COOL DRINK OF WATER

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • COOL DRINK OF WATER
    Tommy Johnson was an influential American delta blues musician who recorded in the
    late 1920s, known for his eerie falsetto voice and intricate guitar playing.
    By 1920 he had become an alcoholic and itinerant musician, based in Crystal Springs,
    Miss, but travelling widely around the South, sometimes accompanied by Papa Charlie
    McCoy. In 1928 he made his first recordings with McCoy for Victor Records. The
    recordings included “Canned Heat Blues”, in which he sang of drinking methanol from
    the cooking fuel Sterno. The song features the refrain “canned heat, mama, sure, Lord,
    killing me.” He recorded two further sessions, in August 1928 and for Paramount Records
    in December 1929. He did not record again, mistakenly believing that he had signed
    away his right to record . This resulted on a legal settlement with The Mississippi Sheiks
    who had used Johnson’s ‘Big Road Blues’ melody in their enormously successful Sitting
    on Top of the World“. Johnson was party to the copyright settlement, but was too drunk at
    the time to understand what he had signed to.
    Johnson’s recordings established him as the premier Delta blues vocalist of his day, with a
    powerful voice that could go from a growl to a falsetto. He was also an accomplished
    guitarist. His style influenced later blues singers such as Robert Nighthawk and Howlin’
    Wolf, whose song “I Asked for Water (She Brought Me Gasoline)” was based on
    Johnson’s “Cool Water Blues”. He was a talented composer, blending fragments of folk
    poetry and personalized lyrics into set guitar accompaniments to craft striking blues
    compositions.
    I asked for water
    Then she give me gasoline
    I’d ask for water
    Gave me gasoline
    I asked for water
    Then she give me gasoline
    Lord, Good Lordy, Lord
    Cried, Lord I wonder
    Will I ever get back home?
    Cried, Lord I wonder
    Will I ever get back home?
    Lord, Good Lordy, Lord
    I went to the depot
    Looked upon the board
    I looked all over
    How long had this eastbound
    Train been gone?
    He done taken your faror
    Blown his smoke on you
    He done taken yo’r
    Blow’d the smoke on you
    Lord, Good Lordy, Lord
    Lord, I ask the conductor
    ‘Could I ride the blind?’
    ‘Wanna know could a broke man
    Ride the blinds’
    ‘Son, buy yo’ ticket, buy yo’ ticket
    ‘Cause this train ain’t none of mine
    ‘Son, buy yo’ ticket
    Train ain’t none of mine’
    ‘Son, buy yo’ ticket
    ‘Son, this train ain’t none of mine’
    Lord, Good Lordy, Lord
    ‘Train is none of mine’.