by catherine yronwode

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TITLE: Goofer Dust
MATRIX NO.: -1,2 M.O.C. 673
SINGER: Big Lucky (Levester Carter) V/g with prob Charles Hodges, org -1/p -2; Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, g; Leroy Hodges Jr., b; Howard Grimes, d.
COMPOSER(S): Levester Carter
DATE OF REC.: 19 Sep 1968, Memphis, Tennessee
REISSUE(S): Hi LP 32063 "Rivertown Blues"; Blueside WESF 106 "Lucky 13" [1998 remake]
by Big Lucky Carter (Levester Carter)

Now run here Conjure Man, tell your brother Mojo Sam
I want you to tell his voodooing daddy,
She's gone back to Birmingham.

I wants goofer dust, sprinkled all around my baby's door,
Maybe next time she won't try to leave me,
She won't try to leave, leave me no more.

I want 13 grand-daddy legs and 13 gallons of dragoon blood,
I want to stir it for 13 hours, add 13 pounds of jigger-hose mud,
I want 13 portions, around 13 window panes,
Then maybe she will tell me, her 13 lovers' names

I wants goofer dust, sprinkled all around my baby's door,
And maybe the next time she won't try to leave me,
She won't try to leave, leave me no more.

I got a letter from the Flyin' Buzzard and one from Madam Decoix,
They said, "We heard you was in trouble, we just tryin' to help you boy,
We can send you 13 dry terrapins wrapped in 13 toad frog skins,
She will only tell you where she's goin',
          she won't tell you where she's been."

I wants goofer dust, sprinkled all around my baby's door,
Maybe the next time she won't try to leave me,
She won't try to leave, leave me no more.
TRANSCRIBED BY: Chris Smith ( 25 Oct 2000

COMMENTS BY CHRIS SMITH: "This [transcription was] assisted (particularly as to the spelling of Decoix) by the lyrics printed ('with permission of IMP Limited') in the booklet to Lucky's 1998 CD 'Lucky 13' (Blueside WESF 106), produced by David Evans and Mike Vernon. These lyrics are of the [1998] *remake* which opens the CD, and are much the same as on the original, but in the last verse, he makes the significant amendment:
She *won't* only tell you where she's goin',
            she *will* tell you where she's been.
I suspect that he garbled the line on the original version, since this is much more effective -- a claim for the power of the terrapins and toad frogs."

COMMENTS BY CAT YRONWODE: In V. 2, grand-daddies (a.k.a.) grand-daddy-long-legs) is American slang for the fragile arachnids called harvestmen in England -- and, as noted, their legs are often used in making goofer dust.

In V.2: Dragon's blood is the hardened resin of a palm tree in the Dracena genus, which can be burned as incense, dissolved in water for use in baths or ink, or carried in chunk form for luck; the pronunciation "dragoon blood" is not uncommon.

COMMENTS BY CHRIS SMITH: In V.2, the phrase "jigger hose mud" is explained as follows in the 1998 Blueside CD booklet notes by Mike Vernon: "[A]ccording to the man himself [jigger-hose mud] would be best translated as being unadulterated, one hundred per cent pure excrement!' (His exclamation mark.) If so, it seems to be private language, as it's not in the 'Dictionary of American Regional English' or 'Juba to Jive.'"

COMMENTS BY CAT YRONWODE: In V. 5 "The Flyin' Buzzard" would probably not be the late Dr. Buzzard of Beaufort, South Carolina who died before World War One, but one of his more modern name-sakes, all noted hoodoo men in the Carolinas. Madame Decoix is unknown to me.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.2 goofer dust

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Individual acknowledgements for transcriptions and discographical data appear on each song-page, but i want to note that this Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo archive would never have been possible without the contributions of Gorgen Antonsson, who generously shared with me the format and content of his own personal lyrics archive, and Alan Balfour and Chris Smith, who have devoted a great deal of time to supplying me with tapes, transcribed lyrics, and detailed discographical information. Additionally, i wish to thank the kind members of the prewar blues e-list who have aided my research in innumerable ways. If you have missing data to supply, hear a substantially different take on a transcription, or want to let me know about a song that has been overlooked in these pages, please contact me through the prewar blues e-list:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Due to certain social, economic, and political paradigms in place at the time of their composition, many early blues songs were improperly copyrighted or not copyrighted at all. Many bore no composer credits. Many were ripped off by unethical music publishers who falsely claimed authorship and copyrighted them in their own names. Many that were once copyright-protected are now in the public domain due to publishers' or composers' failures to properly renew the copyrights. Many have since been ripped off by unethical performers or music publishers who have pretended to be the composers for the purpose of securing a belated copyright or who have claimed "arranger's" credits on songs they falsely swore were "traditional" when in fact the songs were composed by the people who originally performed them on record. It is my sincere belief that the song transcribed on this page bears the implied moral copyright of its composer, whoever that may be. If you believe that you control the copyright by virtue of authorship or legal legerdemain, you may contact me in a civil and polite manner and i will attempt in good faith to satisfy your needs in the matter of obtaining formal permission to quote the lyrics in this scholarly publication.

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