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John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

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"Things They Said"
by Max Haymes

1.   “You was a good old gobbler but you lost your strut.”
(Hard Headed Mama  Martha Copeland-1927) 
Max’s comment: animal symbolism and male turkey - the “turkey gobbler”. Especially during courtship period/mating season.

“Well, it’s: I’m the only one in my family to take a biscuit to pieces, put it back just like it was.”
(Moaning The Blues  Victoria Spivey-1929) 


“Adam an’ Eve lay in the Garden of Eden surely must-a shook that thing.”
(Adam And Eve  Tommy Bradley-1930)


“I’ll make you a drink that just won’t quit - it’ll make you pick a fight with a circle saw.”  (Bootlegging Blues  Jim Jackson-1928)


“If I kiss you, daddy, I’ll make the water run out  your eye;
An’ if I squeeze your lemon, baby you’ll be satisfied.”    

(Dirty Treatin’ Blues   Lucille Bogan-1930)


“Says, I’m tired of chicken, baby I’m tired of steak;    
I had a chill last night, well, I was too tired to shake.”   
(Tired Chicken Blues  Cannon’ Jug Stompers-1929)


“You may be  a little rocky, but honey, you alright with me.” 
(Love Makin’ Mama   Blind Willie McTell-1933)


“I had so much-a chicken ‘til I heard a-cluckin’ in my sleep.”
(Third Street Woman Blues   Blind Joe Reynolds-1930)


“Wild geese makes it colder every time they scream out loud.
The sun draws up the water, but it reach down through the clouds.”

(Wild Geese Blues   Alberta Jones-1928)
Max’s comment: Part of the oncoming signs of winter.


“Just as ragged as a jaybird in whistlin’ time.”
(I Can’t Use You   Joe Edwards [aka ‘Butterbeans’]-1924)
Max’s comment: Referring to Susie Edwards appearance as the female jaybird  at the end of an exhausting mating season-see 1.


“I got a shape like a tadpole, eyes like a frog.
When I start to shimmy, mama, you’ll holler ‘hot dog’.”
(When My Man Shimmies  Joe Edwards-1924)


“Aw! Ain’t that nice? Lord, it’s nice to be nice when you can be nice.”
(I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop   Jim Jackson-1928)
Max’s comment: See recent short article on this title.


“The Black Diamond express train will hit damnation switch an’ make a fast run for hell…in hell there’s all the hell hounds howlin’. The hob-gobs of hell will be turned loose on your soul.”(The Black Diamond Express To Hell-Part 6   Rev. A.W. Nix-1930)
Max’s comment: This train and its religious counterpart The White Flyer stop at the departing point of this world ‘Farewell Station’ where sinners and saints say goodbye. The railroad track forks as it leaves the depot in the form of a switch or point.


“ I mean they’re steamin’ puppies.”
(Hot Dogs   Blind Lemon Jefferson-1927)
Max’s comment: ‘dogs’ is slang for feet.


“An’ I want to eat when eatin’ time comes.”
(Beggin’ Back   Blind Lemon Jefferson-1926)


“When it come down to marryin’, you better speak once an’ think twice.”
(Mistake In Life   Roosevelt Sykes-1938)


“Mama, you may be beautiful, you gotta die some day. 
You as well give me some lovin’ before you pass away.”

(Bull Cow Blues   Big Bill Broonzy-1932)


“Lord, I may get better, babe but I can’t get well.” 
(Worried Man Blues    John D.Fox-1927)


“Goin’ out tonight, get high as a kite;
What you do in the dark looks mighty bad in the light.”

(Nickel’s Worth Of Liver Blues No.2      Edith Johnson-1929)
Max’s comment: female sexual boast alluding to the vagina.


“I know sugar’s sugar, papa, I know salt is salt; 
If I let you catch me cheating, it’s my own darn fault.”

(Cheatin’ Blues    Bessie Brown-1925)


“You so dumb baby, you thought Birming –ham was a piece of meat.” 
(Bald-Headed Mamma Blues   George Williams-1925)


 “You might darken my life, but you’ll never darken my soul.”
(Oh! Dark Gal   George Williams-1925)
Max’s comment: In the 1920s Bessie Brown & George Williams were a very popular husband and wife team in  vaudeville-blues along with Butterbeans & Susie, Coot Grant & Kid Sox Wilson, etc.


“You can dip your bread in my gravy, you can’t have none of my chops.”
(title as for quote   Virginia Liston-1925)
Max’s comment: see comment at 12.


“So now, I’m tired of fattenin’ frogs for snakes.”
(I’m Sick Of Fattenin’ Frogs For Snakes   Virginia Liston-1925)
Max’s comment: a title appropriated by various early singers such as Clara Smith, Bumble Bee Slim, Rosetta Crawford, etc. and on into the 1950s by harp supremo Rice Miller (aka ‘Sonny Boy Williamson No.2’.)


“An’ they call me jelly, ‘cos I rolls all in my sleep;
I will roll you baby, I will also grind you deep.”
“I’ve got a self-playin’ piano an’ a great big rockin’ chair;
You can rock in rhythm by the music that you can hear.”

(Feather Bed Blues   Bumble Bee Slim-1935)
Max’s comment: drawing for its symbolism on an item of confectionary similar to the Swiss roll, ‘jelly roll’ stands for female/male genitalia as well as the act of sexual intercourse-by extension(!) an expert lover is a ‘good jelly roll baker’. The ‘self-playing piano’ referred to piano rolls. Inserted in side the piano and either hand-rolled, spring-driven, (aka clockwork)  run by battery, and later – c.1900s - by electricity. which had punched holes in the rolled up paper representing the notes. Once located in situ. and started, the piano keys appeared to move up and down under their own power or otherwise played by themselves! I vaguely remember seeing one in c. 1949 in a rich school friends house - I thought it was actually magic!! [see Lost Sounds
Blacks & The Birth of The Recording Industry 1890-1919. Tim Brooks. University of Illinois Press. Urbana & Chicago. 2004.]


“Ah! Corn whiskey don’t kill you, baby, I wonder what will.”
(Low Rider’s Blues   Blind Willie McTell-1931)


“Says, I ain’t no preacher, I’m just a back door man.”
(Set Down Gal    Kokomo Arnold-1937)


“Says, I holler in the mornin’, but I begin to moan late at night.”
(My Well Is Dry    Kokomo Arnold-1938)


“I used to get a dollar before I could catch my breath.
Now, I can’t get a dime I [if] talk my self to death.”

(New How Long How Long Blues-Part 2    Leroy Carr-1931)


“My springs are getting’ rusty, sleepin’ single like I do.”
(Empty Bed Blues - Pt.2    Bessie Smith-1928)


“Now, I may go down on the ocean and I may go down on the sea.
But when you gone you soon forgotten, mama, you just like a cut-down  tree.”
(Soon Forgotten    Walter Davis-1941)

Max Haymes, February 2009

Website © Copyright 2000-2009 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) © Copyright 2009 Max Haymes. All Rights Reserved.
For further information please email: alan.white@earlyblues.com