BLUES LYRICS and HOODOO:

SUPPLEMENTARY TRANSCRIPTIONS

from HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
by catherine yronwode




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TITLE: Seven Sisters Blues, Parts 1 and 2
MATRIX NO.:
SINGER: J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith
COMPOSER(S): J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith
DATE OF REC.: October 3rd, 1931, Chicago
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S):
REISSUE(S):
TRANSCRIPTION:
SEVEN SISTERS BLUES - PARTS 1 and 2
J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith

PART 1

They tell me Seven Sisters in New Orleans
        that can really fix a man up right
They tell me Seven Sisters in New Orleans
        that can really fix a man up right
And I'm headed for New Orleans, Louisiana,
        I'm travelin' both day and night.

I hear them say the oldest Sister
        look just like she's 21
I hear them say the oldest Sister
        look just like she's 21
And said she can look right in your eyes
        and tell you just exactly what you want done.

They tell me they've been hung,
        been bled, and been crucified
They tell me they've been hung,
        been bled, and been crucified
But I just want enough help
        to stand on the water and rule the tide.

It's bound to be Seven Sisters,
        'cause I've heard it by everybody else
It's bound to be Seven Sisters,
        I've heard it by everybody else
Course, I'd love to take their word,
        but I'd rather go and see for myself.

When I leave the Seven Sisters,
        I'll pile stones all around
When I leave the Seven Sisters,
        I'll pile stones all around
And go to my baby and tell her,
        "There's another Seven Sister man in town."

Good morning, Seven Sisters,
        just thought I'd come down and see
Good morning, Seven Sisters,
        I thought I'd come down to see
Will you build me up where I'm torn down,
        and make me strong where I'm weak?

PART 2

I went to New Orleans, Louisiana,
        just on account of something I heard
I went to New Orleans, Louisiana,
        just on account of something I heard
The Seven Sisters told me everything I wanted to know,
        and they wouldn't let me speak a word.

Now, it's Sarah, Minnie, Bertha,
        Holly, Dolly, Betty and Jane
Sarah, Minnie, Bertha,
        Holly, Dolly, Betty and Jane
You can't know them Sisters apart,
        because they all looks just the same.

The Seven Sisters sent me away happy,
        'round the corner I met another little girl
Seven Sisters sent me 'way happy,
        'round the corner I met another little girl
She looked at me and smiled, and said,
        "Go, Devil, and destroy the world."

[spoken] I'm gonna destroy it, too.

[spoken] I'm all right now.

Seven times a year
        the Seven Sisters will visit me in my sleep
Seven times a year
        the Seven Sisters will visit me all in my sleep
And they said I won't have no trouble,
        and said I'll live twelve days in a week.

Wanna go down in Louisiana,
        and get the hell right out of your bein'
Wanna go down in Louisiana,
        and get right out of your bein'
These Seven Sisters can do anything in Louisiana,
        but you'll have to go to New Orleans.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Chris Smith (chris@skerries.demon.co.uk) Aug 2000

DISCOGRAPHY BY:

WEB PAGE CITATION: Catherine Yronwode: Hoodoo in Theory and Practice:
Readers, Root Workers, and Black Gypsies

RELATED LYRICS: "Black Gypsy Blues" by Furry Lewis, 1930
("My woman must be a Black Gypsy, she knows every place i go")

COMMENTS BY CAT YRONWODE: Seven is a lucky number in European, Asian, and American folk magic. Many references to the number can be found in folkloric sources, including its special use in charms and formulas for gambling luck.

The Seven Sisters is a term used to indicate the constellation of the Pleiades -- but The Seven Sisters of New Orleans were a family of hoodoo women who lived and practiced in the Crescent City in the 1920s - 30s. Mentioned by several of Harry Middleton Hyatt's African American conjure and hoodoo informants, they were said to have a house "by the water" and were popular enough to became the subject of a blues song by the Texas musician J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith (whose name was sometimes wrongly written as "Funny Paper Smith"). Notice that the number 21 (3 times 7) also appears in this song.

As Funny Papa Smith's lyrics in verse two indicate, the Seven Sisters demonstrated a "gift" or mark of power commonly found among hoodoo root workers, especially those known as Black Gypsies: They could tell a client what was wrong before he or she spoke. This gift was also attributed to the Arkanasas conjure and spiritualist Aunt Caroline Dye. Advertisements for such seers may make reference to their telepathic power with stock phrases such as "She tells all before you utter a word" or "Don't tell her -- let her tell you!" In the blues sonf Black Gypsy Blues by Curtis Jones, the singer mocks this quality in his lover, declaring that her knowledge of his whereabouts comes from an informant, not from any supposed psychic powers: "You know you ain't no Black Gipsy and you knows everything I do."

The famous Seven Sisters of New Orleans gave rise to numerous imitators, among them Ida Carter, a hoodoo women in Hogansville, Alabama, who called herself "Seven Sisters," despite being a single individual. In recent years the Seven Sisters of New Orleans name has became a brand of hoodoo products distributed by International Imports.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
V.9 The Devil
V.10 prophetic dreams and lucky number dream books


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: http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/pre-war-blues.


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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