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JAMES ALLEY BLUES

(Richard "Rabbit" Brown)


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Original recording: Mar 5, 1927, New Orleans, LA (Victor 20578A).

Richard Brown, one of the earliest musicians to learn he twelve bar "blues" chord pattern, was the first and most important New Orleans folk singer to record. Three ten-inch sides "James-Alley-Blues," "I'm Not Jealous" (Victor 20578), "Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice" (Victor 20578) and two twelve-inch ones (Victor 35840) "Mystery of the Dunbar Child," "Sinking of the Titanic," were cut in a New Orleans garage the same day that tuba player Joe Howard... recorded with Louis Dumaine. Brown was famous for his dramatic guitar playing which, on recordings, closely resembles that of Willie Johnson.

Harry Smith, Liner notes, American Folk Music, Folkways FA 2951-2954, 1952.


Lyrics as performed by Bob Dylan on Minnesota Party Tape, May 1961.
Transcribed by Manfred Helfert.


Times ain't what they used to be,
Times ain't what they used to be.
Well, I'm a-tell' it, people, Lord, you can take it from me.

Lord, I've seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these.
Lord, I've seen better days, I'm puttin' up with these.
Well, there's too many people, they're all too hard to please.

'Cause I was born in the country she thinks I'm easy to use,
'Cause I was born in the country she thinks I'm easy to use.
'Cause I was born in the country you know I'm easy to lose.

I gave you sugar for sugar, you want salt for salt.
I gave you sugar for sugar, but you want salt for salt,
And if you can't get along, honey, it's your own damn fault.

Sometimes I'm thinkin' you're too good to die,
Sometimes I'm thinkin' you're too good to die,
Other times I'm thinkin' you ought to be buried alive.

These are the bluest blues that a man could ever has [sic],
These are the bluest blues a man could ever have.
These are the darnest hard-luck blues a man could bag [?].


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