Saturday, October 26, 2013

Robert Petway - Catfish Blues (example, information & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is part of a series of posts on songs that are connected to the song "Catfish Blues". Two pancocojams posts in this series are Tommy McClennan - "Deep Blue Sea", and "How The Rolling Stones Band & Rolling Stones Magazine Got Their Names" [which showcases Muddy Waters' song "Rollin Stone"]. Posts about Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" & Jimi Henrix's "Voodoo Chile" (slight return) are also included in this series.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Robert Petway was an African-American blues singer and guitarist.
Very little is known about Robert Petway. His birthplace is usually speculated to have been at or near J.F. Sligh Farm near Yazoo City, Mississippi, birthplace of his close friend and fellow bluesman Tommy McClennan, although some recent research suggests that Petway may have been born at Gee's Bend, Alabama.[1] His birth date is guessed at 1908, and the date and even the occurrence of his death is unknown. There is only one known picture of Petway, a publicity photo from 1941. He only recorded 16 songs, but he is said to have been an influence on many notable blues and rock musicians, including John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix...

"Catfish Blues"
One of Petway's most influential songs is "Catfish Blues", which he recorded in 1941. Amongst many other reworked versions, Muddy Waters used the arrangement and lyrics of "Catfish Blues" for his single "Rollin' Stone", the song from which the rock group The Rolling Stones chose their band name. The composition credit given to Petway is based entirely on the recording date of his version of the song; however it would be impossible to evidence that song as the conclusive and original source. There is speculation that Tommy McClennan had actually written the song, as he himself recorded it as "Deep Blues Sea". When David "Honeyboy" Edwards, a follower of Petway, was asked if Petway wrote the song, he replied, "He just made that song up and used to play it at them old country dances. He just made it up and kept it in his head."[2] In his autobiography David Honeyboy Edwards also remembers a delta blues guitarist he met called Tom Toy, who came from Leland, Mississippi. Apparently Toy was well-known locally for his version of Catfish Blues. Sadly, though, Toy was never recorded and he is forgotten today. Nothing is known about him and it is also uncertain when exactly Tom Toy was active.

Second verse of "Catfish Blues"

What if I were a catfish, mama
I said swimmin’ deep down in, deep blue sea
Have these gals now, sweet mama, settin’ out,
Settin’ out hooks for me, settin’ out hook for me
Settin’ out hook for me, settin’ out hook for me
Settin’ out hook for me, settin’ out hook for me[3]

First verse of "Rollin' Stone"

Well, I wish I was a catfish,
swimmin in a oh, deep, blue sea
I would have all you good lookin women,
fishin, fishin after me
Sure 'nough, a-after me
Sure 'nough, a-after me
Oh 'nough, oh 'nough, sure 'nough [4]

Robert Petway Catfish Blues (1941)

cojwat, Uploaded on Jun 11, 2010

Very little is known about Robert Petway. He recorded only sixteen songs between 1941-1942 and there is only one photo available of him.
But this song, "Catfish Blues" is an important part of blues history !

For example Muddy Water based his "Rollin' Stone" hit on this recording and you can hear it.

I hope owners of the rights want to see this as an honor to this artist who plays with just wonderful blues-feeling!
And same goes to these random photos of other blues artists, which I have found from net.

My hope is that everyone can just listen to this fine musician. Enjoy!

It's so nice, that you can still buy these recordings on CD, mine is an old vinyl album!
Here's a comment from that video's viewer comment thread:
ByrdWhiteMovie, 2012
"If I hadn't known, I would never guess upon hearing this that it's the same tune that would eventually become "Voodoo Child." But that's just how influence works, from generation to generation! Love this old ditty, it's like my "go-to" riff every time I pick up a guitar!"

Thanks to Robert Petway for his musical legacy and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

Thanks to all who are quoted in this post.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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