by catherine yronwode

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TITLE: I Don't Know
MATRIX NO.: mx U 4315
SINGER: Willie Mabon
DATE OF REC.: 1952, Chicago, Illinois
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S): Parrot 1050, Chess 1531
REISSUE(S): Chess LPs 1439, 60012, 9189, Checker 1050, Argo LP 4042, MCA Chess CHD2-9385
TRANSCRIPTION: Chris Smith, catherine yronwode
by Willie Mabon

[spoken] This song was introduced to me
by the late Cripple Clarence Lofton,
titled "I Don't Know"

I'm gettin' sick and tired of the way you do,
Good kind papa got to poison you;
Sprinkle goofer dust all around your bed,
Wake up one of these mornings, find your own self dead.
She said, "You shouldn't say that"
I said, "What should I say this time, baby?"
She says, "Mmmmmm, I don't know, my oh my oh my"
I don't know, what my baby puttin' down.

The woman I love, she's got dimples in her jaws,
The clothes she's wearin' is made out of the best of cloths;
She can take and wash them, she can hang 'em upside the wall,
She can throw 'em out the window,
         and run out and catch 'em a little bit before they falls;
Sometimes I think you got your habits on
She said, "You shouldn't say that"
I said, 'What should I say to make you mad this time, baby?'
She says, "Mmmmmm, I don't know, my oh my oh my"
I don't know, what my baby puttin' down.

My papa told me, my mother sat down and cried,
Say, "You're too young a man, son, to have the many women you got"
I looked at my mother then, I didn't even crack a smile,
I say, "If the women kills me, I don't mind dyin'"

The woman I love, I won the week before last,
The woman I love I've got out of class;
I thought I won you, baby, a long time ago,
If you don't watch your step, I'm gonna have to let you go.
She said, "You shouldn't say that"
I say, "What did I say to make you mad this time, baby?"
She says, "Mmmmmm, I don't know, I don't know"
I don't know what my baby puttin' down, puttin' down.
TRANSCRIBED BY: Chris Smith ( 22 Oct 2000
and catherine yronwode 29 Mar 2006

DISCOGRAPHY BY: Chris Smith ( 22 Oct 2000

RELATED VERSES / EARLIER RECORDINGS / LATER RECORDINGS: To simplify things, let me just give a chronological "family tree" for this song:
Romeo Nelson: "Gettin' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing" 1929
Cripple Clarence Lofton: "Strut That Thing" 1935
Cripple Clarence Lofton: "I Don't Know" 1939
Willie Mabon: "I Don't Know" 1952 (Parrot) / 1953 (Chess)

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.1 poison you (laying tricks)
V.1 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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