Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lightnin' Hopkins: Born in the Bottoms

This'll be the sixth Lightnin' Hopkins song I'll have transcribed in a quick and dirty fashion and turned into a post.  The man recorded hundreds of songs, so it may be impossible to even find them all, let alone hear them all. His lyrics, including ones adapted from older blues songs, tend to be idiosyncratic in form.  Only line I'm not sure of is the last one of stanza three.

"Born in the Bottoms" (ca. 1960/1961), first released on Strikes Again (so far as I know), in the early 1960s.

Yeah you know I was born in the bottoms
Down by the Devil's Den
Yeah I was born in the bottoms
Down by the Devil's Den
Yes you know I ain't seen my home
Whoah yes since the Good Lord knows when.

You know my Papa was a preacher
Poor Mama she was sanctified
My Daddy was a preacher
Poor Mama she was sanctified
But some time I wish I'd a been born dead
Daddy said son it's a shame you were born alive.

I used to run the world over
I'd run the  world so that my Daddy was mad
And Mama she was too
But I stopped running when I settled down for a
Greedy little girl I'd come to church with too.

My Daddy wanted to kill me one day and Mama told me:
Son you better run, you better run
You better run if you ain't got your gun
You better run, you better run, son
You better run, if you ain't got your gun
I said Mama don't you worry I take care of myself
'Cause I wasn't born to run
All right . . .

One more word Mama told me:
You better try to make it before the sun rises in the morning
I said Mama I'll make it if I can
You better try to make it before the sun rise in the morning
Mama I'll try to make it now if I can
But if my Daddy should catch me with that
old shotgun I'm gonna let him know
I done forgot about how he had been my friend. 

Today's Rune: Joy.


Charles Gramlich said...

I was born in the bottoms, but too a different world.

jodi said...

Erik, a story and words best sung in the blues style. said...

I love Lightnin', but this is heavy.

Elements of high literature in twelve-bar blues. Father-rival.