|The Sparks Brothers||Everyday I Have The Blues||The Sparks Brothers 1932-1935|
|Memphis Slim||Nobody Loves Me||Rockin' This House: Chicago Blues Piano 1946-53|
|Lowell Fulson||Everyday I Have The Blues||Lowell Fulson 1948-49|
|Joe Williams & Count Basie||Everyday||Complete Clef-Verve Count Basie Fifties Studio Recordings|
|B.B. King||Everyday I Have The Blues||Ladies & Gentlemen... Mr. B.B. King Disc|
|James (Beale Street) Clark||Get Ready To Meet Your Man||78|
|Jazz Gillum||Look On Yonder Wall||When The Sun Goes Down|
|Boyd Gilmore||Just An Army Boy||The Modern Downhown Blues Sessions Vol. 1|
|Elmore James||Look On Yonder Wall||King of the Slide Guitar|
|Charlie Segar||Key To The Highway||Piano Blues Vol. 2 1927-1956|
|Jazz Gillum||Key To The Highway||Bill ''Jazz'' Gillum Vol. 2 1938-1941
|Big Bill Broonzy||Key To The Highway||The War & Postwar Years 1940-1951|
|Little Walter||Key To The Highway||The Complete Chess Masters 1950-1967|
|Madlyn Davis & Her Hot Shots||Kokola Blues||Paramount Jazz|
|Scrapper Blackwell||Kokomo Blues||The virtuoso Guitar Of Scrapper Blackwell|
|Kokomo Arnold||Old Original Kokomo Blues||The Road To Robert Johnson|
|Charlie McCoy||Baltimore Blues||The McCoy Brothers Vol. 1|
|Freddie Spruell||Mr. Freddie's Kokomo Blues||Mississippi Blues Vol.2 1926-1935|
|Robert Johnson||Sweet Home Chicago||The Centennial Collection|
|Big Boy Knox||Eleven Light City Blues||San Antonio 1937|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Sweet Home Chicago||Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 1951-1957|
|Robert Lockwood||Aw Aw Baby (Sweet Home Chicago)||Rough Treatment: The J.O.B. Records Story|
|Earl Hooker||Sweet Home Chicago||Sweet Black Angel|
|Sara Martin||Alabamy Bound||Sara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928|
|Charles Johnson’s Original Paradise Ten & Monette Moore||Don't You Leave Me Here||The Complete Charlie Johnson Sessions 1925-1929|
|‘‘Papa’’ Harvey Hull and Long ‘‘Cleve’’ Reed||Don't You Leave Me Here||Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice|
|Charlie Patton||Elder Greene Blues||Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton|
|Big Joe Williams||Baby Please Don't Go||Big Joe Williams Vol. 1 1935 - 1941|
|Sam Montgomery||Baby Please Don't Go||East Coast Blues in the Thirties 1934-1939|
|Tampa Kid||Baby Please Don't Go||The McCoy Brothers Vol. 2|
|Vera Hall||Another Man Done||The Beautiful Music All Around Us|
|Muddy Waters||Turn Your Lamp Down Low||The Complete Chess Recordings|
Today's show is a rather obvious one but for some reason I have never got around to it until now. Today we trace the origins and evolution of several classic blues songs. We provide the history and context behind classics like “Everyday I Have The Blues”, “Look On Yonder Wall”, “Key To The Highway”, “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Baby, Please Don't Go.” The impetus for this show came from blues expert Alan Balfour who I've been corresponding with for many years. While discussing Jazz Gillum he reminded me that James Clark's "Get Ready to Meet Your Man" was the first incarnation of "Look on Yonder Wall." To my surprise the song does not seem to have been reissued and Alan was nice enough to send an MP3 of the song which he took from a 78 copy he owned before selling it for a "silly" amount.
"Every Day I Have the Blues" was written by Pinetop Sparks and his brother Milton. The song was first performed in the taverns of St. Louis by the Sparks brothers and was recorded July 28, 1935 by Pinetop with Henry Townsend on guitar. In 1949 Memphis Slim recorded the song as "Nobody Loves Me." Although he used the Sparks brothers' opening verse, he rewrote the remainder of the lyrics. "Nobody Love Me" was released as the B-side to Memphis Slim's "Angel Child" single for Miracle — "Angel Child" became a hit (number six Billboard R&B chart), but "Nobody Loves Me" did not chart. However, when Lowell Fulson with Lloyd Glenn adapted Memphis Slim's arrangement, but used Sparks' earlier title, it became a hit and spent twenty-three weeks in the R&B chart, where it reached number three in 1950 Fulson's version, with sax and guitar solos, influenced B.B. King's later rendition of the song. Jazz singer Joe Williams had hits with two different recordings of the song. The first version, recorded with the King Kolax Orchestra in 1952, reached number eight in the R&B chart. In 1955 in New York, he recorded a second and perhaps the most famous version of the song with the Count Basie Orchestra, titled "Every Day." It spent twenty weeks in the R&B chart, where it reached number two. Also in 1955, B.B. King recorded "Every Day I Have the Blues" for RPM. King attributes the song's appeal to arranger Maxwell Davis: "He [Davis] wrote a chart of 'Every Day I Have the Blues' with a crisp and relaxed sound I'd never heard before. I liked it so well, I made it my theme … Maxwell Davis didn't write majestically; he wrote naturally, which was my bag. He created an atmosphere that let me relax."
"Look on Yonder Wall", or "Get Ready to Meet Your Man" as it was first named, was first recorded in 1945 by James "Beale Street" Clark. Clark, also known as "Memphis Jimmy", was a blues pianist from Memphis, Tennessee. During the 1940's, he appeared on recordings by Jazz Gillum, Red Nelson, and an early Muddy Waters session, as well as several singles in his own name. Jazz Gillum, with whom the song is often associated, recorded a version on February 18, 1946, four months after Clark. Although the release was re-titled, it credits "James Clark" as the composer. In 1952 Boyd Gilmore cut “Just An Army Boy”, his version of the song, backed by Ike Turner on piano for the Modern label. In 1961, Elmore James recorded his version of "Look on Yonder Wall" as the flip side of "Shake Your Moneymaker" for the Fire label.
"Key to the Highway" was first recorded by blues pianist Charlie Segar in 1940. The song was also recorded by Jazz Gillum and Big Bill Broonzy and it was later a R&B record chart success for Little Walter in 1958. "Key to the Highway" is usually credited to Charles "Chas" Segar and William "Big Bill" Broonzy. Both Broonzy and Gillum claimed authorship of the song which was an enduring source of bitterness for Gillum. According to Broonzy, it is likely based on traditional songs: "Some of the verses he [Charlie Segar] was singing it in the South the same time as I sung it in the South. And practically all of blues is just a little change from the way that they was sung when I was a kid … You take one song and make fifty out of it … just change it a little bit." Segar's lyrics are similar or in some cases identical to those recorded by Broonzy and Jazz Gillum.
In 1941 Broonzy recorded "Key to the Highway" with Gillum on harmonica, Horace Malcolm on piano, Washboard Sam on washboard, and an unknown bassist. Shortly after his friend Broonzy's death in 1958, in an apparent tribute to him, Little Walter recorded "Key to the Highway" as a Chicago blues. The session took place sometime in August and backing Walter (vocals and harmonica) were Muddy Waters (slide guitar), Luther Tucker (guitar), Otis Spann (piano), Willie Dixon (bass), and George Hunter or Francis Clay (drums). The song was a hit, spending fourteen weeks in the Billboard R&B chart where it reached #6 in 1958. In 2010, Big Bill Broonzy's version of "Key to the Highway" was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classics of Blues Recordings" category; in 2012, it received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
"One Time Blues" was recorded in March 1927 by Blind Blake for Paramount. Freddie Spruell had sung it as an alternate theme to end his record ‘‘Milk Cow Blues’’ on June 25, 1926. Several groups of blues were to use this melody. The most prominent was "Kokomo Blues,’’ first recorded by Madlyn Davis in November 1927 (mistitled "Kokola Blues,"), with a second recording by guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in June 1928. "Ko Ko Mo Blues" parts 1 and 2 was recorded by Jabo Williams for Paramount in 1932. Other "Kokomo" versions include Lucille Bogan' 1933 unissued number, Charlie McCoy (as "Baltimore Blues," 1934), Kokomo Arnold ("Kokomo Blues", 1934), and Big Boy Knox (as ‘"Eleven Light City", 1937). The set of lyrics with which the tune has long flourished is "Sweet Home Chicago," first recorded by Robert Johnson in November 1936. The lyrics evolving from the "Kokomo" group of songs. Frank Busby cut "'Leven Light City (Sweet Old Kokomo)" in 1937 for Decca. The first post-war versions of the song were ‘‘Sweet Home Chicago’’ by Roosevelt Sykes recorded in 1954 followed by Robert Lockwood's "Aw Aw Baby (Sweet Home Chicago)" in 1955.
Big Joe Williams will forever be identified with "Baby Please Don’t Go," his own composition , but the melody actually emerged in 1925 out of Tin Pan Alley as "Alabamy Bound" by Ray Henderson, with lyrics by B. G. DeSylva and Bud Green. Both Lucille Hegamin and Sara Martin recorded versions of the song in 1925. The song soon found its way into more rural and downhome repertoires, sometimes as "Alabamy Bound" and sometimes as "Elder Greene." Charlie Patton recorded "Elder Greene Blues" in 1929 and Pete Harris recorded "Alabama Bound" for the Library of Congress in 1934. Harris’s version of "Alabama Bound" includes several lines about Elder Greene. Leadbelly also recorded "Alabama Bound" for the Library of Congress in 1935.
An intermediate step in the evolution of "Alabamy Bound" into "Baby, Please Don’t Go" was its almost immediate transformation into "Don’t You Leave Me Here." In this new guise, Thomas Morris was credited with writing the music, with Freddie Johnson composing the lyrics, first performed by Monette Moore, vocalist for Charles Johnson’s Original Paradise Ten, in 1927. The song became quite popular with down-home singers as either "Don’t Leave Me Here" or "Don’t You Leave Me Here.""Papa" Harvey Hull and Long "Cleve" Reed recorded a version on the Black Patti label the same year as Moore. Henry Thomas recorded it in 1929 and included a few lines from "Alabama Bound." Tampa Red recorded his version in 1932, Merline Johnson recorded hers in 1938, and Washboard Sam recorded a version in 1937. The most influential version, however, was Big Joe Williams’s 1935 recording of "Baby Please Don’t Go" which he cut again in 1941 and 1947, both backed by Sonny Boy Williamson. The first two artists to record "Baby Please Don’t Go" after Big Joe Williams were Sam Montgomery, who recorded it in the spring of 1936 and Tampa Kid, who recorded it in the fall of 1936. By the end of the Korean War, "Baby Please Don’t Go" had become a blues standard, and more than fifty versions were recorded. From the post-war era we spin Muddy Waters' 1953 version titled "Turn Your Lamp Down Low."
Another song that ties into this family of song is “Another Man Done Gone” first recorded by Vera Hall by John Lomax for the Library of Congress. In his book The Beautiful Music All Around Us author Stephen Wade talks bout this song: "When Vera recorded "Another Man Done" she told John Lomax that she learned it from her guitar-playing husband. …When writer-collector Harold Courlander came to Livingston in February 1950, he recorded both Vera singing 'Another Man Done,' as well as someone she knew: Willie Turner, a twenty-seven-year-old confined at Camp Livingston. With his two fellow inmates, he sang and recorded 'Now Your Man Done Gone,' a piece they otherwise sang on the county road gang. …Two days before Courlander recorded Willie Turner at Camp Livingson, he stopped forty miles away in Marion, Mississippi. There he recorded a singer identified in his notes "only as Cora, who sang 'Baby Please Don't Go' . . . the same song, but with some variance in the lyrics."