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Lyr Req: Mean Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie)

DigiTrad:
ARKANSAS HARD LUCK BLUES
DYING CUB FAN'S LAST REQUEST
LIFE GETS TEEJUS, DON'T IT?
OLD MAN ATOM (Atomic Talking Blues/Talking Atom)
ORIGINAL TALKING BLUES
TALKIN BEAR MOUNTAIN PICNIC MASSACRE BLUES
TALKING ATOMIC BLUES
TALKING BIRMINGHAM JAM
TALKING BLUES
TALKING CANDY BAR BLUES
TALKING DUST BOWL BLUES
TALKING FOLK MUSICIAN PURIST SNOB BLUES
TALKING GUITAR BLUES
TALKING NEW YORK BLUES
TALKING REINCARNATED DRAFTEE BLUES
TALKING UNAMERICAN BLUES
TALKING VIETNAM POT-LUCK BLUES
THE RV BLUES


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Mungo 22 Aug 99 - 12:03 AM
Joe Offer 22 Aug 99 - 02:39 AM
Rick Fielding 23 Aug 99 - 12:15 AM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 99 - 01:41 AM
Rick Fielding 23 Aug 99 - 01:43 AM
catspaw49 23 Aug 99 - 07:24 AM
Dani 23 Aug 99 - 08:05 AM
Roger in Baltimore 23 Aug 99 - 12:24 PM
Rick Fielding 23 Aug 99 - 07:43 PM
Mungo 23 Aug 99 - 09:47 PM
Dani 23 Aug 99 - 10:53 PM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 99 - 11:40 PM
Frank of Toledo 24 Aug 99 - 12:34 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Aug 99 - 01:05 AM
Frank of Toledo 24 Aug 99 - 02:25 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Aug 99 - 02:45 AM
catspaw49 24 Aug 99 - 02:59 AM
Frank of Toledo 24 Aug 99 - 03:19 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Aug 99 - 11:18 AM
Frank Hamilton 24 Aug 99 - 03:53 PM
Frank Hamilton 24 Aug 99 - 04:29 PM
Mungo 24 Aug 99 - 04:40 PM
Roger in Baltimore 24 Aug 99 - 07:55 PM
Art Thieme 24 Aug 99 - 09:24 PM
Art Thieme 24 Aug 99 - 09:41 PM
catspaw49 24 Aug 99 - 09:48 PM
Frank of Toledo 24 Aug 99 - 09:49 PM
catspaw49 24 Aug 99 - 10:02 PM
Frank Hamilton 25 Aug 99 - 04:21 PM
bob schwarer 25 Aug 99 - 04:37 PM
MAG (inactive) 25 Aug 99 - 05:32 PM
Roger in Baltimore 25 Aug 99 - 05:50 PM
Rick Fielding 25 Aug 99 - 06:03 PM
Frank Hamilton 26 Aug 99 - 11:45 AM
LD 26 Aug 99 - 10:48 PM
Art Thieme 27 Aug 99 - 01:09 AM
Frank Hamilton 27 Aug 99 - 11:03 AM
Peter T. 27 Aug 99 - 11:11 AM
catspaw49 27 Aug 99 - 01:52 PM
Doctor John 27 Aug 99 - 02:48 PM
katlaughing 27 Aug 99 - 04:18 PM
Frank Hamilton 27 Aug 99 - 05:11 PM
Peter T. 27 Aug 99 - 05:41 PM
Art Thieme 27 Aug 99 - 05:41 PM
Frank Hamilton 28 Aug 99 - 03:56 PM
LD 28 Aug 99 - 05:50 PM
katlaughing 28 Aug 99 - 06:02 PM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 99 - 11:24 AM
Dani 29 Aug 99 - 11:56 AM
Doctor John 29 Aug 99 - 03:00 PM
Frank Hamilton 29 Aug 99 - 07:03 PM
katlaughing 29 Aug 99 - 07:32 PM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 99 - 07:57 PM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 99 - 10:41 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Aug 99 - 03:10 PM
Rick Fielding 31 Aug 99 - 12:33 AM
Frank Hamilton 31 Aug 99 - 07:05 AM
Art Thieme 31 Aug 99 - 11:45 AM
SandyBob 31 Aug 99 - 02:46 PM
Frank Hamilton 31 Aug 99 - 02:59 PM
dick greenhaus 01 Sep 99 - 12:08 AM
Rick Fielding 01 Sep 99 - 02:02 AM
Doctor John 01 Sep 99 - 01:05 PM
Mark Clark 06 Feb 02 - 11:10 PM
Rick Fielding 07 Feb 02 - 12:07 AM
The Shambles 07 Feb 02 - 11:15 AM
Mark Clark 07 Feb 02 - 12:29 PM
Amos 07 Feb 02 - 10:39 PM
Art Thieme 01 Dec 07 - 09:55 PM
Art Thieme 01 Dec 07 - 10:03 PM
Jim Dixon 03 Jun 08 - 03:40 PM
Desert Dancer 03 Jun 08 - 05:01 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Jun 08 - 09:15 AM
Jim Dixon 05 Jun 08 - 09:18 AM
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Subject: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Mungo
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 12:03 AM

This was on a promo tape--"Acoustic Blues"--which I bought off the rack at K-mart a couple of years ago. I'd played it maybe a dozen times when it grew legs--and I can't find any trace of the song on any of Woody's albums. Anybody know it?

Mungo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 02:39 AM

I'm not familiar with that one, Mungo, but maybe the Woody Guthrie Pages (click) will keep us entertained while we wait for someone to come up with an answer.
-Joe offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 12:15 AM

Hi Mungo, sorry I missed this earlier. If you can give me a few lines I might be able to help. Woody wrote a lot of Talkin Blues, but maybe the title is inaccurate. Who knows, maybe K mart titled it!
Rick


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Subject: Lyr Add: MEAN TALKING BLUES (Art Thieme?)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 01:41 AM

If you wanna be mean I'll tell you what to do,
Leave your wives and your children too,
Run around the country juat a-writin' songs,
When you should of been workin' just ya sing up a storm,
A big ol' dust storm,
This land is my land land!
Hell, it sure aint yours!

I had me a wife and a couple of kids,
Got another gal and a few more kids,
Got another pregnant, and another one too,
They were so pissed at me they didn't know what to do,
But I sure did,
I hit the hot dusty road.

While all them gals went handlin' their pans,[get it?--- being a "panhandler"!]
I was livin' good off the fat o' the land,
All of 'em sent me all kinds o' cash,
Me & Cisco grew a beard & moustache,
They couldn't recognize me,
'Til I landed in the hospital.

Yeah, I was pitiful you should damn well know,
None of 'em'd blame me for nothin' now,
And my songs was sellin good and steady as can be,
Ain't it strange how fame works in Ameri-kee,
I can spell it any way I want to,
I'm a legend now.

So all you nice folks can go take a leap,
I'm pickin' guitar on the golden street,
The heavenly hosts applaud & yell,
I give em' the finger and be mean as Mike Tyson,
Yeah, I'm so mean,
I don't even have to rhyme!
^^

(If Woody didn't right this, he sure should've!!!!)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 01:43 AM

Jeesus Art that's f*****g brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 07:24 AM

CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP............No not the itchin' kind you smartass, APPLAUSE!!!! BRAVO-BRAVO!!!

Wait a minute........

Okay, I just played it, changed a line a bit.........Entered it into the folk process....Now it's OK.............

Seriously Art, that's just great!!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Dani
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 08:05 AM

Mungo, I've got it! The same Kmart tape. If no one comes up with it, I'll take some time to transcribe, because it's hysterical. I play it for people I love when they're pissed off. It pumps you right up.

It might not be as good as Art's, though....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 12:24 PM

BRAVO, Art!

It's a great tune. Did you just rattle that one off or has it been percolatin' a while?

What comes pouring out on these threads just amazes me sometimes.

Big RiB


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 07:43 PM

Art, I'm gonna do your talkin blues tonight. If anyone get's mad I'll credit you in a LOUD voice!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Mungo
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 09:47 PM

Wonderful lyric, Art--but not the one I'm looking for.

Dani--If you would--I'd really like to have those lyrics. What I plan to do is a number which compares this jewel of Woodie's with Dennis Leary's a**hole song. I think they are talking about the same thing--and both of them being done in first person adds icing to the cake.

Thanks much--

Mungo Bob McElroy


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Subject: Lyr Add: MEAN TALKING BLUES (Woody Guthrie)
From: Dani
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 10:53 PM

^^
I知 the meanest man that ever had a brain,
All I scatter is aches and pains
I知 carbolic acid and a poison face
And I stand flat-footed in favor of crime and disgrace
If I ever done a good deed, I知 sorry of it.

I知 mean in the East and mean in the West,
Mean to the people that I like the best
I go around and cause a lot of accidents
And I put folks down and cause train wrecks.
I知 a big disaster, goin somewhere痴 to happen.
I知 an organized famine,
Studyin how I can be a little bit meaner.
Still a whole lot too good to suit m痴elf.
Just mean.

I ride around on the subway train,
Laughin at the tight shoes dealin you pain
And I laugh when the car shakes from side to side.
And I laugh my loudest when other people cry.
Can稚 help it.
I was born good I guess,
Just like you or anybody else,
But then I just turned off mean.

I hate everybody don稚 think like me,
And I壇 rather see you dead than to ever see you free.
Rather see you starve to death than to ever see you at work.
And I知 reading all the books I can to learn how to hurt.
Deal you misery.
Spread diseases.
Keep you with no clothes.
Keep you without no union.

Well I hurt when I see you gettin along so well,
I壇 10 times rather see you in the fires of hell.
I can稚 stand to see you there all fixed up in that house so nice.
I壇 rather keep you in that rotten hole with the bugs and the lice
And the roaches
And the termites
And the sand fleas, and the tater bugs, and the grubworms, and the stingerees, and the (?), the spiders, the (?), the ticks and the blowflies.
These is all my little angels that go around helping me do the best part of my meanness. And the mosquiters.

Well, I used to be a pretty fairly nice feller,
禅il I turned a scab, and then I turned off yeller.
Fought every union with tooth and toenail.
Sprouted a 6-inch stinger right in the middle of my tail.
And I growed horns.
Then I cut 粗m off.
I wanted to fool you.
I hated union everywhere, 祖ause God likes unions and I hate God.

Well, if I can get the fat to hatin the lean,
That値l tickle me more than anything I致e seen.
Then get the colors to fightin one another,
Then friend against friend and brother and sister against brother.
That壇 be just (?)
Everybody痴 brains a-boilin in turpentine,
And their teeth falling out all up and down the street.
That値l just suit me fine.

舛ause I hate everything that痴 union
I hate everything that痴 organized
And I hate everything that痴 planned.
And I love to hate and I hate to love.
I知 mean.
I知 just mean.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 9-Feb-02.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 99 - 11:40 PM

Yeah, it's someting that I've thought about. Too many folks give Woody a pass for on all the crap he tossed at those closest to him. On a TV bio show on Mr. G. They aked Ronnie Guilbert, "Did you like Woody? She hesitatedand answered, "No--He scared me! But he wrote such brilliant songs."
I saw this thread and the song just popped out---like a lyrical hairball.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 12:34 AM

Mungo: I'm listening to Woody"s "Mean Talking Blues" right now and it's available on Folkways CD 40102 WOODY GUTHRIE Hard Travelin, Volume 3 Cut No. 6. I don't know anything about the K Mart recording but ther lyrics included in this thread are identical with this Folkways Recording. There are 4 volumes separately or recently in a boxed set from Folkways./.....Fabulous liner notes as always by Moe Ash......


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 01:05 AM

I strongly suggest to anyone interested in learning about the "actual" Woody (not the incredibly sanitized one that Pete and Marjorie and Sing-Out promoted for years) to get Joe Klein's "Woody Guthrie, A Life". It's a well researched, well written, non-partisan account of a talented and difficult man. Other interesting books are "Seamen Three" by his buddy (and lawyer) Jim Longhi, and "Lonesome Traveller", by Doris Willens, about an equally complex man, Lee Hays. I always wonder why a lot of folks have to have their heroes simon-pure. Genius has a lot of texture.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 02:25 AM

I'm in total agreement with Rick. Woody Guthrie A Life is a true representation of Woody. Think I've read it four times and started the fifth a week ago. Mr. Klein did a lot of research and soul searching in a pretty no'holds barred approach to Woody's life. Thanks for reminding me Rick; put it down last Monday on page 45 and will probably stay up awhile and get through the Wheat Fields Waving Chapter..


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 02:45 AM

Hi Frank, I'm on my 4th or 5th as well. Have you read the Lee Hays book?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 02:59 AM

Rick...........The beauty of a true genius lies not in the mind, but in the heart, where they often show themselves (and us) that they possess the same virtues and foibles as the rest of us mere mortals. They don't have to be "flawed" but they do need to have a "human" side or their genius is quickly forgotten. Many of the most interesting show more foible than virtue, and that attracts goofs like you and I who are a lot more interested in the "foible" types.

Kinda' like the WWII Top Marine Ace said, "Show me a hero and I'll show you a bum."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 03:19 AM

Rick: Nancy ordered it from the Library where she works; hope to have it by the end of the week. EA Rider stopped by last night on his Oregon trip and we shared quite a few songs togoether with some other friends. Got to do Me And Jimmie Rodgers which I learned from ART and also did Pitman Blues from your Lifeline; had to drop it to Dm with my froggy voice, but It turned out pretty nice. EA Rider is hooked on Dave Van Ronk and does some classics..all in all EZ his wife Remi, my friends and I and a whole bunch of BBQ chicken and the evening was a musical memory....Also Art thanks for tape and hope you enjoy the Anne Hills and Michael Smith; sent you a surprise. Thanks also for the Woody song earlier. Hope to see you in April Rick.......


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 11:18 AM

Hey Frank, more mudcatters meet! Sounds great.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 03:53 PM

Hi,

Don't want to give Woody a pass. He did a lot of stuff. In 1950's he ran off with Aneke who was married to Dave Marshall in Topanga Canyon. But "mean" is the wrong adjective. Childish, desparate maybe (he knew that he had a short life to live) and oblivious to the feelings of others, maybe so, but I know mean and I knew Woody and Woody, (Senator) was not mean. When you live with Huntington's Chorrea hanging over your shoulder, you're apt to do some pretty wild stuff. Woody was "amoral" when it came to stuff like marriage. He lived by his own code. He was honest about it. Never tricked or fooled anyone. Marjorie understood where he was coming from and realized that she couldn't live by this code. Call him irresponsible but IMHO not "mean". He actually was generous and loving in his own way.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 04:29 PM

I gotta' say something more. By the time the royaties came in on his songs, Woody was too sick to enjoy them. When I knew him in California, he was not making lots of money like Dylan later did and did not think of himself as a legend. He hated that kind of crap. He became a "legend" because Alan Lomax and Pete Seeger recognized his talent. He walked away from the big money that he could have had if he had donned a cowboy hat. He preferred to sing for poor people in migrant worker camps and union rallies. Joe Klein may have written a pretty fair book but if you knew Woody personally and you heard the preceding "mean" talking blues you would conclude that it didn't add up. The person that wrote that "mean" talking blues just didn't know Woody.

If you wanna' be mean, I'll tell you what to do
Write a mean song about a guy you never knew.
Make out like you're some folk hero blowin' your horn
But you don't know Woody just as sure as you're born.

Taking cheap shots is easy
But easy, greasy, you got a long way to slide!

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Mungo
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 04:40 PM

Hey, thanks for all the comments--Dani, you're a gem!

Frank of Toledo--I'll order that CD!

It sounds like some of you think that Woody was talking about himself when he wrote this satire. Nonononono!

Woody wasn't perfect--and he may have had a mean streak--but who is? And who doesn't?

Best regards to all--Mungo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 07:55 PM

I've been reading a biography of Lead Belly and have concluded that I probably would not have liked him if I had met him. Now, I read about Woody on this thread and Lee Hayes and Bob Gibson on another thread and I'm not sure I would have liked them if I had met them.

It is all just a reminder that having heroes is a dangerous thing if you turn that into worshipping them. No matter how great a performer, singer, song-writer or guitar player, each and every one of us is incredibly human. The facts are: we all fall short. So I still think Bob Gibson is an incredible performer. I still love Woody's songs. I still admire the force that was Lee Hays in the Weavers. And I will still try my damnedest to play a 12-string something like how Huddie Ledbetter played it.

The joy in all of this is recognizing that I too shine in certain areas even if I don't shine in the same areas in which these gentlemen shone. Oh yes, I fall short, but I, too, bloom in spots.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 09:24 PM

Well, folks & Frank especially,

If I got it wrong in MY talkin' blues (that I might've posted too quick), well, I'm sorry about that. I did write it!! I did not "mean" to "demean" the man's music or the fact that he was often a great guy. (puns intended) It's just hard for me to admire the kind of man that put his own egocentricity so in front of his commitments. That must be my big flaw---to take the commitments I've made seriously. If so, I guess I'll just have to live with that downside of my nature for the rest of my life. Actually, I've learned more from THE WORSE side of things than I ever did from THE BETTER side of my vows or my life.

Woody never read __THE GRAPES OF WRATH__. He saw the movie. But he gained the insight, in that round-about way, that allowed him to write "TOM JOAD"---a song that John Steinbeck said had told the migrant's story better than his own novel.

No, I never met Woody. But I DID read Joe Klein's book. It seemed quite insightful and well researched. It showed the mutiple layers of the man Woody was. I've accepted it as being as accurate as any biography ever is. Personally, I didn't want it to be a true picture of the man. I've romanticized the man as much as most folkies have. I suspect that Klein's book mainly is accurate. That's my gut feeling. In the 60s we all put pebbles in our boots so we might have the pain that'd allow us to write songs like Woody did. I romanticized the guy as much as anybody. We all made Woody into the LEGEND that he is NOW. My song was intended to view him fom 1999---not always fair, I know. We emulated his behavior back in the 60s. It was fun to do it. Some of the things I did were also pretty damn MEAN. Did O.K. music too some might avow. But the latter does not excuse the former I don't think.

Don Lange said in his song about his philandering grandad:

Here's to you rounders and here's to you railroad bums,
Here's hopin' that you make it home soon,
Here's to the women who married for love,
And lived with the man in the moon.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 09:41 PM

Once, in Madison, Wisconsin, at the CLUB DEWASH, a fellow came up to me and told me that my recording of Don's song saved his marriage. It had caused him to rethink that "for better or for worse" part of what he'd formerly thought of only as words to say. It's still a favorite memory of life on the road for me.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 09:48 PM

Well done and beautifully stated Art my friend.

Does Lenny often give you similar thoughts? Does me.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 09:49 PM

For the past year or so Nancy & I have been putting on concerts using the local church, and quite naturally I've booked as many of my favorites as I could. This was a real thrill for me to have my folk heroes and heroines in my town to present to my people and to be able to sing with them. And as this thread has so aptly shown a few of them didn't quite measure up to what I thought they would be. One or two were in fact real butt holes. Initiallly I was kinda crushed, but after introducing them, I would go back of the stage and get the snacks set up. Then I would go behind the altar, where they performed, and I could see all the faces of the audiences from infants to 70 & 80 year olds. Watching their faces, the joy and tears and smiles that this performer brought out of them, made me feel like a jerk. What I mean is I want not to judge them as to their whims and weaknesses and whatevers, but what they so beautifully share with mypeople. I feel better about each one now, as each concert goes by. Oh well I do bare my soul(sole) now & then.........


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Aug 99 - 10:02 PM

It's going THAT WELL and you're going to have Fielding???????........Well, keep a good thought Frank my boy. Prayer may be beneficial.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 04:21 PM

Hi, Art, Roger, Spaw, Mungo,

Mungo, I doubt that Woody was ever intentionally mean to anyone. I do know some other socially acceptable type folkies that were. Woody was a tortured soul. He knew he had Huntington's. His mother died of it. He had a lot of tragedy in his life and it's not fair to judge too harshly in my view.

Roger if you had met Woody, you would have liked him. He was charming, compassionate, generous and helpful to all that were around him. He was eccentric, though. With what he had going in his life, it's amazing to me that he was able to do the things he did. I agree with you that it's not profitable to idolize performers as being extra human. Woody like all of us did have his faults. He wasn't considering Dave Marshall when he took off with Aneke. But Marjorie understood him and stuck by him. She just couldn't be married to him. But she did love him because he was lovable.

Art,

I can empathize I think when you mention about a man putting his egocentricity ahead of his committments but I just don't think that this judgement might fit here. Woody's "egocentricity" may have had a lot to do with just his own survival. He also had a mental disturbance that was part of the encroaching disease. We thought at the time that it might be related to alcoholism but Woody knew what we didn't. At the time he kept it to himself. You can't compare your sense of committment (which I deeply respect) to Woody's situation in my view. The facts of Joe Klein's book are accurate, probably, but as to the reasons and meanings I believe one has to keep an open mind. I saw Woody up close and he was going through internal torture when I knew him. And I can guarantee you that he wasn't an egomaniac like some other folkies I've met. He had a humility. He also realized that he wasn't perfect and never claimed to be. When I knew Woody for that period in the early 1950's he never romanticized himself. He was not responsible for his own "legend". It was created by Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax and the people in the left wing in New York City in the Village. He was articulate in a very basic way and communicated this beautifully. This being said, there are damn few great folk style revivalist performers that can measure up to the standards that we would like them to have. This is true for presidents as well as folkies.

Joe Klein's book was well researched but having read it, having read Dunaway's book on Pete, having read "Lonesome Traveler" in my experience with each of these people there was a whole bunch of things left out. No one has written what I would consider the absoulte most definitive biographies of any of these wonderful performers. That book would have to contain the real motives of the people being investigated and this is not easy to do.

IMHO this is the legacy of the nineties. We need to hear from the people themselves as about what they really thought and felt rather than have others do if for them.

I think that it's admirable to have committments to loved ones, have a high moral standard, respect the values that keep a society together. But it's not helpful to criticize those that don't measure up as being categorically "egocentric", "mean", "selfish" or any of the other perjoratives. The solution? Let's stick to the facts and keep the labels out of it.

My opinion of course,

Frank


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: bob schwarer
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 04:37 PM

Frank, what do you think of Woody's own books as far as being accurate in an autobiographical sense?

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 05:32 PM

It must have been the Kline book on Woody I read; I recallthat Marjorie divorced Woody not because she didn't love him and want him around, but because with his behavior disturbances, he was a menace to the children.

That he went on to have another child, knowing he had a genetic disability was the height of irresponsibility (for both of them).

Woody was a young man when he abandoned his wife and FOUR children in the Dust Bowl. He had no symptoms, and his mother dies in an asylum before Huntington's chorea was identified. I have never heard anyone defend that.

MAG


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 05:50 PM

Frank,

What a joy it is for me to hear from someone who knew so many of these important performers. I don't know how you found the Mudcat, but I want to thank you for being so willing to share your views and experiences and for being humble enough to state them as your views and experiences.

I sure hope you continue to hang around.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Aug 99 - 06:03 PM

Frank, have you read Jimmy Longhi's book "Woody, Cisco and Me"? It's a wonderfully funny (and quite touching) account of their 3 merchant marine voyages. His descriptions of them playing for the troops in the belly of the ship while the torpedoes are buzzing around outside is bloody harrowing! He fleshes out Cisco in a way that I hope is true to life. On those voyages Cisco Houston was NOBODY'S sidekick. Very much the leader of the three. I didn't know his eyesight was THAT bad though. In your travels did you meet Jim Longhi? He sounds like an interesting man. The photos of Jim and Cisco (who both seem to be about 6'2") surrounding little Woody are marvelous.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 26 Aug 99 - 11:45 AM

Mag,

It's not clear whether Woody knew he had the symptoms or not in the early days. But it's clear he had them. It could easilly explain his behavior. If he didn't know what it was, then how could he be held responsible for having children? I do know that his mother had burned down a house and that his three year-old daughter Kathy perished in a fire.

Roger, thank you. It's my honor to be able to share anything I know about these amazing people. If you live long enough you're bound to run into everyone. :)

Rick, I read Jim Longhi's book and enjoyed it immensely. It seemed to ring true about what I remember of Cisco and Woody. Cisco was nobody's sidekick, that's for sure. He was a strikingly handsome man and he studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse I think. He wanted to break into the movies. I think he was as good looking as Gable but the blacklist held him back.

If you knew Cisco, you could see him blink his eyes a lot as if trying to see better. I'm very near-sighted too so I have empathy for him. Cisco never wanted to wear glasses. Marlon Brando had the same thing, very near-sighted. Glasses don't help an acting career and this was before the development of contact lenses.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: LD
Date: 26 Aug 99 - 10:48 PM

Mr. Frank Hamilton :

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing rationality to this discussion. Everything you have said about Woody is right on the money. Joe Klein's might have done "a lot of research and soul searching" but in the opinion of my brother who died two years ago at 87, and spent lots of time bummin' with Woody during the depression, he "researched the wrong folks."

Thanks again, Mr. Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 01:09 AM

Hey, folk, I stand her sheepishly repentant and I take your assessment of my shoot-from-the-lip song to heart. Please try to realize that my talking blues was like when a growing pimple on one's nose decides it's time to do it's imitation of Mount St. Helens right in the middle of a set. All you can do is wipe the puss & blood away & keep on pickin' & grinnin' as best you can.

Still, I wish, as a fan of his great songs, that Woody had been nicer to his wives and kids. Today, if I'd acted the way he had, I'd be in a 12-step program to help me do things differently.

And I do know the hell of having a disease for 20 years that takes a toll on one's physicality, as well as having terrible mental disruptions. All that without knowing what the f*** was happening to me and having surgery after surgery after surgery to "cure it" while the diagnosis was all wrong all along. It made me damn near suicidal---until the right diagnosis lifted the weight from my shoulders (and I got a decent anti-depressant).

Love,

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 11:03 AM

LD, thank you for your thoughtful response. It rang a bell for me.

Art,

I for one am glad that you posted your song and for this thread. As you can tell by my big mouth, I'm not one for censorship and relish a good dialogue which I think has happened here. I, like you, wish Woody had been more responsible to his kids but I've never really heard from Arlo or Norah or any of the kids how they felt about their father and whether they understood where he was coming from. It would be interesting to know.

It's my opinion that it's important to write all kinds of songs about all kinds of things. If nothing else, it makes for great dialogue.

I am so deeply sorry, Art, for all that's happened to you but judging from your fine recording that you sent me, it hasn't diminished your talent and your contribution to the music we love one bit. I found myself being very moved by your songs and selection and love your humor. You're a very special guy and it's been my privilege to see you perform at the Old Town School and I'm a fan.

Keep writing those songs whether anyone likes 'em or not! As this thread turned out, it was important. You had something important to say and that's the mark of a useful song IMHO.

Love back at ya' my friend, you are a treasure.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 11:11 AM

Hell, Art, it was a great song, and you meant well. Dante misrepresented the people of Siena in the Divine Comedy. Shakespeare's Richard III is Tudor propaganda. People have been complaining about how badly Mrs. Casey Jones was treated in "Casey Jones" for 70 years. Maybe your song will be a hit, and people will start yelling and screaming about whether Woody Guthrie was a saint or not, which would at least get his name in the paper again.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 01:52 PM

Hey Art, several of us have already stolen it, with due credit of course, (like Fielding and I)and made the subtle change here and there in the best tradition of the folk process. BTW, you're "playing" on the stereo right now.........Christ I gotta' find some better stuff...maybe Def Leppard............(:+)

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Doctor John
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 02:48 PM

To Frank Hamilton, I've only just come to this thread having been on holiday. It is really fascinating and enlightening to hear from someone who actually knew Woody and Cisco and others; and from someone with a non judgemental and compassionate nature. I did try to start a thread to gain some information from those who knew the influential folk singers of the 30's, 40's and 50's before "time runs out"; unfortunately this thread was not well received, Max being particularly disgruntled I thought. I agree that reasons and motives behind the recorded facts can never really be known and even the best biographies - and Joe Klein's is among the best, I'm sure - must contain an element of speculation; no writer can really be truely objective no matter how hard they try. If you've read many books about King Ricard lll you'll know he varies from a saintly genius to the foulest of devils, each writer interpreting the known facts according to his or her pre judgement and fancy; both views nonsense of course. I'd be grateful to hear more. Dr John


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 04:18 PM

This is all very interesting and educational for me. Art...brilliant, whether a judgement or not, the spontaneous outpouring is great!

I have sugestion, one that will be familar to Art: why don't those of you who have been there, done that, i.e. Frank Hamilton, Art Thieme, Sandy Paton and others, get busy and write your own stories of how it was for you and those you knew. As Frank pointed out, maybe some of the biographers researched the wrong people. Why let this kind of discussion carry on about you years down the road??? (Not that it's bad!) Put it on tape or word process it, whatever you can, get it down and preserved, please!

luyaKatardentachivist


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 05:11 PM

Dr. John, Thank you for your kind words. You are so right. Everyone has a different impression of the people we meet. Also, I was much younger when I knew Woody. My impression would undoubtably be different now. One thing that really strikes me. Woody had a disarmning honesty. Every word seemed like it meant something truthful. He was brief often like Hemmingway but hit on something important each time. I love his quote, "I hate a song that makes a man feel small". He didn't care for a lot of the negative Nashville type songs of the day. I don't think he liked the song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" because it seemed so fatalistic and self-pitying to him.

Kat,

Good suggestion. And I find this group very helpful because it jogs the memory. It makes me go back in time and remember what it was like. I am writing stuff down. I think it would be great for all of us who were there to do that. I know that Erik Darling is in the process of doing this and Jo Mapes has finished her book. Sam Hinton has written his as well and Sam's is one of the most fascinating life of a folksong interpreter I've ever had the pleasure to read. It would be great to have the books from Sandy and Art as well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 05:41 PM

Frank, for my two cents worth, what the biographies tend to give are names, dates, and places. Some people need those, but what is really missing and getting lost is the elusive "feel" for things. Things that to the people who were there seem trivial, but contribute to generating a picture in the mind's eye. For example, in biographies you almost never know: how did people stand? (slouched, upright, etc.). Did they always seem tired, alert? How did they talk (fast, slow, slurry, interrupting others). Did they look you in the eye when they talked? Were they good at sharing onstage and off? These are both physical qualities and more expressive qualities that are hard to put into words, but give us the real person, and not the cardboard. And whole lost activities: what was it like to do X in those days.... And so on... There are a hundred of those questions, illuminating details that no one will be able to answer who wasn't there, and all we will have to work with, sometimes, are a few movies and some novels.
I once sat a friend of my father -- both bomber pilots with the RAF during the war -- down with a taperecorder, and I asked him to just live through a whole day, what he ate, what he would have listened to, smells, sounds, the feel of his uniform, what the morning looked like, and so on. It took hours, detours while he explained what some obscure thing was, and then went back. Of all the hours of tape we once did, those were by far the most important and interesting, and irreplaceable.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Aug 99 - 05:41 PM

Ya know, I've no desire to write anything "for publication"!! This cyber-publication, in direct response to PEOPLE needing and wanting specific information, even if this thread is 4/5 "creep", really gets me off in some way with it's immediacy and instanteneousness. -- (nice word, huh?). Being cajoled and prompted and precipitated by the original queries here in this forum seems to provide me with the motivation to publicly spew it all---good or bad--whatever erupts---like that pimple I mentioned previously. In the past, writing columns for magazines I thought that seeing it in print 3 months later was pretty cool. But THIS instant gratification is great and it gives me the push I seem to need/want go get me going. Is that what adiction is all about? Yeah, I guess so. LOets all do our own movie right here, kids: it'll be called "HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING---AND LOVE MUDCAT"!! Me and 'spaw get to play Laurel & Hardy. Martin Landau (as Bela Legosi plays Catspaw. Big Mick or Cisco will play me. I grew a moustache 40 years ago to look like Cisco. It didn't work, but if he played me in the movie, folks too young ro remember'd think Cisco was me.

I could live with that.

Perception is 9/10 of reality. (or: "The media is the message."---Marshall M.)

Art (the thread creep himself...)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 28 Aug 99 - 03:56 PM

Boy, Peter T, have you got that right! Well put! That's why I like autobiographies the best particularly when people describe how they think, feel and even what they had for breakfast reveals something about them. IE: Woody was a little guy. Cisco was tall. Mutt and Jeff. Woody was feisty. Cisco was cool. Cisco would never have written "This machine licks facists" on his guitar. And his didn't have a hole kicked in it either as Woody's did. (It would be interesting to compare Woody's old guitar with Willie Nelson's). When I first met Cisco, he was natilly dressed wearing a dark suit and a tie. When I saw Woody and Cisco play together one time it was quite a contrast. Jim Longhi's account rings true to me because he was there. (Woody, Cisco and Me). Woody did look you in the eye. So did Cisco. He would blink at you and smile. He was so cool. (Not cold but in the hip use of the term). Cisco was a generous soul. Woody too. These guys lived through some tough times and there was never a feeling of permanence in their lives. Woody was a wanderer all of his life. He had little conception of what it was like to be "rooted" with a home and children. Wandering was his way of life because he didn't know anything else. These guys came out of the great Depression where there was little disposable cash and you didn't have things like we do today. You had to go out in the world and slay dragons...make something of yourself...and it was a time of ideologies rather than income. Unless you were already rich, making a living doing anything was a tough thing to do. I speak as a Depression baby. My mother desribed my early childhood euphemistically as "genteel poverty". No cash and lots of ideals.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: LD
Date: 28 Aug 99 - 05:50 PM

Mr. Hamilton:

That was again fantastic! KEEP WRITING! I remember when my brother brought Cisco to our house once (they were broke and hungry!) and you've captured what I saw as the essence of the gentelman. He kinda had an eye for my older sister; he wanted to read the our newspaper, but asked me read it to him, saying he wanted to see how well I read. My brother told me later he had me do that because he didn't want my sister to see that he needed glasses!

Keep writing, Mr. Hamilton!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Aug 99 - 06:02 PM

Art & Frank, yes! Keep it coming! Art, I know what you mean. I think the spontaneity, a related GREAT WORD, of the writing on here produces some of our very best, all of us.

luvyaKat


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 11:24 AM

And Frank,

It's great to hear you get riled up and, so passionately and graphically, tell it as it was from your point on that horizon then. Lawrence Durrell, in his 4-novel trilogy "THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET" showed pretty vividly that the center (Woody in our case here), as viewed from all the points on the circle looking in, is always seen differently by all. That depends on their baggage that they bring with them (for good or for ill) and, also, the angles presented to their vision at the time of day (or night) that it happens to be when they encounter their own mental photograph of that one person (or thing) in the middle. Mr. Hamilton, when you're writin' from the heart, we sure can hear it. And it's about so many topics that we do want to hear about--people and times that we'd've loved to be along for the ride with you and Guy & Jack for that time with Billy Faier in New Orleans. Were you guys & gals really dancin' naked in that Louisiana downpour? Did you actually learn to play harmonica from Woody? What was he like as a teacher? (We know what you're like as a teacher---those group lessons at the Old Twn. Schl. of F.M. wouldld've been enough to drive someone else schizoid.---As my old uncle used to say, "Schizophrenia beats dining alone!) ;-) And I'm glad you're enjoying that retro CD o' mine.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Dani
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 11:56 AM

I just heard someone say, you can never really see the world (substitute Woody Guthrie or Art or you or me) as it is, you can only see it as YOU are.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Doctor John
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 03:00 PM

I wonder how accurate Joe Klein's biography was in fact. A minor point this but JK describes Cisco as "dark" while Jimmy Longhi describes him as "blond". Now JL knew him and later describes him dyeing his hair to look like an Arab so here we can tell who is right. Now this is a trivial point but one we can check; but what about the more important and deeper points that we can't. I guess JK just saw a B&W photo. We've heard some unkind things said about Woody. All I can know is what I've learned from his songs, writings and LofC interview. He comes over to me as a honest, decent man who cares about his fellow human beings. Not the sort of distant (although not necessarily hypocritical) caring of someone in an air conditioned office but of someone who lived the life first hand. People in the early stages of HD are often accused of being drunk because of slurred speech and unsteady gait; another side of the disease is they cannot feel empathy and they are often sexually uninhibited. They have unpredictable mood swings and can be very aggressive. The sad part is they are still aware of what is happening to them and can't do anything to stop it. It destroys families as well as the sufferers. Talking about the personalities of folk singers, did anyone meet Bascom Lamar Lunsford? Dr John


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 07:03 PM

Hi Art,

Love your CD. Warm, straight-ahead sincere renditions of the folk music I love. Like that 9 string guitar too! Gets a full sound on the trebles and a good solid single-string bass note. Refreshing!

Guy Carawan, Ramblin' Jack Elliott (who was called Ramblin by Odetta's mother not because he traveled so much but because when he got wound up on a story, there was no end. "I gave my love a Jack Elliott story that had no end." Mrs. Felious, Odetta's mother said about Jack after being treated to a Jack "tale", "That man is the ramblinist man I ever heard!" Hence, Ramblin' Jack.

Did we dance naked in the rain? I didn't. But I know the girl Jack is talking about. She was a red-headed modern dancer and seemed stoned to the gills. Jack may have done this. There's nothing that he wouldn't do. 912 Toulouse had a palm tree in the courtyard that was walled off from the street by a high wooden fence. There was an escape back door to the alleyway in back. When the rain bucketed down on New Orleans Vieux Carre the steam would rise out of the streets in a mist. That historic "dance" might have taken place. It was probably one of many.

I spent about two days with Woody in Topanga Canyon in Will Geer's seed shack where Woody lived. I had to learn to play Sonny Terry's style for a local Los Angeles City College production of Finian's Rainbow. I made the pilgrimage up the winding Topanga Canyon Boulevard to the Geer residence to elicit Woody's expertise. He showed me cross-harp (he was generous and would show anyone anything any time) and we wound up playing for about 16 hours straight or so with breaks for shooting the shit. I did learn to play credibly for the show from Woody. The "Dance of the Golden Crock" that Sonny played on Broadway for the original cast with David Wayne and Ella Logan.

What was Woody like as a teacher? Like the rest of us I suppose. He just showed you how to do it. Then you copied him. Nothing formal. Just like how we all learned folk music for the most part. Monkey see, monkey do. And that may be the best way of all.

Dr. John,

Jack, Guy and I met Bascom Lamarr Lunsford in Ashville in 1954. We appeared on the notorious Ashville folk festival where a year preceding, he had introduced our own Dick Greenhaus, (then married to Kiki) and his performance group as "the three Jews from New York City". I guess if he knew Jack's and my Jewish heritage he would have introduced us as "two Jews from New York City and a Gentile". As it was, I think he introduced us as "Commonists".

In the first ten minutes of meeting Bascom, he was convinced that Jack, Guy and I were "Commonists" Guy blanched, Jack looked non-plussed and I laughed my head off.

Bascom warned Red Parham, (the great harmonica player who played with "Crazy" George Pegram, the "Mayor of Statesville") that we were not to be trusted. "Got Commonists in town".............

Jack got so mad that when we talked about Bascom, he referred to him as Bastard Lampoon Lunchfart.

Had a puny Sunday morning breakfast with him, the kind where you get served cold coffee, and he lectured us on how these outside agitators from New York were coming down and interfering with the folk songs. "Take that song, Robertson's Farm, for example. Pete Seeger changed it to Penney's Farm. Them sharecroppers were happy with their lives. Seeger's the worst of the lot."

Next, he went out to his mailbox to receive a new album that he'd just recorded for Folkways Records. He seemed excited about it. He sputtered when he pulled it out and read the liner notes. It was a glowing chronicle of Bascom and his contribution to American folk music. Well, Pete wasn't wrong. Bascom was one of the greatest of the old time traditional folk singers even if he was a crusty, cantankerous, prejudiced, mean old country lawyer. But he also loved folk music and put on a great show. The Ashville folk festival was one of the best I've ever been to. It showed Bascom's dedication. George Pegram, Red Parham, old time unacompanied ballad singers, Ashville cloggers, (not the crinoline set but vigorous high school kids. You can hear something like this when Chub Parham accompanies the Asheville cloggers Library of Congress Vol 1. Don't know if Chub and Red were related but theyu might have been.

Sorry to be so long-winded about all of this, but you did ask.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 07:32 PM

And, we will keep asking! This is wonderful, Frank, Please don't stop! Anyone else, if you have more to add, please do!

Katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 07:57 PM

Frank,

I always thought Bascom was a great guy!! ;-) **HUGE SMILE**

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 99 - 10:41 PM

THAT WAS A JOKE!!!

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Aug 99 - 03:10 PM

Hi-
You had to be there. I was.

The year I encountered Bascomb Lamarr Lunceford was 1953; the place The Asheville
Folk Music Festival (organized and run by Lunceford).
Lunceford (he was too dignified a man for me to think of him on a first-name basis)
did, as a matter of fact, introduce the two guys I was with (Bob Rachlis and Arnold
Feldman) and myself as "three Jewish boys from up north". Which, needless to say, was not
appreciated at all.
If one wishes to get into motives and excuses for what I consider (and I'm not sure
Lunceford considered) improper behavior, you should remember that this was a man who
had spent much of his life collecting, presenting and playing the traditional music of his
region, only to see a bunch of people like Seeger and other carpetbaggers (I'm presenting
his views, not mine) "take over" and pervert the music to their own Communist ends.
I suspect that he viewed us rather as an MC of a present-day show might introduce an
Eskimo bluegrass group--our Jewishness made us an oddity at this mostly-local festival.

Bypassing the introduction for a moment, he did allow three rather scruffy
individuals to perform at his festival, and did let us in for free (which we greatly
appreciated). He also spent a fair amount of time talking to me about folksongs (including a
bit of fulminating about Cecil Sharp, who mis-heard Swannanoa Tunnel as Swannanoa
Town, and perpetuated the mis-iunderstanding in print).
Keeping this in mind, and remembering that he was a fine singer and banjo picker,
and that he was a tremendous force in keeping Southern Appalachian music alive, and that
he was a fine songwriter (Mountain Dew was his) I still disliked (and still dislike) the man
as a bigoted reactionary. Much the same way that I recognize Woody's importance, and
creative genius, and enjoy listening to his recordings, but disliked (and still dislike) him for
being an irresponsible, pathological egotist. (Yes, I knew him, too)
Who cares, anyway? Lunceford and Guthrie can still be listened to and read and
appreciated as artists; nobody's apt to meet them in person, so it makes no never mind to nobody
whether they were mean, or nice, or whatever.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 12:33 AM

Dick. I want to thank you your thoughts on those times and places. It's interesting to me that with all the reading I've done on the resurgence of old time music I've never once seen anything in depth about the personal relationships between the rural old time players and the young city fans (and collectors). I gather that many of the latter were Jewish (and from the north) and that initial meetings might often be strained (to say the least) and I wondered how the folks involved got around the cultural issues.

In an article, Ralph Rinzler was quoted as saying that he didn't find the "usual southern attitudes towards race" in Doc Watson. I suspect from what Frank said earlier that a thick skin and willingness to laugh (at least on the outside) was very helpful at times.

Steven Calit talks at length about how he viewed the personal relationships between black blues artists and the white collectors in his book on Skip James.

It's not an easy issue to talk about, so thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 07:05 AM

Rick,

I think it's important to talk about. It puts things in proper perspective. I agree with Dick that these folk artists have to be appreciated for what they contributed but they are not saints. Nor are many of them nice folks probably.

As to "who cares?", Dick, I care. I'm not going to say I don't. When someone does something offensive and indulges in racism, bigotry or meanness, I'm not going to white-wash it.

Good. So we can diffuse a "phoney" idolatry of the folk artist and evaluate his/her contributions independently of their character. Healthy.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 11:45 AM

I surely agree. PLEASE check out Alan Lomax's book "THE LAND WHERE THE BLUES BEGAN" (Pantheon Books---New York---1993) for the first, allegedly, "truthful" look at what he and his dad, John Lomax, encountered in the south when they were doing their collecting work there. Some of it is terribly hard to read. And Alan does not gloss over the fact that he, and especially his father, had southern racist views too. We are all victims of our inheritances and our upbringing.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: SandyBob
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 02:46 PM

Hi Frank,

I laughed so hard at "Bascom Lampoon Lunchfart" that my work colleagues wanted in on the joke. That was more fun than one is supposed to have on a computer. Thanks for the stories and de-constructions.

Sandy Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 02:59 PM

Art,

Alan told me he couldn't go back to Lubbock after he decided to tour with Leadbelly. His father disowned him for his association with Leadbelly and his liberal views on race.

Sandy Bob,

Jack will probably not own up to Bastard Lampoon Lunchfart these days. But I can't stop thinking about it too. His version of "I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground" is one of the best I've ever heard. Kinda' definitive. Truth is, he was a bully. But he did give us some enduring folk music. An early friend of mine, Derroll Adams patterned his style of singing on Bascom's. Derroll can be heard with Jack Elliott in European recordings. They were great together. Derroll now lives in Brussels. Donovan wrote "Epistle to Derroll" for him.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 01 Sep 99 - 12:08 AM

Y'know...for some idiotic reason, the word "folk" has become a value judgment, rather than an adjevtive or noun with any real meaning. There is good folk music and bad folk music; "real" folksingers can be nice, liberal, leftish, populist types; they can just as easily be nasty, reactionary, rightist, misanthropes. Or any combination thereof.
There are a lot of nice people that are musically of negligible interest to anyone; there are some brilliant musicians, folk and otherwise, that are miserable bastards.
And then there are mudcatters who are (with maybe one exception) lovable, brilliant and folky as hell.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Sep 99 - 02:02 AM

Dick, you old charmer you!

Boy, the creeping thread here has really got my wheels turning.

Frank mentioned Derrol Adams, and my first thought was "There's a name that I've seen so many times, but I barely know what he sounds like". A song that Sing Out printed and re-printed again and again was Portland Town, with Adams listed as composer. I guess he has lived in Europe for many years, but I don't know whether he actually played "professionally" or whether music was a sideline.
A few years back I bought an album from a discount bin called "Karel Bogard" "Blues From Across The Border". It had a striking cover - a group of (what appeared to be) European buskers, and a small much older man with an open back banjo. The music was bizarre to say the least. American traditional blues sung by folks with very thick German and French accents: "Zay gall it Starmmy Moandayy"! The last cut on the album was a simple little rythmic "drop thumb" banjo instrumental, with the credit: D. Adams. Still would like to hear him sing sometime. ('specially Portland Town)

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Doctor John
Date: 01 Sep 99 - 01:05 PM

Thanks for the information on Derroll Adams, Frank. There was a thread about him a little while ago but no one knew what had happened to him. I had a couple of Jack/Derroll LP's when I was at school years ago; now lost. We thought they were really excellent together and an escape from the "pop" stuff that we were supposed to like. And a link back to Woody and Cisco who were our big heroes in those times; still are but in a more mature (hopefully) way these days. Met Jack briefly in the late 50's but not Derroll. There are several CD's of both of them individually available but I have found one of them together. You were wondering somwhere about anyone producing "folk" material these days. I don't know about the situation in the USA but in the UK here there are several excellent performers singing traditional material and a series of singer/songwriters doing rather personal introspective (and dreary) stuff; not folk to me. However, Jez Lowe from the North East writes and performs some wonderful stuff, some of which I'm sure will pass into the folk process. Dr John


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Subject: RE: fresh
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Feb 02 - 11:10 PM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:07 AM

Possibly my all time favourite Mudcat thread. As I said wayyy back then, hearing the personal anecdotes is sheer Gold to me.

Thanks for bringing it back mark

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 11:15 AM

Odd timing indeed. In the UK BBC TV is showing a programme on BBC2 tonight at 09.50 about Huntington's disease.

It follows the Day family, who are struggling to come to terms with the inherited degenerative condition of the brain and nervous system that Woody and his family had to struggle with.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Mark Clark
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:29 PM

You're welcome, Rick. I vacillated on whether to refresh it or not. It is such an amazing thread and no one interrupted the exchange to post something trivial and meaningless... until right now that is. Perhaps I should have started a new thread and left this one as it was. I just wanted people to see it.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean talking blues--Woody Guthrie
From: Amos
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 10:39 PM

No, Mark -- I never would have seen it if you hadn't stepped in, and it has added real value to my life just reading it. Tanks -- I think ya done right.

A.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 09:55 PM

And here we are, nearly 6 years later. Once afain, it's time others saw this thread.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 10:03 PM

I noticed that my song "Mean Talkin' Blues" is attributed to Woody in the Digitrad. If that could be amended/changed I'd appreciate it.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 03:40 PM

Getting back to the song MEAN TALKING BLUES, most of which was posted by Dani above on 23 Aug 99 - 10:53 PM I haven't heard the whole song, but I listened to several sound samples at Allmusic.com, and I think I can make a few additions/corrections:

1. In the first verse:

"And I push folks down and I cause train wrecks"

2. These lines belong somewhere in the song, probably after the verse that begins "I'm mean in the East"

Ever'body in this world looks mean to me.
There's nothin' good on earth that I can see.
I steal the nickels off o' dead people's eyes
And I spend 'em tryin' to learn how to get a little wiser.


3. "keep you without no vote" (not "clothes")

4. There are several peculiarities in Guthrie's list of bugs. He mentions some I've never heard of, but here's my best attempt to spell them phonetically:

And the roaches,
And the ternamites*,
And the sand fleas, and the tater bugs, and the grubworms,
And the stingarees, and the vinegar-roans, the tramplers, the spiders,
Childs o' the earth, the ticks and the blowflies

[*a dialectical or whimsical pronunciation of "termites"?]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:01 PM

Vinegaroon, also here (though the picture is more exciting in the first link!).

~ Becky in Tucson
(we have 'em, but I've never seen one...!)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mean Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 09:15 AM

I now think the word that I transcribed as "tramplers" must have been "tarantulas", which, with Woody's pronunciation, probably came out "t'rant'lers".


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Subject: Lyr Add: MEAN TALKING BLUES (Woody Guthrie)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 09:18 AM

Copied from The Woody Guthrie Foundation web site. These lyrics seem authoritative, but I think Woody recorded the song more than once, so that's why there are some variations.

Talking blues typically consists of four-line rhyming verses each followed by several free-form unrhymed lines. I have reformatted the song to emphasize this structure.

MEAN TALKING BLUES

I'm the meanest man that ever had a brain.
All I scatter is aches and pains.
I'm carbolic acid, and a poison face,
And I stand flat-footed in favor of crime and disgrace.
    If I ever done a good deed -- I'm sorry of it.

I'm mean in the East, mean in the West,
Mean to the people that I like the best.
I go around a-causin' lot of accidents,
And I push folks down, and I cause train wrecks.
    I'm a big disaster -- just goin' somewheres to happen.
    I'm an organized famine -- studyin' how I can be a little bit meaner.
    I'm still a whole lot too good to suit myself -- just mean.


I ride around on the subway trains,
Laughin' at the tight shoes dealin' you pain,
And I laugh when the car shakes from side to side.
I laugh my loudest when other people cry.
    Can't help it -- I was born good, I guess,
    Just like you or anybody else ---
    But then I... just turned off mean.


I hate ev'rybody don't think like me,
And I'd rather see you dead than I'd ever see you free.
Rather see you starved to death than see you at work --
And I'm readin' all the books I can to learn how to hurt.
    Daily Misery -- spread diseases,
    Keep you without no vote,
    Keep you without no union.


Well, I hurt when I see you gettin' 'long so well.
I'd ten times rather see you in the fires of hell.
I can't stand to fixed... see you there all fixed up in that house so nice.
I'd rather keep you in that rotten hole, with the bugs and the lice,
    And the roaches, and the termites,
    And the sand fleas, and the tater bugs,
    And the grub worms, and the stingarees,
    And the tarantulas, and the spiders, childs of the earth,
    The ticks and the blow-flies.
    These is all of my little angels
    That go 'round helpin' me do the best parts of my meanness.
    And mosquiters.


Well, I used to be a pretty fair organized feller,
Till I turned a scab and then I turned off yeller,
Fought ev'ry union with teeth and toenail,
And I sprouted a six-inch stinger right in the middle of the tail,
    And I growed horns...
    And then I cut 'em off. I wanted to fool you.
    I hated union ever'where,
    'Cause God likes unions
    And I hate God!


Well, if I can get the fat to hatin' the lean,
That'd tickle me more than anything I've seen,
Then get the colors to fightin' one another,
And friend against friend, and brother... and sister against brother,
    That'll be just it.
    Everybody's brains a-boilin' in turpentine,
    And their teeth fallin' out all up and down the streets,
    That'll just suit me fine.
    'Cause I hate ever'thing that's union,
    And I hate ever'thing that's organized,
    And I hate ever'thing that's planned,
    And I love to hate and I hate to love!
    I'm mean. I'm just mean.


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