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Origins: Sporting Life Blues

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SPORTING LIFE BLUES


Peter T. 09 Aug 03 - 11:29 AM
masato sakurai 09 Aug 03 - 11:50 AM
Peter T. 09 Aug 03 - 01:38 PM
GUEST 09 Aug 03 - 02:03 PM
Benjamin 09 Aug 03 - 02:04 PM
Mark Clark 09 Aug 03 - 02:16 PM
Peter T. 09 Aug 03 - 02:21 PM
Candyman(inactive) 09 Aug 03 - 04:10 PM
DonMeixner 09 Aug 03 - 08:11 PM
Roger the Skiffler 10 Aug 03 - 03:33 AM
GUEST,Peter T. 10 Aug 03 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Nov 14 - 12:55 PM
GUEST 24 Apr 18 - 01:23 PM
GUEST 24 Apr 18 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Dave Jones 22 Apr 19 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Steve Schachter 22 Feb 20 - 11:55 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Mar 20 - 04:18 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Mar 20 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 23 Mar 20 - 04:21 AM
GUEST,Don Meixner 24 Mar 20 - 09:18 AM
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Subject: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 11:29 AM

Three versions of Sporting Life Blues well known to aficionados are Skip James (from his revival, 1960s), Dave Van Ronk, and Brownie McGhee (1970s). Anyone know who did the earliest version of this, and/or where it comes from? Am I missing someone famous who did it in the 20's or 30's?


yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 11:50 AM

No entry of "Sporting Life Blues" in comprehensive Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943, by Robert M.W. Dixon et al. (Oxford, 1997).


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 01:38 PM

Hmm.         If so, I wonder if Brownie McGhee wrote it. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 02:03 PM

Well, if you listen to Duke Ellingtons Rent Party Blues (late '20's I think,) you will hear the same melody line that Brownie uses but also a middle 8 that Brownie dosn't! I have Brownie with a bowed bass player version, probably late '40's I would guess. If ONLY we had a copy of "Thats The Stuff, the Recordings of Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Stick McGhee and J C Burris" by Chris Smith, Housay Press, Spiral bound paperback. 184 page discography of the great Sonny and Brownie covering their solo work, their long productive partnership and everything in between including recordings with Cecil Gant, Carey Adams, Tarheel Slim, Square Wilson and many more. Original issues with relevant dates/line-ups/session notes/info on reissues on LP and CD/overview of recordings/comprehensive index" all for (UK)£15.00 + £3.00 UK p & P from www.Redlickrecords.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Benjamin
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 02:04 PM

According to Dave Van Ronk, it was Brownie McGhee. He teaches his arrangement on his instructional video.


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 02:16 PM

Brownie McGhee had it on a 10" Folkways album that came out in the 1950's sometime. I'll try to remember to check the date.

Also what is the relation, if any, between this song and the tune by W. Nelson, W. Breeland and P. Buskirk called Night Life? I always thought they were similar in feel and meaning and the later may have drawn upon the former.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 02:21 PM

In the discography to "the Harp Styles of Sonny Terry" there is a mention of Sporting Life Blues being recorded in New York in 1946. (Bass player is Pops Foster or Count Edmondson, the discography is unsure). Guess that must be the earliest.


yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Candyman(inactive)
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 04:10 PM

I have a Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee recording of "Sportin' Life" from 1957. I saw Brownie perform it many times with Sonny in the '60s and '70s, and once solo in the '80s, and he always claimed it as his song.

Dave Van Ronk, who was scrupulous in his song scholarship, always referred to it as a Brownie McGhee song.

Dave used to tell a strory about learning the song when he was about 17 and then putting it aside because he didn't think that a 17-year-old had the life experience to sing it. Many years later, Dave said, Brownie told him he'd written the song when he was 17.

Dave would have been 17 in 1953.


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 08:11 PM

Jerry Silvermann's book "The Folk Blues " doesn't attribute it specifically but says it was recorded by Brownie McGhee on Folkways
FA 2030 and Bob Carey on Stinson SLP 6.

I first learned of it from The Lovin' Spoonful and their first LP "Do You Believe In Magic" about 1966. And it was a really fine job of it.   My brother Gary does an excellant job of too.

Don


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:33 AM

I learned it form Brownie McGhee recording, I don't know if he was the first.

RtS
(Tried telling my teachers "This Sportin' Life is killin' me" but they still made me do Cross country runs!)


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Subject: RE: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST,Peter T.
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 08:32 AM

Thanks. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Nov 14 - 12:55 PM

"Brownie... always claimed it as his song." But Brownie also claimed that the "Blues Had A Baby And They Called It Rock And Roll" that Muddy Waters had already recorded as his own song when he recorded it, so.... Also, do we think Skip was bothering to learn any songs from the 13-years-younger Brownie? Maybe. In any case, the expression the "sporting life is killing me" itself is at least as old as 1892.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 18 - 01:23 PM

Bob Cary sings it on American Folksay: Ballads & Dances. Sounds like Fred Neil.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 18 - 01:29 PM

He's listed as Bob Cary on the Stinson Collectors Series CD.

Bob Carey here:
http://www.folkmusicworldwide.com/bob-carey-1.html


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Subject: RE: Origins: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST,Dave Jones
Date: 22 Apr 19 - 10:33 AM

First time I heard this tune was in the sixties by Dave Van-Ronk on record and likewise Brownie MgGhee but it was played by a couple of New Orleans style jazz bands locally where I live in the UK. Personally I think this fabulous bit of blues reeks of New Orleans! the arrangement and the subject matter, everything, so I think it probably goes back quite a way. I learned the lyrics from Dave and Brownies versions but my arrangement in D major was Learned from a piano player from one of the afore mentioned bands.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Earliest Version: Sporting Life Blues?
From: GUEST,Steve Schachter
Date: 22 Feb 20 - 11:55 PM

Not to the point I know, but I need to say that my favorite version of this song is by Ian Buchanan, recorded at Antioch College in the early 60s. In fact it's my favorite Buchanan song.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SPORTIN LIFE BLUES (Brownie McGhee)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Mar 20 - 04:18 PM

You can hear this recording at the Internet Archive. I have boldfaced the words that are different from the copy in the DT. Only 3 verses are approximately the same, and they are in a different order:


SPORTIN LIFE BLUES
As recorded by Brownie McGhee, Alert (401-B), 1948.

I'm tired of runnin' around.
Think l will marry and settle down.
This old night life,
This old sporting life is killin' me.

I got a letter from my home.
Most of my friends are dead an' gone.
I began to worry,
Began to wonder 'bout days to come.


My mother used to talk to me.
Young and foolish an' I could not see.
I have no mother.
My sisters and brother won't talk to me.

She used to fall on her knees an' pray.
These are the words Mother used to say:
She'd say: "Brownie,
Oh, Brownie, please change your way."

[Instrumental break]

I am goin' to change my way.
I'm getting older ev'ry day.
When I was young and foolish,
I was eas'ly led astray.


I been a gambler an' a cheater too.
Now it's come my time to lose.
Sportin' life
Has got me bested; what can I do?


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Subject: Lyr Add: SPORTIN' LIFE BLUES (Dave Van Ronk)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Mar 20 - 05:23 PM

I believe Van Ronk made other recordings at different times, that are on different albums, but I think the words are all substantially the same. I have boldfaced the words that are different from McGhee's recording. I heard this recording on Spotify.


SPORTIN' LIFE BLUES
As recorded by Dave Van Ronk on "And the Tin Pan Bended and the Story Ended" (2004)

I got a letter from my home.
Most o' my friends are dead an' gone.
Make you worry,
Make you wonder 'bout times to come.

My ol' mother said to me:
"So young and foolish, child, you can't see."
Now I ain't got no mother.
My sister and my brother turned their back on me.

She used to fall on her knees an' pray.
These are the very words she would say:
"You better change, rearrange,
Or stop your low-down
way."

[Instrumental break]

I've been a liar and a cheater too,
Spent my money on booze an' you,
But this ol' night
life,
This sporting life is killin' me.

When I was young and feelin' blue,
All them young women would see me through.
Makes you sad, makes you scared,
Makes you worry what time can do.


[Instrumental break]

I'm bound to change, change my ways.
I'm gettin' older each an' ev'ry day,
But this ol' night life,
This sporting life is killin' me.

I'm gettin' tired of runnin' 'round.
I'm gonna get married, settle down.
This ol' night life,
It is a mean life and it's killin' me.

[Instrumental break]

[Repeat verse 1]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sporting Life Blues
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 23 Mar 20 - 04:21 AM

Brings me back ... Didn’t Ian Whitcomb have a sizeable hit on both sides of the pond with this? Early ‘60’s? Peter Adler on harmonica.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sporting Life Blues
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 24 Mar 20 - 09:18 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1ECdCVSgKM


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