I wrote yesterday’s post before I checked eMusic and Amazon for downloads of my favored Roosevelt song; when I checked this morning, I found performances by Blind Connie Williams, McKinley Peebles, and Bishop Perry Tillis. If I can tweak the lyrics on the basis of these (when I download them), I will.
And on the subject of lyrics, I found that somebody else was disappointed by the lack of Washington Phillips lyrics online; Jerry Dallal transcribed all the Washington Phillips lyrics he could find, including “Denomination Blues.” Now, if only Washington Phillips had recorded “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt” — but his version would have had to refer to Teddy, not Franklin, since the his latest recordings were made in 1929 (though he evidently lived into the 1950’s).
Blind Connie Williams adds this verse:
Good God Almighty in the World War time
England [something] Churchill to resign
Working through the European War was hard
Put him out in the hands of the almighty God
His success actually
Good God Almighty wrote history
Wish Roosevelt could live to see
Old Glory waving over Germany
then continues with “God almighty knew what was best.” None of these versions articulates the kind of neighbor we should look over at, but Bishop Perry Tillis seems to be saying something like “beloved,” which works better than “regular” so I substituted that pro tempore.
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I knew McKinley Peebles (Sweet Papa Stovepipe), worked with him, produced concerts, and wrote about him several times, notably:
Encyclopedia of the Blues, Second Edition (U. of Ark. Press, 1997). Entry under Sweet Papa Stovepipe. With my photo of him (full figure, performing in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse).
For the song, see: 3 CD set: “Friends of Old Time Music, the folk revival 1961-1965” includes “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt” recorded My 2, 1964, but not issued until 2006. With my photo of him (mug shot). I believe it has been anthologized a second time.
For a whole chapter on the song, WITH LYRICS, read: Roosevelt’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR, by Guido van Rijn (U. of Miss. Press, 1997). An ESSENTIAL BOOK.
Thank you, Anton, for all this information and for your information on Sweet Papa Stovepipe. It’s important that we who care about ‘minor’ artists keep in touch and share information as much as we can, so as to amplify awareness of their contributions.