Country Blues

Dock Boggs

I think my two very favorite old time banjo players are Uncle Dave Macon and Dock Boggs. I love Uncle Dave for his totally unrestrained hilarious joy. But Dock Boggs understood the blues, and this song is a fine example.

"Country Blues" borrows lyrics from "Darlin' Cory" and many other Kentucky rounder, moonshiner, rake's lament type songs. The strange tuning and the haunting bluesey-ness are vintage Dock Boggs. Dock was influenced early in life by the mountain banjo traditions and by African-American music. Dock recalled how, as a young child, he would follow an African-American guitarist named "Go Lightning" up and down the railroad tracks, hoping the guitarist would stop at street corners to play for change.

Dock first recorded "Country Blues" on Brunswick Records in 1927 and then again in the 1970's after he was "rediscovered" by Mike Seeger and recorded a wealth of his amazingly varied repertoire on Folkways Records. We are very lucky.

My banjo arrangement owes a lot to Dock's recording as well as Art Rosenbaum's instruction book and CD. But like most of the pieces I do, it is really my own.


Come all you good time people
While I’ve got money to spend
Tomorrow might be Monday
And I’ll neither have a dollar nor a friend

When I had plenty of money good people
My friends were all standing around
As soon as my pocket book was empty
Not a friend on earth to be found.

I gambled all over Kentucky, good people
I gambled all the way to Spain
I’m goin’ back to Georgia
For to gamble my last card game.

The last time is seen my little woman, good people
She’d a dram glass in her hand
She’s drinkin’ down her troubles
With a low down sorry man.

My daddy he taught me plenty, good people
My momma she taught me more
Said if I didn’t quit my rowdy ways
I’d have trouble at my door.

I wrote my woman a letter, good people
I told here I’ze in jail
She wrote me back an answer
Said “Honey I’m a comin’ for your bail.”

All around this jail-house I’m laying, good people
Forty dollars won’t pay my fine
Corn whiskey has ruint my body, good people
Pretty women are troublin’ my mind

Give me good corn bread when I’m hungry, good people
Corn whiskey when I’m dry
Pretty women a standin around me
Sweet heaven when I die

If I had a listened to my momma, good people
I wound not a been here today
But a drinkin’ and shootin’ and gambling,
At home I counld not stay.

Go and dig me a hole in the meader, good people
Go and dig me a hole in the ground
Come gather around all you people
And watch this old rounder go down.

When I am dead and buried, good people
With my face turned to the sun
You can come around and mourn me little woman
And think on the way you have done.