One of the most graphic accounts of this horrific leaving/parting scene was captured by post-war bluesman Johnny Shines in 1974, invoking the description on a steamboat by Abraham Lincoln back in 1841 (see above). Lord, I wonder will my mother be on that train. by Doubleday . Well, do Lord, remember me-ee. In collaboration with my younger brother, Rex, and blues brothers, Alan White, Robin Andrews and Dai Thomas we intend to highlight the non-religious music of the African American before 1865; and at the end of the Civil War. (1936-1941)[Document CD. The collective undertaking for this is: Rex Haymes, Alan White, Robin Andrews, Dai Thomas, and Max Haymes. Blues music was originally performed by one singer accompanied by a guitar or banjo. The scars of slavery, both physical and mental, ran deep and so it is not surprising that some 60 years after the end of the Civil War, they would still be felt running through the Blues. One by Deacon Leon Davis in 1927  with a slightly different tune and another by Rev. The Coffle Song is essentially a secular one with only the ‘I’ll pray for you when I rest’ line and the last verse having any religious reference. Gates’ equally terrifying Hell Bound Express Train [OKeh 8532] from 1927. The majority of blues musicians had descendants from Africa who were transported to America in the slave trade. Note: When you embed the widget in your site, it will match your site's styles (CSS). Not surprisingly, since the Katy’s early arrival in the state, the first blues to include examples of what was essentially a ‘floating verse’ emanated from Texas singers; or ones closely associated with Texas. Here’s my hand, here’s my hand, here’s my hand; (Glory!) I’m goin’ to sing a song tonight. Century. (x2) She’s a-strainin’ at every nerve. Reviews There are no reviews yet. On his second Black Train outing he elaborates on his introductory ‘mini-sermon’. Patton was to adapt this verse in another blues from the same session: Heart Like Railroad Steel [Paramount 12953], omitting ‘Clack’s Crossroads’. She is a ‘great’ spirit venerated by Algeria’s Ouled Nail, a Berber tribe who are famed for their beautiful and independent dancers,” (49)    The Berbers in North Africa would have been involved in the sub-Saharan slave trade and their countless coffles. Pub. Both are Instrumentals and they're so-so, but the reason to get this is the Blooded version. McGhee (the less well-known one to collectors) in 1942 for the Library of Congress in Clarksdale, Mississippi, which has yet to be reissued. Stream ad-free or purchase CD's and MP3s now on Although this spirit is often depicted as a lovely woman there is “typically some little give away that she’s more than that, such as one goat, camel, or donkey foot. While’s I sing, come on an’ accept prayer, tonight. Has all deeds an’ your wicked thoughts; I say this next tune is uh… a song that they used to sing. The following year Blind Willie Johnson set down Take Your Stand [Columbia 14624-D] although he sings “take a stand”. Most locomotives in the WW.I era and after, certainly in the South, were painted in utility black. Milton took his inspiration from the ancient Arab saying via Rev. The funeral train it’s a-comin’; (136), Some 14 years later, Tennessee’s Son Bonds took the last line in the Henry Thomas song and adapted it to the refrain of Black Gal Swing [Bluebird B8852], I’ll be there in the morning if I live; You may bury my body, Oooh! This is just a preview! Comin’ through Rockwall. Gates got his Death’s Black Train title. This features the upbeat rhythm imparted by the Delta Boys and some of the most inspired(?) J.M. PART 2 – The Coffle, Crossroads, and the Auction Block. Walter Johnson, again, noted that cities which had slaves in holding pens before dispensing them further south included St. Louis in Missouri. Take a stand, take a  …, take a stand; This throws another light on the crossroad (aka crossing) saga, in the Blues and in the early 20th. ed. This leads us once more into the world of spirits, ancient gods and goddesses. Well, de devil will be on one side an’ de pitchure of de Lord God on de othah one, an’ whichever bone dey cuss, if dey don’t git it, dey soul is sold to de devil; if dey does (“git it”) dey done sold deyself to de devil – but dey grab de bone, see. Dickey’s report, some 20 years later in Springfield, Missouri; is one by future  US President Abraham Lincoln. Mostly, the only method of access across the country was by river or dirt roads and ‘Indian’ trails. in Hell there’s all the hell hounds howlin’. fare[sic] ye well, my bonny love, I have a right, have a right, have a right; (Glory!) A rather peripheral connection with a famous early aircraft, the Sopwith Camel, seems to throw up more questions than answers. Some seven years later the most famous reference appeared on record by Robert Johnson who often went to see Charley Patton play in the 1920s; along with Johnson’s main influence Son House. (Oooh!) (Footnote 22)  I suppose the Stop Look And Listen title by a handful of artists in the 1920s and 30s, (see Table B) could be seen as indirectly to do with railroad crossings as that is where similarly worded signs are to be seen; being an obvious warning to people about oncoming trains. Pick it up!) I got his word, got his …, got his word; During the 1850s the Sante Fe (Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Possibly the last pre-war recording to feature the crossing is a Library of  Congress side by ‘Big Boy’ simply titled, [aka whippoorwill-a popular bird in Southern folklore], Footnote 23: See a graphic and sometimes unbelievably horrific account of a coffle journey from near Mali to the West Africa ‘slave coast’ in the late 18, s anger at the situation originally depicted in. in God; God was all they did have to believe in. By the 1820s, the then new states of Alabama and Mississippi had joined this evil trade. Max Haymes. One of several later ones appears as the very antithesis of the mournful Coffle Song. J.M. Celeste. The purpose of the trader in having them sung is to prevent among the crowd of negroes who usually gather on such occasions, any expression of sorrow for those who are being torn away from them; but the negroes, who have very little hope of ever seeing those again who are dearer to them than life, and who are weeping and wailing over the separation, often turn the song thus demanded of them into a farewell dirge. Containing details of ‘over a thousand spirits’ (according to a comment on the back cover) and their animals symbols/preferences/familiars, only six have connection with the ‘ship of the desert’ as the camel is sometimes called. She said she saw Lady Alice’s demon manifest as not one, but three black men, who each had sex with Lady Alice. Illes adds that Aisha Qandisha  is a “temperamental, volatile spirit, quick to scratch, strangle, or whip those who displease her or don’t obey her commands fast enough.” (53)   Finally, as already stated there is the telling manifestation. I was standin’ at the crossroad, biddin’ my rider goodbye. Well, they come at ten Every day at ten o’ clock. This has been discussed at some length (Footnote 20) and so will not be pursued further here. The period was  one when almost any new idea [re transportation] was given a try. These see the lowly camel in various roles as a beast of burden, a mode of transportation, for rearing as providers of milk, – and, at least among Arabs, as a source of food. And his fury at the ‘auction block scenario’ with the resulting aftermath in Patton’s own time, being even more explicit in what has to be unique to the Delta blues king: I done left old Hell, left old Hell, left old Hell; J.M. ([Hyatt asks] Which bone do they grab?) Nix’s Farewell Station, taken the left fork at the “damnation switch”, and is heading for the fiery terminus! Sinner, why don’t you pray? In fact commencing not long after the arrival at the James River of the first boatload of African indentured servants in 1619. The seemingly ‘shallow’ life-style of the Southern plantation owners Dixon. While fellow Texan Henry Thomas used the song’s refrain when he cut Charmin’ Betsy [Vocalion 1468] also in 1929. This is not An’ you  know, at the:same time the cow [white woman: “uh-huh”] come to its calf at night. I’ll look for you in every gang, They were chained six and six together. However, on his Stones In My Passway [Vocalion 03723] in 1937, Robert Johnson invokes a more ‘unholy’ and much earlier icon from the spirit world of ancient gods and vodou/hoodoo. Annihilated Rhythm Apparently the 12 inchers of this single were mislabeled stating that the B-side was Jones the Rhythm. Southern sounds in the rural landscape: bird calls, whistling in the Blues, role of the Gates get his influences? This would explain why Johnson suddenly turns to the Christian God for emergency help: Lord, have mercy, save poor Bob if you please. By his subsequent marriage to a Chickasaw girl he became entitled to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation. The train I’m-a talkin’ about she’s-a movin’ through the land; Marshall’s last sentence is inaccurate. An’ it’s one thing certain, they have stones all in my pass. From the late 1910s, there was an increasing demand for recordings by black musicians. I said, trouble. (27). The dark shadow of slavery times and the coffles now  seems to invade Robert Johnson’s famous Crossroad Blues. On the ‘slave coast’ of West Africa there were forts or castles manned by European nations such as Portugal and Spain. J.M. So my old evil spirit can get a Greyhound  bus an’ ride. Dat’s at chure crossroad, dat yo’ kin’ do all yo’ devilment.” (97). (30). Footnote 21: See Railroadin’ Some (Ibid. Footnote 11: Though listed in B. In West Africa, a Hausa belief runs “If one dreams of a man who is sitting alone while passers-by do not seem to notice him, that man is going to die soon.” (71)  The Hausa were one of the major peoples (rather than a single tribe) enslaved in what was to become later, Southern USA. In the same year Blind Willie Johnson recorded his Take Your Stand (1929) the King of the Delta Blues-Charley Patton- cut a remarkable two-part gospel side Prayer of Death for Paramount Records. Possibly going back to the 17th. Petronilla acknowledged that she herself cleaned the bed.” (123)   Lady Alice could be an off-shoot or avatar of Lilith. If, in his Crossroad Blues, (see above) everybody did indeed pass him by and the old Hausa belief came true; then the closing lines of Me And The Devil Blues [Vocalion 04108] would seem to be a logical result. I have only come across two references to this little-known phenomenon. (Anymore) 8:  I Carried Water For The Elephant. Slaves would often talk about their overseers in code by referencing them as animals or figures in the bible like pharaoh. Paul Swinton. I’ll meet you on that other shore. Free MP3 download (public domain) Of course these larger camel trains did not make the slave coffles redundant. It also makes more sense in the general atmosphere of Stones In My Passway.. In collaboration with my younger brother, Rex, and blues brothers, Alan White, Robin Andrews and Dai Thomas we intend to highlight the non-religious music of the African American before 1865; and at the end of the Civil War. The following song may be taken as a specimen:”. J.M. From Spain “A Basque spell suggests,…that should illness arise without obvious reason or cause, someone should bring a cauldron to a crossroads, place a comb inside the pot together with some stones, and turn the cauldron upside down. To “strike up lively”, which means that they must begin a song. Indeed, far more plausible was a rare (in the South) modified railroad locomotive built in 1899, “constructed with an exceptionally wide firebox of the modified Wootten type”, (19) often called a ‘Camelback’ or  ‘Mother Hubbard’. When the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Footnote 16) reached the ‘Cross Roads’ in 1872 the station was named McAlester.” (114). Have a bird to whistle an’ I have a bird to sing. It features a particularly grisly practice in this famous Moroccan city. If I never, never see you anymore. Tone the bell. an’ cry so over their children, til people just feel sorry for ‘em an’ walk off on ‘em. Milton knew how to hold the attention of  his black  congregation. Of course the most famous crossing in the Blues which was also a railroad crossing, is ‘where the Southern cross the Yellow Dog’ at Moorhead in the Mississippi Delta. These spirits are also known as ‘Crossroads Spirits’ or ‘Gatekeepers’. Said Mr. White: Ooooh! Well, do lord, remember me. 5). 1967. Hoodoo doctors and the chanting preachers (115) (Footnote 17)   Part of this epic song runs: Change cars on the Katy, leaving Dallas, Texas; May, 1930 in Memphis. Assign students to read the essay in this guide "What Is the Blues?" pp. prob. I’ll meet you on that other …. This article was transcribed from the original text and re-formatted for the website by Alan White, March 2010, Copyright © 2014-2021 | Welcome to | Designed and managed by Alan White, Slave To The Blues (coffles and the auction block – slave roots of the blues). (131). Robin is described in records as ‘Aethiopis’ or ‘negro’. It is intriguing that once again in this preliminary survey, Arabian culture appears to be a source for both gospel and blues songs of the African American. Fast forward some 34 years and one of only two titles by Ruby Paul is listed as Last Farewell Blues [Paramount 12592]. When you read the words "Slave to the blues," it doesn't compare to how it sounds and feels when Ma Rainey sings this song. Do remember me. Oooh! Men sometimes mistake her for a lady of easy virtue, but beware: that can be a fatal error. J.M. (Hallelujah!) Century; as Hyatt’s female informant from South Carolina implies. This includes a small group which featured some variants of the verse: Before I’d stand to see my baby to leave town;
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