Join 3,516 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The mysterious Kid Bailey
February 21, 2008 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Kid Bailey was a Mississippi Delta bluesman blessed with the kind of slightly gravel-tinged voice that emanates authority. His recording career was a very short one, however, consisting of precisely one day, and yielding precisely two songs. Very little is known about Bailey himself, and the identity of the 2nd accompanying guitarist on his only known recording remains a mystery, though there has been some some speculation. I've been doing a little speculating myself, regarding some of Bailey's lyrics, and any of you blues linguists who might want to help fill in the blanks, please see the [more inside].

Can you help to fill in the blanks? Or suggest any corrections for words I might be hearing wrong?

Mississippi Bottom Blues

Way down in Mississippi, where I was bred and born
_____________ be my native home

_________ and my hair is turning gray
_________ hair is turning gray
I know it would break her heart to find I was barrelhoused in this way

I'm going where the water drinks like wine
I'm going where the water drinks like wine
Where I can be drunk down and staggering all the time

Ain't but the one thing lordy worries my mind
Ain't but the one thing lordy worries my mind
That's a house full of women _________ (lord and none of 'em mine)?

My baby passed me and she never said a word
And my baby passed me and she never said a word
Nothing I had did but ______ she had heard (something?)

Rowdy Blues

Ain't gonna marry, (no) need to settle down
I'm gonna stay right here til I tear this barrelhouse down

I love you baby, and I tell the world I do
And I love you baby, and I tell the world I do
I don't love nobody in this whole round world but you

Ain't no use of weeping, ain't no need to cry
Ain't no use of weeping, ain't no need to cry
You've got a home just long as I've got mine

Is you ever been lucky now woke up cold and ______
I was _______ nothing but a monkey man

And I love you baby, you so nice and brown
And I love you baby, you so nice and brown
Cause you put up _______ so it won't come down

Did you get that letter now, mailed in your back yard
Did you get that letter now, mailed in your back yard
Said what it said but you ______friend have to part
posted by flapjax at midnite (16 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
There has also, in fact, been some speculation that "Mississippi Bottom Blues" and "Rowdy Blues" are by two different singers. Big mystery, big ol' mysterious mystery.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 PM on February 21, 2008


The first blank sounds like "be that way forever". That's an odd verse--seems like it's missing the first four bars.
posted by goatdog at 6:21 PM on February 21, 2008


That's an odd verse--seems like it's missing the first four bars

Actually, in the first verse of both songs Bailey doesn't do the usual blues-form repeat of the first line: he only sings the first line once. Subsequent verses in each song feature the standard repeating of the first line.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:26 PM on February 21, 2008


I noticed that when I listened to the second song. I agree with the guy at the pre-war blues site--that one doesn't sound like the same voice singing. And I think the final blank in the second one sounds like "best old". (your best old friend have to part? maybe I'm wrong.) In any event, thanks for posting--I love a good blues mystery.
posted by goatdog at 6:31 PM on February 21, 2008


The obvious word for the "wake up cold and ___" line would be "dead," which in the singer's pronunciation might sort of rhyme with "man." "Dayd" and "mayn"?
posted by goatdog at 6:34 PM on February 21, 2008


In Mississippi Bottom Blues, I think the start of the second verse goes: "And my woman Lola, hair is turning gray." Or something to that effect. I don't think it's "my hair," and while grammar isn't always the strong-suit of Delta blues lyrics, that would accord with using "her" as the pronoun in the third line.
posted by OmieWise at 7:34 PM on February 21, 2008


I found these lyrics for "Mississippi Bottom Blues"...

"Mississippi Bottom Blues"

Way down in Mississippi where I was bred and born
I believe that will forever be my native home

My poor mother’s old and her hair is turning gray
My poor mother’s old and her hair is turning gray
I know it would break her heart if she found out I was barrelhousing this a-way

I’m going where the water tastes like wine
I’m going where the water tastes like wine
Where I can be drunk and staggering all the time

Ain’t but the one thing and Lord, it worries my mind
Ain’t but the one thing and Lord, it worries my mind
Well, there’s a house full of men, Lord, ain’t none of them mine

My baby passed me and he never said a word
My baby passed me and he never said a word
Nothing’ I had did but ‘twas something he had heard
posted by amyms at 7:44 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


And these lyrics for "Rowdy Blues"...

well i ain't gonna marry
neither settle down
i'm gonna sit right here
'til i tear this barrel house down

ain't no use a weepin' and there ain't no need to cry
because you got a home
just as long as i got mine

well i loves you baby
and i'll tell the world i do
i don't love nobody
in this whole round world but you

did you get that letter
mailed in your backyard
well it's sad what they said
but your best old friend had to part
posted by amyms at 7:48 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oops, here's the link for the source of the "Rowdy Blues" lyrics.
posted by amyms at 7:49 PM on February 21, 2008


Note: the lyrics I found were from covers, not from Kid Bailey, but maybe they'll be helpful.
posted by amyms at 7:50 PM on February 21, 2008


Well, damn, amyms, if that ain't helpful as all heck! I did lyrics searches, guess I just didn't stay at it long enough, just didn't look hard enough. Thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:53 PM on February 21, 2008


You're welcome :) I like searching for obscure things.
posted by amyms at 7:55 PM on February 21, 2008


The "cold" bit is actually "cold in hand." In the Delta dialect money warms the palm, and its absence leaves one "cold in hand." By extension, it also means missing your "special rider" or "faro," with connotations of infidelity. Here's the typical usage:

Ever dream lucky, (but) wake up cold in hand (2x)
Sure sign, baby, your woman's got another man

Bailey's verse is a variant: "Monkey man" is a cuckold. What Bailey sings before "nothin' but a monkey man" is virtually indecipherable ("cold that night, uh. . .?"), but clearly signifies the cuckold's "cold in hand" status.

In the next verse, it's "Cause you['re] put up solid so it won't come down." This is a reference to laying railroad tracks so the ties don't sink; by extension, the woman is a "solid" lay so the monkey man's "it" won't come down.
posted by rdone at 8:27 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, rdone! I thought that was "solid" he was saying, but wasn't sure enough to commit. Very informative, my friend! (And thanks to you other commenters, so far, for your guesses and insights.) Anyway, this is really starting to come together! Later on in this thread I'll post a "final" version of the lyrics, with (almost?) every blank filled in!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:59 PM on February 21, 2008


I'm glad you're all Sherlock Holmesin', but can I just interject? This music sounds goooood.
posted by not_on_display at 12:07 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yea, I'm terrible with deciphering lyrics but this is a great and interesting post. Can't get enough blues, baby!
posted by snsranch at 5:24 PM on February 23, 2008


« Older The Synchronicity Project...  |  Bob Geldof in Rwanda gives Bus... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments