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Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)

21 May 13 - 09:56 AM (#3517584)
Subject: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)

Hello everyone
How you doin' all?
I'm new to this wonderful forum and this is my first thread.
One of my favorite type of songs are those great 60's folk songs from all of those great singers, the songs that all had a 'Talkin' in the title. I'm gonna give you some examples:

Talkin' New York Blues
Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues
Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues
Talkin' Candy Bar Blues

Now I just want more! can you please tell me if there anything else? anything else by other singers, other than Dylan or Peter, Paul and Mary?

Thanks in Advance

21 May 13 - 11:16 AM (#3517613)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: GUEST,Brad Sondahl

Woodie Guthrie did a few talking songs, one of which was the basis of Dylan's. See Talking Blues in Wikipedia for more information on the style...

21 May 13 - 11:17 AM (#3517614)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Dave Hanson

The Talking Blues is a long established tradition, Bob Dylan got it from his then hero Woody Guthrie, who you should check out, also Pete Seeger's ' Talkin Union '

Dave H

21 May 13 - 04:05 PM (#3517728)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: PHJim

Chris Bouchillon, billed as is credited with creating the "talking blues" form used by Woody, Ramblin' Jack, Dylan... with the song "Talking Blues".

Ain't no use in me workin' so hard,
I got a gal in the (rich/white) folks yard.
They kill a chicken, she brings me the head.
She thinks I'm workin' but I'm layin' in bed,
Dreamin' 'bout her...and three other women.

Sing Out! magazine has had many contributions in their "Folk Process" column. There have been talkin' blues written about Richard Nixon, Playing the guitar, Jimmy Swaggart, unfair bosses, World War III, home renovation and going to folk festivals:

Headed to Newport, we loaded the car
With a banjo and two guitars,
A dulcimer and a mandolin too,
An old mouth harp and a new kazoo.
You never know what you're gonna need
At a folk festival.

Though we were speedin' it wasn't a cop
But a traffic jam that made us stop.
They were goin' to Newport so we didn't mind
Any friend of folk music's a friend of mine.
Sons o' bitches...

These all use Boucillon's original talking blues rhythm pattern and changes, but there are other "talking songs" with different patterns and changes. One example is "Life Get's Teejus".

The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
The hands on the clock go round and round.
I just get up and it's time to lie down.
Life gets teejus, don't it.

My old hound dog sounds so forlorn.
He's the laziest dog that ever was born.
He's howlin' 'cause he's a-settin' on a thorn,
But he's just too tired to move over.

I once heard a disc jockey who was unfamiliar with this song, introduce it as "Life Get's To Jesus, Don't it?"

21 May 13 - 04:50 PM (#3517740)
Subject: ADD: Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues (Bob Dylan)
From: Joe Offer

Hi - be sure to take a look at the crosslinks I added at the top of this thread. It looks like we have all the songs listed in the first post except "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues" by Bob Dylan.

Guess we'd better fix that.

(Bob Dylan)

Well, I was feelin' sad and feelin' blue
I didn't know what in the world I wus gonna do
Them Communists they wus comin' around
They wus in the air
They wus on the ground
They wouldn't gimme no peace . . .

So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin' down the road
Yee-hoo, I'm a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies!

Now we all agree with Hitler's views
Although he killed six million Jews
It don't matter too much that he was a Fascist
At least you can't say he was a Communist!
That's to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria

Well, I wus lookin' everywhere for them gol-darned Reds
I got up in the mornin' 'n' looked under my bed
Looked in the sink, behind the door
Looked in the glove compartment of my car
Couldn't find 'em . . .

I wus lookin' high an' low for them Reds everywhere
I wus lookin' in the sink an' underneath the chair
I looked way up my chimney hole
I even looked deep down inside my toilet bowl
They got away . . .

Well, I wus sittin' home alone an' started to sweat
Figured they wus in my T.V. set
Peeked behind the picture frame
Got a shock from my feet, hittin' right up in the brain
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core ones

Well, I quit my job so I could work all alone
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes
Followed some clues from my detective bag
And discovered they wus red stripes on the American flag!
That ol' Betsy Ross . . .

Well, I investigated all the books in the library
Ninety percent of 'em gotta be burned away
I investigated all the people that I knowed
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me

Now Eisenhower, he's a Russian spy
Lincoln, Jefferson and that Roosevelt guy
To my knowledge there's just one man
That's really a true American: George Lincoln Rockwell
I know for a fact he hates Commies cus he picketed the movie Exodus

Well, I fin'ly started thinkin' straight
When I run outa things to investigate
Couldn't imagine doin' anything else
So now I'm sittin' home investigatin' myself!
Hope I don't find out anything . . . hmm, great God!

Copyright 1970 by Special Rider Music; renewed 1998 by Special Rider Music


21 May 13 - 05:39 PM (#3517751)
Subject: ADD: Oh, Mourner
From: Joe Offer

PHJim, I'd never heard of Chris Bouchillon (August 21, 1893 September 18, 1968), so I went to Spotify and found a treasure trove of very entertaining songs. Thank you very much for the tip.

We have a couple of songs in the Digital Tradition that are very close to Bouchillon's talking blues. One is Original Talking Blues as recorded by John Greenway. Another is Talking Blues, attributed in the DT to Woody Guthrie - but I haven't been able to find a Woody recording of this particular version to verify the lyrics or the attribution.

The Chris Bouchillon song draws its lyrics from earlier sources. Take a look at Richard Matteson's Bluegrass Messengers page for a sample of related songs.

Also take a look at Oh, Mourner in the Journal of American Folklore's article on "Songs and Rhymes from the South" (Volume XXVIII, No. 108, 1915 & 1916)- page 135:


    (From Mississippi; negroes; MS. of F. R. Rubel; 1909.)

Some folks say that a nigro (sic) won't steal;
I caught two in my corn feild (sic).
One had a shovel and the other had a hoe;
If that ain't stealing, I don't know.
    Oh, Moana, you shall be free, (twice)
    When the good Lord sets you free.
Some folks say that a nigro won't rouse;
I caught two in my smoke house.
One had a middling, and the other had a ham;
If that ain't stealing, I'll don't know.

I went to a chicken coop on my knees;
I thought I heard a chicken sneeze.

Way down yonder on Punkin Creek
Where those nigros grow leben feet,
Heels stick out so far behind
Chickens roost there most all the time.

I had a wife and I fed her on grease;
Every time I knocked her down she hollowed "police!"

Ain't no use in me workin' so hard;
I got a gal in the white folks yard.
She fetch me meat and she fetch me lard.
Ain't a bit of use in me workin' so hard.

Yonder come Melinda. How do I know?
Know her by her walk; I seen her walk before.

Kill the chicken; save me the wing;
Think I'm workin'; ain't doing a thing.

Kill the turkey; save me the bones;
Drink the beer; save me the foam.

Kill the chickens; save me the breast;
Think I'm workin', but I'm taking my rest.

I like my coffee, I likes it strong;
When I git to eatin', bring the corn-dodger along.

I likes my lasses good and strong;
When I git to eatin', bring the butter along.

I likes my wife, I likes my baby;
I likes my flap-jacks floating in gravy.

Gimme chicken; gimme pie;
Gimme some of everything the white folks buy.

Some folks say that a nigro won't steal;
I caught two in my water-melon feild,
Preaching and praying all the time,
And pulling the melons off the vine.

I wouldn't marry a yaller gal;
I'll tell you the reason why:
She's all the time sitting in another man's lap
And telling her husband lies.

I wouldn't marry a black gal;
I'll tell you the reason why:
Her nose is always snotty,
And her lips is never dry.

Nigro was a sitting on the log;
One eye on the trigger, the other on the hog.

The gun said, "Boom!" the hog fell bip!
The nigro jumped on him with all his grip.
[Spoken] Gitting the chiddlings!

I will dive in that pige pen a-fighting;
I ought [to] been that hog-jaw bighting.
With a hog head in my hand.

Yonder come my uncle; axe heavy with lead,
Throwed across my shoulder to kill that barrow dead.

Spare ribs is rottening; back-bones ain't but a few;
Run and git the carvin' knife, and we'll have a barber cewe.

I wouldn't marry a widow,
For all the money in the land;
It takes six men to feed her,
Workin' with both hands.

When you come home from work at night,
It's "Hello! my pretty old gal!"
And then she whispers softly,
"There ain't no meal in the barrel."

I went down to Malinda's house;
Malinda she was gone;
I sat down in Malinda's chair
And rocked till she come home.

She sat me in the parlor;
She cooled me with her fan;
She whispered in her mother's ear,
"I'm fooling with a gambling man."


21 May 13 - 06:09 PM (#3517759)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Fossil

Then there's always the wonderful talking blues made popular in the UK, at least, by Lonnie Donegan: "Talking Guitar Blues"

"Bought me a gitar 'bout a year ago,
Man said ah c'ld larn it in a week or so,
Gave me a book, a pick or two,
Said 'There y'are boy, now it's up ta you!'
(dirty rat...)"

Still in my open mic repertoire fifty years or so later. Still gets laughs, too!

21 May 13 - 06:43 PM (#3517773)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: PHJim

I do a variation of that one too Fossil. I modified it to fit my life. I learned it from David Holt who told me that he learned it from a Cisco Houston record.

It reminds me of a hit parade song called "The All American Boy" that was on the radio in the fifties when I was a kid. I think it was sung by Bobby Bare, but credited to someone else.

21 May 13 - 06:50 PM (#3517776)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: PHJim

I found it on Youtube. Apparently it was recorded by Bobby Bare, who thought it wasn't too good, so when his friend Bill Parsons needed a song for the flip side of another tune, Bobby said he could use The All American Boy. Now no one remembers what was on the A side.

The All American Boy - Bobby Bare/Bill Parsons

21 May 13 - 06:56 PM (#3517777)
Subject: ADD: All American Boy
From: Joe Offer

(as recorded by Bobby Bare and Bill Parsons)

Gather 'round, cats, and I'll tell you a story
About how to become an All American Boy
Buy you a gittar and put it in tune
You'll be rockin' and rollin' soon.
Impressin' the girls, pickin' hot licks, and all that jazz

I-I bought me a gittar a year ago
Learned how to play in a day or so
And all around town it was well understood
That I was knockin' 'em out like Johnny B. Goode
Hot licks, showin' off, ah number one.

Well, I 'd practice all day and up into the night
My papa's hair was turnin' white
Cause he didn't like rock'n'roll
He said "You can stay, boy, but that's gotta go."
He's a square, he just didn't dig me at all

So I took my gittar, picks and all
And bid farewell to my poor ole pa
And I split for Memphis where they say all
Them swingin' cats are havin' a ball
Sessions, hot licks and all, they dig me

I was rockin' and boppin' and I's a gettin' the breaks
The girls all said that I had what it takes
When up stepped a man with a big cigar
He said "come here, cat--I'm gonnna make you a star."
"I'll put you on Bandstand, buy ya a Cadillac, sign here, kid."

I signed my name and became a star
Havin' a ball with my gittar
Driving a big long Cadillac and fightin' the girls off ma back
They just kept a'comin', screamin', yeah-they like it

So I'd pick my gittar with a great big grin
And the money just kept on pourin' in
But then one day my Uncle Sam
He said (sound of 3 footsteps) "Here I am"
"Uncle Sam needs you, boy
I'm-a gonna cut your hair
Ah-Take this rifle, kid
Gimme that gittar" yeah.


21 May 13 - 10:15 PM (#3517813)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: PHJim

A very small difference, but I've always thought the third line in this verse:
"So I took my gittar, picks and all
And bid farewell to my poor ole pa
And I split for Memphis where they say all
Them swingin' cats are havin' a ball
Sessions, hot licks and all, they dig me"

was, "and I split for Memphis where they say,'Y'all'"

22 May 13 - 03:27 AM (#3517868)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: GUEST,Don Wise

Back in the 1960's there was a guitar tutor called "Play in a day" by Bert Weedon. I seem to remember hearing versions of "Talking Guitar Blues" which included jibes about that book along the lines of 'play in a lifetime- if you're lucky'.

22 May 13 - 09:30 AM (#3517948)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing

For afficionados of "Talking Blues" may I recommend Folkways Records Album, FH 5232, "Talking Blues" by John Greenway. The introductory notes give excellent chapter and verse re Bouchillon, Ernie Tubb, Tom and Joe Glazer (no relationss), Guthrie and Vern Partlow as well as information about the songs.

22 May 13 - 01:00 PM (#3518061)
Subject: ADD: Have Another Espresso (Shel Silverstein)
From: Bettynh

In a different direction, Shel Silverstein talked most of his numbers, frequently with a jazz background. This one works with anything:

"Have Another Espresso"

W&M by Shel Silverstein

(Shel Silverstein)

Now whenever life is looking dark and mean
I have myself an espresso.
And then I kinda sit back and like dig the scene
And maybe have myself another espresso.
And there's a chick in the coffee shop who's caught my eye
But she never talks to me when I walk by
So I sit there and I cool it and I'm oh so sly
And I have myself another espresso.

Well last night I decided to do the thing
As I had myself another espresso.
So I asked that chick, would she care to swing
As I had myself another espresso.
And she said, "Baby, that's uh cool with me
But like I can't split until half past three
So why don't you just sit there and cool it and like wait for me
And maybe have yourself another espresso."

Well I never cared much for formal dates,
I just sit and have myself an espresso.
Man ya know but when a chick is a groove like baby you've gotta wait
And maybe have yourself another espresso.
So I took off my coat and I hung up my hat
And for the next five hours right there I sat.
You know that chick went home with some other cat,
And so I had myself another espresso.

The moral of the story I will tell you then
As I have myself another espresso,
Is always follow the ways of Zen
And maybe have yourself another espresso.
And whenever the world has got you way uptight
Why baby you just sit there and cool it until everything's right
'Cause you know I met another chick that very night
And we -- uh -- we --
Well we just sat around and had us an espresso.

23 May 13 - 10:20 AM (#3518390)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Ron Davies

Excellent, Betty.   Never heard of that one--it's great.

For my money, Dylan was at his best when he did talkin' blues. Before he lost his sense of humor and started getting so full of himself--and turgid.   Maybe they go together.

One of the best things about talkin' blues is that they seem to always have a sense of humor--can't think of one that doesn't.

A relatively recent addition to the literature is "Talkin' Song Repair Blues", sung by Alan Jackson. Even throws in a bit of music theory.

23 May 13 - 01:25 PM (#3518480)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Bettynh

More from Shel Silveerstein:

Beans Taste Fine

A Boy Named Sue

It Does Not Pay to be Hip

Lyrics are in the DT or can be found by searching Mudcat threads.

23 May 13 - 03:32 PM (#3518509)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Art Thieme

I used to do several of these through the years of my participation on the folk scene. I found their tunes to be elusive and was rarely able to sing them.

23 May 13 - 08:15 PM (#3518612)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: PHJim

Todd Snider's Talkin' Seattle Grung Blues

24 May 13 - 01:08 PM (#3518861)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Bettynh

Fred Small's "Talking Wheelchair Blues"

24 May 13 - 07:33 PM (#3518987)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: Ron Davies


I'd say bits like "The Lock Moss Nesters" with your guitar in the background come pretty close to "Talkin' Songs"--not blues, exactly, but they sure are great.

25 May 13 - 12:58 AM (#3519042)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)
From: autoharper

Christopher Allen Bouchillon (1893-1968)was often billed as "The Talking Comedian of the South." He is credited with recording the first "talking blues" form for Columbia Records in Atlanta in 1926, from which the style gets its name. The song was released in 1927:

Chris Bouchillon - "Talking Blues" (1926)

07 Feb 14 - 06:46 PM (#3599333)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Talkin' Songs (Bob Dylan, PP&M and...)

Heard amusing stories of hotels, ships, and preachers.