That recording included on the expanded cd includes songs recorded for that session that were not included on the lp. I hate to admit this but hers is the first version of this song I'm familiar with. It's possible I've heard other versions and just never noticed it. It's a very nice song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 08:46 AM

Wow, this takes me back. More reconstruction ahead.

Yes, Bill Briggs (the legendary hiker, climber, skier and singer "Brigger") learned the song from me. However, I never heard him sing it...he must have deferred to me over the Teton Tea, but it's great he carried it on. Because Brigger was so widely traveled in those days, it is quite possible he may have been the source of some of the various versions around the country.

I don't remember Brigger singing it with me as a duet, but that could have happened. We all "played in" a lot with each other in those days, a habit that was fun and expected then, but became more frowned on as people got into complex arrangements, and jamming around a campfire or living room or cabin or porch became less accepted. Part of the story of the transition of folksong from casual activity to profession, I guess.

I remember two guys who said they were from Pittsburgh -- one of whose name may have been Jay, that sounds right -- who joined us around the campfire over the Teton Tea, summer 1959 at Jenny Lake before the Park Service redesigned the campground and tanked its woodsy soul. They said they wanted to get together a songbook, and got quite a lot of songs from Brigger, me and a few others there. We may even have given them a copy of Brigger's mimeographed "Crud 'n Corruption" collection of the traditional songs he, I and a bunch of other chubbers had put together, a great cross-section of what we were all singing on the trail in the 50s. Thus the genesis, apparently, of the Coffee House Songbook, which, as it chanced, I never saw a copy of, or even knew it existed.

Given that Joan Baez was singing "Rider" presumably from fall 1959 on, we have to figure that she too was an important carrier of "I Know You Rider," as she was active on the coffeehouse etc. circuit and presumably a good few people learned it from her live performances even if it didn't make the cut onto her 1960 debut LP.

So my evolving ideas about the most likely transmission routes of the song would go something like:

1. Lomax to me.
2. Me to Tossi Aaron on the East Coast, Brigger in Wyoming, and Joan Baez on the west coast.
3. East Coast: me, Tossi Aaron and maybe some others to Martin & Neil and (eventually) James Taylor.
4. Nationwide: Brigger to various hearers in his travels east and west.
5. Serendipity Singers (based where?) come in there somewhere, but not clear how.
6. West Coast: Joan Baez to Judy Henske, Kingston Trio and so on to Janis Joplin and beyond.

Given the dates, '63-5, presumably the "Stoney" in New Orleans is one of those who learned the song as it circulated. Brigger did get to New Orleans though I did not; could be "Stoney" got it from him.

Steve, thank you. I will contact Silber.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 01:30 PM

what about Judy Roderick's 'Woman Blue' Vanguard VRS-9197 (mono)/ VSD-79197 (stereo) = Fontana TFL 6078 (UK) ?


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 02:35 PM

I haven't heard it. But I went to her website to check it out. She uses the Lomax title, "Woman Blue" and adds "(aka I Know You Rider") at least on the CD version.

Since that record was not recorded until 1965, I'm assuming Roderick heard it from Henske or the Trio, or even the Serendipity Singers (1964). By the time she picked it up, it was clearly in play in the folk pop market.

Since she uses the title "Woman Blue," though, I take it she (or someone she knew) after hearing the song, must have done some back research, ferreted out its source, noticed the Lomax title and used that.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Suffet
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 06:21 PM

Bob,

Say "hello" to Irwin from me. And I'll say "hello" to Jerry Epstein on your behalf the next time I see him. We are both on the New York Pinewoods Folk Music Club board of directors, so we see each other at least once a month. If you don't already know, Jerry's e-mail address is: jerepst@att.net

He and Don Wade (also on the NY Pinewoods board) still carry your old Minstrel Records LPs in stock, along with the recordings of Jack Langstaff, Frank Warner, Dwayne Thorpe, and others.

Regards again.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 06:04 PM

This is a tough song to trace. One form is an old blues, not found yet. More than one song involved?
These are the earlier published references
Brown, North Carolina Folklore, 1919. Not seen. Perhaps a different song.
Sandburg- 1928, "When a Woman Blue," Two verses and music in "An American Songbag, pp. 236-237. "collected from Negroes in the cotton fields of Texas."
Lomax, 1934, "Woman Blue," One collected verse and nine added.
Silber, Fred and Irwin, 1973, "Folksinger's Workbook," "I Know You Rider," eight verses, mostly from Lomax (or Coltman or Kingston Trio?).
Bob Coltman, information posted above, song used in the 1950's.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Catherine M.
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 10:48 PM

This thread is fascinating.

On a slightly different tack, what do you think "rider" means? Horseback? Is it sexual? Does it refer to a particular lifestyle/job? Is there any cultural context?

I'm so glad to know that it was originally from a woman's point of view... it sort of makes more sense to me now that way. I first heard the Byrds recording of this song... and the Jorma Kaukonen version sometime thereafter.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 18 Jan 06 - 09:38 AM

Catherine, "rider" is sexual. It is a lover, and not a faithful one. An "easy rider" proverbially "rode from town to town," so it also has connotations of catching a freight (or, earlier, a horse, like a circuit rider. In connection with that, a "stone pony" is another sexual term.

A "rider" is primarily a man who goes from woman to woman, like the silver dollar in the '20s song. A woman "rider" goes from man to man, or is suspected of doing so -- as in C.C. (or Easy) Rider. "Riding" is sex too, but I think there's a wider connotation of a person who is thoroughly at home with the opposite sex, a hottie in modern terms, someone magnetic and available whom anybody might make a play for.

Q, I think the reason "I Know You Rider" is a tough song to trace is that it really only exists in the Lomax version, in mine, and in the various versions that stem from mine. I have found no others, and believe me, I have heard nearly all of the blues issued on record, and seen nearly all of the blues printed by folk song collectors as found c. 1900-1940, and believe me if I had spotted a relative, I would have noticed.

I think we ought to be wary of linking blues that are quite separate just because they happen to share a line or a verse. Just listen to Blind Lemon, Papa Charlie Jackson, Blind Blake, Peg Leg Howell, Barbecue Bob or some of the other prolific bluesmen of the 1920s and you will hear a scad of verses shared and traded in and out of songs that are otherwise quite distinct -- not to mention the great blueswomen like Bessie, Ma and so on, who did the same. Blues verses were a vast pool from which singers recomposed to create individual songs ... a lot like southern mountain fiddle and banjo songs.

Please don't think I'm trying to shut the door on other variants! I just can't find hide nor hair of them in the record.

As it happens, I have the books you mention, and I'm referring to them now.

First, we should remember that "I Know You Rider" as originally collected was ONLY the verse (I went back to Lomax to be sure I give it exactly in the words printed there),

I know you rider, gonna miss me when I'm gone, (2)
Gonna miss your li'l mama, baby, f'um rollin' in yo' arms.

Lomax's added-on verses seem mostly without antecedents I know of, except for "Sun's gonna shine" and a couple I didn't use, like "Take me back, baby." "I laid down last night" is common enough, but usually differs from there on.   For example:

I laid down last night, turnin' from side to side,
I was not sick, I was just dissatisfied.

My guess is that the Lomaxes, who collected scads of blues verses and fragments in addition to distinct songs, put unusual or unique verses here that hadn't fit anywhere else. They commonly did this kind of assembly work in "floating verse" songs, which is how we get our canonical versions of things like "Cindy" and "Old Joe Clarke" as well as various field hollers and blues.

As to the other references, here goes.

Brown: I think the reference must be to Vol III, Folk Songs, p 563, When A Man Gets the Blues. One verse only. No tune provided in Vol IV, "The Music of the Folk Songs."

Oh! when a man get the blues
He boards a train and rides,
Oh! when a woman gets the blues,
She ducks her head and cries.

Sandburg: I've addressed Sandburg's "Woman Blue" (which contains that verse) in Q's separate thread "WOMAN BLUE"

Lomax: addressed above.

Silber. Folksinger's Wordbook: That is exactly, word for word, my earliest version under my title, the version I sang as of 1959 and in about 1960-61 slightly altered to the one quoted above. It is therefore the one that Edwards and Kelley got from me in summer 1959, and I suspect Silber used it more or less whole from the Coffee House Songbook, though I have not seen the latter.

In general, I think I'd like to turn over to the rest of you the task of plowing deeper and deeper trying to find other versions. Any results, please let me know!

I too would like to know the antecedents of some of the Lomax verses. But I think the lesson we keep learning as we play song detective is that the unnamed murderess's first verse was unique to her. That's the song's soul.

As for the other verses, except for antecedents as noted, I haven't had much luck finding them elsewhere.

I guess the only thing left to state is that I was indeed the one who retitled the song, as well as revising and arranging it.

Oh yeah, and just in case of any misunderstanding regarding Bill Briggs re this song. All honor to the great Brigger, who taught me much, whose music I love... But as he would tell you himself, he was not the co-composer, as may have been implied above.

He learned "I Know You Rider" from me, just as I learned many songs from him, including his signature tunes like "Horse Named Bill." the wonderful "Willie's Rare," and "Cuckoo Yodel." To the best of my knowledge (dating back a few years I admit), Brigger still lives in Jackson, Wyoming. If you want to check it out with him, please do; and tell him hello from me.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jan 06 - 10:58 AM

Fascinating! These discussions on the oral/electronic tradition within the folk revival generation singers (and variations thereof) proves to me the validity of Robert Cantwell's book called "WHEN WE WERE GOOD".

This ought to lead to a fine yet to be written book---and/or a television mini-series. ---- Deborah Robins, are you listening???

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 03:33 PM

Re "Woman Blue," anyone who hasn't already done so may want to check out the "LYR ADD: When a Woman Blue" thread:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=88130&messages=3

It has a little more "I Know You Rider" history, and in it I distinguish between "Rider" and "Blue," which are separate songs, though in some folk revival versions they seem to cross.

Of course, Art, the *real* book left to be written is WHEN WE WERE BAD. I think I might have some choice input for that one. :)

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: TinkerandCrab
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 05:15 PM

Bob: Thank you for responding to my question about the term "rider" and its connotations. If I read you correctly, it seems to be a double entendre? A "rider" can connote lack of fidelity, as he travels from town to town, partner to partner. (Such a frequent theme in folk songs in general! Rambler Gambler, Rambling Sailor... please help me out with the scores of others...) But it also connotes the sex act itself, being "ridden" by a man. Both connotations are sexual, only the latter is more graphically so. The term "rider" seems to link these two meanings in a playful way.

I guess the other thing about this song that has always intrigued (provoked?) me is the problematic grammar. Am I supposed to *assume* there's a comma between you and rider? As in, "I Know You, Rider". The woman is *addressing* the lover? Apparently others grappled with this issue as well since, if I'm remembering correctly, several performers changed the lyric to "I Know My Rider" so as to make the sentence flow more smoothly: "I know my rider's gonna miss me when I'm gone..." Perhaps I (and others) are a little too verbally uptight for Blues talk... ;^)

And one more thing, which perhaps should be (already has been?) a separate thread: What do y'all think about performers who change the gender of the song's speaker so as to match their own? I bring it up because, personally, I've always had a problem with it. I'm not so musically blessed as to be a performer myself, but in my frequent daydreams in which I am singing a song to an audience, I always sing the song as I have learned it, and simply *take on* the persona of the song's speaker, gender and all. I guess I feel that's part of the art of musical performance. Can any (actual) performers comment on this?

--Catherine (who used to be a GUEST but is now registered)


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 09:53 PM

"I also sang it in the west, in Wyoming/Tetons 'Teton Tea Parties' and on the West Coast, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles, late summer-early fall '59. Then I went in the Army...."

Wow! Did you know Elvis?


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Suffet
Date: 02 Feb 06 - 01:40 PM

It just could be that the teenage female prisoner from whom the Lomaxes that one verse made it up herself. Every traditional song has to start somewhere.

Or, to paraphrase Al Gore, "Folk music? I invented folk music."

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 03 Feb 06 - 05:29 AM

Suffet, I've never doubted the female prisoner DID make the verse up herself. I surely hope so. I wish we had a chance to hear what else she sang.

Catherine, about switching gender in songs, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Depends. "Wish I Was a Single Girl Again" has such a female identity I wouldn't change it for anything. In this song I had a personal connection; the rider as she came through the song to my perception was definitely female, and there was a personal story attached, nuff sed. However, in Lomax, the rider was plainly intended to be male.

Why should there be any hard-and-fast rule? You take over any song as your own when you sing it. If you can make the connection across genders, you do. If not, a switch may have to happen if you're going to sing the song at all.

I sing it direct, person-to-person: "I know you rider, you gonna miss me when I'm gone." But all noted approaches are possible.

Elvis? Which Elvis?

Yes, I admit the word "I" is beginning to get monotonous. Sorry folks. It's not conceit, it's just been tempting to answer all the questions by going deep into the past and trying to reconstruct it as truthfully as I know how, because it does seem to have a bearing on how we all got from there to here in the folk music world. But it sure must be a bore to anyone who hasn't that quirk!

But Al Gore never said he invented the internet -- that was just right wing propaganda -- and I sure as hell didn't invent this song. I just happened to be the person who, as I said at the beginning, started the chain by lifting it off the page, arranging and performing it.

Because I feel a strong personal connection to it, part of the intriguing weirdness, for me, has been finding out how far the song has traveled, and trying to work out how that happened. Guess I probably have gone on at too great a length. Put it down to a fatal fascination with song history, even right down to the nits and the grits.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,jones
Date: 21 Feb 06 - 12:34 AM

I believe a very young Bob Dylan, when asked as to the source/inspiration for his tunes, said something like:
"The song was here before I came along. I just came along and wrote it down."

What a treat and an honor to read the words of Bob Coltman regarding this tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: PoppaGator
Date: 21 Feb 06 - 02:56 PM

Great song, and even greater input from Bob Coleman. I, for one, am not in the least offended by his unavoidable use of the first-person pronoun.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Eric Levy
Date: 06 Feb 07 - 10:59 PM

WOW! I see that this thread is a year old, but I was just told about it by my friend Alex Allan, who runs an exhaustive Grateful Dead lyric site: http://www.whitegum.com/intro.htm. He and I, along with our friends Matt Schofield (http://www.deaddisc.com/) and Dick Rosemont (http://www.originalsproject.com/) have been discussing the roots/earliest recordings of Dead songs for years now. "I Know You Rider" has always been one of the harder ones to pin down, and now I understand why. Bob, thank you so much for all the clarification.

I have a few points to add. It's true that the Kingston Trio, the Big Three, and Judy Henske all recorded the song for LPs that were released in 1963. If the January 1st date cited above is accurate, then clearly Henske's was the earliest of those three. I didn't know about the Baez or Aaron versions until reading this thread, so it's thrilling to learn about those.

There are two issues that are still troubling: The Big Three recording credits the song to blues legend Sonny Terry. I can find no indication that he ever recorded the song, but how do we explain the credit?

Bob, the only other possible precedent I've heard of--and it's a long shot, is called "I Told My Rider" by Robert Wilkins, recorded in September 1928, never issued and presumably lost (http://www.wirz.de/music/wilkifrm.htm). So even if that is a precedent, I don't think we'll ever be able to find out.

By the way, the Grateful Dead's earliest recording of the song dates from November 1965.

Anyway, just wanted to thank you for this thread, and add what little I could.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 07:03 PM

The Sonny Terry reference puzzles me. Sonny never to my knowledge did anything remotely like this, and I've heard nearly all of his recordings made from the 1930s onward.

But like the "Blind Lemon" reference way up at the beginning of the thread, it could be a haphazard guess on the part of the person who wrote up the credits. Or Sonny could well have sung a verse resembling something in "I Know You Rider." But his blues were a lot different from it.

Trouble is, antecedent versions of blues are not like antecedent versions of other kinds of songs. They're not like Barbara Allan or John Henry. Blues (apart from ballad blues like Bessie Smith's "Back Water Blues") are assembled on the spot out of often disconnected "floating verses" that may or may not fall into a coherent story.

To show that one blues descended from another, you have to lean a lot harder on melody, sound, overall theme, and the entire text, not just part of it. So if you find a verse or two from "I Know You Rider" in another song or several other songs, that shows commonality of verses, but tells you nothing about their relatedness otherwise.

That's a capsule statement of blues derivation or the lack thereof. Hope that helps separate the sheep from the goats...wheat from the tares...whatever.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 09:12 PM

Bob Coltman, I'm just popping in to this thread to let you know how much I look forward to reading your posts, and learning from you.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and knowledge on Mudcat.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Eric Levy
Date: 09 Feb 07 - 04:49 PM

Thanks for responding to my post Bob--especially a year after the main thread was discussed. I've been searching for the earliest recording of I KNOW YOU RIDER literally for years, so finding out about Tossi Aaron's recording is like a dream come true. Even more exciting, I managed to find a used copy online already and ordered it. Can't wait to hear it. So thank you so much for finally putting this one to rest.

Another folk song in the Grateful Dead's repertoire that's proven pretty elusive is COLD RAIN AND SNOW, which they first recorded in 1966 and performed throughout their career. It's believed the song's roots date back centuries, and it has been recorded several times, but the earliest recording I've come across is by Obray Ramsey from 1960 called simply RAIN AND SNOW. There is a 1938 song called RAIN AND SNOW by Shorty Bob Parker that is sometimes cited as a source, but it is not the same song.

I suppose we could start a new thread if there is also interest in this song, or feel free to e-mail me off-list.

Thanks once again,
Eric
capercaillie@sbcglobal.net


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Subject: RE: Origins: I Know You Rider
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 09 Feb 07 - 06:53 PM


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