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Listen NowTitleFile NumberSubjectsRecording DateAlt TitleGenresInstrumentsCitiesCountiesStateSettingEditor NoteTechnical NoteOnline Resources
Interview about making music for a living6605A2, 7-16-1942,
Interview about childrens' games6610A1, 7-20-1942

Interview with Edwards about ring games he played as a child.

Marred by noise in the right channel at 2:17.

Interview about Spread My Raincoat Down and the meaning and origins of the blues6610B1, 7-20-1942

Discussion of the preceding “plantation song,” which Edwards learned as a boy in Shaw, Miss.; what the blues “are all about”; and the first time he had the blues.

Interview about sacred songwriting and old-time reels and songs6622A1, 7-23-1942

Discussion of songwriting and inspirations. Interspersed with sung example of “Precious Lord, Stand By Me.” Haffer discusses singing reels for candy-knockings, corn-shucking, and dances. Stagolee and Frankie and Johnny are mentioned.

Interview about old-time reels and levee camps6622A2, 7-23-1942

Continued from previous band – Liza Jane, Bill Bailey, Shortenin’ Bread, and a levee-camp holler are mentioned. “Back in the ’90s.” Discussion on levee camps, bad men, and sinfulness follows.

SC to -0.84 / 95.2%

Interview about sinful instruments; levee camp incidents; work songs; old-time dances and reels; banjos, guitars, and tent shows.6622B, 7-23-1942

Recollection of the piano being seen as a sinful instrument; congregants saying the church was being turned into a barrelhouse. Lomax asks about incidents on the levee camp, prompts Haffer with question about cocaine – he recites Take A Whiff On Me, and discusses the distribution of bad-man songs among the general population. Continues with discussion road-gang and timber songs. Haffer sings fragment of John Henry. Recollections of old-time square dances with fiddle and French harp (harmonica) and “calling figures.” Lomax prompts his memory with ballads like Barbara Allen and the Gallows Pole; Haffer says he recalls Casey Jones, but hums a fragment of Casey Bill instead. Haffer recites Birmingham Jail/Bird In A Cage, which he says was his favorite song. Discussion moves to banjos, tent shows, “floating palaces,” and changing musical tastes and repertoires. Talks about Joe Turner and the popularity of the song about him, played on guitar, dating it around 1900. With Lomax’s suggestion, he says Make Me A Pallet On the Floor and Alabama Bound were contemporaneous, and that the guitar eclipsed the banjo in popularity. “They thought they was progressing.”

Interview about geopolitics and race relations6623B1, 7-23-1942
Interview about songwriting and song-peddling6626A1, 7-23-1942

Discussion of race relations, peddling songs and newspapers, and his topical songwriting – in particular his ballad about the Titanic, which sold several thousand copies.

G on pitch pipe6628A97-24-1942
G on pitch pipe6629A77-24-1942
Interview about storytelling, his biography, Bud Doggett, and tough guys6630A4, 7-25-1942,

Discussion of learning the preceding story from a Walter Hutton, storytelling style, his own biography, the late plantation manager Bud Doggett, tough guys (including a Jack Devil).

Talk on recording / machine set-up6642B3, 7-28-1942

Lomax and Williams discuss what she’s going to sing; he cautions against walking across the floor while the disc is being cut.

Interview about Don't Care Where You Bury My Body / Glory, Glory, Hallelujah6642B5, 7-28-1942, ,
Interview about her family singing, praying, and shouting6642B7, 7-28-1942

Ms. Williams discusses the various ways of getting happy and being moved by the spirit. She then addresses some younger visitors, telling them they can come back and perform song ring plays and reels for Lomax and Jones.

Interview about Watts hymns (lining hymns), education, and old songs6643A1, 7-28-1942

Ms. Williams discusses her family’s singing – both jubilee and Watts hymns – and her education and that of her children. She sings fragments of “Rock Daniel,” “Chariot’s Coming (Jubilee),” “Mockingbird.”

Interview about roustabouting, roustabout songs, and steamboating reminiscences6645B1, 7-28-1942

Includes snippets of several roustabouts’ songs and reminiscences of working on the river, a race between the Katy Adams and Jim Lee, and Friars Point in the steamboat era. “One of the finest towns for a colored person to make his living… if you can make your living here and you don’t bother nobody, and stay in your place, nobody gonna bother you.”

Interview about the benefits of whiskey; maintaining at work; negotiating differences in foremen; Bacon's work history6649A, , 8-8-1942

Interviewed by Lewis Jones and Alan Lomax, with some comments by Elias Boykin. After discussing whiskey, bosses, Mexicans on a crew in Kansas, he explains his work history, first on a levee camp (at Wolf River Bottom, Tenn.) and later on the railroad. After getting laid off, he followed musician friends Joe and Buddy Davis into Memphis where he became “a little sheik on gamblin'” before he started following the harvest until 1929. “…a pint of whiskey, and go on home and drink it, and he stay by the fire, that’ll help him. When they fixed it so a man [who] went out in the exposure couldn’t get a whiskey that’s the worst thing they could do. That’s the life of a man, out, you see. When he come in and open the pores of his skin, see. He been out chill all day long, some time he wet, sometime he be in a place he can’t make a fire. Well, out in the exposure, and all that exposure and stuff goin’ in his skin—if he drink him a little whiskey—I don’t mean go and do like some folks, get on the streets and get sloppy drunk and things like that—which, why, you can’t take care of your job if you do that. But just drink a little whiskey, you know, along. That better for him, you see. He’ll live and last and be whole lots more super than a man who don’t never drink no whiskey. You catch a man who don’t never drink no whiskey and be out in the exposure, well, why, he’s always be hurting, or aching, or he can’t halfway pick up or somethin’ all the time. But if he drink him a little whiskey along, it help him. That gives him pep. Nerve.”

Identified by Lomax as the Delta Tourist Camp (suggested by Chris Smith to be the Delta Tourist Courts • 1600 N. State St. in Clarksdale)

Interview about Georgia Skin and gambling / Jack O' Diamonds6649B, , 8-8-1942, ,

Discussion of gambling and hustling cards interspersed with singing of “Jack O’ Diamonds” and assorted floating verses. Band begins with idle guitar picking. Band ends with a woman’s voice: “I wouldn’t let those boys sit on the bed.”

Identified by Lomax as the Delta Tourist Camp (suggested by Chris Smith to be the Delta Tourist Courts • 1600 N. State St. in Clarksdale)

Interview about whites' attitudes towards blacks6650B3, , 8-9-1942

“They’d rather have ignorant niggers; don’t know nothing.” Identified on AFS card as “Attitudes of white people toward Negroes.”

Interview about his musician father6651A2, 8-9-1942

Discussion of his geneaology – his father’s father was white; his mother was “full-blooded Indian. All the Negro that’s in me is on my mother’s side.” His father was a musician who “could play most any kind of music.”

Interview about riverboats and roustabouts6652B3, 8-9-1942

Recollections of experiences on the river, including sailing from Memphis on the Kate Adams, and the treatment and techniques of roustabouts.

Interview about compulsory labor; freedom of movement; bad men; obeying white folks6653A, 8-9-1942

Discussion of compelling local African Americans (including children) to pick cotton and instances of resistance. Lomax asks about the baddest men in the area; Starks recalls various fights, whoopings, and Bud Doggett. “Mississippi was the best place on earth for a good nigger and the worst place for a bad nigger.” Says his grandmother, a “slavery-time woman,” always taught him to obedient to white folks.

Interview about Sheriff Greek Rice outlawing music6654A4, 8-9-1942

Identified on AFS card as “Mr. Greek Rice Outlaws Music.” Discussion of Sheriff Rice closing down the juke joints and barrelhouses.

Fo' Day Blues/Interview6662A1, 7-28-1942, , ,

Interview about Clarksdale, dance halls, local piano players, and this tune takes place while Jones plays. (Despite Alan’s introduction of the date being “the 26th or 27th,” it was the 28th.)

Walking Billy/Interview6662B1, 7-28-1942, , ,

Interview about the “Walking Billy” and other dances and tunes; ragtime pianists; and the clientele of the joints where Jones would play takes place while he plays the tune.

Unidentified ragtime tune (#2)6662B2, 7-28-1942, , ,

Followed by interview about ragtime, blues, and assorted dances at the venues he played.

Interview about Clarksdale's red-light district, his jazz band and their tunes6663A1, 7-28-1942, ,

Discussion of closing of Clarksdale’s red-light district and scattering of musicians; his band and its personnel, and their tunes.

Interview about his jazz band and their tunes (continued)6663A2, 7-28-1942, ,

Discussion of his band, its personnel, their tunes, and renowed local musicians.

Interview about early blues6663A3, 7-28-1942,

Discussion of early blues, including Joe Turner Blues (which he recalls as the first blues he heard), Midnight Blues, and Corrina.

Corrina, Corrina/Careless Love/Interview6663B1, 7-28-1942, ,

Interspersed with discussion of early blues.

Interview about Levee Camp Blues (#1)6667A3, 7-30-1942,
The Eighth of January6670A1, , , , 8-15-1942, , , , , ,

Preceded by introduction by Alan Lomax. The setting given is that which Lomax announces; he later (in his “The Land Where the Blues Began” [1993]) referred to it as “The Funky Fives,” where a picnic was underway. His other reference in that book to “Po’ Whore’s Kingdom” remains unclear.

Corrected to +0.595 / 103.5%

Interview about his father, influences, and the Carrier Line6670A2, 8-15-1942

Hemphill discusses his father, musical influences, and instruments and repertoire, then the story behind “The Carrier Line,” which he wrote in 1903, concerning lumber magnate John Carrier and his engineers Dave Cowart and Mr. Bailey, and the wreck on the road at Malone’s Trestle. The song was commissioned by Mr. Woolard, the section foreman.

The Roguish Man (part 2)6670A3, , , , 8-15-1942, , , , ,

Followed by discussion of Jack Castle, the subject of the ballad. The discs were accessioned in the wrong order, putting the second part of the song before the first.

The Strayhorn Mob6671A1, , , , 8-15-1942, , , , , ,

Followed by a discussion of the ballad, concerning a lynching in Strayhorn, Miss.

Emmaline, Take Your Time6672A3, 8-15-1942,

Followed by interview with Hemphill about learning to play the quills, which he had from a Jeems Lomax. “Must be kin to me,” says Alan. Sid is playing ten-hole quills and blows each note for demonstration.