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Thread: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

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    JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    This is intended, hopefully, for a discussion of Butterfield, Waters and Hooker, or some other, as yet unmentioned, related contemporary, being the direct source for Jimi's Catfish Blues.

    It is not intended as a vehicle for songs that came after, or were only released after Jimi's. Neither is it intended as a vehicle for repeating, or discussing the already well worn path about an earlier generation, the antecedents, of Muddy Waters' songs. For the history behind Muddy Waters' 'Rollin' Stone', 'Still A Fool', Rollin' and Tumblin' or even Hooker's '‘I Rolled and Turned and Cried The Whole Night Long’ etc. please go to:

    http://crosstowntorrents.org/showthr...-Blues-sources

    Possible, very slight, connection to John Lee Hooker?:

    March 1968 Rock & Folk ‘Burdon vs. Hendrix’ By Jaques Barsamian:
    It’s time for ‘Catfish Blues’ and Hendrix takes a triangular guitar that reminds me of those that Bo Diddley sometimes used. ‘Catfish Blues’ is a piece in the tradition of John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed*, where in the course of the song the drummer gives an extraordinary solo.
    *Can’t see where Reed comes into it except he plays in the blues ‘tradition’?
    [...]
    JB: […] ‘Who are your favourite singers at the moment?’
    Jimi: In the old blues, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, [...] I love folk-blues. On stage you heard me doing ‘Catfish Blues.‘
    JB: ‘[What is a catfish?]’
    Jimi: ‘A catfish? It’s a sort of fish that you can see in the Mississippi. I prefer recording my own compositions, [ie ‘I don’t consider ‘Catfish Blues’ an original composition of mine.’ Ed.] but we might do a blues number on our third LP with our own groove.’

    09-10-67 Paris
    Jimi: have you heard of Mississippi? have you heard of Muddy Waters? right, how about
    John Lee Hooker1? So we’d like to do this slow blues, mix it on with our own kind o’ way,
    we’d like to do it our own way, ‘The Experience’ way, right?
    [...]
    Jimi : Yeah, yeah, raggedy guitar
    Mitch : Play now Muddy style
    Noel : Wait for this bit then [Jimi put’s guitar to his mouth]
    Jimi : That sure tastes good man-huh
    [Tape is faded out here by JanieCo – for no good reason]

    1Hendrix may not be referring to any particular song of Hooker’s here, or even to anything other than knowing Hooker was very popular with youth audiences around this time, or was told/knew Hooker was popular in France, or just a blues artist that he liked.
    But if he is referring to a song it would most likely be his ‘I Rolled and Turned and Cried The Whole Night Long’ (UK 1964 Pye LP ‘Burning Hell’), where he sings ‘Well, I rolled and I tumbled and I cried the whole night long . . . I rolled this mornin’, Found my baby gone.” The last bit is interesting as during Top Gear 6-10-67, Hendrix sings a similar line, “Lord, My baby’s gone,” just this one performance only, at the end. The only other Hooker source that would possibly be available to Hendrix that uses the Rollin’ and Tumblin’ line, partly ie ‘I rolled and I rolled and I cried the whole night long,’ would have been the US single ‘Roll ‘n Roll’ (1950 Modern), but it’s unlikely he would have had access to one of these very old 78 pressings. It continues on with the next line of Waters’ song, partly, ‘I rolled this mornin,’ didn’t know right from wrong’.
    An alt. take of this song titled, ‘Rollin’ Blues’ was not released until 1970. It has even less of the line: ‘Yes, I rolled, baby, rolled all night long’ and also continues on with the next ‘didn’t know right from wrong’ line from Waters’ song.
    Interestingly, a further line - “My baby gonna jump and shout”- in this version is similar to one - “He gonna make pretty womenjump and shout” - used in Waters’ ‘Hoochie Cootchie Man’ (by Willie Dixon - for Waters)

    Anyway, in the one version, 6-10-67, Hendrix added a verse at the point where all the other versions lyrics end (bar one).
    He may be quoting wholly or partially Hooker’s song (above), but the first two lines, doubled, are identical to Waters’ ‘Rollin’ Stone’:Well, I rolled an’ I tumbled, cried the whole night long. Only the last line – ‘Lord, My baby is gone’ is uniquely similar to Hooker’s, “Found my baby gone.

    Of the other fourteen performances which are just the two verses of Rollin’ Stone’ followed by the one verse of ‘Still A Fool’; onjust one he tacks on just these two lines at the end, ‘Well, I rolled an’ I tumbled, Cried the whole night long,’ so no way a ‘third verse’.

    As to some preferring to title this song as “Experiencing the Blues” over “Catfish Blues”?
    I am sure it only became known as this after the UK boot Live Experience 1967-68 came out in November 1970. This was possibly the first posthumous Hendrix boot and widely sold in large numbers, (you could even buy it mail order in the UK music press for a while and from International Times etc.). It just looks like the bootleggers - as was their want when they didn't know the title of a song - just made it up?
    The only mentions of this ETB title in the UK at any time was in reference to this bootleg in the top three UK music papers, Disc, Melody Maker and NME where they would have read the title from the insert. I've seen/heard no evidence for this name prior to this boot.
    This would be the first time most people had heard this song. Whether anyone could remember the name it was originally given on that solitary Top Gear show (which catered to a relative minority anyway), broadcast over three years previous (06-10-67) is debatable. If it was even introduced by a title as such, and not just by a preamble like he did several times, e.g. in Paris 10-09-67, “have you heard of Mississippi? have you heard of Muddy Waters? Right. How about John Lee Hooker? So we’d like to do this slow blues, mix it on with our own kind o’ way, we’d like to do it our own way, ‘The Experience’ way, right?’ This is the only intro of the song where he mentions another blues artist by name, and mentions ‘The Experience’ by name. Although quite close to ETB it is not an actual title, before and after this date it was referred to as “Catfish Blues”.
    It is of course possible that the ETB title was used on Top Gear. But no evidence has yet appeared.
    It seems there was only this one tape of the broadcast known, which is minus the intro and which no longer appears to exist, outside of the boot. Every recorded intro (where it isn’t just “a blues”) given to this song is some chat about it being from Muddy Waters (no title given), or either, subsequent to Top Gear, being given the title "Catfish Blues" - except once when it was - pre-Top Gear - actually introduced as “Rollin' Stone”. The same goes for contemporary press and interviews when it is only ever called "Catfish Blues", apart from one American who, astutely observed, “In person he does so many other unique and all around hairy musical trips based around other people's songs, like "Wild Thing", "Two Trains Running." - Paul Butterfield’s 1965 title for his “Catfish Blues” type mix of “Still A Fool” and “Rollin’ Stone.
    Jimi’s main competition back in New York for top US electric guitarist had been Mike Bloomfield:

    Well, there's two trains runnin’
    But there's not one goin’ my way
    Yeah, one runs at midnight
    Other just ‘fore a day
    Other just ‘fore a day
    Other just ‘fore day

    I went down to my baby's house
    And I sat down on her steps
    She said, "Come on in here, baby
    My old man just left
    He just now left
    Oh, my old man left"

    Yes, I wish I was a catfish
    Swimmin’ in the deep blue sea
    I’d have all you pretty women
    Fishin’ after me
    Fishing after me
    Fishing after me

    [drum breaks and guitar solos]

    I went down to my baby's house
    And I sat down on her steps
    She said, "Come on in here, baby
    My old man just left
    He just now left
    Oh, my old man left"

    [Last verse is the last part of ‘Still A Fool’, not used by Hendrix]

    It is never called ‘Experiencing the Blues’.
    I think the Tommy Vance 1967 introduction story probably just came about from confusing it with the 1980 BBC 'Impressions of Hendrix’ show, where he does refer to it by the ETB title. But by that time in the UK most fans, including Vance, would know it by that name - due to the bootleg and the reviews, etc. of it in the popular UK music press.
    Would be nice if someone could come up with something to show otherwise?
    Anyway, regardless even if it can be shown that Vance did introduce it as such in 1967, there is no evidence of it being titled this prior, or subsequent to that date. Out of the fourteen other versions with vocal ETB is not mentioned, and even the mention of ‘Experience’ in the intro only happens once (above).

    1. 04-02-67 Flamingo
    Jimi: I’d like to try do a little mixture of a whole lot of things on this one here, it’s a little Muddy Waters, slightly

    23-2-67 UK, Record Mirror (page 4) ‘Jimi Doesn’t Think He’s a Big Name Yet’
    [...] Jimi’s first album will be released next month.
    “The album will be different and all the songs will be mine except for ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and maybe
    a Muddy Waters number [ie ‘Rollin’ Stone’/’Still A Fool’ > ‘Catfish Blues’].”

    4-7-67 Los Angeles Times [...] The group was at its best on blues, doing a good job on "Rock Me Baby" and an exquisite version of "Catfish Blues," in which Hendrix and his drummer soloed at length. [...]

    1-9-67 UK, New Musical Express ‘A BAD DECISION’ by Andy Gray: [...]
    He powered his way through ‘Summertime Blues’. ‘I Don‘t Live Today (with a flippant aside which he delivered so well, of ‘This is dedicated to the American Indians ‘), Muddy Waters’ Catfish Blues’, ‘Foxy Lady’, ‘Stand Next To Your Fire’, ‘Red House’, ‘Purple Haze’ and perhaps the most popular, ‘Hey Joe’.

    6?-8-67 (San Francisco) Mojo Navigator (Vol 2, No 2 [The final issue]) In person he does so many other unique and all around hairy musical trips based around other people's songs, like "Wild Thing", "Two Trains Running". . . [Note: Paul Butterfield’s1965 title for his “Catfish Blues” type mix of “Still A Fool” and “Rollin’ Stone. Ed.]

    2. 27-08-67
    Jimi: We’d like to do a little thing, slightly by Muddy Waters. We’d like to do this song of our own way.

    3. 04-09-67 Stora Scenen
    Noel: We’d like to do an old blues number now, we arranged ourselves…Old Muddy
    Waters number… ‘Rolling Stone’ or something or other
    Jimi : Yeah, like Noel said we’d like to do a little bit of Muddy Waters blues type, but we’d like to do it our own way, which is nice and clean.

    4. 04-09-67 Dans In
    Jimi: A real nice clean little blues by Muddy Waters, and we’d like to do it our own clean little way.

    5. 10-09-67
    Noel: We’re gonna to do an old blues now, which we arranged ourselves, it’s a bit different from when it was original.
    Jimi : Yeah, like, Noel Redding said, we’re gonna do this little Muddy Waters blues, a nice clean little blues, we’re gonna do it our own clean little way.

    6. 11-09-67
    Noel: Like to do an old blues number now which we arranged ourselves...It’s an old Muddy Waters number or something.
    Jimi : It’s a very clean type of blues, written by Muddy Waters and we’d like to do it our own clean way

    *7. 06-10-67
    [It has been claimed that Tommy Vance introduced it as ‘Experiencing the Blues’, but this seems a confusion (see above). If so this would be the only time it was referred to by this name.]

    8. 09-10-67
    Jimi: have you heard of Mississippi? have you heard of Muddy Waters? right, how about
    John Lee Hooker (see above) So we’d like to do this slow blues, mix it on with our own kind o’ way, we’d like to do it our own way, ‘The Experience’ way, right?
    [...]
    Jimi : Yeah, yeah, raggedy guitar
    Mitch : Play now Muddy style
    Noel : Wait for this bit then [Jimi put’s guitar to his mouth]
    Jimi : That sure tastes good man-huh
    [Tape is faded out here by JanieCo – for no good reason]

    9. 10-11-67 Hoepla, TV
    Roselie Peters: Here is the first live TV concert on Hoepla from Jimi Hendrix Experience!
    [No other intro chat]

    10. 07-01-68
    Jimi : Like to continue on with a, slow blues
    Noel: An old blues number by, oh. It’s our, our own version of it, us, it’s called ‘Catfish
    Blues’ or something

    March 1968 France, Rock & Folk ‘Burdon vs. Hendrix’ By Jaques Barsamian:
    It’s time for ‘Catfish Blues’ and Hendrix takes a triangular guitar that reminds me of those that Bo Diddley sometimes used. ‘Catfish Blues’ is a piece in the tradition of John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed*, where in the course of the song the drummer gives an extraordinary solo.
    [...]
    JB: […] ‘Who are your favourite singers at the moment?’
    Jimi: In the old blues, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, [...] I love folk-blues. On stage you heard me doing ‘Catfish Blues.‘
    JB: ‘[What is a catfish?]’
    Jimi: ‘A catfish? It’s a sort of fish that you can see in the Mississippi. I prefer recording my own compositions, but we might do a blues number on our third LP with our own groove.’
    *Jimmy Reed?

    11. 08-01-68
    Noel: This is some old blues number called-er
    Mitch [?]: Catfish Blues…You tell him
    Noel: Oh, he said he didn’t tell you.

    08-01-68 Sweden, Ekstra Bladet ‘Sgt. Hendrix’ Pepperband’ by Carsten Grolin:
    With a bang from what seemed to be a hundred amps into ‘Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire’, Hey Joe,’ the slow bluesCatfish,’ which got turned upside down for every possible fantastic nuance, gentle and hard with aggressive colour explosions from Jimi’s futuristic guitar, and a wild drum solo from Mitch

    12. 29-01-68
    Jimi: Like to go ahead on and do a song goes somethin’ like this here…

    13. 04-02-68
    Jimi: . . .so the only thing I can play on this guitar is just, only the blues. . .

    12-02-68 Los Angeles Times ‘Burdon Headlines Concert in Anaheim’ [...]
    The trio’s best songs were “Catfish Blues,” with a lengthy solo by drummer Mitch Mitchell and ornate guitar work by Hendrix, and “Purple Haze.”

    14. 17-02-68
    Noel: We’d like to do a blues number now, this a very old number which we’ve-um sort of arranged our selves, it’s calledCatfish Blues’ and it was recorded by…um…us,
    hang on, that’s right, yeah, ey? Oh, we haven’t even recorded it yet, Mitch says.

    *15. 18-02-68
    Jimi: We’re gonna play another little blues song, packed a whole lot o’ blues on it,
    we’d like to do it our own clean way though. You know Muddy Waters he played funky
    blues. We’d like to do it our own clean way.

    Last two lines of lyric he sings (for the 2nd time only), but just once,
    “Well, I rolled an’ I tumbled. Cried the whole night lo-ong.” That’s it.

    16. 31-08-70
    Is just a short section of an instrumental jam, so no mention of anything.

    Experiencing the Blues: 0; Rollin’ Stone: 1; Two Trains: 1; Catfish Blues: 8
    So the clear favourite for a title? “Catfish Blues!”
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    Rubem put up another interesting song, I've not seen it mentioned before. But it is "Catfish Blues" from another 1951 recording which was only released on CD, so only available very much later.

    That put me on to his original "Catfish" from Ca. March 1951 released March 1952 on a Gotham 78 single #515. This is it
    :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Oi6rjn-qNw

    Also later on "John Lee Hooker and His Guitar" (Advent LP 2801). Limited-edition 1966 UK reissue of 16 early and rare JLH recordings from Chess, Modern, Gotham etc. The first release on Frank Scott's Advent label (which later moved to California). Jacket artwork by the late collector/writer Ray Topping.

    Yes, I wished I was a catfish
    swimmin' in the old deep blue sea
    Yeah, yeah, yes
    I'd have all of you good lookin’ women
    Fishin’ after me
    I mean after me
    Sure enough after me
    Oh Lord, oh Lord

    ["Yes, I went down to the river
    Start to jump overboard and drown"
    above unconnected line is used in
    Don Covay's 'Mercy, Mercy'
    rest of verse unconnected.]

    Yes, I went to my baby’s house

    And I sat down on her step
    She said come on in
    Now, now Johnny
    Ooh Lord
    Husband just now left
    Husband just now left
    Sure 'nough just
    Sure 'nough just now left
    Sure 'nough just

    [unconnected verse]

    Hooker’s song looks like it is mostly taken from Waters' ‘Rollin’ Stone’ (Feb. 1950), whose lyrics are closer to Jimi’s. It does now look like Hooker was possibly more of an influence, although still slight, on Jimi's "Catfish Blues" than I had thought?
    Last edited by stplsd; 03-01-16 at 04:09 AM.
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    Quite interesting that In Session Tonight (1993) by Ken Garner does have the BBC recording listed as Experiencing The Blues, but whether he got this from the BBC written archives, to which he appears to have had almost unlimited access, is unknown. He may well have gleaned the details from 'witnesses', as he has done for some of the missing J. Peel sessions files. Unfortunately is is just part of a very abbreviated list of sessions at the back.
    A shame that he doesn't give the composers, or any of the chat text either. Would be great to get access, but apparently it's only, "Open to academic researchers and writers with publication agreed."

    This of course would still be the only mention of this name, and is the only version with a "third verse" - ie a couple of quotes tacked on at the end after the drum solo.

    Interesting that he references Electric Gypsy in his criticism of the Radio One LP. Amongst several errors on the LP, he states the title Catfish Blues is "wrong". As he also states is Hear My Train A Comin' which "is actually" Getting My Heart Back Together Again (which it is almost always referred to by Hendrix, the HMTAC title only appearing posthumously and most likely coming from Jeffery) for the Dec 67 session - which is what I have argued, at length. But, similarly I can't agree with ETB being the general title for the song just because of one broadcast by the BBC, when no-one, outside of the BBC, including Hendrix referred to it as such, before, during, or after the show.
    Last edited by stplsd; 03-02-16 at 01:36 AM.
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    Put up correct Hooker "Catfish" and changed lyrics - they're only slightly different from the version Rubem posted .
    Last edited by stplsd; 03-01-16 at 03:37 AM.
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    Lightnin' Hopkins. According to Kathy Jimi was a fan.
    "Catfish Blues" from his Blues In My Bottle LP, Bluesville LP BV1045 (1961). Recorded in Texas:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emTw_cDpseQ
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    The K. C. Douglas Trio's first recording was "Mercury Boogie" (later renamed "Mercury Blues"), in 1948. Covered by Steve Miller, it was on the soundtrack to the 1967 film The Trip and the only song of his released from Monterey Pop. David Lindley and Dwight Yoakam also covered it, and a 1992 version by Alan Jackson was a number one hit. Meat Loaf also covered the song as a bonus hidden track that appears on his 2003 album Couldn't Have Said It Better.
    The Ford Motor Company purchased rights to the song and used it in a TV commercial.
    On the LP he also plays versions of Tommy Johnson's "Canned Heat" (from which the famous group took their name) and Big Road Blues (the basis for Canned Heat's "On The Road Again").
    "Catfish Blues" from his Big Road Blues LP, Bluesville BV1050 (1961):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq7HmnWdkS8
    Last edited by stplsd; 03-02-16 at 03:55 AM.
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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    Robert Curtis Smith (of Mississippi), "Catfish" from Clarksdale Blues LP, Bluesville BV1064 (1963). Recorded in Oakland
    1960-61:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHdHFhCGhvk
    Last edited by stplsd; 03-02-16 at 03:56 AM.
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    Re: JIMI's Catfish Blues, contemporary sources

    Apparently some songs, unknown which, from 15 October were re-broadcast during 26 November Top Gear
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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