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Origins: Empty Pocket Blues (Hays, Seeger, others)

24 Jul 00 - 11:03 AM (#263516)
Subject: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Fortunato

Am I missing a verse or verses to this Brownie McGee song?

EMPTY POCKET BLUES
I never had a pocket full of money
Never had a big Cadillac
All I every had was you, babe
Now, you know that's a fact

Chorus
I've got the blues…
The empty pocket blues
I've got the blues…
The empty pocket blues

Some people got barrels full of money
Oceans of ruby red rings
They ain't got a girl like mine
And they don't know how to sing

Don't put your money in a barrel
Don't waste it on ruby red rings
Give it all to your own little girl
She'll fix your dinner while you sing

Thanks, Fortunato


24 Jul 00 - 11:07 AM (#263520)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Mike Regenstreif

"Empty Pocket Blues" was written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger.

Mike Regenstreif


24 Jul 00 - 11:12 AM (#263525)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Rick Fielding

And the song that showed me how to play a "diminished" chord. I think Pete's version used a slightly shorter text Fort. Perhaps Brownie added stuff.

Rick


24 Jul 00 - 11:12 AM (#263526)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Fortunato

Thanks, Mike. I should have said, " song I learned from" Do you know where I can find the lyrics?


24 Jul 00 - 11:14 AM (#263528)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Fortunato

Oh ho. Brownie, as I remember it 30 years back, used no diminished. Where did it go, Rick?


24 Jul 00 - 11:23 AM (#263537)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Mike Regenstreif

Unfortunately, none of the three recordings* I have of "Empty Pocket Blues" have the lyrics included and I don't have the time to sit and transcribe them. Maybe later, if no one comes up with them.

*Pete Seeger on "Darling Corey & Goofing Off Suite," Ronnie Gilbert on "Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger" and Odetta on "Living with the Blues."

Mike Regenstreif


26 Sep 01 - 01:35 AM (#558991)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Pene Azul

This was requested in another thread. Anyone have complete lyrics?

Jeff


26 Sep 01 - 06:41 PM (#559426)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues
From: Joe_F

The first stanza goes (IIRC):

I never had a barrel of money,
I never had a ruby-red ring,
All I ever got was you, babe,
To sit and listen to me sing.


26 Sep 01 - 09:15 PM (#559531)
Subject: Lyr Add: EMPTY POCKETS BLUES (L Hays, P Seeger)
From: Nancy King

Hi Chance --

Way back in the Olden Days when I was in college I transcribed this song from "The Weavers At Home," sung by Fred Hellerman, I think maybe. [Pete Seeger, actually.--JoeClone.] Here's how The Weavers did it:


EMPTY POCKETS BLUES

I never had a pocket full of money.
I never had a ruby-red ring.
All I ever had was you, babe,
To sit and listen to me sing.
I've got those blues, the empty pockets blues.

I never had a barrel of money.
I never had a big Cadillac.
All I ever had was you, babe,
And that's a fact.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

Money, money, money,
When will I make the grade?
I'm so broke that a dollar bill
Looks big as a window shade.

Some people got barrels of money,
And bushels of ruby red rings,
But they ain't got a little girl like mine,
And they don't know how to sing.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

Now some say the blues are sorrowful;
Some say the blues are sad;
But when I sing the blues to you,
They come out feeling glad.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

Now, don't put your money in a barrel.
Don't waste it on a ruby-red ring.
Give it all to your own little girl
To fix you dinner while you sing.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

Oh, money, money, money, money,
When will I make the grade?
I'm so broke that a dollar bill
Looks big as a window shade.

Now, some people got barrels of money.
They got bushels of ruby-red rings,
But they ain't got a little girl like mine,
And they don't know how to sing.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.


Cheers, Nancy


05 Dec 03 - 06:50 PM (#1066373)
Subject: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: GUEST,Fifer

Can anybody help with the lyrics I half remember from an old Pete Seeger album in the 60s. If I remember rightly the first line was as follows...Never had a barrel of money, never had a ruby red ring,
All I ever had, was a girl like you, to sit and listen while I sing,
"I've got the blues, the empty pocket blues"


05 Dec 03 - 07:27 PM (#1066401)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: The Borchester Echo

Well, there's Empty Pocket Blues by Clive Palmer and Teapot Blues by Wizz Jones. Both adapted a tune by Brian Kennedy with whom they were sharing a house in about 1960. I think there are still ongoing arguments about who nicked what from whom.    The point is that both (rather similar) songs were based on a neat C-A flat progression.

I haven't heard a Pete Seeger version so I have no idea if either (or both) of these was his source. A recording of the Clive Palmer's Empty Pocket Blues appeared on the first Incredible String Band album in 1966 but Wizz's Teapot Blues had to await the extended re-release of his album with Pete Stanley, 16 Tons of Bluegrass, a couple of years ago because much earlier plans for its release as a single were abandoned by the record company.


05 Dec 03 - 07:52 PM (#1066427)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: Steve-o

I think you've quite correctly remembered exactly half of it- that's the only verse, and he sings it twice. It's fingerpicked in the key of A, with a guitar break interlude preceding and following verses. There is also a sort of "bridge" that goes between where he sings "Money, money, money....when will I ever have some?"....and then sort of hums the remaining melody. It's a great one.


05 Dec 03 - 08:10 PM (#1066446)
Subject: Lyr Add: EMPTY POCKET BLUES (from The Weavers)
From: Nancy King

I haven't sung this in 35 years or so, but it's still in my song notebook, with the notation "from 'The Weavers at Home'." I expect I transcribed the words from the record. Very well could have been Pete singing the lead; I don't have the record so I can't check. Anyhow, here are the words as I have them:


EMPTY POCKETS BLUES

1. I never had a pocket full of money,
I never had a ruby red ring;
All I ever had was you, babe,
To sit and listen to me sing.
I've got those blues, the empty pockets blues.

2. I never had a barrel of money,
I never had a big Cadillac;
All I ever had was you, babe,
And that's a fact.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

CHORUS: Money, money, money,
When will I make the grade?
I'm so broke that a dollar bill
Looks big as a window shade.

3. Some people got barrels of money--
And bushels of ruby red rings;
But they ain't got a little girl like mine,
And they don't know how to sing.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

4. Now, some say the blues are sorrowful,
Some say the blues are sad;
But when I sing the blues to you,
I come out feelin' glad.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues.

5. Now, don't put your money in a barrel,
Don't waste it on a ruby red ring;
Give it all to your own little girl
To fix you dinner while you sing.
I've got the blues, the empty pockets blues. CHORUS

REPEAT VERSE 3; REPEAT LAST LINE


Enjoy,
Nancy


05 Dec 03 - 08:12 PM (#1066448)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: DADGBE

Well, Here are my lyrics. Always loved that song but I've been singing it so long that I'll bet the words have been unwittingly folk processed. I've also heard a recording of Pete singing this as "The barrel of Money Blues" with that lyric for the last line of the two-line segment. Hope this helps.

I never had a barrel of money,
I never had a ruby red ring,
All I ever had was you, Babe,
To sit and listen to me sing.

I never had a barrel of money,
I never had a big Cadillac,
All I ever had was you, Babe,
And that's a fact.

    I've got the blues,
    The empty pocket blues

       Money, money, money,
       When will I make the grade?
       I'm so broke that a dollar bill,
       Looks big as a window shade.

Some people got barrels of money,
And bushels of ruby red rings,
But they don't have a little girl like mine,
And they don't know how to sing.

    I've got the blues,
    The empty pocket blues.

So don't put your money in a barrel,
Don't waste it on no ruby red ring,
Give it all to your own little girl,
To fix your dinner while you sing.*

    Ive got the blues,
    The empty pockets blues.


*I've changed this line to:
"Sit around a lot and sing."


05 Dec 03 - 08:13 PM (#1066451)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: Stewie

Meade et alia reference a recording Of a blues of this title by Emry Arthur on 30 August 1928 - an ealrier 19 July recording was unissued - Vocalion 5264. They note, however, that it is NOT the blues of the same title printed in Jerry Silverman 'Folk Song Encyclopedia II' Chappell Music Co 1975 p 52. I don't have a copy of Silverman's book, but it may have what you want.

--Stewie.


05 Dec 03 - 08:14 PM (#1066452)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: DADGBE

Nancy,

Thanks for the needed corrections!


05 Dec 03 - 08:18 PM (#1066453)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: Stewie

Looks like Nancy and DADGBE came up with the goods whilst I was typing.

--Stewie.


05 Dec 03 - 08:22 PM (#1066456)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: GUEST,Fifer

A BIG thanks to you all! Isn't mudcat fantastic!I sang bits of this to one of the guys I play along with, and he said "you must try to get the rest of the words!" job done! Thank you all


05 Dec 03 - 11:43 PM (#1066519)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: Nancy King

You're welcome! Glad to be of help. The more I think about it, the more I think it might have been Fred Hellerman singing it on 'The Weavers at Home.' Great song, whoever it was!

Cheers, Nancy


07 Dec 03 - 01:34 PM (#1067320)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: empty pocket blues by pete seeger
From: Jim Dixon

There was another thread about the Seeger/Hays song: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues

The following seems to be a different song, but it may be of interest to somebody. Transcribed from a sound sample:
    EMPTY POCKET BLUES
    As sung by Joe Turner, a.k.a. Big Joe Turner, 1946 or '47.

    ...ever'thing was goin' all right.
    Yes, I used to be lucky. Ever'thing was goin' all right.
    But bad luck overtaken me. Jack, I really got the blues tonight.

    Ever'body's cryin' "Mercy!" -- Tell me what mercy means....
I also found these interesting titles:

Empty Apartment Blues
Empty Arms Blues
Empty Ballroom Blues
Empty Band Blues
Empty Bed Blues
Empty Bed Room Blues
Empty Bottle Blues
Empty Cellar Blues
Empty Club Blues
Empty House Blues
Empty Penthouse Blues
Empty Pocket Broken Hearted Blues
Empty Room Blues
Empty Stocking Blues


30 Jun 13 - 01:55 AM (#3531972)
Subject: Lyr Add: EMPTY POCKET BLUES (Incredible String Ban
From: PHJim

The Incredible String Band on their first album in 1966 had another song with the same title:


EMPTY POCKET BLUES

My pocket's empty, baby
Singin' the blues for you
My pocket's empty, baby
You know I loved you true
Even my old kettle
Is whistlin' the blues for you

Back again
I'm still waitin'
Back again
With you

The nights are lonely, baby
I need you all the time
I'm lonely, baby
Need your lips on mine
Even my old kettle
Is whistlin' the blues for you

Back again
I'm still waitin'
Back again
With you

My pocket's empty, baby
Just singin' them blues for you
My pocket's empty, baby
You know I loved you true
Even my old kettle
Is whistlin' the blues for you

Back again
I'm still waitin'
To go back again
With you


04 Jul 13 - 08:20 AM (#3533664)
Subject: Lyr Add: EMPTY POCKET BLUES (Big Joe Turner)
From: Jim Dixon

Maybe the only thing this song has in common with the others is the title, but I think it's worth the trouble of posting this here anyway. My transcription from Spotify:


EMPTY POCKET BLUES
As sung by Big Joe Turner (as "Joe Turner and His Band"), 1947.

I ain't gon' tell nobody—way I feel this mornin'.
I ain't gon' tell nobody—way I feel this mornin'.
I had to pawn my clothes to pay my rent this mornin'.

Well, I used to be lucky; ever'thing was goin' all right.
Yes, I used to be lucky; ever'thing was goin' all right.
But bad luck overtaken me, and, Jack, I really got the blues tonight.

Ever'body's cryin' mercy; tell me what mercy means.
Ever'body's cryin' mercy; tell me what mercy means.
And if it'll do me any good, Lord, have mercy on poor me.

When I's up on my feet, I couldn't walk down the street
For the women lookin' at me from my head to my feet.
Oh, now, I got them empty pocket blues,
Oh, and I'm really worried; I don't know what 'n the world I'm gonna do.

Yeah, baby, me and my friends goin' down in Forelock(?) town.
Yeah, an' I got some money; all my friends were hangin' around.
Now I ain't got no money; my friends cannot be found.
They stopped hangin' around.


24 Nov 14 - 12:28 AM (#3679460)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues (Lee Hays, Pete Seeger
From: PHJim

Hearing about Clive Palmer's passing led me to this thread. Does anyone have the correct lyrics to his Empty Pockets Blues?


24 Nov 14 - 12:37 AM (#3679461)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues (Lee Hays, Pete Seeger
From: PHJim

Here's how I recall them:

My pocket's empty Baby,
Singing these blues for you.
My pocket's empty Baby,
You know I love you true.
Even my old kettle is whistlin' the blues for you.
Back again, I'm still (wailin'/waitin')
Back again with you.


I'm pretty sure there was another verse as well.


24 Nov 14 - 05:23 AM (#3679497)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues (Lee Hays, Pete Seeger
From: MoorleyMan

Here ye go, PHJun.

Empty Pocket Blues
By Clive Palmer


My pocket's empty baby, singing the blues for you.
My pocket's empty baby, you know I loved you true.
Even my old kettle is whistling the blues for you...

Back again, I'm still willing, (to go)
Back again, with you...

The nights are lonely baby, I need you all the time.
I'm lonely baby, need your lips on mine.
Even my old kettle is whistling the blues for you...


See OBIT thread - Clive has just passed away, that's really sad - and what a tragic coincidence too.
My pocket's gettin' emptier every day... RIP Clive, a true gentleman.


24 Nov 14 - 05:21 PM (#3679686)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Empty Pocket Blues (Lee Hays, Pete Seeger
From: PHJim

Many thanks MoorelyMan.

I've been singing this song for 35 years and now I can sing it (for the first time) with the correct lyrics in remembrance of Clive.


26 Sep 20 - 01:00 PM (#4073204)
Subject: RE: Origins: Empty Pocket Blues (Hays, Seeger, others)
From: voyager

Stumbled on the ISB version today (lovely) -
Empty Pocket Blues - Incredible String Band (live)

voyager