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Blues Lyrics Translation

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Steve Latimer 29 Oct 98 - 11:39 AM
Jerry Friedman 29 Oct 98 - 12:51 PM
Earl 29 Oct 98 - 01:11 PM
Jerry Friedman 29 Oct 98 - 01:37 PM
Dave T 29 Oct 98 - 07:52 PM
harpgirl 30 Oct 98 - 12:00 AM
Earl 30 Oct 98 - 11:38 AM
To harpgirl 30 Oct 98 - 12:13 PM
Earl 30 Oct 98 - 01:57 PM
Zorro 31 Oct 98 - 05:46 AM
Roger in Baltimore 31 Oct 98 - 11:49 AM
Earl 31 Oct 98 - 03:51 PM
Earl 31 Oct 98 - 03:59 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 31 Oct 98 - 08:11 PM
dick greenhaus 31 Oct 98 - 11:24 PM
Barbara 01 Nov 98 - 10:57 AM
Roger in Baltimore 02 Nov 98 - 07:51 PM
harpgirl 02 Nov 98 - 11:32 PM
More Phrases for translation 03 Nov 98 - 11:54 AM
Dave T 03 Nov 98 - 12:58 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 03 Nov 98 - 10:18 PM
Jeff in Louisville 03 Nov 98 - 10:58 PM
Dave T 03 Nov 98 - 11:18 PM
Brian Hoskin 04 Nov 98 - 03:14 AM
GUEST,Henry. W 12 Nov 07 - 02:12 PM
Joe_F 12 Nov 07 - 07:56 PM
Geoff the Duck 13 Nov 07 - 03:22 AM
Tweed 13 Nov 07 - 10:13 AM
Bobert 13 Nov 07 - 06:35 PM
Peace 13 Nov 07 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,riklion 17 Nov 07 - 04:06 AM
SouthernCelt 05 Jan 08 - 10:10 AM
Amos 05 Jan 08 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,LKB 23 Jan 08 - 11:15 AM
PoppaGator 23 Jan 08 - 12:37 PM
deadfrett 24 Jan 08 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,MS Mud 03 Nov 08 - 08:11 PM
Joe_F 03 Nov 08 - 08:21 PM
Cluin 03 Nov 08 - 10:16 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Nov 08 - 12:09 PM
GUEST 20 Jan 09 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,sixtieschick 21 Jan 09 - 12:49 AM
meself 21 Jan 09 - 12:54 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Jan 09 - 11:16 AM
Azizi 22 Jan 09 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 22 Jan 09 - 12:25 PM
Azizi 22 Jan 09 - 12:52 PM
Bobert 22 Jan 09 - 08:38 PM
Jayto 23 Jan 09 - 12:06 PM
Jayto 23 Jan 09 - 12:09 PM
Bobert 23 Jan 09 - 06:39 PM
Jayto 23 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM
Jayto 23 Jan 09 - 06:58 PM
Bobert 23 Jan 09 - 08:01 PM
Jayto 23 Jan 09 - 08:13 PM
Bobert 23 Jan 09 - 08:51 PM
Bob the Postman 23 Jan 09 - 09:01 PM
Bobert 23 Jan 09 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Lovesbarbque 02 Apr 09 - 02:02 PM
GUEST 28 May 09 - 06:44 AM
s&r 28 May 09 - 12:16 PM
Joe Offer 28 May 09 - 02:02 PM
Richie 28 May 09 - 03:11 PM
Leadbelly 29 May 09 - 02:58 PM
Jayto 29 May 09 - 05:43 PM
Azizi 31 May 09 - 08:36 AM
Richie 31 May 09 - 11:34 AM
GUEST 01 Jun 09 - 02:28 AM
Jayto 01 Jun 09 - 02:29 AM
Jayto 01 Jun 09 - 02:45 AM
Jayto 01 Jun 09 - 12:03 PM
Azizi 01 Jun 09 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,Keith 06 Nov 09 - 02:02 AM
GUEST,me 14 Feb 10 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Guest 23 Feb 11 - 09:04 AM
Jim Dixon 27 Feb 11 - 02:30 PM
Joe_F 08 Aug 11 - 11:38 AM
PHJim 08 Aug 11 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,mary 16 Oct 11 - 07:58 AM
Joe_F 31 Oct 11 - 04:59 PM
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Subject: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 29 Oct 98 - 11:39 AM

I have been a blues fan for as long as I can remember, but must admit that although I have heard several recurring words and phrases, there are several that I do not know the meaning of. I am sure that this has a lot to do with me being from Canada and most of these lyrics were southern black terms. For example the terms "take my rider by my side", "dust my broom", "Nation Sack", "Highwayman", are a few of the terms that are unclear to me. Can anyone help with the meaning of these and other blues staples.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 29 Oct 98 - 12:51 PM

Well, I think dusting a broom is beating it to knock off the dust that it's picked up from the floor--but getting your broom dusted is like getting your ashes hauled, your pole greased, your lemon squeezed, your rocks off... I seem to be undergoing dialect slippage, but it means sex.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Earl
Date: 29 Oct 98 - 01:11 PM

I always thought "dust my broom" meant to leave, as in Robert Johnson's "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom"

I'm gon' get up in the mornin' I believe I'll dust my broom
I'm gon' get up in the mornin' I believe I'll dust my broom
Girl friend, the black man you been lovin' girlfriend, can get my room

A rider is a sexual partner.

According to the notes in "Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings," "A nation sack is a small pouch worn around the neck in which keepsakes and valuables are kept."


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 29 Oct 98 - 01:37 PM

On the other hand, I could easily be wrong.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Dave T
Date: 29 Oct 98 - 07:52 PM

Steve,
It doesn't matter where you're from (I'm from Canada too). The thing to remember is that you weren't allowed to sing sexually explicit lyrics back in the early days of blues. Since many of the songs deal with sex, adultery, cheating, drinking, etc. (big surprise there ay?) there are a lot of expressions alluding to these subjects.
I've heard "dust my broom" used both ways; to leave, or to have sex. "Nation sack" could be a contraction of "donation sack"; a purse in other words. A rider is definitely a sexual partner. A woman with an "Elgin movement" is one that's put together well or well-made might be more appropriate (Elgin is a make of watch).
There was a thread a while back on this subject. If you search the threads you can probably find it.
'Til then don't let your needle get rusty and don't break your winding chain.
Dave T.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: harpgirl
Date: 30 Oct 98 - 12:00 AM

...and watch out fur them salty dawgs....


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Earl
Date: 30 Oct 98 - 11:38 AM

While its true that blures lyrics were not overtly sexual, sometimes they left very little to the imagination. Bo Carter has been referred to as the "master of single entendre" with songs like "Please Warm my Wiener" and "Your Biscuits are Big Enough for Me."


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: To harpgirl
Date: 30 Oct 98 - 12:13 PM

Okay, what's a salty dog?


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Earl
Date: 30 Oct 98 - 01:57 PM

I've heard it for years but I've always been afraid to ask.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Zorro
Date: 31 Oct 98 - 05:46 AM

I agree with Steve Friedman on all counts. I have a book called "Country Blues" by Samuel Charters. He mentioned the term "black snake" which was in many songs and of course it refered to a man's penis. (Eeek, I said the "P" word. "Dust my broom" to me is leaving, making a change, getting rid of something you've been carrying around. There is a comparable saying in the bible, I think.. "When you leave that town, shake the dust off your feet.." meaning, (to me) the same thing, like saying "I've had it." Blessed be, Zorro


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 31 Oct 98 - 11:49 AM

Earl, Do you have the lyrics to Bo Carter's "Your Biscuits are Big Enough for Me"? I heard it this summer and enjoyed it.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: Lyr Add: YOUR BISCUITS ARE BIG ENOUGH FOR ME
From: Earl
Date: 31 Oct 98 - 03:51 PM

YOUR BISCUITS ARE BIG ENOUGH FOR ME
As recorded by Bo Carter (as Bo Chatman), 1936.

Baby, don't put no more bakin' powder in your bread, you see,
'Cause your biscuits is plenty tall enough for me.
Baby, I don't want no more sugar in your jelly roll, you see,
'Cause your jelly roll is plenty sweet enough for me.
Some men like lunch meat and some they like salt tongue.
Some men don't care for biscuits; they like the dog-gone big fat bun.
But baby, don't put no more bakin' powder in your bread, you see,
'Cause your two biscuits is plenty big enough for me.

I don't want no more bakin' powders in your bread, you see,
'Cause your biscuits is plenty tall enough for me.
Baby, don't put no more sugar in your jelly roll, you see,
'Cause your jelly roll is plenty sweet enough for me.
Says, some men, you know, they're straight; some crooked 's a barrel o' snakes.
Some men don't don't like bun and biscuits; like the dog-gone flat batter cakes,
But baby, don't put no more bakin' powders in your bread, you see,
'Cause your biscuits is plenty tall enough for me.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Earl
Date: 31 Oct 98 - 03:59 PM

That should be "in your bread" I made the mistake once then copied it three times.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 31 Oct 98 - 08:11 PM

I wonder if "nation" is a corruption of "notion". A "nation sack" would then be a "notion bag".

Double meanings are ot confined to the Blues. Look at the interpertations of "Greensleeves"

Murray


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 31 Oct 98 - 11:24 PM

Salty Dog, at least in the 1940s when I first encountered the phrase on the streets of Brooklyn, was a euphemism for oral sex.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Barbara
Date: 01 Nov 98 - 10:57 AM

I'll bet that phrase is 'cold tongue' - one of the standard ways beef tongue is served.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 02 Nov 98 - 07:51 PM

Thanks, Earl.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: harpgirl
Date: 02 Nov 98 - 11:32 PM

Dick,
So that's what a salty dog is!!! harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: More Phrases for translation
Date: 03 Nov 98 - 11:54 AM

Thank you to all for the interpretations. I have a few more. Can anyone help with the following?

Monkey Man, Black Cat Bone, Johnny Cockeroo, Mojo Hand, Ride the Blind, Break in on a Dollar?

Your help would be appreciated.

Steve Latimer


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Dave T
Date: 03 Nov 98 - 12:58 PM

Monkey Man is a man who sneaks around and sleeps with another man's woman. I always thought a Black Cat Bone was an object or charm of magical power. A Mojo is a charm to give you power over another often specifically a love potion. To Ride the Blind is to hop a train. Johnny Conkeroo, John the Conkeroo is an adaptation of John The Conqueror and refers to a small statue used as a good luck charm. There are a lot of references to charms, magic, voodoo etc. in blues. Hope this helps.
Dave T


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 03 Nov 98 - 10:18 PM

Dave. "Ride the blinds" must be more specific, because there is the phrase "ride the rods" too. Mississippi John Hurt in his song "Casey Jones" has Casey instructing the brakeman fix it so the hobos can't ride the blinds. "Let them ride the rods and put their trust in god." (or something similar) he says. I suspect that riding the blinds means getting inside a boxcar while riding the rods means riding outside--either under or between cars.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jeff in Louisville
Date: 03 Nov 98 - 10:58 PM

Steve..."take my rider by my side" usually means anything from a weapon to a crutch of some kind...The line appeared originally, as far as I can tell, in Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues"...when Eric Clapton adapted "Cross Road Blues" for Cream, he used the verse from "Traveling Riverside Blues" in that adaptation: "Goin' down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side "We can still find a house, baby, on the riverside".


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Dave T
Date: 03 Nov 98 - 11:18 PM

Murray, riding the blinds usually meant hoboing so I guess that would be hiding in the boxcar. Does that sound right?
Dave T


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 04 Nov 98 - 03:14 AM

We had a thread on this not so long back. 'The blinds' are the baggage car behind the engine, blind because the forward end door is locked.

Riding the 'rods' refers to the gunnels or iron bars that act to brace the iron frames of old boxcars. They were located about 18 inches below the car, giving a hobo just enough room to climb in on top of them, just a few inches above the sleepers.

John the Conqueror is a root used in hoodoo charms.

A 'rider' more generally referred to either a woman ( deriving from the term to 'ride', ie have sex with) or a guitar, because of the resemblance of the shape of a guitar to a woman. Robert Johnson sang:

Lord, I'm goin' to Rosedale, gonna take my rider by my side
We can still barrelhouse, baby, 'cause it's on the riverside.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,Henry. W
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:12 PM

Mojo, like in the Waters' song is used to mean a kind of sexual energy. The phrase "Got my Mojo workin'" means that your all worked up, your energetic your sex drive is going your ready to party. (this sounds wierd but its the only way to realy explain it)


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Joe_F
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 07:56 PM

In "Let me be your salty dog, or I won't be your man at all", a salty dog appears to be a man with certain privileges.

Now, what is a stavin' chain? (That is, literally, not metaphoricall.)


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:22 AM

Of course, it was all explained by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in the 1960's. Clip to be found on youtube -
Bo Dudley

Quack!
GtD,


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Tweed
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 10:13 AM

"Belly to belly
Skin to skin.
Two things workin',
But only one goin' in."

Whut the hell does this mean??


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bobert
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:35 PM

Ahhhhhh, can you give me a hint, Tweezer???

BTW, "ridin' the blinds" refers to riding between cars and behind the canvas where the conductors won't "see" you... They were called "blinds" in their day...

Oh depot agent,
please let me ride the blinds
Wouldn't mind it, Son
But the Empire State ain't mine...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Peace
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:38 PM

'"Belly to belly
Skin to skin.
Two things workin',
But only one goin' in."

Whut the hell does this mean?? '

Fu#ked if I know!


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Subject: Salty Dog
From: GUEST,riklion
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 04:06 AM

When we used to sing Salty Dog when we were kids our grandfather would tell us 'that thar's a dirty song'...the tune goes back to the 19th century so it must have meant oral sex way back then


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 05 Jan 08 - 10:10 AM

Some time back Dave T said in part: "Johnny Conkeroo, John the Conkeroo is an adaptation of John The Conqueror and refers to a small statue used as a good luck charm. There are a lot of references to charms, magic, voodoo etc. in blues."

While this explanation isn't wrong, down here (in the South) the phrase is usually "High John the Conqueror" and refers to a branched ginseng root that has the abstract appearance of a human figure. When dried it was left intact to be used as an amulet or charm or was pulverized into a powder to be added to food or beverages, supposedly to give the consumer a leg up on good health. There used to be a concoction advertised as a daily tonic on radio and local print media back in the 50s that listed among its ingredients "High John the Conqueror root" and in the voice ads on radio this ingredient was almost always mentioned, apparently to give the tonic some credibility as a medicinal preparation. I haven't heard this tonic mentioned in many decades so I don't know if it's still being made but I suppose it would be relegated to the "health foods" or "herbal supplements categories now and couldn't be sold as a true OTC medicine.

SC


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Amos
Date: 05 Jan 08 - 10:45 AM

Re: Stav'n'chain, as used in "Winin' Boy":

"I'm a wining boy, don't deny my name;
Pick it up and shake i like a stave and chain...."

I always believed without authority that this is an ankle chain used on chain gangs.

But Steve Maning's blues FAQ says "Both Win(d)ing Boy and Staving Chain were nicknames suggesting sexual prowess. Winin' Boy, the song, comes again from Jelly Roll Morton, the   same session at which he recorded Mamie's Blues. "

Another sit, http://tafkac.org/songs/what_is_a_jellyroll_more.htmle tells this story of Jelly Roll Morton:

The pianist and band leader Ferdinand Morton's earlier nickname was "The Windin' Boy." He explains the origin of this name in the spoken introduction to the song of the same name recorded for the Library of Congress in the 1940s and widely available on Morton compilations and on compilations of "dirty" blues. I will quote a portion of the intro from memory (pretty close, as i know the song well...) and give the chorus and a sample verse:

"This happens to be one of my first tunes in the blues line, back in the New Orleans. Back in those days, when a man played piano, the stamp was on him for life -- the femininity stamp -- and i didn't want that on me, so when i first started playing, the songs came out a little smutty not *too* smutty, a bit like this:


    I'm the Windin' Boy, don't deny my name (x3)
    I can pick it up and shake it like Stavin' Chain
    I'm the Windin' Boy, don't deny my name

    Nickle's worth of beefsteak, and a dime's worth of lard (x3)
    I'm gonna salivate your pussy til my peter gets hard
    I'm the Windin' Boy, don't deny my name"

Other "not too smutty" lyrics include "i fucked her 'til her pussy stunk" and the song was not released for air play in this form, needless to say.

The Windin' Boy is a boy who can execute deft motions with his pelvis, windin' or twirling his penis in and about his partner's vagina. "Stavin' Chain" (or more properly "Stave 'n' Chain") was a legendary (possibly real) late 19th century strong man who worked on the railroad and was known for his large "stave."

When Morton switched nicknames, he did not become "Jelly Roll Morton" at once -- he first became "Mr. Jelly Lord" -- that is, the lord or master of jelly (female lubricating fluid; hence female sexual arousal). Eventually, he became "Jelly Roll" Morton, taking on the name of the female pudenda he so assiduously salivated.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,LKB
Date: 23 Jan 08 - 11:15 AM

Johnny Conkeroo, High John Conqueror Root- The mature root of ipomea jalapa, a member of the morning glory/sweet potato family, resembles testes, hence a symbol of masculine power/prowess.

Mojo workin'- references an investment by the client in a spell or work for personal power, luck, sexual success, etc., usually embodied in a collection of mystically powerful objects/herbs anointed with specific oils and possibly prayed over to accomplish the client's desires and carried in a 'mojo' or 'mojo hand' on the client's person...


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jan 08 - 12:37 PM

What about "apron overalls," as in Robert Johnson's Four Till Late:

"She cause so many men to wear apron overalls"?

Of course, we know that we're talking about a woman through whose drawers some man is always rumblin, like a dresser, so we know there is some kind of sexual innuendo here. My assumption is that the wearing of bib overalls is apparently symbolic of being cuckholded.

Of course, for a double entendre, two meanings are required, an innocent one as well as the other. I can't figure out the single entendre here.

Also: I've heard, and come to believe, that to "dust my broom" is to masturbate. After consideration, this seems to make sense in context. So, those who interpret it to mean "having sex" are correct, but only to a limited extent: the only sex being had is of the least satisfying variety.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: deadfrett
Date: 24 Jan 08 - 08:10 AM

You might try a site called Harrys Blues Lyrics. It has both Traditional and Modern blues. Sorry I can't figure out the blue clicky thing. I'm sure google can find it for you. Dave


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,MS Mud
Date: 03 Nov 08 - 08:11 PM

Freekin' hilarious! are you guy's antonist interpretations of those old blues lyrics! Some of you have a clue, but then there are others...

I grew up in the hill country of MS with mostly blues culture neighbors (R.L. Burnside lived 2 farms over on Mr. Thomas Gaines' place in Beartail Bottom)back when black folk hung mirrors on the porch. You'd have had to be there to understand really.

Test:
Q: Who knows what "jumper on the line" means?

A: (Get this right and I'll be impressed)


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Joe_F
Date: 03 Nov 08 - 08:21 PM

The version "Pick it up and shake it, life's sweet stavin' chain" is hard to parse with the suggestions made so far.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Cluin
Date: 03 Nov 08 - 10:16 PM

It's all about sex.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 12:09 PM

"Antonist" is another word I don't understand.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 12:29 PM

I've Got My Mojo Working


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,sixtieschick
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 12:49 AM

"Dust My Broom" means to leave a place.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: meself
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 12:54 AM

yeah, right ...


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 11:16 AM

1. In a former Mudcat thread, a student of the blues said that many references to a woman lover are actually references to The Man. It was safer to criticize your woman than your boss. If so, references to aprons, chains, etc might simply be about aprons, chains, etc - things likely to be involved with a job.

2. As for the plethora of sexual references, I have noticed that an entertainer can make any words sound sexual if he makes a suggestive pause and leers. This doesn't mean that those words have a sexual meaning in general conversation.

The song above about biscuits is a good example.

3. I'm not saying that none of this is about sex. The 'salty dog' case seems pretty strong.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 11:38 AM

leeneia, with regard to the poster you cited being a student of the blues, aren't we all students of the blues?

That said, I very much doubt the validity of that student's theory that is given as your point #1.

For those interested in this subject, this website appears to be have pretty credible definitions of a number of blues terms:

Blues Words & Phrases

This disclaimer is posted on that page:

"Before you proceed...
This page is not intended as a work of science. Sources for this page are mostly visitor contributions, other internet web sites and, if available, relevant literature. Quality, accuracy and substantiation of the content may vary. Motivated suggestions and criticism are always welcome".

-snip-

Unfortunately, that page hasn't been updated since December 2000.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 12:25 PM

Hi Kids: Look. It's easy. When Robert Johnson uttered the now famous phrase, "squeeze my lemons 'til the juice runs down my leg..." he was preparing to do the precursor of the Grandmother of Martha Stewart's Cooking Show. No T.V. So it was going to be on radio.

They were looking for popular recipes, and what better to prepare than a good old fashioned lemon meringue pie? And since everybody knows all great chefs rarely use measuring devices, Robert had bought some lemons and was merely telling Grandma Stewart the amount of lemon juice to use. All Blues guys know this...bob


p.s. If anybody believed more than 20 seconds of the above, I have beachfront property in the Everglades to sell you...:0)BR


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 12:52 PM

I just read this sentence on a political blog, and I think it's applicable to us here:

..."don't stop thinking out in public here with the rest of us fools, for it's the only way to learn, to bat ideas back and forth."

But this sentence doesn't apply to Bob Ryszkiewicz...

Just kidding!

:o)


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 08:38 PM

Hey, listen ya'll... Everything about the blues "is about womenz and other natural disasters"... I got that from a bluesman in Norway, John Ivor and he's 'boput got it right as long as you are a male bluesplayer... Hey, it's all about that kinda stuff... It's all inuendo...

That's why Son House stuggled with it... Ya' see, Son was also a preacher (Gonna get religion, gonna join the Baptict Church, Gonna become a Baptist preacher so I don't have to work) and he would play the blues at night and then come Sunday mornin' he'd be doin' the "Dance of Dieing Duck" with the Big Guy... No, the Big Guy ain't that big black man who come to the croosroads and you make that deal with... Ya'll know the deal... We all been to the crossroads... The deal was that if you passed yer geetar over yer shoulder without lookin' at the big black man that he's "play it in", hand it back to you and you'd be able to play anything and everything in exchange fir yer...

...soul!!!

But these stories were taken to heart in the ol' bluesmen and Son, well he'd feel "naked and ashamed" the next day and he'd preach up some fire 'n brimstone as if the Big Guy would let him off the hook for another week... lol... Don't really work like that... Well, I hope it don't...

Ya' see, I am a bluesman an' I also like to think that Son House and Robert Johnsosn and Johnny Shines and alot of other bluesmen died for my soul (sound familiar???) like in getting the Big Guy worn down and appreciatin' the "Devil's music" (lol)...

Not really... Yeah, their fears were our fears... I mean, yeah, the songs are about stuff that they don't seem to be about... There's a lot codified stuff in 'um...

Okay, I can live purdy well with most of it but there are songs that I just can't bring myself to do... Though, in comparison, there are songs that I do that are probably worse (better)... lol...

Man, I'm sounding like Son House now... Ya' know, doin' the "Dance of the Dieing Duck" just in case the Big Guy is reading Mudcat these days...lol...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 12:06 PM

Nation sack is actually Notion sack or a corruption of notion sack. Whenever times are good (financially) you stick a little bit back in your "notion sack". That way if you take a notion to do something or go somewhere you have the money to do it. Notion is a very popular word in the Southeastern US. People say it all the time. "When I take a notion to leave they better watch out.", "It was so hot the other day I took a notion to go to the lake for a swim." "I was sitting there and the notion stuck me to knock the crap out of him.(I was sitting there and the idea came to me to hit him really hard.)" there are some examples. Notion is basically another word for idea but it is an idea that is normally acted on. An idea that you want to act on I guess I should say whether or actually should or not.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 12:09 PM

I busted my notion sack about a year ago lol. I almost forgot hello azizi I am back.
cya
Jayto


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:39 PM

Never heard of a "notion sack", Jayto... Thanks... If its okay with you I'll throw it into the my mix of stories I tell when I perform... Were'd you hear about that one... Don't know how it could have escaped me but then again...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM

Yeah that is fine Bobert. I live in wstrn Kentucky and it is a real popular saying around here. The rest of my family are all from Alabama (my g-grandparents moved to ky when my grandmother was in high school). It is a popular saying down there as well. Notion's come in half form as well. "I have half a notion to shut that heckler up." means you are about ready to deal with the heckler and it wouldn't take much to make you go off. It is almost like a warning. Most of the times when someone says "I have half a notion" that means they are just looking for a reason because you have pretty much made up your mind you are going to do it.
Is anyone on here from Alabama and have heard this as much as I have. Huntsville area is where I have heard it the most down there. Ky you hear it everywhere all the time.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:58 PM

Oh notion sack sorry I used to hear alot of old timers talk about it most of the time in a joking manner. They would laugh about having to add funds to thier notion sack when they would get mad at thier wives lol. Notion is still popular but notion sack not so much. I think because of the economy right now noone has mony to put in a notion sack. Also the old men that really had a notion sack kept it a secret from thier wives or girlfriends like a secret saving account. This is really supported by the way I remember them joking about adding money when they had arguments with thier other half. "If that woman doesn't lay off of me I am going to grab my notion sack and run." as an example. Mad money is another name in west KY for this type of hidden savings. You are saving it to make a "mad dash" from police or your girlfriend or wife lol. This is another old term not really used much and when it is used it is usally by older men. This stuff fascinates me so if you have any other questions let me know.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 08:01 PM

Yeah, we got "notion" 'round these parts... Purdy popular phrase... Then agian my wife is from North Carolina an' she got more notions that Carter has liver pills... I mean, she is tore up Carolina... "I gotta a notion that this here toaster is fixin to break"...lol...

But back to this "notion sack"... Is this a Kin-tuck thing and if'n ya' don't mind me askin' does it come from black 'er white folks, 'er both... Don't matter much 'casue I love the term but seein' as I try to keep my stories historically accurate, I like to know as much about the stuff I talk about as I can... I mean, it sounds both balck and maybe Appilacian??? I donno but, no matter, it's gonna find it's way into my stories...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 08:13 PM

I think it is more than a Kentucky thing. I have spent alot of time in Louisiana and I encountered the notion sack down there as well. In Louisiana it was mainly black but in Ky it is used by whites and blacks. In Ky it is only older men I heard though. It is heavily generational very heavy. I have heard younger people use it but only in reference to older men "That set him off good. He'll go grab his notion sack and vanish for a while." might be said if an old man got mad at a younger man an stormed off. I rarely hear it anymore though. I heard it the most about about 20 yrs ago when I was about 16. That is when I started hanging around groups of old men (70+) that were showing me how to play guitar and teaching me the old local folk songs. Good phrase but it seems to be going away.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 08:51 PM

Thanks...

Yeah, some stuff goes away an' then pops up elswhere....

Think I'm gonna write a song entitled "Notion Sack Blues"... Really works for what I do...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:01 PM

If you took a notion to light off for the nations, would you take your nation sack or your notion sack? Or both?


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 09:28 PM

Thanks... Needed that hurt-yer-head fir the night...lol...


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,Lovesbarbque
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 02:02 PM

I heard over 40 years ago that a Mojo was a mummified monkey hand, full of magical power.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 09 - 06:44 AM

What does it mean to "Wear my apron low" as in the song "careless love" et al?????


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: s&r
Date: 28 May 09 - 12:16 PM

Pregnant.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 May 09 - 02:02 PM

Well, I'm not sure it's ever been explained directly to me, but I'm pretty sure it's just the opposite of what Stu says. In Careless Love, "wearing her apron low" means having a figure that allows her to wear her apron around her hips. When she's pregnant, the apron won't fit.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Richie
Date: 28 May 09 - 03:11 PM

Joe's right:

Love, oh love, my careless love,
Love, oh love, my careless love.
Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Oh look what careless love has done.

Once I wore my apron low,
Once I wore my apron low.
Once I wore my apron low,
I could not keep you from my door.

Now my apron strings won't pin,
Now my apron strings won't pin.
Now my apron strings won't pin,
You pass my door and won't come in.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Leadbelly
Date: 29 May 09 - 02:58 PM

Explanation of "salty dog" leads me to the question what a "hot dog" is!
Ein heisser Schwanz??


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 29 May 09 - 05:43 PM

I sure wish I had me a notion sack full of mad money lol. I have a notion to roam just don't have the notion sack that would support it lol.

I knew one old man that would flash his secret money stash to all the guys and hide it when is wife came around. One day this other old man got tired of him flashing it and smacked his hand and the money went everywhere. His wife was coming in when it all happened so he freaked out. he had been telling her he was dead broke but wasn't. Another part that was funny was when the money went flying the big wad of cash wasn't all cash. It was about 4 $100 dollar bills then wrapped around a bunch of ones. Then the ones was wrapped around newspaper that had been cut to the size of bills. It was funny. He still had cash but not near as much as he had been claiming. He played an old Martin D45 pre-war if I remember. It may have been a D18 can't really recall I am not good with models. When he passed on his son (that none of us knew about) got the guitar and sold it to George Gruhn in Nashville Tennessee. I remember I played a gig in Arkansas one time and that old man came and slept in his car. After about 3 days he smelled so bad a friend of mine made him go into his room and shower. He was probably 85 at the time and originally came from Harlan in eastern Kentucky. He played fiddle as well. He taught me the song nine pound hammer one time yrs ago in Mortons Gap Ky. He found out I would hang out on the street corner in Mortons Gap (pop 700 at best) and pick gutiar all night every night. So he started coming up because all the guys told him I liked to play the older stuff. We spent many hours sitting by the Coal Miner Memorial statue there in Mortons Gap picking old songs that will probably never be played again. I really miss him. In his mind I would still be a kid (I am in my 30's) and I know he would still be showing me the old stuff like I didn't know how to hit a lick. I don't mean to ramble this thread just brought up some great memories I haven't thought of in a while. Those memories and the knowledge I gained from hanging with guys like him is the reason I play music. it is the reason I chose folk music. To me they are what it is about. Sorry for the lengthy ramble. I think my cousin Eddie Pennington recorded him before he passed away. I am going to have to find out for sure. If he did I am going to get it. If anyone wants a copy of a real deal Appalachian folk artist it was him and I would be happy to send an mp3 to anyone that wants it if I can get it.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Azizi
Date: 31 May 09 - 08:36 AM

Here's another definition for "nation sack":

"Dr. Oakroot" on the other hand says: "I have to disagree with you about "nations sack." [Robert] Johnson says, "I've taken the last nickel out of her nations sack." What's a nickel
doing in a lucky charm (OK, it could happen, money does have magical power). However, "nation" is short for "donation". Originally, nation sacks were worn on the belts of traveling preachers to hold the donations they collected. This fashion accessory was picked up by prostitutes along the Mississippi R. who wore it under their skirts and between the legs where the jingle of coins would attract the attension of prospective customers." Thanks to "Dr. Oakroot" for this contribution to the list.
___________
This phrase can be found in:
Robert Johnson, Come On In My Kitchen (Take 1)

http://blueslyrics.tripod.com/blueslanguage.htm


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Richie
Date: 31 May 09 - 11:34 AM

Hey Jayto,

I'd like an MP3. BTW I'm in Kentucky now, I'll be playing at the Kentucky Hall-of Fame Museum in Renfro Valley June 20. Come by and pick a few tunes with us if you want.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 02:28 AM

I am going to call Eddie this week and ask him about the recordings. I am sure he has them and if he does I am going to get them and I will send them to you.

Welcome to Ky man. I hope you enjoy it. I will have to check my schedule but I would love to. I am not too far from there. I am playing in Lexington this Saturday at the Green Latern. I am opening for Bawn in the Mash and it will be a great show.Bawn is a very talented band from Paducah. We are good freinds so I know it will be fun. If your not doing anything you should come out.

cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 02:29 AM

Sorry that last post was mine. I didn't realize I wasn't logged in.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 02:45 AM

I just checked and it's further than I thought but if you are serious I will be there. Just let me know. It's about 4 hrs away but I will come if you mean it.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jayto
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 12:03 PM

Oh yeah Azizi that is cool when I read your latest post. I noticed that there is a money connection between the def you posted and the description I gave. Funny how things vary from place to place and over time but common themes of it stay the same. Money is connecting thing on the terms that is cool.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Azizi
Date: 01 Jun 09 - 12:21 PM

Hey, JT!

Your post causes me to have a notion to repeat a well worn saying: "People throughout the world are more alike than we are different".


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,Keith
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 02:02 AM

Dime stores sold notions, small items like thread and butttons. Perhaps "sundries" is a better known term for notions. I always assumed a notion sack was a container for notions.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,me
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 09:28 PM

what does "breakin in on a dollar" mean?


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 09:04 AM

I'm about to have a tattoo from walkin blues lyrics
"some people tell me that worried blues ain't bad. It's the worst old feeling I most ever had"

But first i have to figure out what this means
"She got a Elgin movement from her head down to her toes
Break in on a dollar most anywhere she goes" can somebody tell me, please?

I heard that the translation to the word blues is syphilis. Is it true?


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 02:30 PM

"Elgin movement" is probably a reference to the Elgin brand of watches, which were reputed to be of high quality.

I can't explain the rest of your quote.

I think, even before there was a genre of music called "the blues", "blues" simply meant a feeling of sadness, melancholia, or depression. I doubt that there is any specific connection to syphilis.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 11:38 AM

Another (not very coherent) theory about "stavin' chain": In "Popular Songs vs. the Facts of Life" (_Etc.: A Review of General Semantics_ 12(2), 83-95, 1955; reprinted in several anthologies), S. I. Hayakawa says: "I am indebted to Dr. Russell Meyers of the University of Iowa Hospitals for the following observation about Jelly Roll Morton's 'Winin' Boy Blues,' in which there occurs the line, 'Pick it up and shake it, life's sweet stavin' chain.'[footnoted] Dr. Meyers equates this line to Herrick's 'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,' translating thus: 'A "stavin' chain" is the heavy chain used by loggers to bind together logs to be floated down river, so that it is metaphorically that which binds together, i.e., sexuality; the idea is, as in Herrick, that you shake it now, while you are still able.'"

Yes, that is the same Hayakawa who wrote books about semantics, put on a beret & broke the student strike at San Francisco State, and served a term in the US Senate, during which he was renowned chiefly for falling asleep in committee meetings. I was a fan of his in my adolescence, and read his essay when it first came out. His essay, which made him unpopular with the music industry of the day, still has a certain charm IMO, and I will see if I can make it available here.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: PHJim
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 07:47 PM

I'd guess that "break in on a dollar" means just that, having to break a dollar because you don't have change. - just a guess.

I once read a book about Voodoo (Hoodoo) where a mojo was described as a charm; a small bag that contained things like nail clippings, pubic hair, herbs, roots, black cats' paws, etc. They were used as charms for good luck, love, getting rid of enemies depending on the contents.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: GUEST,mary
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 07:58 AM

I knew a Rick Curtis in Indiana who did this with "mama mama come and look at sis,she down on the levy,doin'the double twist""sister,sister,you dirty little sow,tryin to be a bad girl,but she don't know how" Love this song,but it is a little difficult from a gender point of view for me to do;just sing it for myself.


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Subject: RE: Blues Lyrics Translation
From: Joe_F
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:59 PM

An update on my posting about Professor Hayakawa on 11 Aug 11: I have managed to get the essay in hardcopy, but it seems to be unavailable in machine-readable form. If anyone is seriously interested in it, I'll be glad to snailmail a photocopy. Meanwhile, I will summarize its contents here.

Hayakawa was a jazz & blues fan. However, he was not an admirer of the words to the blues as poetry. Near the end of the essay, he says "while there is lyricism to be found in blues _tunes_ and their musical treatment, the _words_ of blues songs are notoriously lacking in either lyricism of delicacy of sentiment...".

Nevertheless, this essay is devoted to praising those indelicate words, not as poetry, but as realistic descriptions of life & love, in contrast to the commercial popular songs of the time (1955), which "tend toward wishful thinking, dreamy and ineffectual nostalgia, unrealistic fantasy, self-pity, and sentimental cliches masquerading as emotion" and "exhibit grave, even pathological, intensional [that's general-semantics jargon] orientations". (He admits that he does not know enough about white folk music to include it in the comparison.) Copious examples of such songs, and contrasting ones of the blues, and given and explicated.

*

I had the damnedest time finding this thread again. The Mudcat search does not see it. I had to use Google to find my posting, write down the threadid, and bring it up in my browser. Why?


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