Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues

DigiTrad:
IF THE RIVER WAS WHISKEY


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Hesitation Blues (41)
I ain't no ethnofolkmusicoligist (20)
Lyr Req: Hesitation Blues + Spike Driver's Blues (27)
Lyr/Chords Req: Hesitation Blues (6)


David Francis Martin 27 Oct 98 - 02:36 PM
Barbara 27 Oct 98 - 05:48 PM
Dale Rose 27 Oct 98 - 06:11 PM
03 Nov 98 - 10:24 PM
Jim Dixon 21 Jan 17 - 11:38 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Jan 17 - 03:40 PM
Jim Dixon 21 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 21 Jan 17 - 08:09 PM
Joe_F 21 Jan 17 - 10:49 PM
Richie 22 Jan 17 - 12:06 AM
Richie 22 Jan 17 - 12:17 AM
Mrrzy 22 Jan 17 - 03:33 PM
mayomick 22 Jan 17 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jan 17 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jan 17 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jan 17 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jan 17 - 04:55 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jan 17 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jan 17 - 05:33 PM
Joe_F 22 Jan 17 - 05:36 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Hesitation/Hesitating Blues lyrics discussion
From: David Francis Martin
Date: 27 Oct 98 - 02:36 PM

Working on this song, and would appreciate any info/opinions on sources, and all versions of lyrics anyone might have. Many of us know Hot Tuna's Hesitation Blues, which I guess is more or less similar to Van Ronk's version and based on Gary Davis's, though I haven't heard the last two for years and don't have the records now. W.C. Handy wrote another version (as heard on a great cd, "Louis Armstrong sings W.C. Handy") supposedly based on the same source, which I think may have been called Hesitating Blues. I'd like to find out whether anyone recorded this earlier version, and have a look at the lyrics. Also, would like to know if Hot Tuna's lyrics differ from the Van Ronk or Davis versions. It's a beautiful melody, too good not to be heard more often.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Hesitation/Hesitating Blues discussion
From: Barbara
Date: 27 Oct 98 - 05:48 PM

If you check out the Oct 5 thread called "Ain't no ethnofolkmusicologist" there's a bit of discussion and some verses posted there. Here's the addy:
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=6806&messages=18
However you can probably just put 'ethno*' in the forum search subject box and get that thread.
Let me know if you have trouble finding it. I posted about 20 verses there.
Blessings,
Barbara


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Hesitation/Hesitating Blues discussion
From: Dale Rose
Date: 27 Oct 98 - 06:11 PM

For a Real Audio sample of an old time country version by Charlie Poole, try If The River Was Whiskey, compliments of Music Boulevard.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Hesitation/Hesitating Blues discussion
From:
Date: 03 Nov 98 - 10:24 PM

There's a version by the New Lost City Ramblers, and Roy Bookbinder also has a version. Combining those three gave me about eighteen verses; there's also a simpler version musically speaking on an album by a band called Rag Daddy, "On the Road Again", that purports to be a cover of the Charlie Poole version.

How are you coming with the verses?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE HESITATING BLUES (W. C. Handy, 1915)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jan 17 - 11:38 AM

The sheet music can be seen at Mississippi State University:


THE HESITATING BLUES
Words and music by W. C. Handy, ©1915.

1. Hello, Central! What's the matter with this line?
I want to talk to that high brown of mine.
Tell me: how long will I have to wait?
Please give me 2-9-8.
Why do you hesitate?
What you say? Can't talk to my brown?
A storm last night blowed the wires all down.
Tell me: how long will I have to wait?
Oh, won't you tell me now? Why do you hesitate?

CHORUS: "Procrastination is the thief of time"—
So all the wise owls say.
"One stitch in time may save nine"
Tomorrow's not today.
And if you put off, somebody's bound to lose.
I'd be his, he'd be mine,
And I'd be feeling gay.
Left alone to grieve and pine,
My best friend's gone away.
He's gone and left me the Hesitating Blues.

2. Sunday night, my beau proposed to me.
Said he'd be happy if his wifie I'd be.
Said he: "How long will I have to wait?
Come be my wife, Kate!
Why do you hesitate?"
I declined him just for a stall.
He left that night on the Cannon Ball.
Honey, how long will I have to wait?
Will he come back now, or will he hesitate?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jan 17 - 03:40 PM

There's a recording of Eser Bigeou singing W. C. Handy's THE HESITATING BLUES on YouTube. There are several other recordings as well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: HESITATION BLUES (Middleton/Smythe)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM

Sheet music for this song can be seen at Mississippi State University:


HESITATION BLUES, or, OH! BABY, MUST I HESITATE?
Words and music by Scott Middleton and Billy Smythe, ©1915.

Something's surely wrong.
I'm blue all day long.
With you 'round me, no one ever as found me sad;
Was always glad.
Since you're gone away,
I've simply got to say,
"I'm blue." That's what! "I'm blue." Why'd you ever leave?
You knew I would grieve.
All I do is cry for you; I just miss you so.
Why did you go?
Why do you make me wait, hon? I got the hesitation blues.
Say what you choose.

1. I'll go down to the levee, take a rocking chair
If the blues doesn't leave me, babe, I'll rock away from here.
Oh, baby, how long I have to wait?
Can't I get you now, or must I hesitate?

2. Got a beautiful home, but there's nothing to gain
Rather live in a jail than to have a trifling Jane.
Oh, baby, ....

3. There's a gal living near, says I surely will die
Wants to cure me but I don't like the looks of her bad eye.
Oh, baby, ....

4. Tried to cheer myself, loaded up with good booze
But there's only one way that you can ever cure the blues.
Oh, baby, ....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 21 Jan 17 - 08:09 PM

I seem to remember this as recorded by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, (though it may have been the Original Dixieland Jazz Band) in the early 1920's.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: Joe_F
Date: 21 Jan 17 - 10:49 PM

It is weird how many songs, many consisting of floating verses, this title seems to have gotten itself attached to. Here is yet another one, to add to the confusion. It is from The Coffee House Songbook (Oak, 1966). Punctuation regularized; the dashes are in the book.

Warning: pretty vulgar.

HESITATION BLUES

Mitch Greenman [the source, not the author or composer]

Well, standing on the corner with a dollar in my hand,
Lookin' for a woman who's lookin' for a man.

    Tell me how long do I have to wait?
    Can I get you now, or must I hesitate?

Well, the eagle on the dollar say "In God we trust."
Woman wants a man, she wants to see a dollar first.

Well, pussy ain't nothin' but meat on the bone.
You can ---- it, you can ---- it, you can leave it alone.

Well, you hesitate by one, and you hesitate by two.
Angels up in heaven singin' hesitatin' blues.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: Richie
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 12:06 AM

Hi,

Several people have prior claims than W.C. Handy: One is Art Gillum of Art Gillham's Society Syncopaters who learned the song in California before 1915 when he came back to Louisville; another is referenced by
David Evans in his book, "Ramblin' on my Mind" who claims Handy stole his Hesitating Blues from Louisville pianist Thomas "Hop" Hopson. Evans states that, "according to oral history the song was written by Hopson." Clearly Handy's version is a rewrite based on an earlier song. Perhaps Gillham's song was taken from Hopson since they were both in Louisville in 1915.

Charlie Poole popularized the song with his "If the River Was Whiskey" on Columbia 15545-D, 1930. I do a cover of Poole's version and also play fingerstyle the Rev. Gary Davis version covered by Jorma and Hot Tuna.

There's a collected version in the Brown Collection dated 1919 and I'd bet that version was around in the early 1900s-- years before Handy.

Richie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: Richie
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 12:17 AM

Hi,

And of course Jelly Roll Morton invented everything- he invented jazz, he invented blues, and if you look carefully at the 4th stanza-- he even invented the twist!!!

Jelly Roll Morton:

[SPOKEN: Long time people thought I wrote this tune, I used to sell leaf copies for 35 cents. I kept the sheet music where nobody could see it]

If I was whiskey and you were a duck
I'd dive to the bottom and never come up
How long do I have to wait
Can I get it now, do I have to hesitate.

I had a woman she was tall
She made me think about my parasol
How long do I have to wait
Can I get it now, do I have to hesitate.

An old lady by the name of Jane
I hit and knocked her right off her cane
How long do I have to wait
Can I get her now do I have to hesitate.

Mama mama, look at sis
She's out on the levi doin' the double twist
Lord how long do I have to wait
Can I get you now do I have to hesitate

She says, "Come in here you dirty little Sal
You trying to be a bad girl you don't know
How long do I have to wait
Can I get you now do I have to hesitate.

She says, "Press my bonnet, press my shawl
Don't not press my waterfall
How long do I have to wait
Can I get you now do I have to hesitate

There's a girl sittin' on a stump
I know, know she's gonna (....) [Morton: couldn't sing that]
How long do I have to wait
Can I get you now do I have to hesitate

Tell me honey what you got on your mind
I'm eating and a drinking having a lovely time
How long do I have to wait
Can I get you now do I have to hesitate.

Richie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 03:33 PM

I *think* it's Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers in my brain singing this one... they called it If the river was whiskey.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: mayomick
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 03:45 PM

see Joseph Scott's comments on this thread:thread.cfm?threadid=159868#3790020


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 04:41 PM

"Clearly Handy's version is a rewrite based on an earlier song." And ditto with the Smythe etc. one, from the look of it ("I'm blue all day long" etc. isn't folk blues language, just like "Come be my wife, Kate" etc. isn't folk blues language). Handy admitted, through his good friend the blues researcher Abbe Niles, that he learned the basic song from another musician and changed it.

Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff have pointed out that a George and Nana Coleman were performing a tune called "How Long Must I Wait" in 1913, perhaps a version of this song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 04:46 PM

Did Hopson even claim he wrote it? All that would have to happen is a friend of Hopson's hears him do it first, a year later or whatever sees that Handy has a version, assumes Handy got it from Hopson. I don't think Handy visited Louisville much.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 04:47 PM

Peter Muir has suggested that Handy may have simply got it from the Smythe etc. version, although imo that's not how Handy operated.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 04:55 PM

"that's not how Handy operated" Being predatory was so ordinary in the class system back then that when Leighton brothers types lifted material from Rabbit Brown types, it was _each other_ they worried about possibly taking them to court, not the Rabbit Brown types. That all goes back to people like Brahms and Liszt and how they sometimes got upset at each other about which wealthy gentleman owned what tune, which one of them had learned from some street musician -- same mentality.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 05:16 PM

Frank C. Brown's 1919 informant was a college student born in 1901, so the informant's version likely had roots in Smythe etc. and/or Handy. It went (contrived dialect removed):

"My daddy drives a street car and my brother drives a hack;
My mammy takes in washing while I ball the jack.
Oh, honey, how long will I have to wait?
Can I get you now or must I hesitate?

I got the hesitation stockings and the hesitation shoes.
I believe to my soul I got the hesitation blues.
Oh, honey, how long will I have to wait?
Can I get you now or must I hesitate?"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 05:33 PM

Looks like "Wanderin'" in _American Songbag_ (from Arthur Sutherland and Hubert Canfield, both of New York, since done by James Taylor etc.) was an offshoot from "Hesitating Blues."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Hesitation Blues / Hesitating Blues
From: Joe_F
Date: 22 Jan 17 - 05:36 PM

Aha! Now I see that the song I mentioned had already made it into the Related Threads, partly with my help.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 18 June 10:05 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.