Sunday, September 4, 2016

Blind Lemon Jefferson - "Rabbit Foot Blues" And Other Early Examples Of "The Blues Jumped A Rabbit"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series on Blues songs that include the lyrics "Blues jumped a rabbit" or similar words.

This post showcases a 1926 sound file of Blind Lemon Jefferson singing "Rabbit Foot Blues". This post also features quotes from a Mudcat folk music forum about "Blues Rabbit A Rabbit" songs. These selected quotes focus on information about and/or lyrics for pre-1950s examples of songs that include the lyrics "Blues jumped a rabbit or similar words.

Click for Part II of this series. Part II quotes the Wikipedia page on "Blues Jumped The Rabbit". Most of that Wikipedia page focuses on 1960s versions of that song. A link to a 2011 article entitled "Blues Jumped A Rabbit" about when & where Blues begin is also included in that post.

Part II also includes three text (word only) examples and two YouTube examples of this song.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Blind Lemon Jefferson and other early singers of this Blues song. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: Blind Lemon Jefferson - Rabbit Foot Blues

TravelerIntoTheBlue, Published on Sep 18, 2013

Rabbit Foot Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson (1926)
Lyrics for two Blind Lemon Jefferson versions of this song are found below.
UPDATE: May 3, 2018

Here's a comment that was published by Joseph Scott in the discussion thread for Part II of this series:
Joseph Scott, May 3, 2018 at 6:51 AM
Hi Azizi, Lemon sang "Blue jumped a rabbit," as in "Old Blue jumped the rabbit" (Booker White recalling lyrics sung by Charlie Patton) and "Old Blue Jumped A Rabbit" (Mose Vinson). Some people changed Blue to Blues, which was clever, but Lemon's record didn't."
I replied to Joseph thanking him for this information and also asking whether "Blue" was a dog's name, as per this Wikipedia page:
"Old Blue" (also known as "Old Dog Blue") is an old folk song, believed to have originated from the minstrel shows of the late 19th century.[1] A 1928 version by Jim Jackson, entitled "Old Dog Blue", appears on the Anthology of American Folk Music album. Since this early recording, a number of covers and variations of this song have been recorded. In his 1985 play, Fences, August Wilson uses Jim Jackson's version as a leitmotif, and the play's central character (who had a dog named Blue as a boy) says his father originated the song."
-end of update-
Note that I deleted my previous (now erroneous) speculation about the possible meaning of that line which was that "Blues" could come on so fast that it even jumped an animal as fast as a rabbit.

[Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only.]


From: The Sugar Dog (inactive)
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 12:37 PM



(G)Blues jumped a rabbit and he ran a solid mile. (...G7...)
(C7) Blues jumped a rabbit, and he ran a solid mile. (...G...)
The (C7) rabbit sat down and cried just like a little child. (...G, C7, D7)

Well, it seem like you're hungry, why don't you come and lunch with me?
Well, it seem like you're hungry, why don't you come and lunch with me?
I'm gonna stop these married-lookin' wimmin from worryin' me.

I have Uneeda biscuits and a half a pint of gin.
I have Uneeda biscuits and a half a pint of gin.
The gin is mighty fine, them biscuits is a little too thin.

Baby, tell me somehting about meatless and wheatless days.
Baby, tell me somehting about meatless and wheatless days.
This not being my home, I don't think I should stay.

Well I cried for flour; meat, I declare was gone.
Well I cried for flour; meat, I declare was gone.
People feed me corn bread, I just can't stick around home.

Got a knapsack, baby, and I'm gonna get a submarine.
Got a knapsack, baby, and I'm gonna get a submarine.
Gonna get that Kaiser by 19 (hundred) 17.

Folk Blues, by Jerry Silverman, Jerry Silverman Publications, a division of Saw Mill Music Corp. (C) 1983 Saw Mill Music Corp.

"A blues about all kinds of wartime shortages-- meatless, wheatless, and manless days-- as sung by Blind Lemon Jefferson." (author not given)"

2) Subject: Lyr Add: JACKRABBIT BLUES
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 03:47 PM

"Charles Todd and Robert Sonkin collected the following in a Farm Service Adminstration camp in California.


Jack Bryant
Firebaugh, 1940

Blues jumped the rabbit, he ran four solid miles
Blues jumped the rabbit, he ran four solid miles
That rabbit he got down and he cried just like a child.

Can't you tell me, mama, whose muddy shoes are these?
Can't you tell me, mama, whose muddy shoes are these?
That are setting right here where my shoes ought to be.

Roud 15501 (only reference)

Voices From the Dust Bowl

A similar lyric was printed by Rudi Blesh in Shining Trumpets (1946), but I don't have that in front of me right now. The lyric is various forms has been used by Blind John Davis, Big Joe Turner, and Wynonie Harris.

...also appear in Taj Mahal's song "Good Morning Miss Brown" on his 1968 album The Natch'l Blues.[2]".

3) Subject: RE: Origins: Blues Chase Up a Rabbit
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 05:59 PM

"The original version posted is that of Blind Lemon Jefferson, as "Rabbit Foot Blues," recorded abt 12/1926, Paramount 12454 (mx 3089-1). So far as is known the song originates with him.

Milton Brown's "St Louis Blues," recorded in 1/1935 on Decca 5072, also features the "whose muddy shoes are these" verse. It's not likely to be original with him but I don't know an earlier version. There probably is one in hokum blues, though."

4) Subject: RE: Origin: Blues Chase Up a Rabbit
From: deadfrett
Date: 24 Mar 08 - 08:22 AM

"Richard "Rabbit" Brown recorded James Alley Blues in the Twenties.
He used the "Blues Jumped.." line in the song. The guitar work is spectacular considering he was primarily a piano player. I'm still trying to figure out some of those licks after hearing it thirty years ago. It's on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Music."

5) Subject: Lyr. Add: Rabbit Foot Blues (Jefferson)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Mar 08 - 01:51 PM

"Rabbit Foot Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson, 1926

Blues jumped a rabbit: run him one solid mile
This rabbit sat down; cried like a natural child
Well it seem like you hungry: honey come and lunch with me
I want to stop these married-looking women: from worrying me
I have Uneeda biscuits here: and a half a pint of gin
The gin is mighty fine: them biscuits are a little too thin
(Baby tell me something, I want to know) ; about those meatless and wheatless days
I cried for flour and meat: I declare it was gone
Keep a-feeding me corn bread: I just can't stick around long
Got an airplane baby: now I'm going to get a submarine
Going to get that Kaiser: and we'll be seldom seen
Mnnn hitch me to your buggy mama: drive me like a mule
Readon I'm going home with you sugar: I ain't much hard to be fooled.

Michael Taft's Pre-War Blues Lyrics Concordance.

The song is available on the cd, "The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson," Yazoo label.

The last part of the text is different from the version in "Folk Blues," Jerry Silverman, posted near the top of this thread. The lyrics suggest a WW1 origin.

This concludes Part I of this series.

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1 comment:

  1. Click for a 1936 Jazz instrumental record by Jimmy Noone's New Orleans Band that is entitled "The blues jumped a rabbit".