Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Show 49 - Sick With the Blues



Perhaps the most poetic song ever written about being sick is St. Louis Jimmy Oden’s 1941 classic Goin’ Down Slow:
I have had my fun if I don't get well no more
I have had my fun if I don't get well no more
My health is failing me and I'm going down slow


Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in
Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in
Tell her to pray for me, forgive me for all my sins


Tell her don't send no doctor, doctor can't do no good
Tell her don't send no doctor, doctor can't do no good
It's all my fault, didn't do the things I should


On the next train south, look for my clothes home
On the next train south, look for my clothes home
If you don't see my body, all you can do is moan


Mother please don't worry, this is all in my prayer
Mother please don't worry, this is all in my prayer
Just say your son is gone, I'm out in this world somewhere

Oden expressed the sentiment that a doctor couldn’t help. Bukka White did the same thing when he was calling for his lover to help with the High Fever Blues:
I'm taken down with the fever and it won't let me sleep
I'm taken down with the fever and it won't let me sleep
It was about three o'clock before he could let me be


I wish somebody would come and drive my fever away
I wish somebody come and drive my fever away
This fever I'm having sure is in my way


The fever I'm having sure is hard on a man
The fever I'm having sure is hard on a man
They don't allow my lover come and shake my hand


I wonder what’s the matter with the fever, sure is hard on a man
I want to know what’s the matter, how come it’s hard on a man
Doctor said it ain’t the fever, it’s that your lover had another man


Doctor get your fever gauge and put it under my tongue
Doctor get your fever gauge and put it under my tongue
Doctor says all you need, your lover in your arms


I want my lover come and drive my fever away
I want my lover come and drive my fever away
Doctor said she do me more good in a day than he would in all of his days

In Sick Bed Blues from 1937, Peetie Wheatstraw expressed what it’s like to have your baby suffering in bed:
When I left, my little girl was sick and in the bed
I said when I left home, my little girl was sick and in the bed
Now I know she wished that I was there, well now to hold her aching head


She's on her sickbed suffering with aches and pains
She's on her sickbed suffering with aches and pains
Now you know it hurts my heart well now when she calls my name


She rolls and she tumbles now from side to side
She rolls and she tumbles I said from side to side
Then again now you know all that I can do is start and hang my head and cry


Ain't it hard now when you're all alone
I said ain't it hard when you're all alone
I never did mind though, well now when all you’ve got is gone

The future gospel great Thomas Dorsey recorded a couple of variations on a song featuring a duet between a doctor and a patient. One featured Big Bill Broonzy and was released under the name Georgia Tom and Jane Lucas. Terrible Operation Blues:
Alright nurse, bring in the next patient


Get up on this table, pull off that gown
Raise up that right leg, let that left one down
Pull off them stockings, that silk underwear
The doctor's got to cut you, mama, don't know where


You got two or three tumors, shaped like a cube
Two or three leaks in your inner tube
Bring on that ether, bring on that gas
The doctor's got to cut you, mama, yes, yes, yes
The doctor knows to fix it, the doctor knows just what to do


Oh doctor, can I have a just a little water?
Shh, be quiet now, be quiet
Oh doctor, I'm so sick!
That’s alright, the doctor ain't gonna hurt you
Can I have a little water?
After a while
Oh, what you gonna do with that long knife?
Oh, don’t worry about that, that's just the doctor's tool
Oh doctor, what you gonna do with that saw?
Oh, we just take off legs with that, be quiet now
Ooooo


Now see, there you are, the doctor's through!
Oh doctor, what did you take out of me?
Alright, I’ll tell you now


Four monkey wrenches, and a two-horse shed
Pair of old britches and a bale of hay
Your ribs were kinda loose, they moved about
if I hadn't sewed you up, everything woulda fell out
I put in new tubes, tightened the exhaust
I went into your hood and cleaned your spark plugs off
Your body's kinda weak, now don't be hard
From now on be careful with them connection rods
Alright, doctor!
The doctor knows to fix it, the doctor knows just what to do


Oh gee, doctor, but I feel fine
Oh... that’s fine
Hey doctor, I feel like I wanna do a little messaround
That so? Go ahead
Ooooh, say doctor that’s good
Now, that's the way patients do that come to this hospital


Now your body's kinda weak, don't be hard
Go kinda easy with them connection rods
Alright, doctor!
The doctor knows to fix it, the doctor knows just what to do

The other was Operation Blues with Frakie Jaxon doing his female impersonation:
Is Doctor Eazit in?
I’m right in, what’s your trouble?
Oh Doctor I think I’ve got appendicitis
What side?
I need operating right there


I can see right now, you’ve got to take off all of your clothes
Do what? Now doctor, don’t get fresh, I’m a married woman
I can see right now madam, you’ve got to take off all of your clothes
Oh, I understand that, I can see you know what I need
Yes, better than anyone knows
Oh, doctor


Oh doctor, doctor I can’t undress before you
Alright now, don’t be bashful, don’t be bashful, I’m a doctor
I know, but doctor oh doctor, I cant ‘u’nress before you


But you do a lot of funny things, honey
When?
Before the doctor sees
Oh doc, you don’t mean to tell me that
Quiet


I know but look, what’s that you got there doctor? What’s that you got holding in your hand?
Don’t you worry about that, now don’t you worry I’m, the doctor
Yeah, but a woman knows doctor
Please tell me, what’s all of that you’ve got holding in your hand
That’s nothing but my tools honey, can’t you understand?
Oh, I understand now


Now be real quiet madam, lay flat on your back
This way doc? This way?
No, just kinda raise that left leg a little
Oh, now, I can do that
Now be real quiet madam, lay flat on your back
How am I doing now?
Fine


But if you hurt me doctor, I swear I ain’t never coming back
I won’t hurt you
Oh, doctor you’re hurting me...
Oh... oooo.. yes, that is nice, you’re doing so much good
O doctor, kiss me, kiss me
Be quiet


Now how do you feel sweet lady?
Is there anymore that the doctor can do?
Now how do you feel sweet lady?
Is there anymore that the doctor can do?
Put your clothes on now


Oh, I could stay right here forever
and take off a reason from you
Kiss me again doc....

In 1924, Clara Smith sang about needing a doctor to cure her blues in Prescription for the Blues:
All day long I'm worried, all night long I'm blue
I'm so awfully lonesome, I don't know what to do
So I ask you doctor, see if you can find
Something in your practice to pacify my mind
Doctor, doctor write me a prescription for the blues, the weary blues


Let me tell you doctor why I'm in misery
Once I had a love, he went away from me
Been to see the Gypsy, hoodoo doctors too
Shook their heads and told me, nothing they could do
Doctor, doctor write me a prescription for the blues, the mean old blues


Like a little baby, all day long I cry
And if you can't cure me, I'm just as sure to die
Give me something poison, doctor won't you please
Then I'll sign a paper, died with the heart disease
Doctor, doctor write me a prescription for the blues, the plain old blues

Memphis Minnie sang about how tough it is when the doctor tells you not to drink anymore in Doctor, Doctor Blues:
Doctor stopped me from drinking, boys, I can't smoke no more
Doctor stopped me from drinking, boys, I can't smoke no more
And I can't see no peace, seems like nowhere I go


Oh, doctor, doctor, you know I got a lot of faith in you
I'd trust you everywhere
Oh, doctor, doctor, you know I got a lot of faith in you
But it hurt me so bad, when you say if I took another drink, nothing you could do


Oh, doctor, doctor, I ain't drinked in a great long time
Oh, doctor, doctor, I ain't drinked in a great long time
Bring us half a pint
I'm gonna take a drink of this, if the good Lord don't change my mind


Now, look here, doctor, don't you know my mama's done gone blind?
Now, look here, doctor, don't you know my mama's done gone blind?
I know her trouble
I was doing the best I could, but she wouldn't pay the doctor no mind


Oh, doctor, doctor, tell me what's my trouble now
Oh, doctor, doctor, tell me what's my trouble now
If you take another drink, I bet they put you in the ground
Doctor, you all right with me anyhow

Songs:
Going Down Slow - St. Louis Jimmy Oden
High Fever Blues - Bukka White
Sick Bed Blues - Peetie Wheatstraw
Terrible Operation Blues - Georgia Tom and Jane Lucas
Operation Blues - Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon
Prescription for the Blues - Clara Smith
Doctor, Doctor Blues - Memphis Minnie

Robert Johnson and Records

If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element Robert Johnson was both a consumer and creator...