Friday, October 06, 2006

"Someday Baby" reminiscense

One of the songs on Bob Dylan's current album "Modern Times" is titled "Someday Baby". It brought back a memory, and I'll get to that. "Someday Baby" is one of those blues songs that has a refrain that sets a theme for lyrics to build around. Lightin' Hopkins is generally credited with the first rendition, Jerry Garcia used the song as part of his repertoire on and off again from the 70's to the 90's, Muddy Waters reworked it and called it "Trouble No More" and the Allman Brothers did a cover of that version. It's a blues refrain standard, I guess, open to each musician's experience and creativity.

Dylan's version is solid music with lyrics that are all his but totally true to the spirit of the song. His first verse is:
"I don't care what you do, I don't care what you say
I don't care where you go or how long you stay
Someday baby, you ain't gonna worry po'me anymore."

Lightin' Hopkins' version with a slightly different refrain begins:
"She's on my mind every place I go
How much I love her, ain't nobody know
But someday baby you ain't gonna worry my life anymore."

Muddy Waters' version has his own lyrics as well, with again a slightly different refrain:
"Ah keep on dancing baby, let me dance one dance
Well I know when I go, I'm living too fast
Someday baby, ain't no trouble for me anymore."

Dylan's ends with:
"Living this way ain't a natural thing to do
Why was I born to love you?
Someday baby, you ain't gonna worry po'me anymore."

My first introduction to "Someday Baby" was hearing Junior Wells at a club in D.C. sing it in 1971. It was perfect. It was on his Delmark album "On Tap" a year or so later. I loved the song and in my mind it belonged to Junior Wells.

So the memory. In about 1982 I went to see Junior Wells and Buddy Guy at a blues club in New York called Tramps, at that time at its first location on E. 17th St. It was a long narrow hallway of an entrance and bar, and at the end of the bar it opened into a small room and stage. As expected the band was tight, the sound true south side Chicago, and Junior's voice and harp led the way with Buddy's strong backing guitar and the band in sync. Then came Buddy's part of the show and he did what New York blues fans had come to hear and see. He played like Jimi Hendrix, he played with his teeth, he played behind his back, he held notes forever. The club was filled with yells and whoops. Feeling a little claustrophobic in the midst of all this, I walked back to the narrow hall of a bar for some relief, and at the far end near the door sat Junior Wells, alone, smoking a cigarette, a bottle of vodka and a full glass in front of him. He was rail thin and tired looking. I went over, beer in hand, did a mind if I join you, got a nod, and sat down. He motioned to the bartender for another glass. I simply said something like "nice show", he said "thanks man" and we sat there for a while listening and sipping and exchanging very few words.

I don't know what triggered it, but at one point I commented that "Someday Baby" was one of my favorite songs and that I'd heard it first when I saw him in D.C. about ten years ago. And he looked up and really looked me in the eye for the first time and said you mean this. And in a low whispering singing voice, he began to sing the song to me. He sang a couple of verses, looked at me, half smiled, took a long drink of his vodka, and sang a few more verses. The band broke, he nodded, power shake, and he walked back to the stage.


Blogger Julie said...

Loved your post, John!

I saw Junior and Buddy in 1975 at the University of Chicago (?), Buddy wearing a gorgeous purple and red plaid suit.

In the early '90s, I caught Buddy again at a club on Main St. in Lexington, KY, without Junior this time and wearing denim overalls. He was still doing the impersonation act (which included Stevie Ray Vaughan riffs, too) And there was a new shtick, where he jumped offstage during one solo, very exciting.

Buddy stalked all around the bar, playing the whole time. I remember he got to the back of the joint pausing at the door of the Women's bathroom -- twang-twang! then blasted the door open with his shoulder and disappeared, guitar wailing.

11:48 AM  

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