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Lyr Req: Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues (W McTell)

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Mountain Dog 01 May 98 - 04:36 PM
Earl 08 May 98 - 12:46 PM
Mountain Dog 08 May 98 - 01:35 PM
ddw 01 Jul 04 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,george 31 May 08 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,Dave MacKenzie 31 May 08 - 07:32 PM
12-stringer 31 May 08 - 08:16 PM
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Subject: McTell's Dyin Crapshooter's Blues
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 01 May 98 - 04:36 PM

Does anyone have lyrics to Blind Willie McTell's "Dyin Crapshooter's Blues"? I've had recorded versions by McTell and David Bromberg at various times, but at present all I'm left with is a few scraps of verses and a desire to fill in the gaps.

I checked the DT under variations of "crapshooter" and checked by title, but have so far drawn a blank.

Any help is appreciated, as always.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DYIN' CRAPSHOOTER'S BLUES (McTell)
From: Earl
Date: 08 May 98 - 12:46 PM

Better late than never. I had to guess on a few parts so let me know any corrections.

DYIN' CRAPSHOOTER'S BLUES - Blind Willie McTell

Little Jesse was a gambler night an day
He used crooked cards and dice
Said the guy's good hearted but he had no soul
Heart was hard and cold as ice

Jesse was a wild reckless gambler
Won a gang of change
Although many gamblers
heart he led in vain

Began to spend and lose his money
began to be blue
Standing all alone,
His heart had even tuned to stoned

What broke Jesse's heart as he was all alone
Sweet Loreen had packed up and gone
Police walked up and shot my friend Jesse Down
Boy the cat he Died today

He had a gang of crapshooters gambling at his bedside
These are the words he had to say
"Guess I ought to know
Exactly how I want to go"
(how you want to go Jesse?)

8 crap shooters to be my pall bearers
Let em be veiled in down black
I want 9 men going to the graveyard, bubba
and 8 men coming back

I want a gang of gamblers gathered around my coffinside
Crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters ought to grieve over me
Life's been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the grave yard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want 12 polices in my funeral march
A cat playin blackjack leading the parade

I want the judges to list who Jailed me 14 times
Put a Pair dice in my shoes
(then what?)
Let a deck of card be my tombstone
I got the dyin crapshooter's blues

16 real good crapshooters
16 bootleggers to sing a song
16 racket men gamblin
Couple tendin bar while we roll around

He wanted 22 Women down the Hampton Hotel
26 off of South Bell
29 women out of North Atlanta
No Jesse didn't pass out so swell

His head achin was his heart was thumpin
Little Jesse went to hell bouncin and jumpin
Folks don't be standing around old Jesse cryin
Want's everybody do the Charleston while he's dyin

One foot up, toenail draggin
Throw my buddy Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze
Dyin crapshooter's leavin the world
Dyan Crapshooter's goin down slow
With Dyin crapshooter's blues


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Subject: RE: McTell's Dyin Crapshooter's Blues
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 08 May 98 - 01:35 PM

Dear Earl,

Bless you, brother! You've made my day. Many thanks for your research and work in putting the lyrics together. Most definitely worth waiting for and greatly appreciated.


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Subject: Lyr Add: DYIN' CRAPSHOOTER'S BLUES (W McTell)
From: ddw
Date: 01 Jul 04 - 11:43 AM

BWMcT must have recorded this song more than once. I found a couple of lines here that didn't jibe with my memory of the song, so I went back thru the version I have, copied it as close to word for word as I can get, and still found some things that don't fit. A couple of things I'm sure of, tho' — his singing/playing is so loose that it's almost impossible to separate it into neat verses. Some appear to have four lines, some three, some two and some are just impossible to know. Words that are definitely different from those here are, in the second verse and later the reference to the hotel — it's the "Hamilton," not the "Hampton."

Paul Geremia does a great version of this song....

For what it's worth, here's my take on it....

DYIN' CRAPSHOOTER'S BLUES
By Blind Willie McTell

Little Jesse was a gambler, night and day
He used crooked cards and dice.
He was a sinful boy, good hearted but had no soul
His heart was hard and cold like ice

Little Jesse was a wild reckless gambler
Won a gang of change
And many a gambler's heart he left in pain

Little Jesse began to lose his money
But he was all alone
And his heart had even turned to stone.
(What had little Jesse blue and all alone
Sweet Lorena had packed up and gone)

The police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down
He said boys I got to die today
He had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers at his bedside
But here's the words he had to say:

Guess I ought to know
How I wants to go

(How you wanna go, Jesse?)

I wants eight crapshooters for my pallbearers
Let 'em all be dressed down in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard,
But only eight mens comin' back

I wants a gang of gamblers gathered 'round my coffin-side
With a crooked card printed on my hearse
Don't say the crapshooters'll ever grieve over me
My life's been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
Dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
High sheriff playin' blackjack, leadin' the parade

I want the judge and solic'ter who jailed me 14 times
To put a pair of dice in my shoes
Let a deck of cards be my tombstone
I got the dyin' crapshooter's blues

I want sixteen real good crapshooters
Sixteen bootleggers to sing a song
Sixteen buck riders gamblin'
With a couple o' tens borrowed while I'm rollin' along

He wanted 22 womens outta the Hamilton Hotel
Twenty-six offa South Bell
Twenty-nine women outta North Atlanta
Know little Jesse didn't pass out so swell

His head was achin', heart was thumpin'
Little Jesse went to hell bouncin' and jumpin'
Folks, don't be standin' around Jesse cryin'
He wants everybody to do the Charleston whilst he dyin'

One foot up, a toenail dragging
Throw my buddy Jesse in the hoodoo wagon
Come here mama with that can of booze
The dyin crapshooter's — leavin' the world
The dyin' crapshooter''s — goin' down slow
With the dyin' crapshooter's blues.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: McTell's Dyin Crapshooter's Blues
From: GUEST,george
Date: 31 May 08 - 10:31 AM

a great barroom or pub song that I would love to hear delbert mcclinton do-it reveals mctell`s dark side of life


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: McTell's Dyin Crapshooter's Blues
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 31 May 08 - 07:32 PM

John A Lomax pointed out that it "is another version of the old bawdy funeral chant best known to most as the expurgated 'Streets of Laredo'" aka 'st James Infirmary'/'The Unfortunate Rake' etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: McTell's Dyin Crapshooter's Blues
From: 12-stringer
Date: 31 May 08 - 08:16 PM

The song was originally composed by Porter Grainger, undoubtedly based on some folk piece derived from "St James" et al. McTell probably learned it off one of the several 1927 recordings by femme blues singers and turned it into a signature piece of his own. He recorded the song in his LOC session, 1940; for Atlantic, 1949; and in his "last session" with Ed Rhodes at an Atlanta record store in 1956. The only commercial take was the one for Atlantic, and it was not released until about 1970. The 1956 take was issued on a Prestige LP in the earlier 60s, still several years after McTell's death, though at the time it was not known for certain whether he was alive. As I recall, the Prestige liner notes even speculate that he was likely to turn up unexpectedly, alive and well.

Most of McTell's lyrics are lifted pretty straight from Grainger's composition, as is the minor-key melody. Although he did some revision, usually with the effect of coarsening the song a bit. I think the 'Hamilton Hotel' verse is the only one that Blind Willie actually contributed to the song. Grainger had a moralistic conclusion, which McTell has revised considerably.

By any objective standard, McTell's remake is an improvement in every respect. Some of the lyrics which are hard to understand in McTell's renditions are much clearer, BTW, on the earlier records. (At least two of the previous recordings are accessible on the redhotjazz web site.) The same is true of McTell's raggy "Razor Ball," which is very hard to understand, but the lyrics fall into shape when you listen to the earlier record by Sara Martin, from which he learned and adapted the song.

McTell says of his songs, in the Ed Rhodes recordings, "I used to jump 'em from other writers, but I'd 'range 'em up my way."


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