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Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues

23 Oct 06 - 12:22 PM (#1866555)
Subject: LRY/ORIGIN: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,Richie

Hi,

I've been trying to transcribe "Bay Rum Blues." This is a great song with some brilliant harmonica by Foster. There are multiple references to a "railer's chain." Anyone know what that is?

Anyone know who wrote this? Some of the lyrics are traditional and are found in Salty Dog. Other versions?

Corrections are welcome.


Bay Rum Blues
Gwen Foster and Clarence Ashley
On j15081 Ashley and Foster

(Harmonica)

Well I learned to get stoned
Started drinking bay rum.
First thing I know the police grab my arm and says,
"Come on boy you're jailhouse bound."

(Guitar break) (Harp break)

Well hello buddy I know you,
Turned over slipper, run down shoe
You're on your way to the railer's chain. (Harp break)

Well I drunk one bottle didn't mean no harm
Next thing I know the police grab my arm and says,
"Come on boy you're jailhouse bound." (Spoken: Second offense)

(Guitar break) (Harp break)

Now some people says they runs a good tonic
My buddy says, "It's good for your stomach."
He's on his way to the railer's chain. (Harp break)

Well election night I went uptown
Them bay rum hounds, hanging around
Pretty close to the railer's chain.

Roosevelt was wet and Hoover was dry
Give me Bay Rum and let Hoover buy.
I'm on my way to the railer's chain.

Richie


23 Oct 06 - 12:28 PM (#1866560)
Subject: RE: LRY/ORIGIN: Bay Rum Blues
From: Jerry Rasmussen

Funny: I know a different Bay Rum Blues. I learned it from a tape many years ago that I received from Ed Denson, with no list of who the performers were. As it's a different song, I won't try to dredge up all the lyrics here.

"Some say that Bay Rum is good for a tonic
But take it from me, it's best for your stomach"

Jerry


23 Oct 06 - 01:03 PM (#1866580)
Subject: RE: LRY/ORIGIN: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,Richie

Jerry,

They may be different versions of the same song. At least the lyrics you posted are the same as 4th verse.

Does anyone know if the the term "railer's chain" relate to the blues slang word "Stavin' chain"?

Richie


23 Oct 06 - 03:29 PM (#1866679)
Subject: Lyr/Chords Add: BAY RUM BLUES (McCarn & Long)
From: 12-stringer

The other BRB is the one by Dave (McCarn) and Howard (Long), recorded 19 May 1931 in Charlotte, NC, and issued on Victor 23566. It's much the slicker of the two songs, though the harmonica work isn't as sophisticated as Gwyn Foster's. I never had the record but learned recently that the Holy Modal Rounders covered McCarn's version in the 60s.

[C]I've got the Bay Rum Blues, I've had them times before. [C7]
[F]I've got the Bay Rum Blues, I'm longing for the ten-cent [C]store.
[G7]Any old time I can rake up a dime, I'm going back to get some [C]more.
I got the Bay [G7] Rum [C] Blues (this line has a yodel effect)
[F]And when I get in jail there's no one to come
[C]And bring me a bottle of old bay rum
There's no use trying for I can't [A7] lose
Them [D7] long-gone [G7]Bay Rum [C]Blues.

[I think the original does a repeat of "I got the Bay Rum Blues" after each chorus but can't confirm it with a broken turntable! There's one in my version and I don't think I contributed it myself.)

Some call it Bay Rum and some call it Bay Hoss
Some get a dozen bottles, and some get it by the gross.
But when I drink a dime bottle, I foam at the mouth like a horse.
I got the Bay Rum Blues.
And when I get thirsty there's no one to thank
For giving me a dime so I can drink.
There's no use trying for I can't lose,
Them long-tall, slim neck Bay Rum Blues.

When you can't get liquor and you can't get no gin
Don't get disgusted for you still have a chance to win.
Get a long, goose-neck bottle and you'll never be sober again.
I got the Bay Rum Blues.
Now some use Bay Rum, just for a tonic,
But take it from me it's best for your stomach.
It's no use trying for I can't lose
Them long-gone, slim neck Bay Rum Blues.

Now Uncle Sam has taken our liquor away from us.
When we make home brew he raises an awful fuss.
We're all afraid of ginger, so we'll drink Bay Rum or bust.
I got the Bay Rum Blues.
There's no way of stopping us anymore
So you better look out, Mr Ten Cent Store.
There's no use trying, for I can't lose
Them long-gone good old goose-neck Bay Rum Blues.

The only clear overlap with Ashley and Foster is the "tonic/stomach" line. McCarn's melody is the more sophisticated. I don't know of any other Bay Rum songs from the period (as compared to the spate of Jake songs around 1930), though there is at least an earlier instrumental of the title (below). Ashley's was recorded in 9/1933(the Hoover verse suggests an origin after 11/1932). If the "tonic" verse was lifted, it was probably done by CTA

Haven't heard this, but Blues and Gospel Records shows a 1928 recording, Victor 21585, "Bay Rum Blues" and "Sweet Bunch of Daisies," by El Watson, harmonica accompanied by bones, no vocal.   This is from the race side of the ledger. I haven't heard the 78 and don't know if the tune here is the same as either McCarn's or Ashley's. McCarn's melody doesn't sound like but still reminds me of "Alcoholic Blues," which was reworked as "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues."


23 Oct 06 - 10:16 PM (#1866889)
Subject: RE: LRY/ORIGIN: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,Richie

Thanks 12 stringer,

A veritable wealth on info!

Anyone know what a "railer's chain" is?

Richie


24 Oct 06 - 04:51 AM (#1867033)
Subject: RE: LRY/ORIGIN: Bay Rum Blues
From: Scrump

AFAIK it's a chain used to join prisoners together or to something else (e.g. a heavy ball or rock) to stop them running away when working on the railroad. Y'know, some of them would too, given half a chance.


28 Aug 10 - 03:01 PM (#2974711)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST

I really don't think the first line is "Well I learned to get stoned," it would make a lot more sense as "Well I went to Gastonia," which is what it sounds like to me.


28 Aug 10 - 06:46 PM (#2974834)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: Stewie

The Dave and Howard recording has been reissued on the latest compilation from Marshall Wyatt's Old Hat Records: Various Artists 'Gastonia Gallop: Cotton Mill Songs & Hillbilly Blues' Old Hat CD-1007' (2009). The album is subtitled: 'Piedmont Texile Workers on Record, Gaston County, North Carolina 1927-1931'.

The recording was reissued previously on Various Artists 'Jake Leg Blues' Jass Records J-CD-642 (1994).

I agree with the previous poster that the first line of the Ashley & Foster record should be 'Well, I went to Gastonia'.

Also, the reissue recording that I have [ on 'Harmonica Blues' Yazoo CD 1053] has 'Come on boy you're CHAIN GANG bound'(Spoken: 'Second offence')in line 3 of stanza 3. The first line of stanza 4 should be: 'Now some people says BAY RUM'S a good tonic'.

--Stewie.


28 Aug 10 - 07:11 PM (#2974847)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: Stewie

Incidentally, Russell references another recording with this title: Kenneth Houchins 'Bay Rum Blues' Champion Ch 16619, recorded in Richmond, IN, on 28 July 1932. Has anyone heard this one?

Evidently, Houchins was known as 'the yodeling drifter'. There is a BACM label CD of his music, but it does not include 'Bay Rum Blues':

Kenneth Houchins.

--Stewie.


30 Aug 10 - 05:48 PM (#2976235)
Subject: Lyr Add: BAY RUM BLUES (Ashley & Foster)
From: Jim Dixon

You can hear this recording at Juneberry78s.com (or click to play). There is an annoying skip in the record, but it's intelligible.

I have boldfaced my corrections.


BAY RUM BLUES
Ashley and Foster

Well, I went to Gastonia, started drinking bay rum.
First thing I know, the police grab my arm,
Says, "Come on, boy. You're jailhouse bound."

Well, hello, buddy. I know you,
Turned-over slipper, run-down shoe.
You're on your way to the railer's chain.

Well, I drunk one bottle, didn't mean no harm.
Next thing I know, the police grab my arm,
Says, "Come on, boy. You're chain-gang bound."
(Spoken: Second offense)

Now, some people says bay rum's a good tonic.
My buddy says it's good for your stomach.
He's on his way to the railer's chain.

Well, election night I went uptown.
Them bay rum hounds, hanging around,
Pretty close to the railer's chain.

Roosevelt was wet and Hoover was dry.
Give me bay rum and let Hoover buy.
I'm on my way to the railer's chain.


[I still don't know what a railer's chain is]


30 Aug 10 - 05:58 PM (#2976240)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: Jim Dixon

Juneberry78s.com also has BAY RUM BLUES by Dave and Howard on this page (or click to play).

I can't significantly improve on 12-stringer's transcription, though.


30 Aug 10 - 07:04 PM (#2976299)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST

Jim, good to see that you make exactly the same corrections to Richie's transcription as I did 2 days previously!

--Stewie.


30 Aug 10 - 07:07 PM (#2976303)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: Stewie

Joe, once again my apologies for not noticing that Norton had swallowed my cookie again.

--Stewie.


31 Aug 10 - 07:12 PM (#2977076)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Liquid version manufactured "Clubman Products" City of Industry CA.



However, "Clubman" is only available via "barber supply wholesale" .... so I use Illinois and Texas.



Sincerely,

Gargoyle



Yeah...Yeah I know .... I stuck a bay-leaf under each arm-pit....and I smell like chicken soup."


17 Aug 11 - 05:22 PM (#3208525)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,WhyteLaydieToneRing

I played and sang this song for quite a while (the Ashley & Foster version) using the words "railer's chain" . I always thought it had something to do with a chain gang working on the railroads or something.

A friend of mine actually went to Gastonia, and met up with 2 of Gwen Foster's relatives and they showed him around town and told him a bunch of really cool stories about Gwen. Apparently in the song they are actually saying "Rayless chain". Rayless was a department store, and had a good supply of Bay Rum I guess. I don't know if the Rayless Chain is still in business or not, but apparently it was a pretty popular chain in the South at one time.

It actually makes alot of sense now that I know what they're actually saying.

Anyhow, I thought it was interesting.


26 May 13 - 01:13 PM (#3519397)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST

I am a musician from Gastonia. The Gastonia Gallop compilation has a Dave McCarn--of "Cotton Mill Colic" fame---- version of "Bay Rum Blues" that is extended. My question is "who wrote that song?" There are variations of the song, but where did it originate? There was an old Rayless store in town for years, but no longer in business. I am sure they sold the tonic. I recall my father-in-law talking about the bay rum drinkers in the 20's and 30's. Another popular tonic/drink was "Polly Peach." The "railer's chain" makes sense. There were other songs from that era that referenced that particular sentence for breaking the law...."Walk Right in Belmont." For sure alcohol was a problem in Gaston County at that time. Also, the churches were financed by the mill owners, who definitely wanted their workers sober and ready for work on Monday morning. I am certain that "demon rum" was the subject of many a sermon. Royce Robinson


28 May 13 - 12:38 PM (#3520063)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST

This is Royce Robinson--from Gastonia--- with a second opinion. If you ever perform the Foster/Ashley version of the song, I am pretty sure it is the Rayless chain. As I read the lyrics it seems to make more sense than "railer's chain." Particularly when you visualize the bay rum hounds pretty close to the Rayless chain. Also on the good for you stomach line. Since it is good for the stomach, think I'll get a little more!!! From what I have read about Dave McCarn, his version was from personal experience.


16 Apr 16 - 07:45 AM (#3785587)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,guest

And then there is "Bay Rum Song" recorded in 1929 or 1930 by Billy Hayes Orchestra. Not a blues and no connection to "Bay Rum Blues" discussed here. A goofy song recorded by a "territory band" and issued in Victor Records' country series.


29 Nov 17 - 02:59 PM (#3891254)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST

This refers to the Raylass Chain Stores which were fairly common in the Pedmont area of the southeast US... They were department stores but also were drug stores where you could buy Bay Rum and other such products.

http://www.mooresvilletribune.com/raylass-chain-store-jpg/image_d149dc64-cee5-11e3-abef-001a4bcf6878.html


02 Oct 18 - 10:04 PM (#3954304)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Searching the interwebs for stuff on sledge gangs. The only thing I find on "railing chain" leads me here. The irony:

Richie: "There are multiple references to a "railer's chain." Anyone know what that is?"

Scrump: "AFAIK it's a chain used to join prisoners together or to something else (e.g. a heavy ball or rock)..."


Just the first part. "Chain railing."

"A single ankle shackle with a short length of chain attached to a heavy ball is known as a ball and chain. It limited prisoner movement and impeded escape.

"Two ankle shackles attached to each other by a short length of chain are known as a hobble or as leg irons. These could be chained to a much longer chain with several other prisoners, creating a work crew known as a chain gang. The walk required to avoid tripping while in leg irons is known as the convict shuffle." [chain gang wiki]

Modern urban lyric: "catch a chain"

Hollywood never sank a slave galley without a railing chain cliffhanger. Now if I could just find a reference besides me.


03 Oct 18 - 07:07 AM (#3954339)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: Jack Campin

Wouldn't a railer's chain simply be a chain gang working on the railways?

https://www.reddit.com/r/HistoryPorn/comments/2w7pqm/1879_chain_gang_lining_up_for_chow_while_working/


03 Oct 18 - 12:15 PM (#3954416)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Origin Req: Bay Rum Blues
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

*railer's chain
I'm hearing “railing chain” (or railin') which is the expression I remember from practical usage:
Ashley & Foster Bay Rum Blues (1933)

A hitching rail made of chain. Clothes rail is the same usage. A “rail line” or “rail string” is what makes for a “string of horses.” Just no retrievable sources for any of it. Darn!

I did manage to locate a sledge gang video in the hunt (freemen, so no railing chain though.) Post it later.