by catherine yronwode

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TITLE: Hand Reader
MATRIX NO.: D7 VB 1056
SINGER: Jazz Gillum V/hca with Bob Call, p; Willie Lacey, g; Ransom Knowling, b; Judge Riley, d.
DATE OF REC.: 2 Oct 1947, Chicago
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S): Vic 20-2964
by Jazz Gillum

I went down to the hand reader just to have my fortune told
I went down to the hand reader just to have my fortune told
He said, "You need to catch policy, doggone your bad luck soul."

He give me some good luck tea and said, "Drink it before it gets cold"
Give me some good luck tea and said, "Drink it before it get cold"
He said, "Drink it all day, doggone your bad luck soul."

And he give me some pills, just to drive my blues away
Well, he give me some pills, just to drive my blues away
He said, "You bad-luck rascal, take them three times a day."

Bad luck is in my family and there ain't nobody home but me
Bad luck is in my family and there ain't nobody home but me
I was a fool for ever thinking that my happy day would ever be
TRANSCRIBED by catherine yronwode ( 30 Sep 2000

DISCOGRAPHY BY: Alan Balfour ( 5 Oct 2000

COMMENTS BY CAT: Thanks to Alan Balfour ( for supplying a tape of this song for my use.

RELATED LYRICS:"Doggone my bad-luck soul" is the repeated refrain in "Bad Luck Blues" by Blind Lemon Jefferson, 1926.

EARLIER RECORDINGS: "Hand Reader" by Washboard Sam, 1930s, of which this is uptempo cover

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.1 hand reader (Root Workers, Readers, and Black Gypsies)
V.1 policy (Aunt Sally's Policy Players Dream Book)

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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