Dust My Broom
"I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" Song by Robert Johnson Released April 1937 Format 78 rpm A-side I Believe I'll Dust My Broom Recorded San Antonio, Texas, Monday, November 23, 1936 Genre Blues Label Vocalion Writer Robert Johnson Producer Don Law
"Dust My Broom" is a blues standard originally recorded as "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" by Robert Johnson, the Mississippi Delta blues singer and guitarist, on November 23, 1936 in San Antonio, Texas. The song was originally released on 78 rpm format as Vocalion 03475, ARC 7-04-81 and Conqueror 8871. There is an ongoing dispute as to whether the song was originally written by Johnson or by his contemporary, Elmore James.
This was the second song that Johnson recorded, immediately after "Kind Hearted Woman Blues". He adopted this song from traditional sources. Unlike the many versions by other musicians, Johnson's original accompaniment was finger picked, and not played as a bottleneck or slide guitar. Leroy Carr’s original hit was "I Believe I’ll Make A Change" recorded in August 1934. The popular bottleneck guitar player and singer Kokomo Arnold used the tune for two records: "Sagefield Woman Blues" recorded in September 1934 and "Sissy Man Blues" recorded in January 1935 It seems likely that Johnson owned and studied both of Arnold’s records. Another possibility is that Johnson heard Arnold in person performing a number of verses to this melody. However, Edward Komara suggests that Johnson may have begun developing his version of the song as early as 1933, since it had already been recorded by the Sparks Brothers as "I Believe I'll Make A Change" in 1932 and by Jack Kelly as "Believe I'll Go Back Home" in 1933
Arnold began "Sissy Man Blues" with essentially the same verse as Kelly:
I believe, I believe I’ll go back home x 2
Lord acknowledge to my good gal, mama, Lord, that I have done you wrong
The Prodigal Son went home, I believe I'll do the same
Mr Carl’s Blues Sissy Man Blue I’m goin’ to call up in China,
– just to see if my baby’s over there .. x 2
I’ll always believe
— my babe’s in the world somewhere
Now, I’m gonna ring up China, yeah man,
– see can I find my good gal over there …… x 2
Says the Good Book tells me,
— that I got a good gal in the world somewhere
Another of Rafferty's verses is used in Arnold’s earlier record, "Sagefield Woman Blues".
Mr Carl’s Blues Sagefield Woman Blues I do believe,
– I believe I’ll dust my broom …… x 2
And after I dust my broom
— Anyone may have my room
And I believe,
– I believe I’ll dust my broom …… x 2
So some of your lowdown rounders,
— Lord, you can have my room
Johnson takes Arnold's melody and these three verses, adding two new verses of his own. As well as telephoning to find his lost girl, he will write a letter. And he changes his attitude to the woman he is leaving. Arnold acknowledges that he has done wrong, but Johnson tells his woman "The black man you been loving, girl friend, can get my room". He then adds a characteristic verse on unfaithful women and this woman in particular. The resulting text has a unity that was missing in Arnold's two records. The singer is leaving for home, disillusioned with one woman and yearning for another, who may be anywhere in the world.
I'm goin' get up in the morning, I believe I'll dust my broom x 2
Girl friend, the black man you been lovin', girl friend, can get my room
I'm gonna write a letter, telephone every town I know x 2
If I can't find her in West Helena, she must be in East Munroe I know
I don't want no woman, wants every down town man she meets x 2
She's a no good dony, they shouldn't 'low her on the streets
I believe, I believe I'll go back home x 2
You can mistreat me here, babe, but you can't when I go home
And I'm gettin' up in the morning, I believe I'll dust my broom x 2
Girl friend, the black man you been lovin', girl friend, can get my room
I'm gonna call up China, see is my good gal over there x 2
I can't find her in the Philippine Islands, she must be in Ethiopia somewhere
Attempts have been made to read a hoodoo significance into the phrase 'dust my broom'. However the blues artist Big Joe Williams, who knew Robert Johnson, and who also believed in traditional magic, explained it as "leaving for good ... I'm putting you down. I won't be back no more".
Johnson did not attempt to copy the distinctive guitar styles of Arnold or Blackwell. But, according to Elijah Wald, the accompaniment was a major innovation. Fingerpicking in the key of E, he plays high pitch triplets against a driving bass boogie figure, creating an effect similar to the then popular combination of piano and guitar accompaniment. Johnson's blend is so seamless it appears to be two guitarists playing at the same time. In fact, when Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards first heard Johnson he remarked; "He's great! But who's the other guitar player?" (In another version, Mick Jagger made this remark to Richards when Richards first played him the song). Johnson drives the beat with the shuffle rhythm and plays fills simultaneously. Johnson's innovation later became very common among blues guitarists, especially after the electric guitar became standard. That particular boogie guitar figure was apparently invented by Johnnie Temple, who used it in his 1935 recording "Lead Pencil Blues (It Just Won't Write)". (Still, no one has quite matched Johnson's technique on Dust My Broom. As crude as it is, it's also immensely sophisticated). However, Temple spoke of performing with a musician he knew as "RJ". Edward Komara suggests that "RJ" was Robert Johnson, and that he and Temple jointly invented the piano boogie guitar style.
Komara believes that Johnson played this and other songs in a 'secret tuning', which Komara calls "Aadd9". This is an 'open A' tuning with the fifth string retuned from A to B, giving a tuning of E-B-E-A-C♯-E.
The first reissue of Johnson's music King of the Delta Blues Singers in 1961 omitted "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" and other forward looking performances, described by Pearson and McCulloch as "traditional pieces that would have connected Johnson to the rightful inheritors of his musical ideas – big-city African American artists whose high-powered, electrically amplified blues remained solidly in touch with Johnson's musical legacy."
The second compilation issued by Columbia Records, King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. II was issued nine years later, although a bootleg album of recording to supplement the first volume had been issued on the Kokomo label and was owned and circulated among blues enthusiasts. The Columbia album was marketed to a younger, wider audience than the jazz fans for whom the first album was compiled. In the liner notes, Marketing Manager Jon Waxman wrote, "Unquestionably, a major influence on much of today's rock music is the blues – more especially rural blues ... So, if you dig contemporary music, especially the blues, give a listen to Robert Johnson, the original master."
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup
"Dust My Broom" Single by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup A-side Dust My broom B-side You Know That I Love You Format 78 rpm Recorded Chicago, March 10, 1949 Genre Rhythm and Blues Label Victor
"I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" was not covered until Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 1949 recording entitled "Dust My Broom". Crudup's guitar accompaniment did not copy Johnson's, and his melody was somewhat altered. His lyrics were partly based on Johnson's, partly new. He begins in biblical language:
It's a sin and a shame, Lord, the way you treat po' me x 2
You know well, that I love you, and I really wouldn't mistreat, thee
His next verses are based on Johnson's, but show a very different attitude to the woman he is leaving:
So, I'm gonna get up in the mornin', an' I swear I'm gonna dust my broom x 2
I'm quittin' the best gal I'm lovin', so my friends can get my room I believe, I believe, believe my time ain't long x 2
I got to leave my baby, break up my happy home
Crudup's record is a solo performance. He sing and accompanies himself on electric guitar.
"Dust My Broom" Single by Robert Lockwood Junior A-side Dust My Broom B-side I'm Gonna Dig Myself a Hole Format 78 rpm Recorded Chicago, November 15, 1951 Genre Rhythm and Blues Label Mercury Writer(s) Robert Johnson
In 1951, Robert Lockwood recorded "Dust My Broom" for J.O.B. on March 22 and for Mercury on November 15. The unissued J.O.B. record was a band performance with Lockwood on electric guitar, Sunnyland Slim on piano and Alfred Wallace on drums. The Mercury record also featured Sunnyland Slim, with Ernest "Big Boy" Crawford on drums. Lockwood had learned the song in person from Robert Johnson, who he regarded as his musical mentor and a sort of "step father", because Lockwood's mother was one of Johnson's regular girlfriends, the one with whom he stayed in Helena, Arkansas. He therefore used Johnson's text with minor changes.
I'm gonna get up early in the mornin', I believe I'll dust my broom X 2
And if you got another man little baby, you sure can have my room I don't want no woman, want every down town man she meets X 2
You know that she's a dirty mistreater, they shouldn't 'low the little girl out on the streets I believe, I believe I'll go back home X 2
I want to tell the little girl I've been lovin', that she have done done me wrong I'm gonna call West Helena, telephone every town I know x 2
If the little girl ain't in Chicago, she's in East Munroe I know I'm gonna call up China, see is my little girl over there x 2
If the little girl ain't on the Philippine Islands, she's in Ethiopia somewhere
On both recordings, Lockwood copies Johnson's "piano boogie" guitar style, but with strong support from Sunnyland Slim's piano for the both boogie base and some of the melody. On the J.O.B. recording. Slim also plays the triplet figures in a strong right hand which dominated the ensemble.
"Dust My Broom (I Believe My Time Ain't Long)" Single by Elmore James A-side Dust My Broom (I Believe My Time Ain't Long) B-side Catfish Blues (performed by Bobo Thomas) Released 1951 Format 78 rpm Recorded Jackson, Mississippi, August 5, 1951 Genre Rhythm and blues Label Trumpet Writer(s) Elmore James Producer Lillian McMurry
I'm gonna get up in the morning, I believe I'll dust my broom x 2
I'll quit the best gal I'm loving, and my friends can get my room I'm gonna write a letter, telephone every town I know x 2
If I don't find her in Mississippi, she's over in West Memphis, I know And I don't want no woman, wants every down town man she meets x 2
She's a no good dony, they shouldn't 'low her on the streets I believe, I believe my time ain't long x 2
I've got to leave my baby, and break up my happy home
James is on electric slide guitar, Sonny Boy Williamson II on harmonica, Leonard Ware on bass and Frock O'Dell on drums. Ware supplied the boogie beat, allowing James, with superior amplification, to dominate with a riff based on Johnson's triplet figures. The repeated riff and one other phrase form a melody which the band plays as an instrumental in places.
A legend was spread by Sonny Boy Williamson II and Homesick James that Lillian McMurry secretly taped the performance in the Trumpet Records studio, and that James was so upset that he was unable to record a B-side. This was printed in various works, including the widely-read Deep Blues by Robert Palmer. Edward Komara has shown this story to be entirely untrue. McMurry had previously signed a recording contract with James, and the studio did not use tape recorders.
McMurry filed the song for copyright in good faith, citing Elmore James as composer. She was then unaware of Robert Johnson's earlier composition.
The record became a surprise rhythm and blues hit in 1952, prompting James to exploit the melody and accompaniment with similar texts. Most of his subsequent records were released as by "Elmore James and His Broomdusters". His releases included: "She just won't do right (Going for good or Dust My Broom)" (1952) and "Dust My Blues" (1955). In 1959 he recorded the song again as "Dust My Broom" with his cousin Homesick James on second guitar. Homesick later recorded the song on an LP for Vanguard Records in 1965. Distinctive to all these records is the melody created from the riff on "Dust My Broom"
Other cover versions
Dust My Broom has been covered by many major rock and blues artists.
- 1964 : Howling Wolf on the album American Folk Blues Festival 1964
- 1964 : Robert Nighthawk on the album And This Is Maxwell Street
- 1965 : The Yardbirds as "Dust My Blues" on the album Live at BBC
- 1965 : Otis Spann on the album The Blues Never Die!
- 1966 : J. B. Hutto on the album Master of Modern Blues'
- 1966 : Spencer Davis Group as "Dust My Blues" on the album Autumn '66
- 1966 : Ike and Tina Turner
- 1967 : Rising Sons (Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder)
- 1967 : Eddie Boyd with Peter Green
- 1967 : Canned Heat on the album Canned Heat
- 1967 : John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers with Peter Green as "Dust My Blues" on the album A Hard Road
- 1967 : Earl Hooker on the album There's a Fungus Among Us
- 1967 : Juke Boy Bonner on the album The One Man Trio
- 1968 : Fleetwood Mac on the album Mr Wonderful
- 1969 : Luther Allison on the album Love me mama
- 1970 : John Littlejohn on the album Bottleneck Blues
- 1971 : Freddie King on the album Getting Ready
- 1976 : Hound Dog Taylor on the album Beware of the dog
- 1979 : ZZ Top on the album Degüello
- 1981 : Henry Vestine on the album I Used To Be Mad
- 1982 : Willcox on the "black album"
- 1983 : James Cotton on the album My Foundation
- 1983 : R.L. Burnside on the album Mississippi Blues
- 1985 : Dr. Feelgood (band) on the album Mad Man Blues
- 1987 : Sunnyland Slim on the album Live at the D.C. Blues Society
- 1989 : Flavium on the album 25 Years of Bluespower
- 1991 : Buster Benton on the album I Like To Hear My Guitar Sing
- 1992 : Ben Harper on the album Pleasure and Pain
- 1993 : Guy Davis on the album Stomp Down Rider
- 1994 : Elliott Sharp on the album Terraplane
- 1994 : Jeff Healey on the album Live At Grossman's - 1994
- 1995 : Harmonica Slim on the album Back Bottom Blues
- 1995 : Gary Moore on the album Blues for Greeny
- 1996 : Bluebirds on the album South from Memphis
- 2004 : Etta James
- 2006 : Steven Seagal on the album Mojo Priest
- 2008 : Cassandra Wilson on the album Loverly
- 2009 : Melinda Doolittle on the album Coming Back to You
- 2010 : Lucky Peterson on the album You Can Always Turn Around
- 2010 : Frankie Chavez on the album Family Tree
- 2011 : Johnny Winter on the album Roots, featuring Derek Trucks on slide guitar
- 2011 : Carolyn Wonderland on the album Peace Meal
- ^ Franz, Steve. The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James. Bluesource Publications, 2003, ISBN 0971803811
- ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/5937559/page/5. Retrieved August 11, 2008.
- ^ Samuel, Charters (1973). Robert Johnson. New York: Oak Publications. p. 29. ISBN 0-8256-0059-6.
- ^ a b Slaven, Neil (2007). Liner notes to The Road to Robert Johnson And Beyond. JSP Records JSP77795.
- ^ Vocalion Vo 02820, American Record Company ARC 7-02-65.
CD reissue on How Long has That Evening Train Been Gone, Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell, Volume 1 JSP Records JSP77104, and on Leroy Carr, Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Volume 5, Document Records DOCD-5138.
- ^ Decca De 7044.
CD reissue on Kokomo Arnold, Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Volume 1, Document Records DOCD-5037
- ^ Decca De 7050.
CD reissue on Back to the Cross Roads, The Roots of Robert Johnson, Yazoo Records Yazoo 2070 , and on Kokomo Arnold, The Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2, Document Records DOCD-5038.
- ^ a b c d p. 135.
- ^ a b c d Komara, Edward (2007). The Road to Robert Johnson, The genesis and evolution of blues in the Delta from the late 1800s through 1938. p. 47. Hal Leonard. ISBN 0-634-00907-9
- ^ Victor 2359
CD reissue on The Sparks Brothers, Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Document Records DOCD-5315,
- ^ Melotone M12812
CD resissue on Memphis Shakedown, More Jug Band Classics JSP Records JSP77752, and on Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band, Complete recorded Works In Chronological Order (1933–1939), Document Records BDCD-6005
- ^ Columbia C-2332-2 unissued at the time, subsequently issued on LP, audio cassette and CD
CD reissues include: Big Bill Blues, Part 2, Chicago 1937–1940, JSP Records JSP7750, and on Big Bill Broonzy, Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Volume 8, Document Records Document DOCD-5130.
- ^ Bluebird BB B5429.
CD reissue on The Road to Robert Johnson and Beyond. JSP Records JSP7795.
- ^ Oliver, Paul (1968). Screening the Blues. Cassell. p. 189
- ^ a b c Pearson, Barry Lee and Bill McCulloch (2003). Robert Johnson, Lost and Found. Uiversity of Illinois Press. p 68. ISBN 978-0-252-07528-5
- ^ Vocalion Vo 0368
CD reissue on The Road to Robert Johnson and Beyond. also on Back to the Cross Roads, The Roots of Robert Johnson, also on Johnnie Temple, Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Volume 1. Document Records Document DOCD 5238.
- ^ Robert Johnson, Kokomo Records K1000
- ^ Vic 50-0074
CD reissue on Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Volume 2, Document Records DOCD-5202.
- ^ Matrix 35223 not released at the time
CD reissue on : Sunnyland Slim and his Pals, Classic Sides 1951–1955. JSP Records JSP7783
- ^ Merc 8260
CD reissue on : Sunnyland Slim and his Pals
- ^ Trumpet 146
CD reissue on many compilations including The Road To Robert Johnson And Beyond JSP Records JSP7795.
- ^ Palmer, Robert (1981). Deep Blues. p. 214. ISBN 0 33334039 6
- ^ a b Wardlow, Gayle Dean (1998). Chasin' That Devil Music, Edited with an introduction by Edward Komara. Miller Freeman Books. p.p. 166-168. ISBN 0-87930-552-5
- ^ Checker 777
- ^ Flair 1074, Kent 331, 394
- ^ Sphere Sound 712
- ^ Vanguagrd VRS 8217
- ^ Grammy Hall of Fame
- ^ Second Hand Songs
- Recording sessions
- "Kind Hearted Woman Blues"
- "Dust My Broom"
- "Sweet Home Chicago"
- "Come On in My Kitchen"
- "Terraplane Blues"
- "32-20 Blues"
- "They're Red Hot"
- "Dead Shrimp Blues"
- "Cross Road Blues"
- "From Four Until Late"
- "Hellhound on My Trail"
- "Travelling Riverside Blues"
- "Love in Vain"
- "Ramblin' on My Mind"
- "Last Fair Deal Gone Down"
- "Walkin' Blues"
- "Me and the Devil Blues"
- "Stop Breaking Down"
- "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day"
- "When You Got A Good Friend"
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