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Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man

Related thread:
Lyr Add: The Furniture Man (Lil McClintock) (8)


Chet W. 12 Nov 98 - 08:33 PM
12 Nov 98 - 09:11 PM
Dale Rose 12 Nov 98 - 10:23 PM
Dale Rose 12 Nov 98 - 10:59 PM
Dale Rose 12 Nov 98 - 11:19 PM
GUEST, WYSIWYG 06 Oct 02 - 10:46 AM
wysiwyg 06 Oct 02 - 11:03 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Oct 02 - 12:53 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 02 - 01:11 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Oct 02 - 02:01 PM
wysiwyg 06 Oct 02 - 02:01 PM
GUEST 06 Oct 02 - 06:26 PM
wysiwyg 06 Oct 02 - 06:35 PM
BanjoRay 06 Oct 02 - 07:25 PM
Stewie 06 Oct 02 - 07:54 PM
Stewie 06 Oct 02 - 09:40 PM
Stewie 06 Oct 02 - 10:22 PM
nickp 07 Oct 02 - 05:11 AM
GUEST,Susan 10 Oct 02 - 10:02 AM
wysiwyg 10 Oct 02 - 10:20 AM
Jim Dixon 12 Oct 02 - 12:11 PM
BanjoRay 12 Oct 02 - 08:05 PM
Stewie 12 Oct 02 - 09:24 PM
BanjoRay 13 Oct 02 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Dale 13 Oct 02 - 11:09 AM
Stewie 13 Oct 02 - 07:51 PM
GUEST 14 Oct 02 - 02:38 AM
GUEST,Dale 14 Oct 02 - 06:41 PM
Stewie 14 Oct 02 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,Dale 14 Oct 02 - 07:21 PM
BanjoRay 14 Oct 02 - 08:25 PM
Stewie 14 Oct 02 - 08:38 PM
greg stephens 15 Oct 02 - 06:53 AM
BanjoRay 15 Oct 02 - 07:22 AM
Stewie 15 Oct 02 - 07:21 PM
Jim Dixon 28 Mar 08 - 07:53 PM
Jim Dixon 06 Jun 13 - 10:49 PM
Genie 21 Apr 15 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 07 May 16 - 08:26 AM
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Subject: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Chet W.
Date: 12 Nov 98 - 08:33 PM

Does anyone have the lyrics to this song. I learned it from a stringband about two decades ago and I've forgotten all the words, except: Go tell my woman/Got to sleep in the folding bed/Riley's done been here/Took everything I had/ Riley's been here, took my furniture and gone.

Thanks, Chet W.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From:
Date: 12 Nov 98 - 09:11 PM

I have it on a recording by the Volo Bogtrotters made by now about ten years ago-- think the original was by the Cofer Brothers which I have somewhere bu7t that is harder to find. If nobody gets me off the hook I will transcribe it for you-- will watch this thread & see if somebody else posts the words first. Pete Peterson


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Dale Rose
Date: 12 Nov 98 - 10:23 PM

I have an old version somewhere, too, but don't remember it as being by the Cofer Brothers. So its location is strictly unknown at the moment.

Just made a preliminary search, no luck. Did turn up Furniture Man by Lil McClintock on Before The Blues, vol. 3 on Yazoo. (If there ever was a devil born without horns, it musta been a furniture man) Charlie Poole's It's Movin' Day is about the evil landlord, which is at least a related topic.

Kinda looks like two guys grabbing (or not grabbing) for the check, doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Dale Rose
Date: 12 Nov 98 - 10:59 PM

I found this at the extremely valuable Folk Music Index:

Riley, the Furniture Man
Rt - Keno, the Rent Man

1.Double Decker String Band. Giddyap Napoleon, Fretless FR 144, LP (1980), B.01
2.Georgia Crackers. Poor Man, Rich Man: American Country Songs of Protest, Rounder 1026, LP (198?), cut# 4

The Georgia Crackers version would be the one I have, so now I know what I am looking for.

Following the link to Keno, the Rent Man turned up:
Keno, the Rent Man
Rt - Riley, the Furniture Man

Rm - Leaving Home

1.Cofer Brothers. Goin' Up Town. Old Time String Bands, Vol. 2, Marimac 9111, Cas (198?), cut#B.10
2.New Lost City Ramblers. New Lost City Ramblers, Vol. 4, Folkways FA 2399, LP (1962), cut# 14

So now, you know where to look, too, Pete!


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Dale Rose
Date: 12 Nov 98 - 11:19 PM

OK, this does it for me, this link should take you to the old time music newsgroup discussion of the song, via Deja news. There you have stabs at the words by Paul Mitchell, Kerry Blech, and others. If that is the best they can do, I sure am not going to try to better them. They are far better researchers than I am!

This url is a whopper, with lots of & signs, sometimes they fail to work in a link. So I will put it down both with and without a link.

Riley the Furniture Man

http://x5.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=373864782&search=thread&threaded=1&CONTEXT=910929889.1488977962&HIT_CONTEXT=910929857.1489502221&HIT_NUM=17&hitnum=0


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Subject: Lyr Add: RILEY THE FURNITURE MAN
From: GUEST, WYSIWYG
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 10:46 AM

Here's the partial lyric from Dale's link above:

RILEY THE FURNITURE MAN
(Georgia Crackers, 1927)

Go and tell the [...]
Riley wagon been here, got everything I had.

Riley been there, got my furniture and gone!

Riley come to my house, and these are the words he said:
Told that "nig..." driver, take down that rollerfoot bed.

Makes no difference to the white man just what is [...] [...]
If you don't pay Mr. Riley, he'll take your furniture for sure.

Riley he was a white man and he lived on 16th Street
Every Saturday evening, Mr. Riley you could meet.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 12-Oct-02.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 11:03 AM

Hear a different song on the same theme:

FURNITURE MAN

Recording: Brunswick 2884

Date Issued: April 1925

Side: A

Title: Furniture Man

Artist: Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress

Recording Date: Unknown

~Susan


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 12:53 PM

I have this on tape, too.... I'll see if I can dig it out... used to do the song with Luke Faust, too many years ago to be sure of all the lyrics.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 01:11 PM

This brilliant song has always givn me huge problems. I'm pretty hostile to political correctness, but it seems to me unperformable in most company. The racism and use of the word nigger is inbuilt, it is the core of the song. yet it is a superb record, and very very funny. But the fact remains that the whole power of the song is the indignation of the singer that Riley, a white man, should send round a "nigger driver" to reposess the furniture. I can fully understand the sentiment in the context of the era it came from, but there's no way I could stand up on stage and sing it with the venom it requires, not even in a postmodern ironic way. Which is a great shame, because it's one of the best songs I've ever heard. And you cant clean it up, because that removes the whole point of the song.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 02:01 PM

Good point, Greg. When we sung it, just horsing around (but never performed it)we changed the words enough to undoubtedly change the whole character of the song. Somehow, I never thought the focus was on the colored driver... I saw it more as a song about somebody who'd hit on hard times... much like Moving Day, as someone else mentioned. I do sing and perform Morning Blues, changing the line "Makes a nig... lips go flippity flop" to "Makes my lips go flippity flop" The whole song is in the first person, anyway. I would never sing the "n" word, and perhaps changing a couple of lines does change the character of the song, but sometimes it can have a different life, and still be fun to sing.

Now of course, being a songwriter, if you change any words in my songs, kiss your kneecaps goodbye. Just kidding... :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 02:01 PM

I would just write some new verses about the shock of the Repo Man coming, and do it, actually. Cuz I think that IS actually the point of the song. It's not so different from Steve Goodman's Lincoln Park Pirates, in that regard; it's about the relentless pursuit of misparked cars by the avaricious head of that gang.

So, who the heck do I think I am to change the lyric? Po' folks know what po' folks know, and this is a po' folks song. I been that po', I get to use that song how I see fit. Ain't nobody's bidness.

I've invited Steve Rosen of the Volo Bogtrotters to come have a word with us, BTW. He's awful busy but you never know.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 06:26 PM

Steve from the VoloBogtrotters writes....

I have heard so many different versions of this great song, with varying degrees of political incorrectness. Our version seems to be somewhat sanitized for your protection, but I'm not exactly sure where Fred got this version, and not sure if he cleaned it up or heard this it that way. Seeing as there are no race issues in our version, I have to say it stands up on it's own, just talking about haves and have-nots. Either way, it's a fun song to sing and play. For what it's worth, we did it on the CD in D, but in the last years moved it to C where it is growly and funkier.

I'm not even sure what list I'm replying to or who's on it, or if I'll ever see it again, but hello to anyone I know! My website for now.... http://NailThatCatfish.tripod.com


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 06:35 PM

LOL! Thanks, Steve!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: BanjoRay
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 07:25 PM

I've heard a version that refers to a "redneck driver" - any better?

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: Lyr Add: RILEY THE FURNITURE MAN
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 07:54 PM

Here is Mark Wilson's transcription of the Georgia Crackers' version from the booklet of his 'Rich Man Poor Man: American Country Songs of Protest' Rounder LP 1026:

RILEY THE FURNITURE MAN

Goin' down to that loan man, ought to be bad
Riley's wagon been here, got everything I had

Refrain:
Riley's been here, got my furniture and gone

Riley comes to my house, these are the words he said
Told that nigger driver, take down that rosewood bed

Makes no difference to the white man, white as a crystal snow
If you don't pay Mr Riley, he'll take your furniture sho'

Riley, he was a white man, he lived on sixteenth street
Every Saturday evening, Mr Riley you would meet

[Repeat stanzas 2 through 4]

The Cofer Brothers' 1929 recording 'Keno, The Rent Man' is reissued on Various Artists 'Georgia Stringbands Vol 1' Document DOCD-8021.

--Stewie.



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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 09:40 PM

A reissue of the Cofer Brothers' 'Keno, the Rent Man', in better sound than on the Document, can be found on Various Artists 'Hard Times Come Again No More Vol 2' Yazoo CD 2037.

The Georgia Crackers 'Riley the Furniture Man' has been reissued on CD: Various Artists 'Times Aint Like They Used To Be Vol 2' Yazoo CD 2029.

For the purposes of comparison, I have posted the lyrics to Lil McClintock's 'Furniture Man' in a new thread: HERE

--Stewie.


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Subject: Lyr Add: KENO, THE RENT MAN
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 10:22 PM

KENO, THE RENT MAN

[Spoken:
Boy, I'm sore today.
What in the heck you sore about?
Oh, Keno, the rent man, he's as mean as he can be]

Keno, that rent man
Mean as he can be
Well, thrown my bed out in the street
Then he threw ol' me
Keno, mean as he can be

He throwed my trunk out in the yard
He kicked off the end of my nose
Well, he hit me in the head with a washboard
And tore out the back of my clothes
Keno, mean as he can be

I went to run and he tripped me
Stamped on the back of my head
Well he held me down in the mud hole
'til I thought that I was dead
Keno, mean as he can be

Makes no difference if you're a white man
As white as crystal snow
If you don't pay that rent man
He'll throw you out the door
Keno, mean as he can be

If you are a renter,
Take heed to what I say
If you see that rent man comin'
Better make your getaway
Keno, mean as he can be

Source: transcription of Cofer Brothers [Paul and Leon] 'Keno, The Rent Man' recorded 13 March 1929 in Atlanta Georgia and issued as OK 45485 ca October 1930. Reissued on Various Artists 'Hard Times Come Again No More Vol 2' Yazoo CD 2037.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ - Riley the Furniture Man
From: nickp
Date: 07 Oct 02 - 05:11 AM

Stewie

Frank Lee (ex-Freighthoppers) sings the Georgia Crackers version with 'that old van driver' instead of 'nigger driver'. He also sings something slightly different for the first line instead of 'ought to be bad' but I can't quite make it out from my bootleg! Otherwise it's almost word for word. He introduces it as from the Crackers.

Nick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST,Susan
Date: 10 Oct 02 - 10:02 AM

I am impressed with all the interest in the song. Paul Cofer was my grandfather. Though he lived with us in the late 60's until his death in 1967, I never heard him play this. Until recently, I did not know that anyone had published recordings and now lyrics. Someone mentioned the word "nigger". I cannot recall him saying that around me, but when the music was written and recorded, that was a common term and at that time, I doubt if anyone knew about "politically correct". Since many of you have lyrics and recordings of the Cofer Brothers and Georgia Crackers, do you also have copies of the hymnals Paul and his father P.A. Cofer wrote before 1921? Thank you, all of you who wrote in about his music, you have made me smile and get teary-eyed.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Oct 02 - 10:20 AM

Hi, Susan, thanks so much for posting about this. You might want to post a new thread asking about the hymnals; a lot of us around here have and love the old hymnals, and may not see this post. A thread title like "Cofer Hymnals, pre-1921" would work well.

I'm personally interested in more information about these since I lead a weekly oldtime gospel service in our church.

I hope you will join Mudcat so people can send you private messages through the site. You can also set a Tracer on threads you want to watch, as a member, so that whenever you come back to visit it's easy to find the threads you were watching.

A good way to keep track of these threads if you do not join is just to bookmark them in your browser.

~Also Susan


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Subject: Lyr Add: FURNITURE MAN (from Chitwood & Landress)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Oct 02 - 12:11 PM

That song that WYSIWYG linked to, although it's not the song requested, is also a good song that deserves to be revived. I had some trouble transcribing a few phrases, though. I'd appreciate it if someone would help me out and supply the missing word(s) wherever there is an ellipsis (...) below.

Transcribed from the RealAudio file found at Honking Duck (Click to play.)

FURNITURE MAN
(As recorded by Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress, c1925)

I came to tell my hard-luck tale about my home.
All ... in this great land to have troubles of their own.
I thought I'd order me a ... and I thought the furniture'd last fine.
I had two dollars a week to pay and the rest I got on time.

CHORUS: Well, I'd like to know what kind o' show
Has any man got with that furniture man.
You got no dough, you don't stand no show
'Til you ... back a grand.
He'll take away your earthly goods
From a bed to a frying pan.
If the devil's ever born without any horns,
It is that furniture man.

Oh, Melinda King, she began to sing about my Dolly Gray.
It was just then that those furniture men they carried my things away.
You played on my piano, and you danced upon my floor.
What had one time been a ... paradise is now a broken home.

I thought I'd order me a lot of things to go right to my door.
And when I went to order them, you bet I got a load.
I got a big piano, some curtains and things. I got some bric-a-brac.
I had two dollars to pay or else he'd take them back.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: BanjoRay
Date: 12 Oct 02 - 08:05 PM

Well I've just had a good intensive listen, and I get the following slight differences:
Verse 1:
I hate to tell my hard luck tale (there's a bit missing here)about my home
All these coons (or goons?) in this great land
I thought I'd order me a lovely flat

Verse 2:
what I'd once considered just paradise

Verse 3 I had two dollars a week to pay

I couln't get the unknown in the chorus at all, except I don't think grand comes into it - would have been an absurdly immense bribe in 1925 - I think its (somethimg) back again.

I hope this helps a bit!
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: Stewie
Date: 12 Oct 02 - 09:24 PM

Hi Jim and Ray, we will need several pairs of ears to nail this one down. Hopefully, Dale might turn up - Georgia Crackers, Chitwood and Landress are among his favourites. There is a quieter recording to listen to - click on "Furniture Man" on this page: HERE

Here are my suggestions:

Stanza 1, line 1
'I hate to tell my hard-luck tale or either talk about my home'

Stanza 1, line 2
This is the real stinker. What I hear is:
'All needs doin' in this strange land, they have troubles of their own'

It makes some sense with 'all' meaning 'everyone' and 'needs doin'' meaning 'has something that needs to be done'.

Stanza 1, line 3
Sounds to me something like:
'I thought I'd order me a lover's lap and I thought the furniture'd last fine'

'Lover's lap' was what I first heard, but now I'm not so sure. Whatever, it is probably a piece of furniture of some kind.

Chorus, line 4:
'Till your house fills back of van'

Stanza 2, line 4:
'What was once considered a paradise is now a broken home'

Stanza 3, line 4:
'I had 2 dollars a week to pay or else he'd take them back'

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: BanjoRay
Date: 13 Oct 02 - 09:27 AM

I think the technique is to listen to the tune while reading a version and catch the differences.
Having heard the new version you provided, Stewie, I think I'm hearing "All these goons in this great land" quite clearly now, and I'm happier with "lovely flat" even though it doesn't sound very American - I suppose "beautiful apartment" wouldn't scan so well.
"Till your house fills back of van" still sounds wrong, unfortunately. I'm struggling between two nonsensical translations - "till your house key's back upstairs" and "till your house heels lack a bear". I think you're smack on with the rest of your alterations, though.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 13 Oct 02 - 11:09 AM

Well, I did not notice Stewie's link to the other recording at first ~~ careless reading. It is a LOT clearer, and is what people ought to listen to while trying to figure things out.   I was hearing lover's lamp where Stewie thought it was lover's lap, but after hearing the cleaner recording, I am pretty sure that it is lovely flat. I hear BanjoRay's goons.   Most of the rest of the thorny spots I have not had time to work on, maybe tonight.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: Stewie
Date: 13 Oct 02 - 07:51 PM

Hi Ray and Dale,

I hear 'All these goons' clearly now, but I hear 'strange' rather than 'great'.

'Lovely flat' sounds right now. Like Ray, I had doubts about it because 'flat' seemed a non-American term to me, but that is perhaps a delusion of mine - it is widespread in Oz though.

The mysterious line in the chorus could be ending with 'bare'. I heard that before seeing your 'bear', Ray, so we are both hearing that sound:

'Till your house feels/stands ?? and bare'. Could be 'black and bare', but why would the place be 'black' when emptied of furniture? Unless he's projecting his mood on to it, but that's a long bow.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 02:38 AM

Mah Lindy Jane she began to sing Good-bye, Dolly Gray

I am pretty sure of this, though it really sound more like Bye Bye, rather than the correct song title Good-bye, Dolly Gray, by Will D. Cobb & Paul Barnes, from about 1897.

Can't help on the "bare" problem. Still pretty much mumble, mumble, though it does seem to refer in some way to a house that is bare.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 06:41 PM

'Til your house or your back are bare.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: Stewie
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 07:10 PM

Well done, Guest and Dale. It is amazing how much clearer it becomes when someone works out what it is!

My remaining queries are:

I think it is much more likely to be 'coons' than 'goons'.

I still hear 'strange land' rather than 'great land'.

I am not completely happy about the second part of stanza 3, line 1 - 'go right to my door' - but I don't know what else it could be. The last word sounds more like 'soul' than 'door' to me.

What do reckon?

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 07:21 PM

I was the "Guest" too. Just sometimes get sloppy with remembering to put my name in.

Yes, coons is perhaps more logical, but goons is still what I hear. Never thought about soul. I will give that a listen.

Isn't it amazing sometimes how you can be positive that the lyrics are a certain way, and when someone suggests another version, you immediately slap yourself up aside the head and say, "Why couldn't I hear that?" (Of course, that doesn't necessarily make it right, just that you hear something other than what you first thought it was.)

Many years ago, I had a well loved (and well worn) 78 of Smoke On The Water by Bob Wills.   I always swore that in one place Bob was saying "God Dammit".   My mom insisted she heard "Oh, shit"   Years later I heard a better copy, and decided he was saying "Ah, yes" ~~ or some such.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: BanjoRay
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 08:25 PM

I agree with "strange land" - sounds quite plain now. I think "go right to my door" is right after much effort trying to hear "go right through my door". I see what you mean about "soul". When did goons first appear as a word? I know they featured in early Popeye cartoons during the war.
This is fun.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: Stewie
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 08:38 PM

Ray, I found the following HERE


The original meaning of "goon," however, had nothing to do with unions. "Goon" first appeared around 1921 meaning "a dull or stupid person, an oaf," most likely derived from the English dialect word "gooney," meaning "simpleton." The use of "goon" to mean "a stupid person" got a big boost from the appearance in 1933 of a character named "Alice the Goon" in the popular "Thimble Theater" (a/k/a "Popeye") comic strip.

The use of "goon" to mean "hired thug" probably derived from this "idiot" sense, but another theory (proposed by Hugh Rawson in his excellent book "Wicked Words") traces it to the Hindi word "gunda," meaning "hired tough," apparently often spelled "goondah" in British newspapers of the 1920s.



--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 06:53 AM

Suggest the chorus line discussed earlier is "feels bleak and bare"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: BanjoRay
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 07:22 AM

Maybe "black and bare", Greg but I don't think "bleak" - but I have a persistant feeling that the "bare" word should be one that rhymes with "man" and "pan" in American.
Ray


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Subject: Lyr Add: FURNITURE MAN
From: Stewie
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 07:21 PM

I agree with Ray - I can't hear 'bleak'. I also have the feeling that, given the structure of the chorus and the context of the McClintock chorus, the word should rhyme with 'man' and 'pan', but after numerous listenings and fiddling with equalisers 'bare' sounds closer.

Dale emailed me a copy with corrections that we have all arrived at. I will post it below with the two remaining problematical areas highlighted. As you say, Ray, it has been fun, but I doubt whether we will get much farther. Dale pointed out in a note that 'it 'tis' is sung rather than 'it is', and I have corrected the copy to reflect this. I have added to Dale's note accurate discographical information from Meade, Spottswood and Meade 'Country Music Sources'.

FURNITURE MAN

I hate to tell my hard-luck tale or either talk about my home
All these goons in this strange land they have troubles of their own
I thought I'd order me a lovely flat and I thought the furniture'd last fine
I had two dollars a week to pay and the rest I got on time

CHORUS:
Well, I'd like to know what kind o' show
Has any man got with that furniture man
(You) got no dough, you don't stand no show
'Til your house [or your back are bare]
He'll take away your earthly goods
From a bed to a frying pan
If the devil's ever born without any horns,
It 'tis that furniture man

Oh, mah Lindy Jane she began to sing 'Bye-bye, Dolly Gray'
It was just then that those furniture men they carried my things away
You played on my piano, and you danced upon my floor
What was once considered a paradise is now a broken home

Chorus

I thought I'd order me lots of things [to go right to my door]
And when I went to order them, you bet I got a load
I got a big piano, some curtains and things, I got some bric-a-brac
I had 2 dollars a week to pay or else he'd take them back

Chorus

Note: (You) in the chorus is used just once. 'Bye-bye, Dolly Gray' really should be 'Good-bye, Dolly Gray', but that is not what he is singing.

As recorded by Bill Chitwood and Bud Landress on 21 November 1924 in New York City and released in July 1925 as Brunswick 2884.

--Stewie.


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Subject: Lyr Add: FURNITURE MAN BLUES (Victoria Spivey)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 07:53 PM

Another variation on the furniture man theme. Here's my transcription from the sound files at RedHotJazz.com:

FURNITURE MAN BLUES
(Spencer Williams, Victoria Spivey)
(Recorded Oct 18, 1928; Okeh 8652)

[Part 1: Click to play.]

[KNOCKING SOUND]
[SPOKEN:]
[FEMALE VOICE:] Who is that?
[MALE VOICE:] Furniture man.
[F:] Oh. Aw, shaw, I ain't got no money today.

[SUNG:]
1. [F:] Furniture man, please don't take my furniture away.
[M:] I got to take it. I ain't going to let it stay.
[F:] I'm a hard-workin' woman. [M:] Yes, but you don't seem to get much pay.

2. [F:] Don't be so mean. Give a poor girl a little time.
[M:] You done had your time, and now it is a crime.
[F:] But I'm a good-lovin' mama. [M:] But you ain't got a single dime.

3. [F:] Furniture man, don't move my lovin' foldin' bed.
[M:] I'm goin' to move it or lose my job instead.
[F:] That's where I gets my pleasure. [M:] Oh, no, that's where you rest your head.

4. [F:] Furniture man, let me have another week to pay.
[M:] I said, no, hot mama, I must have some dough today.
[F:] Well, my man will bring some money. [M:] Well, he better bring it right away.

5. [F:] Leave my stove 'cause it's getting too doggone cold.
[M:] I got to haul your ashes before they get too old.
[F:] Oh, please remove that clinker. [M:] Then it will be red hot, I'm told.

[Part 2: Click to play.]

6. [F:] Furniture man, won't you call around here after dark?
[M:] If I call 'round, mama, will you let me park?
[F:] Yes, and we'll do some business. [M:] I'm out until four o'clock.

7. [F:] If you will agree, I know how we can get it fixed.
[M:] Gal, stop temptin' me. I will get all o' my days …(?)
[F:] Let's get together. [M:] I'm onto all of your tricks.

8. [F:] When I get through, you'll cancel every debt I owe.
[M:] And when I get you, mama, we will do so-and-so.
[F:] Well, then, make me know it. [M:] Well, come on, honey, baby, let's go.

9. [F:] Come into my parlor, furniture man, and close the door.
[M:] Baby I can't stand it. You will get me nervous, I'm sure.
[F:] I got something for you. [M:] Why ain't you said that long before?

10. [F:] Furniture man, say you'll give me just another chance?
[M:] You can have some money, mama. Just take it in advance.
[F:] Now you talkin', daddy. [M:] That's it, mama, right over in my pants.


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Subject: Lyr Add: FURNITURE MAN (from Georgia White)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 10:49 PM

FURNITURE MAN
As sung by Georgia White, 1939

Furniture man, please don't take my furniture 'way. (2x)
I'm a hard-workin' woman an' I don't get much pay.

Furniture man, I'm just crazy 'bout my foldin' bed. (2x)
Lord, that's my only pleasure; that's where I rest my head.

Installment plan, you only pay a few dollars down. (2x)
A dollar when they catch you, but you are seldom found.

Look what I see; here come that doggone movin' van. (2x)
I know what will happen if I don't pay that man.

Furniture man, don't take my cozy Morris chair. (2x)
That's where me and my daddy have our love affair.

Furniture man, let me have another week to pay. (2x)
My man will bring some money to me on the next payday.


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Subject: Lyric Add: Riley the Furniture Man
From: Genie
Date: 21 Apr 15 - 03:57 PM

These lyrics are 'cleaned up' a little from the 1927 version, but they work and they may be what most old timey folks sing today:

Riley The Furniture Man

When I was a poor boy, oh so sad,
That Riley from Virginia took Everything I had

Riley's been here, got my furniture and gone!

Now it makes no difference to a rich man with all his fancy clothes;
if you don't pay Mr. Riley you got no place to go.

Riley's been here, got my furniture and gone!

Riley come to my house and these are the words he said:
"Throw that cracker driver out and load that poster bed."

Riley's been here, got my furniture and gone!

Now Riley, he's a rich man off poor folks like me.
Every Sunday morning Riley gives to charity.

-------------



This book also has the chords and music in PDF format along with the lyrics.
Riley's been here, got my furniture and gone!


Riley The Furniture Man (Crisfield Banjo Retreat Book)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riley the Furniture Man
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 May 16 - 08:26 AM

The Cofers likely learned this song from black musicians. It has the basic couplet-verse-followed-by-single-line-refrain form (a la "Delia," "Boll Weevil," "Frankie And Albert," "Railroad Bill," "McKinley," "The Carrier Line," "The McKenzie Case," "Hop Joint," "Stack O'Lee," etc.) that was far more popular with black musicians than white musicians.

When Peg Leg Howell (who was black) sang "Put up over there, nigger!" and "Soon as I reached old Georgia, the niggers carried a handcuff to me" in "Skin Game Blues" in 1927, for instance, that had nothing to with anyone trying to create a "racist" lyric, it was descriptive of characters in the song. Similarly with Lil McClintock (who was black) singing "she's the swellest coon in town" in 1930, in _his_ "Furniture Man," which was related to the lines about the furniture man in "Cocaine Blues" by Luke Jordan (who was black), who recorded "Traveling Coon" in 1927. Earl McDonald (who was black) mentioned "swellest coon in town," but describing himself, in "She's In The Graveyard Now" in 1927. Maybe he was trying to offend himself.


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