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  1. #1
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    Default "Going Down to the River" - please help with lyrics

    I couldn't find reliable lyrics to this version by Mississippi Fred McDowell (not the Lomax recording version).
    Maybe you native speakers can understand the last several lines?

    (starting with "Lord I'm going down to louisanna baby")


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    Hi,
    Hell I tried; not a 'native', all I understood was:

    Lord I’m going away darling – honey, don’t you want to go
    Lord you going away somewhere
    you ain’t never been
    oh you know I’m going down to the river baby,
    I might sit down on the ground

    Oh, I’m going down to the river, I might sit down on the ground.
    I let the wave of the water, let the wave of the water honey,
    Baby, wash my trouble down.

    Oh, I’m getting so baby, I can’t hardly rest at night
    Oh you know I’m getting so darling, you know I can’t hardly rest at night
    I know my baby, she ain’t treat me right

    Lord I’m going down in Louisiana baby, I believe I (her) carry my load,
    You know I’m going down in Louisiana, I believe I’ll carry my load,
    Lord I’m teasing brown, I declare days I’m ''day bouey''

    In short - I have no comprehension of that final line. It all comes down to the last little bit - possibly French? (language of the south), Possibly, he forgot the line and tried to 'blag' it. Fred has done this before and let the guitar do the talking - but it might be a line that wouldn't have gone down well with the 'mighty white' folks that were watching and so mumbled.

    To be honest, I'm from London England - but it's Friday night, I'm drunk and I'm feeling low - so I thought I'd reach out and give it a go.

  3. #3
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    Great challenge, Shaul. Thanks.

    I was thinkin about Wet Dog and his mates in England who began interpreting the lyrics of rural African American dialects starting in the early 1960s, I believe. And how well they developed their cross-cultural skills.

    Then to see you in Israel doing the same thing, cross-culturally, wow...Blues Kudos to ya, mate!

    "Lord them teasin browns" ...maybe being clear about this part of the lyric will give a hint for what comes next.

    This sounds like he's going to complain about how frustrating or emotionally painful it is for him to tolerate the more desirable women (lighter-skinned "browns") who are flirtatious but not serious ("teasin").

    "I declare dey's..." rather than "days" would mean "they is..." which sets up his conclusion about them. This fits with the lyrics as interpreted by one musician who who posted his tabulature: "I declare they're out the book".

    Not sure what this means, but it seems to imply these teasin browns are beyond reach, so you may try something like "I declare they out the hook" which could be a fishin reference for "they ain't takin my bait".

    httm/mississippi_fred_mcdowell/going_down_to_the_river_tab.htmps://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/
    Last edited by BluesHawk; 11-14-2015 at 11:05 AM.

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    error, duplicate

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    Thanks WetDog and BluesHawk!
    My goals are more modest - this song is the one I am learning right now.
    When I learn a new song, I get the lyrics from the web, read about it on the web (usually Wikipedia - if there is an article), then put it in repeat mode in my car so I hear it many dozens of times, then I start practicing playing it. Here I was surprised to have troubles finding lyrics - I found the version you (BluesHawk) pointed to - but was't sure it is the right one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaul View Post
    Thanks WetDog and BluesHawk!...Here I was surprised to have troubles finding lyrics - I found the version you (BluesHawk) pointed to - but was't sure it is the right one.
    It's Blues, Shaul. Lyrics change, or sometimes a phrase is forgotten and is just mumbled...use whatever feels right as you practice.

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    Yes - but for me it is somewhat analogous to kata in karate. Kata is a sequence of movement that is used to practice karate (and other martial arts).
    The katas were created hundreds (even thousands) years ago by martial art masters and were continuously developed and modified during the years.
    However, at some point in time, due to a great respect to the great masters - katas were "frozen" and became a tradition that one practices exactly.

    I feel the same with respect to the blues masters - and therefore it is important for me to follow them as much as I can.

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    Default Folk process and "codification"

    Quote Originally Posted by shaul View Post
    Yes - but for me it is somewhat analogous to kata in karate. Kata is a sequence of movement that is used to practice karate (and other martial arts).
    The katas were created hundreds (even thousands) years ago by martial art masters and were continuously developed and modified during the years.
    However, at some point in time, due to a great respect to the great masters - katas were "frozen" and became a tradition that one practices exactly.

    I feel the same with respect to the blues masters - and therefore it is important for me to follow them as much as I can.
    That's a great explanation. It makes perfect sense. The Martial Arts and Blues were both folkways...never written down or recorded in any way. So they evolved based on each master's way of teaching others. And on each student's way of interpreting the master.

    Then each folkway...Martial Arts and Blues...got written or recorded. "Codified". So duplicating the written version was possible by masters and their students. "Codified" means the folk process is being replaced by a formal process. The natural variations, including what seemed like errors, across the master-student generations are lost. Uniformity is added.

    Many of us want to capture the truest folk music. We want to honor the roots and the traditional process. You might relax your exacting goal of faithful duplication when you know that "duplication" is a formal, modern value.

    Duplication was not as highly valued in the true folk Blues process.

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    Ok, from a musician who "speaks like that" and is "from there", with an explanation of the references. This is in dialect.

    Lawd, I’m gon-naway ("going away"), dahlin'.
    Honey, don’t you wanna go?
    O, you know, I'm goin' somewhere
    You ain’t never been.

    O, you know, I’m goin' down to dey ("the") river, baby,
    I might set down on-ay ("there on the") groun'.
    O, I’m goin' down to dey river, I might set down on-ay groun'.
    I'm-a let de waves of water, let the waves of the water, honey,
    Baby, wash my trouble down.

    O, I’m gettin' s'low ("so low"), baby.
    I cain’t hard-lay ("hardly") rest at night.
    Oh, you know, I’m getting so, darling.
    You know I cain’t hard-lay rest at night.
    I know my baby - she ain’ treat me right ("she's cheating on me").

    La, I’m goin' down-ay'n ("down there in") Lous-yana, baby.
    I believe, honey, I'll chair my hook.
    You know, I’m goin' down-ay'n Lous-yana.
    I believe I’ll chair my gloom.
    Lawd, dem teasin' brown!
    I declare days ("they", w/calque plural -s) are dey ("the") bouy.

    He uses the words "hook" and "gloom" in the last verse, from two different very old colloquial expressions associated with the blues (depression, that is) and fishing. In the older version, he intends to carry his rocking chair down to the river to fish (hence, "chair his hook", tie it to the chair leg so he doesn't have to focus) and can wait for the blues to pass him by (hence, "chair his gloom", lit., to sit somewhere and let the blues pass you by). "Chair my gloom" carries the additional connotation of parking it at the bar (the "watering hole"), as well, depending on the context. Since he follows this up with "dem teasin' brown", which means the "quadroon" ladies (legally classified as "brown", not "black") and describes them as "the buoy" (for his depression), he completes the extended metaphor of the fishing analogy. Either way, where he's going he can chair his hook and his gloom, likewise. Reproduction and rhyme, as someone noted, were not elements of the blues. These came much later, after commercialization. (Similar adaptations occured in the transition from bluegrass and folk to commercialized country/western.) To speculate his dissatisfaction at the brown ladies rejecting him is off the mark, though. "Teasin'" means flirtatious and coquettish, a la les coquettes (the "baby-doll" courtesans of New Orleans). "Dem teasin' brown" he's talking about would have made good on their promises, no worries there.

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  12. #10
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    Thanks for the explanation on this, Lourdes!

    Harriet
    Last edited by slide496; 02-10-2017 at 06:45 PM.

 

 

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