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Lyr Add: The Furniture Man (Lil McClintock)

Related thread:
Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man (39)

Stewie 06 Oct 02 - 09:32 PM
wysiwyg 06 Oct 02 - 10:43 PM
12-stringer 07 Oct 02 - 01:56 AM
Jim Dixon 29 Mar 08 - 12:21 PM
Stewie 29 Mar 08 - 09:58 PM
12-stringer 06 Jun 13 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Jun 13 - 10:56 AM
Jim Dixon 07 Jun 13 - 03:55 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: FURNITURE MAN (Lil McClintock)
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 09:32 PM

I thought I would post this as it is related to the song in the recently-resurrected 'Riley, the Furniture Man' thread. Not much is known about Lil McClintock except that he was a black songster who recorded 4 sides at his sole recording session in Atlanta Georgia in December 1930. In the 1920s, McClintock was living in Clinton, South Carolina, which is 25 miles south of Union where Cooper's furniture store could be found - according to Bruce Bastin, it was still there in the 1980s at least. The missing bits in the second stanza are a woman's name which sounds something like 'Sallasa Bose', but it's anybody's guess what it actually is - the second part rhymes with 'knows' though. Parts of McClintock's version turn up in Luke Jordan's 'Cocaine Blues'.


What insurance is the poor man got
With a furniture man?
If you got no dough, you got no show
Right back where the wagon gonna stand
He'll take everything that you possess
From a bed-tick to a fryin' pan
If there ever was a devil born without horns
It must 'a' been a furniture man

CHORUS: So take your time, Mister Brown, (please) take-a your time.
All o' this furniture am mine.
Well-a this pianna an' ev'rything
Mister Cooper had it written down in-a my name,
So take your time, Mister Brown, take-a your time.

Now [Sallasa Bose?] everybody knows,
She's the swellest coon in town.
She give a ball last Friday night,
Invited all the coons around.
The coons come in, chock full o' gin.
They tried to raise a row.
There's nobody home but [Sallasa Bose?]
And these am the words she said:


Now the furniture man come to my house.
I told him that my wife was sick.
He looked all around, rummaged through the house,
Even down-turned up the bed-tick.
He went in the kitchen, he looked on the stove,
He grabbed the fryin' pan.
If there ever was devil born without horns
It must have been a furniture man


Source: transcription of Lil McClintock 'Furniture Man' recorded in Atlanta Georgia on 4 December 1930 and issued as Columbia 14575-D. Reissued on 'Atlanta Blues 19227-30: The Complete Recordings in Chronological Order of Julius Daniels and Lil McClintock' Matchbox Bluesmaster Series MSE 219.

Note: As Paul Oliver points out, songs related to the recovery men who took away domestic items bought on 'the instalment plan' were shared by black and white traditions. The process 'was known to the poor whites as well as the blacks, but for the latter it was by no means easy to protest openly at injustice in the early part of the century [20th]. Song provided a vehicle for complaint ...' [Paul Oliver - note on cover 'Songsters and Saints Vol 1' Matchbox Bluesmaster Series MSEX 2001/2002.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man [McClintock]
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 10:43 PM

Love it, thanks, Stewie!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man [McClintock]
From: 12-stringer
Date: 07 Oct 02 - 01:56 AM

Probably not quite in the same vein, but on the same topic, two sermon records I see in Dixon, Godrich and Rye, BLUES AND GOSPEL RECORDS 1890-1943 (4th ed):

Rev J M Gates: "Pay Your Furniture Man," mx 402047-B, OK 8606 (Atlanta, 3 August 1928) and "Don't Hide From Your Furniture Man," mx 82875, BB B5703 (Atlanta, 1 August 1934). These are perhaps the other side of the story?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man [McClintock]
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 12:21 PM

I have listened to another recording of FURNITURE MAN by The Sugar Kings, on their album "Take Your Time, Mr. Brown" and I believe I can shed some light on some wrong or uncertain lyrics in the above transcription.

Verse 2, line 1: "Sadie Jones" is the name sung by The Sugar Kings. It isn't what Lil McClintock sang, but it works.
Verse 2, line 3: "She give a ball" not "she give up all" (a classic mondegreen)
Verse 2, line 6: "raise the dead" not "race around" (it rhymes better)
Verse 3, line 4: "He gets down to the bedtick" makes more sense grammatically.

By the way, I'm surprised no one questioned the word "bedtick." It's an obscure word nowadays, not recognized by my spell-checker, but was probably better known when mattresses and pillows were sometimes homemade. The "ticking" was the special canvas that was used to enclose the feathers or cotton "batting"—another obscure word that means "stuffing". It had to be strong and durable, and tightly woven so that the pointy ends of the feathers wouldn't work their way out through the weave. Nevertheless, some of them did, so a feather bed wasn't as comfortable as you might imagine.

I learned this from my mother, who probably never made a mattress or pillow from scratch herself, but probably was familiar with homemade ones when she was young.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man (Lil McClintock)
From: Stewie
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 09:58 PM

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the correction to what indeed was a classic mondegreen - 'she give up all'. Shame on me!

However, despite non-rhymes or grammar, 'race around' and 'down-turned up the bed-tick' is what McClintock sang. As you are well aware, the purpose of such a transcription is to reproduce as accurately as possible what was sung, not to inflict some 'folk process' on it.

Listening again to McClintock's recording, I reckon woman's name in the second stanza is 'Sally DeBose' or 'Sally DuBose'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man (Lil McClintock)
From: 12-stringer
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 08:59 PM

"Race around" is actually raise a row. Rhymes with bough, not show, but McClintock doesn't rhyme it with anything; means to kick up hell. Can't cite a dictionary definition but I've heard the term all my life in WV, which is closer to 70 yrs than 60. "Raise a rookus" is a similar concept but not used nearly as much around here.

The FM "rambled" through the house, not "rummaged," and I believe he "even done turned up the bedtick." "Sally DuBose" is what I call the lady who gave the ball, but she seems to be an intruder from another song altogether. I first learned this in the 70s from an LP on the European label Roots; listening to both takes on mp3, I think the one I had on vinyl was -2.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man (Lil McClintock)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 10:56 AM

Those names for fabrics - ticking, batting, may be obscure to some people, but if you visit a big fabric store, you can probably still buy ticking, and you will certainly find quilt batting, both polyester and cotton, for sale. Batting is flat, stuffing comes in bags.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Furniture Man (Lil McClintock)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 03:55 PM

You're right, Leenia; I misused the term "batting." Your distinction between "batting" and "stuffing" is correct.

Maybe I was misled by this old nursery rhyme--

Pretty Kitty Creighton had a cotton batten cat.
The cotton batten kitten once was bitten by a rat.
The kitten that was bitten had a button for an eye,
And the biting of the button made the cotton batten fly.

--which gives the impression batting is synonymous with stuffing, since it describes a stuffed toy.

By the way, I found that rhyme using Google books, and then modified it to make it closer to the way I think my mom recited it. I can't remember what name she used; I don't think it was "Creighton." "Kelly" maybe? I was surprised that I couldn't find it in a book older than 2006. I definitely remember hearing some version of it when I was quite young, probably in the early 1950s.

By the way, 12-stringer, I have listened again to the song and I agree with your corrections. the term "batting."

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