Saturday, October 7, 2017

Big Maceo Merriweather -"Worried Life Blues" (information, sound file, lyrics, & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases the Blues standard* "Worried Life Blues" as performed by Big Maceo Merriweather.

Information about Maceo Merriweather is also included in this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Big Maceo Merriweather for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of the two YouTube sound files of this song.

"Major "Big Maceo" Merriweather (March 31, 1905 – February 23, 1953)[1] was an American blues pianist and singer, active in Chicago in the 1940s.[2]

Born in Newnan, Georgia,[1] he was a self-taught pianist. In the 1920s, he moved to Detroit, Michigan, to begin his music career. He moved to Chicago in 1941, where he made the acquaintance of Tampa Red.[3] Red introduced him to Lester Melrose of RCA Victor and its subsidiary label Bluebird Records, who signed Merriweather to a recording contract.[4]

His first record was "Worried Life Blues" (1941), which became a blues hit and remained his signature piece.”...

Big Maceo (Merriweather)
"Big Maceo Merriweather was one of the most prominent blues recording artists of the 1940s, famed not only for his powerful piano work but for his expressive singing on hits such as Worried Life Blues. Although he had only a short career, his music had a strong influence on the Chicago pianists who followed, especially Otis Spann and Little Johnnie Jones.

Born Major Merriweather on March 21, 1905, near Newnan, Georgia, Maceo and his family lived on a farm until they moved to nearby Atlanta in 1920. There the left-handed Maceo took up the piano, developing a pounding style with, naturally, a prominent left hand that would later distinguish his recordings. In 1924 he moved to Detroit, where he began playing the house party circuit which was the bread and butter of piano players in prewar blues. He also worked the night clubs of Detroit and, during the 1940s and ’50s, Chicago after he moved to the Windy City.

In Chicago Maceo often teamed with guitarist Tampa Red, both on record and in clubs such as the H&T. Maceo recorded for Bluebird and RCA Victor under the supervision of Lester Melrose from 1941 to 1947, establishing himself as a major name among blues record buyers. The first song he recorded, the poignant Worried Life Blues, is considered such an essential blues work that it was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in the first year of the Classics of Blues Recording balloting, years before Maceo himself was inducted as a performer. Other highlights of his recorded repertoire include Things Have Changed, a hit on Billboard‘s “Race Records” jukebox chart in 1945, County Jail Blues and its flip side Can’t You Read from 1941, and his 1945 instrumental masterpiece Chicago Breakdown..

A stroke in 1946 cost him the use of his right hand, although he continued to sing and play one-handed, sometimes employing a protégé such as Johnnie Jones or Eddie Boyd to play the keys, or at least the treble notes. He never regained the strength or stature he had once enjoyed, though, and, like a number of top blues recording artists of the era, was never able, even at his peak, to translate his fame into a successful touring career. Blues promoters, agents, and clubs were only beginning to coalesce into what we know as the chittlin circuit, and the big theater circuit was the domain of jazz and swing bands and uptown blues shouters and crooners. Big Maceo made his final records for Specialty in 1949 and Fortune in 1950, in addition to an unissued session for Mercury in 1952 . He died of a heart attack on February 26, 1953, in Chicago."

— Jim O’Neal

November 10th, 2016"

"Worried Life Blues" is a blues standard and one of the most recorded blues songs of all time. Originally recorded by Big Maceo Merriweather in 1941, "Worried Life Blues" was an early blues hit and Maceo's most recognized song. An earlier song inspired it and several artists have had record chart successes with their interpretations of the song.

"Worried Life Blues" is based on "Someday Baby Blues" recorded by Sleepy John Estes in 1935.[1] Estes' song is performed as a vocal and guitar country blues, whereas Maceo's is a prototypical Chicago blues.


Composition and recording
Big Maceo recorded "Worried Life Blues" June 24, 1941, shortly after arriving in Chicago.[3] Lester Melrose produced the song and it became Maceo's first single on Bluebird Records. The song is a moderate-tempo eight-bar blues, with Maceo on vocal and piano, accompanied by frequent collaborator, guitarist and fellow recording artist, Tampa Red and Ransom Knowling on bass. Music writer Keith Shadwick identifies it a major hit[3] and blues historian Jim O'Neal notes that it "eclipsed the song ['Someday Baby'] that inspired it".[1][4] Several other renditions soon followed, including those by Bill Gaither (1941), Sonny Boy Williams (1942), and Honeyboy Edwards (1942). In 1945, Maceo recorded a second version with additional lyrics, also accompanied by Tampa Red. Titled "Things Have Changed", it reached number four in the Billboard's Race Records chart.[5]


Recognition and influence
"Worried Life Blues" became an early blues standard[6] and was among the first songs inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1983 as a "Classic of Blues Recordings".[1] In 2006, the song received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.[7] Over the years numerous artists have covered "Worried Life Blues" or some mixture of it, "Someday Baby Blues", and other elements,[8] making it one of the most recorded blues songs of all time.[3] When Charles Brown reworked it as a West Coast blues number titled "Trouble Blues", it was one of the biggest hits of 1949 and spent 15 weeks at number one on Billboard's Race Records/Rhythm & Blues Records chart.[9] In 1955, Muddy Waters recording of it as "Trouble No More" in a Chicago blues style reached number seven on the R&B chart.[10] Junior Parker recorded the song in 1969 and it appeared at number 34.[11] B.B. King had a number 48 charting single in 1970 with "Worried Life" (originally recorded as "Someday Baby" in 1960).[12][13]:...
"Worried Life Blues" is considered a "Blues standard". Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page about Standard (music)
"In music, a standard is a musical composition of established popularity, considered part of the "standard repertoire" of one or several genres.[1][2] Even though the standard repertoire of a given genre consists of a dynamic and partly subjective set of songs, these can be identified by having been performed or recorded by a variety of musical acts, often with different arrangements. In addition, standards are extensively quoted by other works and commonly serve as the basis for musical improvisation.[3] Standards may "cross over" from one genre's repertoire to another's; for example, many jazz standards have entered the pop repertoire, and many blues standards have entered the rock repertoire."...

(composed by Maceo Merriweather) [?]

Whoa, Lordy, Lord
Oh Lordy, Lord
It hurts me so bad
For us to part
But someday, baby
I ain't gonna worry my life any more

So many nights
Since you been gone
I been worried' an grievin'
My life alone
But someday, baby
I ain't gonna worry my life any more

So many days
Since you went away
I had to worry
Both night an day
But someday, baby
I ain't gonna worry my life any more

'No boy, I ain't gonna worry my life no more! '

'Yeah, yeah'

(piano & guitar)

You on my mind
Ev'ry place I go
How much I love you
Nobody knows
But someday, baby
I ain't gonna worry my life any more

So that's my story
This is all I got to say to you
Goodbye, baby
An I don't care what you do
But someday, baby
I ain't gonna worry my life any more.
"Worried Life Blues 2: 54 Trk 1

Big Maceo - vocals & piano
W/Tampa Red - guitar & vocal, Ransom Knowling - string bass.
Recorded Tues. June 24, 1941
Chicago, ill. Rca Studio C
Album: Bluebird Recordings Big Maceo 1941-1942
Rca #66715-2

Note: Bluebird Notes state that.. 'Worried Life Blues'
Maceo's first solo was an adaptation of
Sleepy John Estes 'Someday Baby'."

Sound File #1: Big Maceo-Worried Life Blues (1941) HD

Vws Vas Published on Jan 31, 2015
As of the publishing date of this pancocojams post, this sound file has no comments [?!?]

Sound file #2: Big Maceo Merriweather - Worried Life Blues

Citizenmichail, Published on Jun 1, 2009

Big Maceo Merriweather - Worried Life Blues from the album The Best of Big Maceo (1992)
selected comments from this sound file's discussion thread; numbers assigned for referencing purposes only:
Chris, 2011
"This song is said to be the most covered blues song of all time. 11,000 views, I am disappointed! :( Good song."

jay1beaux, 2011
"A masterpiece"

Karl Maurer, 2013
"Thanks for sharing. Big Maceo was 6 feet tall and weighed 250. Is this Tampa Red playing guitar? Sounds like it. So much soul and emotion in these old 78s."

supermabel1, 2013
"Yes, Tampa Red on guitar, recorded 1941."

Renny Shelton, 2015
"Is that Tampa Red on guitar?"

Emmett Stephens, 2016
"+Renny Shelton yes"

oker59, 2016
"+Renny Shelton Tampa Red's best stuff is with Big Maeco, imo."
Here's information about Tampa Red from
"Tampa Red (January 8, 1904[1] – March 19, 1981), born Hudson Woodbridge but known from childhood as Hudson Whittaker, was an American Chicago blues musician.
Tampa Red is best known as an accomplished and influential blues guitarist who had a distinctive single-string slide style. His songwriting and his silky, polished bottleneck technique influenced other leading Chicago blues guitarists, such as Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Nighthawk and Muddy Waters, and many others, including Elmore James and Mose Allison.[2] In a career spanning over 30 years he also recorded pop, R&B and hokum songs"

Sir Cuss, 2016
"weakapedia claims this song was first recorded by merriweather, when, clearly note for note and word on word,the song was first recorded by the willfully forgotten Bill Gaither ( as glaring an omission from the blues history as Buddy Moss ). " worried life" By Bill Gaither, the great Honeyboy Edwards assisting on piano. but since merriweather is already iconocized in the " music" hall of fame, do you think this fact will ever be admitted? oh yeah, another famous omission, is Little Willie John, the first person to record " fever " the song Peggy Lee is most famous for. ah, good old militaryindustrialcomplex " history", for your eyes only. Little Willie John died alone in jail after being framed for a murder he ( by all witness accounts ) didn't commit. why doesn't hollywood give me some crocodile tears for that story? oh right, because none of the major labels own his material, so since they can't profit off due credit, they create their own credit line and like usual, what you don't know will haunt you like a specter and milk you like a cow. so, why would Bill Gaither be ignored so intentfully?, because they've already written their" rolling stone" moss gathering tripe, and the Robert Johnson story is already a big winner why mess with success.
keep on buyin' what they sell and the rockefeller snake oil salesman makes out pretty well.
peeeeeaaaacey greeazzzzy."

Sir Cuss, 2016
"as an aside, i think this is a great recording, not trying to diss the man's work with my rant, just clearing some air."

Michael Packwood, 2016
"Some good comments here. Interested in Sis Cuss' information. I first heard this on 'Animal Tracks' Eric Burdon. (I still have my original vinyl version) And that was a very relevant version which shouldn't be dismissed just because it isn't 'authentic - it was the 60's bands like the Animals et al that introduced many of us baby boomers to this amazing genre. Even so, over those early years of my listening to the blues (which I do not do much these days as I have a huge catalogue of the romantic and post-classical and 20th C symphonic orchestral repertoire to explore) I encountered earlier versions such as this one., which is just so good. Love YouTube for the instant access to so much of this stuff! Thanks."

Thomas Hennessey, 2017
"Maceo was a pianist who helped established pre-electric early chicago style city blues in the 1930s-40s. It was also known as the Bluebird beat because it was on RCA's cheaper Bluebird label. Tampa red is the guitarist in the 1941 sessin with Ranson Knowling on bass according to several sources. guitarist-vocalist Honeyboy Edwards recorded this tune in 1942."

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment