Monthly Archives: February 2009

lyrics for “I’m taking care of mother”

It’s a lot easier to appreciate the tawdry sentimentality of an emotional mugging by a colorful operator like Pappy O’Daniel if you don’t have to listen to the music to get to the words, and I wanted to figure them out so I could play the song, so….

I’m Taking Care of Mother (While Daddy’s Gone Away)

verse 1

While walking through the park today I came upon some boys
I sat and watched the boys at play they hadn’t many toys
When one brave boy came by and climbed upon my knee
He smiled as he looked in my eyes and spoke these words to me


I’m taking care of mother while daddy’s gone away
I told him I would guard her til he comes home to stay
I’ll be real brave for mother and dry her tears each day
I’m taking care of mother while daddy’s gone away.

verse 2

He told me of the uniform his daddy proudly wore
It made my heart grow very warm I’d worn one years before
He told me how he’d dry the tears of his mother every day
At night he tried to hide his fears and these words bravely say

I’m Taking Care Of Mother (While Daddy’s Gone Away)

In a comment on one of the mother songs, Spiegs (who is a politics junkie) brought up this totally obscure info:

On the subject of songs about motherhood, an interesting piece of history is that Pappy O’Daniel, then a radio host in Texas in the 1930s, wrote songs like ‘Mother you fashioned me, Bore me and rationed me’ and ‘The Boy Who Never Grew Too Old to Comb His Mother’s Hair’ and had his hillbilly band play them on the air.

O’Daniel went on to become Governor of Texas, defeated Lyndon Johnson for a Senate seat in the special election of 1941, and served as the model for the corrupt Governor of Mississippi in ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’.

Pappy O’Daniel’s date with music destiny was as part of a band called The Light Crust Dough Boys, in which Bob Wills also played. Bob Wills went on to become a huge country star, founding the country swing style and bridging the 1920s explosion of jazz (as pop for black audiences) and hillbilly (as pop for poor rural whites). The idea of street cred was so foreign to Bob Wills and Pappy O’Daniel that their band was named after the sponsor of their radio show, Light Crust Dough.

Because Bob Wills is such a big deal, the music he made with Pappy O’Daniel is still in circulation, and though I didn’t find either of the songs that Spiegs mentioned I did find another mother song by the Boys, called “I’m Taking Care Of Mother (While Daddy’s Gone Away).” It’s the kind of Oedipal weirdness that people used to do with a straight face.

Here’s the song, plus the another Light Crust Dough Boys number that I love, their theme song for the radio show.

The Light Crust Doughboys’ Theme (mp3)

I’m Taking Care Of Mother (While Daddy’s Gone Away) (mp3)

many many double ultra great performances

I’m doing a solo show at 10:30 at Hyperion Tavern in Silverlake this Thursday the 12th. This will be amazing and well worth the trouble to stand around and drink beer.

Then on Thursday the 19th of February I’ll play in Culver City at Cinema Bar, the favorite LA dive of both Lucinda Williams and every east sider on the west side. Cinema Bar rules. Also, Tito’s Taco is right around the corner and Tito’s is a very fine taco indeed.

Musically speaking the solo shows have been moving away from the 19th century parlor sound and towards something more raucous and 20th century. But as always the set is full of weird-ass nuggets. Like, I’ll do a supercool instrumental I just learned called “Posey Ran Away,” which is a slave fiddle tune that was transcribed in 1780 by a Scottish tourist in America. The sound has a perky celtic influence, like any fiddle tune, but there’s a hypnotic circularity about the way the parts link up that gives it a north African edge. It’s like a cross between a Ghanaian kalimba song and an Irish jig. It’s basically nothing but a melody, so I’m going to put it in a batch with other songs that don’t have either words or chords. It’ll be a mini set with no words or chords. Because words and chords are overrated.

But then there will be other songs that have words and chords and are about sex!

I’ll also be backing up Madame Pamita at Taix every Wednesday this month, so February 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th. The set starts at ten. Goofy good fun right on Sunset in Echo Park.

Gig nights are 90% about drinking beer and talking to friends, and I’m usually up for dinner nearby before the show, so c’mon by and hang out. Yes, I know you are a very old person whose prime directive is to protect the television, and you have reached a stage in life where both social life and cheapish drinks have lost their special sexy magic. But just in case you’re going out and you want to meet up for food or make other arrangements then send email to my first name at my last name dot com.

N.O. funerals and “Flee As A Bird”

Jelly Roll Morton’s piano roll of “Dead Man Blues”, quoting “Flee As A Bird” in the intro: MP3.

Played by an Israeli New Orleans band called “The New Orleans Function”:

In this version they let the song roll through the bridge before picking it up with the tune “Didn’t He Ramble.”

Here’s a real-world 2006 funeral procession in New Orleans:

Little known fact: the party funeral was a direct import from Africa that was widely practiced by slaves and eventually evolved into the jazz funeral.

Here’s a really helluva nice example of a real world jazz funeral from 2007. Anybody who gets such a good sendoff is a lucky person.

The song “Flee As A Bird” has also entered classical repertoire. This dude has a killer voice, and if the orchestra is more pompous than strictly necessary how is that a bad thing? “Flee As A Bird” starts at about 2:30 if you want to skip the intro:

roots of New Orleans funeral music

Today’s YouTube masterpiece is a morbid bluesy number with a Spanish tinge that was published in 1857. I discovered it because Jelly Roll Morton quotes it in “Dead Man Blues.” This song is still around in the New Orleans funeral style that Jelly Roll was riffing on — you hear this tune as the gothic minor snippet before things get happy.

But in that context you never get to hear the whole thing, just a little snatch of it, so what I did here is let it keep rolling out all the way to the end. Then at the end I quote the beginning of “Yellow Dog Rag” by W. C. Handy, as if that was going to be the uptempo number the whole thing was setting up.

What’s the song about?:

In 1839, beset by the recent deaths of her husband, brother, sister, and infant son, twenty-seven-year-old mary Dana began to pour out her grief in verse.


Flee as a bird to your mountain
Thou who art weary of sin
Go to the clear flowing fountain
Where you may wash and be clean
Fly, for th’avenger is near thee
Call, and the Savior will hear thee
He on His bosom will bear thee
O thou who art weary of sin
O thou who art weary of sin

He will protect thee forever
Wipe ev’ry falling tear
He will forsake thee, O never
Sheltered so tenderly there
Haste, then, the hours are flying
Spend not the moments in sighing
Cease from your sorrow and crying
The Savior will wipe ev’ry tear
The Savior will wipe ev’ry tear

I learned from two sheet music sources — the Library of Congress digitization of the 1885 publication and Stan Sanderson’s Lilypond transcription at Mutopia, where you can also get MIDI.

The recording is under a Creative Commons BY SA 3.0 license. The guitar is a National Estralita. The video was made with Garageband, iMovie HD, and the built in camera in my laptop. Needless to say there’s a Nick Cave / Tom Waits influence in the singing and a Flamenco influence in the guitar.

plan of a Quadrille for sixteen persons

I came across a great looking 1820 how-to diagram for a portion of a dance called the “Star” Quadrille figure. It’s a poster-size color image with a high-res scan — 2438×3470 pixels — so this browser window can’t do it justice. But if you give it your whole desktop that should work nicely.


I discovered it via an entry at the dance history blog Capering & Kickery:

In his manual on quadrilles, early 19th-century (“Regency”) London dancing master Thomas Wilson wrote hopefully that his diagrams,

… together with the printed Directions appended, will enable any person, by marking the Figures on a floor, to perform them correctly without the aid of a Master.
    Thomas Wilson, The quadrille and cotillion panorama, 2nd ed., London, 1822

Quadrilles, the ancestors of the modern square dance, were popular in England from the 1810s onward, displacing the longways country dance from its former preeminence in the ballroom.  Wilson’s diagrams and directions are in fact quite helpful in deciphering many of the figures needed for the Regency-era quadrille, but he does have occasional failures, as in the figure “L’Etoile” or “The Star”.