BLUES LYRICS and HOODOO:

SUPPLEMENTARY TRANSCRIPTIONS

from HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
by catherine yronwode




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TITLE: Sold It to the Devil
MATRIX NO.:
SINGER: Black Spider Dumpling (John D. Twitty)
COMPOSER(S): Merline Johnson (claimed -- but John D. Twitty recorded it first)
DATE OF REC.: 1937, Chicago, Illinois
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S): Victor
REISSUE(S): Document
TRANSCRIPTION:
SOLD IT TO THE DEVIL
by Black Spider Dumpling

I sold my soul, sold it to the Devil and my heart done turned to stone
I sold my soul, sold it to the Devil, he won't let me alone
    Said i'm hateful and i'm evil, I carries a Gatling gun
    I drink carbolic acid, be darned if i will run
But I sold it, I sold it
Sold it to the Devil and my heart done turned to stone.

I done sold my soul, sold it to the Devil, but he won't let me alone
    I got a little baker shop right downtown
    Everything i bake, it is nice and brown
But I sold it, I sold it
Sold it to the Devil, and my heart done turned to stone.

I sold it, I sold it, sold it to the Devil, but he won't let me be 'lone
    My life it is unhapy, it won't last me long
    Everything i do, seem like i do's it wrong
But I sold it, I sold it
Sold it to the Devil, and my heart done turned to stone.

I sold my soul, sold it to the Devil, but he won't let me be 'lone
    I eat black spider dumplings for my dessert
    Go to the blacksmith, let him make my shirt
But I sold it, I sold it
Sold it to the Devil, and my heart done turned to stone.

I sold my soul, sold it to the Devil, but he won't let me be 'lone
    I live down in the valley, five hundred steps
    Where the bears and the tigers, they come to take their rest
But I sold it, sold it
Sold it to the Devil, and my heart done turned to stone.

I done sold my soul, sold it to the Devil, but he won't let me be 'lone
    I went to a place that I knew so well
    I shot that Devil right in Hell
But I sold it, sold it
Sold it to the Devil, and my heart done turned to ... eee-eee-vohl, eee-vohl [evil]
TRANSCRIBED BY: Paul Swinton 31 Dec 2004 and catherine yronwode 28 Apr 2006

RELATED LYRICS: Sold it to The Devil by Merline (The 'Yas Yas' Girl) Johnson is virtually the same song, with the verses in a different order and minus the "black spider dumpling" verse. Johnson claimed composer credit. See also Hoodoo Blues by Bessie Brown, V.2 ("Put a spider in her dumplin', make her crawl all over the floor"), and Spider in Your Dumpling by Arnold Wiley V.4 ("I'll put a spider in your dumpling if you try to steal my gal").

COMMENTS BY PAUL SWINTON: Merline Johnson, despite recording the number shortly after Twitty, claimed authorship but did not include the 'black spider dumpling' verse in her version. According to the Victor files, Black Spider Dumpling's real name was John D. Twitty. I believe the files also contained a Chicago address for him. He also recorded as 'Little Bill' (probably trying to cash in on his association with Big Bill Broonzy). Full details of his eight known recordings are in Blues & Gospel Records under 'Twitty' -- they were all made in Chicago/Aurora in March and May 1937. He was a known associate of Robert McCoy and, like McCoy, was thought to have originated from in or around Birmingham, Alabama.

COMMENTS BY CAT YRONWODE: The "baker shop" imagery in V. 2 is associated with female singers, so it seems likely that Merline Johnson, despite recording the song after John D. Twitty, was the composer, as she claimed. However, Twitty certainly personalized the lyrics with the addition of his "black spider dumpling" trademark in V. 4.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.1 - V.6 selling one's soul to the Devil at a crossroads
V.1, V.2 spider in food
V.1, V.2 live things in you, as cured by Aunt Caroline Dye: The belief that spider eggs introduced via food or drink can grow into live things in you is accepted by many Native Americans, African Americans, and Afro-Amerinds. See also Hoodoo Blues by Bessie Brown, Spider in Your Dumpling by Arnold Wiley, and Spider's Nest Blues by the Memphis Jug Band (with Hattie Hart).


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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