Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Show 56 - Delivery Man Blues


In the pre-war period, people were dependent on delivery men coming to their doors with the necessities of life: coal to keep warm, ice to keep food fresh, and that food itself was often delivered. There were also plumbers and other repairmen showing up at your home. These men were necessary, but the way a lot of blues singers saw it they were trouble. A man showing up at your house when your woman is home alone couldn’t do any good. Washboard Sam recorded a song about it that became a classic - We Gonna Move:

When I get you mama, we going to move on the outskirts of town
When I get you mama, we going to move on the outskirts of town
Because I don't want nobody always hanging around

Well the reason mama, I don't want you to stay here
I don't need no iceman, I'm going to get me a frigidaire
That's why I'm going to move on the outskirts of town
Because sweet baby, I don't want no iceman hanging around

Well I'm going to heat with gas mama and not with coal
I don't need no coalman stopping and hauling coal
That's why we going to move on the outskirts of town
Because I don't want no coalman always hanging around

Well I'm going to bring my groceries mama myself every day
That’s going to keep that grocery boy, I know, away
That's what I'm going to do when we move on the outskirts of town
Because I don't want no delivery boy always hanging around

Well it may be funny mama, as funny as can be
If we have any babies, I want them all to look like me
That's why I'm going to move on the outskirts of town
Because I don't want nobody always hanging around

Blind Boy Fuller recorded the same song a few months after Washboard Sam. His version was titled I'm Going to Move (To the Edge of Town):

I‘m gonna take my baby and move on to the edge of town
Yes, I‘m gonna take my baby, gonna move on out of your town
‘Cause I don't want nobody always hanging around

Now the reason why, now baby, I don't want you to stay here
I don't need no iceman, I'm going to get me a Frigidaire
That’s what I’m gonna do mama, when I move on out of your town
Yes, I don’t want nobody always hanging around

Then I’m going to heat with gas mama and not with coal
I ain’t gonna have no coalman stopping and hauling coal
That’s why mama, I’m gonna move on out of this town
Cause I don’t want nobody, always hanging around

Well I'm going to bring my groceries baby, myself every day
That’s going to keep that grocery boy, I know, away
That’s why I’m gonna do when I move on out of your town
Cause I don’t want no grocery boy always hanging around

I may be funny mama, funny as daddy can be
If we raise any babies, I want them all to look like me
That’s why I’m gonna do when I move on out of your town
Cause I don’t want nobody, always hanging around

Papa Charlie Jackson took a different perspective with Coal Man Blues in 1927. His song was about the coal man on the road whose woman was at home alone:

I get up early in the morning, sweet mama and I comb and curry my horse
I get up early in the morning, sweet mama and I comb and curry my horse
Because I don't want nobody not to see my pa

Then I go up to the coal pile, get me a thing of ? coal
Then I go up to the coal pile, get me a thing of ? coal
Then I get on my wagon, then I'm a coal‑traveling soul

I ought to tell ‘em how much for coal: thirty‑five cents a bag
I ought to tell ‘em how much for coal: thirty‑five cents a bag
And if you want to know my name, just look around on my sack

I got on my wagon, trying my best to sell my coal
I got on my wagon, trying my best to sell my coal
My baby's back home serving my jellyroll

Now a lot of you women, some of you ought to be put in jail
Now a lot of you women, some of you all ought to be put in jail
Some standing on the corner trying to get themselves in jail

I’ve got coal
I’m selling coal
I’m selling coal
I’m delivering coal

Baby, baby, baby can’t you see your papa’s got coal?
Peg Leg Howell recorded Coal Man Blues about a tragedy involving a coalman on the road:

Woke up this morning 'bout 5 o'clock
Got me some eggs and a nice pork chop, cheap cigar and a magazine
Had to run pretty fast to catch the 5:15

Let me tell you something that I seen
Coal man got run over by the 5:15
Cut off his arms and it crushed his ribs, did the poor man die? No, the poor man lived

Let me tell you something that I know
Coal man got run over by the 5:44
Cut off his arms and it crushed his head, did the poor man die? No, the poor man lived

Hard coal, stovewood, man
Hard coal and the stovewood man
I ain't got but a little bit left, if you don't come get it, gonna burn it myself

Just the wood in the stove and the match in your hand
Get the wood in the stove and the match in your hand
Wood in the stove and the match in your hand
You run to the door and stop to tell the coal man

Sell it to the rich and I sell it to the poor
Sell it to the rich and I sell it to the poor
Sell it to the rich and I sell it to the poor
I sell it to the nice brown standing in the door

Furnish your wood, furnish your coal
Furnish your wood and I furnish your coal
Furnish your wood and I furnish your coal
Make you love me, doggone your soul

I've got your water, got your gas
Got your water and got your gas
Got your water and I've got your gas
You treat me mama, then that’s your last

Let me tell you, mama, what's the matter now
Let me tell you, mama, what's the matter now
Let me tell you, mama, what's the matter now
You don't want me, take me anyhow

Sweet mama, sweet mama, what's on your mind?
Mama, sweet mama, what's on your mind?
Mama, sweet mama, what's on your mind?
Says, "You can't quit me, no need of trying”

I'm going up the country, don't you want to go?
Going up the country, don't you want to go?
Going up the country, don't you want to go?
Leaving here, ain't coming back no more

Me and my rider and two or three more
Me and my rider and two or three more
Me and my rider and two or three more
We're going up the country don't you want to go?

Went down the road, feeling bad
Went down the road, mama, feeling bad
Went down the road, mama, feeling bad
I feel so worried as I ever had

Me and my
Me and my mama and two or three more
Me and my brown, two or three more
Going up the country don't you want to go?

Going away and it won't be long
Going away and it won't be long
Going away and it won't be long
Don't believe I'm leaving, count the days I'm gone

Sonny Boy Williamson sang about wanting to be a coalman or an iceman who can visit women in their homes. Coal and Iceman Blues:

Lord, I would love to be your iceman, but I would like to be your coalman too
I said, I would love to be your iceman, but then, and I would wanna be your coalman too
Now, you wouldn't be telling your coalman, you know what your iceman do

I'm going to give you my phone number, so you can call Sonny Boy up everyday
I'm going to give you my phone number, so you can call Sonny Boy up everyday
Now you need any ice or coal, you must let Sonny Boy know right away

Now, I believe you need some ice, baby, your ice has done gotten old
I believe you need some ice, baby, your ice has done gotten old
Now I won't disturb none of your people, baby, I'll ease it in through your back door

Now tell me what the matter with your basement? I don't believe you use Sonny Boy's coal no more
Oh, tell me what the matter with your basement? I don't believe you use Sonny Boy's coal no more
Well, I always been nice to you, I would bring it in through your back door

Sonny Boy was offering ice and coal to get into that woman’s house as often as he could. In a similar vein, Bo Carter offered absolutely any service that you could possible need. It’s one of Bo Carter’s classic example of that sexual innuendo that can barely be considered innuendo, All-Around Man from 1936:

Now I ain't no butcher, no butcher's son
I can do your cutting 'til the butcher man comes
'Cause I'm a all-around man, oh I'm an all-around man
I'm mean I’m an all-around man, I can do most anything that comes to hand

Now I ain't no plumber, no plumber's son
I can do your screwing ‘til the plumber man comes
'Cause I'm an all-around man, oh I'm an all-around man
I mean I'm an all-around man, I can do most anything that comes to hand

Now I ain't no miller, no miller's son
I can do your grinding ‘til the miller man comes
'Cause I'm an all-around man, oh I'm an all-around man
I mean I’m an all-around man, I can do most anything that comes to hand

Now I ain't no milkman, no milkman's son
I can pull your titties 'til the milkman comes
'Cause I'm an all-around man, oh I'm an all-around man
I mean I'm an all-around man, I can do most anything that comes to hand

Now I ain't no spring man, no spring man's son,
I can bounce your springs 'til the spring man comes
'Cause I'm an all-around man, oh I'm an all-around man
I mean I'm an all-around man, I can do most anything that comes to hand

Now I ain't no auger man, no auger man's son
I can blow your hole 'til the auger man comes
'Cause I'm an all-around man, oh I'm an all-around man
I mean I'm an all-around man, I can do most anything that comes to hand

Bluesmen both feared delivery and service men coming to their house and wanted to be those men. Having your woman cheat on you is the ultimate blues situation and these are some great songs about being on . You can try and avoid the ice man with new technology like the frigidaire, but in the world of the blues a man with the woman home alone means trouble and it seem to be unavoidable.


Songs:
We Gonna Move - Washboard Sam
I'm Gonna Move (to the Edge of Town) - Blind Boy Fuller
Coal Man Blues - Papa Charlie Jackson
Coal Man Blues - Peg Leg Howell
Coal and Ice Man Blues - Sonny Boy Williamson
All Around Man - Bo Carter