Annotation:Hellbound for Alabama

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X:1 T:Hell Bound for Alabama S:Fiddlin' John Carson (1968-1949, north Georgia) M:C| L:1/8 Q:"Quick" R:Reel N:GDad tuning (fiddle) D:OKeh 45159 (78 RPM), John Carson and the Virginia Reelers (1927) F: Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G BAB2 d3B|A2B4B2-|BABc dedB|A2 G4(A2| B)AB2 d3B|A2B4g2-|gage d3c|B2d4ef| g2e2d3B|A2G6||DDEF G2[G2B2]|AGEF G3E| DDEE- D2GB|AGEG D4|DDEF G2[G2B2]| AGEF G3E|DDEE- D2GB|AGEG D4||

HELLBOUND FOR ALABAMA. AKA - "Hell Bound for Alabama." AKA and see "Hell Broke Loose in Georgia (3)," "Ride Old Buck to Water," "There's no Hell in Georgia." American, Reel (whole time). USA, north Georgia. The tune with words was originally recorded by north Georgia fiddler and showman John Carson and his Virginia Reelers in July, 1925, in Atlanta, Georgia, for OKeh Records, with Carson singing and playing at the same time, released under the title "Hell Broke Loose in Georgia" (there is another, different and more popular tune with that name). At the time the recording lineup was Carson (fiddle/vocals), (possibly) Rosa Lee Carson (guitar), unknown banjo player, and either Earl Johnson and/or T.M. Brewer (fiddles). Carson sang these words on the 1925 release:

Ain't no hell in Georgia,
Hell broke loose in Georgia.
[Ain't seen no mutton/button?] in the old tin pan,
I can get to hell just as quick as you can.

Goin' to Alabama,
Goin' to Alabama.
My name is Sam, I don't give a damn,
I'd rather be a n..... than a poor white man.

Raccoon caught the possum, made ten bales of cotton.
Raccoon caught the possum, made ten bales of cotton.
I ain’t never seen mutton in an old tin can,
I can get to hell just as fast as you can.

The tune/song was recorded by Carson again in October, 1927, for Okeh, again in Atlanta, with Carson and Earl Johnson on fiddles, T.M. Brewer playing banjo or guitar and Moonshine Kate on either banjo and guitar. The recording was in the form partially of a 'skit', with some spoken lines, and additional lyrics:

Going to hitch my oxen side by side,
And take my gal for a big fine ride.

Going to take my gal to the country store,
Going to dress her up in red calico.

You take Kate, and I'll take Joe,
Then off we'll go to the party-o.

Going to take my gal to the Hulla-baloo,
Where there ain't no Crackers in a mile or two.

This was followed on the recording by a skit:

(Fiddler) "Oh, Sal! Where the mild strainer cloth?"

(Banjo player) "Bill's got it wrapped around his old sore leg."

(Fiddler) "Well, take it down to the gum spring and give it a cold water drench; I despises nastiness anyway. I've got to have a clean cloth for the milk."

After which the tune resumes:

He don't like whisky but he just drinks a can,
Honey! I'd rather be a n..... than a poor white man.

I'd rather be a n....., and plow old Beck,
Than a white Hill Billy, with his long red neck.'

A similar version called "Ride Old Buck to Water" was recorded by another north Georgia band, the Skillet Lickers in 1931, and, as "Ride Old Buck to Water", by Luke Hignight (sometimes spelled 'Highnight') in 1929. See also the similar "Cindy" and the Ozarks reel "Seneca Square Dance" which employ similar repeated rhythmic patterns in the first strain.

Ain't no hell in Georgia,
Hell broke loose in Georgia, the old tin pan,
I'm goin' to hell just as quick as I can.

Some of the rhymes Carson used for the tune were taken from the song "I'd Rather Be a Nigger Than a Poor White Man." (See Talley {Ed. Wolfe}, 1991, pp. 36-37).

My name's Ran, I wuks in de san',
But I'd druther be a n..... dan a po' white man. (Talley)

Similarities to the Ozarks region tune "Little Home to Go to (1)" and Luke Highnight's "There's no Hell in Georgia."

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & Andrade (Appalachian Fiddle Music), 2021; p. 15.

Recorded sources : - Document Records DOCD 8017, "Fiddlin John Carson Vol. 4 1926 - 1927." Folkways FTS 31062, "Ship in the Clouds: Old Time Instrumental Music" (1978). Okeh 45018, Fiddlin' John Carson & His Virginia Reelers (1925). Okeh 45159 (78 RPM), Fiddlin' John Carson (1927).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear John Carson and the Virginia Reeler's 1927 recording at Slippery Hill [2] and [3]

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