I Don't Love Nobody (1)

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X:1 T:I don't Love Nobody N:From the playing of Fiddlin' Doc Roberts (1897-1978, Madison County, Ky.) M:C| L:1/8 R:Country Rag or Reel Q:"Moderately Quick" N:The slurred notes in the 3rd and 11th measures are actually one big slide. D:Romeo 5251 (78 RPM), Doc Roberts Trio (1932) D:Document DOCD 8044, "Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, vol. 3" (1999) D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/i-dont-love-nobody-0 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:C ef|gegc'- c'age|gege- edcB|AGA(c- dcA2)|GF E2-E2ef| gegc'- c'age|gege- ege^c|d^fed fa3|g>a bg agef| gegc'- c'age|gege- edcB|AGA(c- dcA2)|G6 cB| AGAc- cc +slide+a2|g4 a3A-|ABce- ec d2|c6:|| (EG)|ABcA BcAB|cAB2 A4|"(guitar)"E2F2E2D2|C2B,2 A,4| "(fid.)"ABcA BcAB|cABG A4|"(guitar)"E2F2E2D2|C2B,2 A,2G,2||



I DON'T LOVE NOBODY [1]. AKA – “I Don’t Want to Get Married,” “I Love a Nobody, "Piece (1).” American, Country Rag (cut time). USA; widely known. C Major ('A' part) & A Minor ('B' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Phillips): AABB (Brody): ABC (Beiswenger/McCann). This popular tune has been covered by many old-time fiddlers, but also has been played in bluegrass, contest and Western Swing style. Charles Wolfe (1983) remarks that it was issued by no less than six labels in the early 1930's, and prior to that it was recorded by Georgia fiddler Gid Tanner (1924), Earl Johnson (1927), and the Dixie String Band (1924). One early recording, by the Red Headed Fiddlers (with A.L. “Red” Steely on fiddle and Red Graham on banjo), resulted in the song being released as “Fatal Wedding.” The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's, and 20th century Ozarks fiddler Art Galbraith noted that he heard many fiddlers play the tune[1]. Lyrics to the melody begin:

I was born in Kentucky, lived there all of my life,
Thought I'd better be lucky, never had no wife;
I once thought I'd get married, I asked a little girl to wed,
But when I asked her to marry me, this is what she said:

Chorus:
I don't want to get married, always want to be free,
I don't love nobody, nobody loves me;
All they want is my money, they don't care for me,
I don't want to get married, I just want to be free.

Sully.jpg

However, the tune appears to be derived from a ragtime song by monologist, female impersonator and minstrel entertainer Lew Sully , who may have adapted it from an older song. Sully (born Charles Sullivan, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1862) copyrighted it in 1896, and it was printed with a cover of Sully in blackface, and, indeed, Mr. Sully had a long career performing in various minstrel troupes in the Midwest and East Coast. The lyrics are considered provocative in modern times, and Sully seems to have authored similar songs with racist messages (“Hesitate, Mr. N....r, Hesitate”—see sketch in Rice’s Monarchs of Minstrelsy, 1909, p. 311). The song entered jazz and fiddle repertory in the 1920's, but there is great variation among versions, some differing markedly from the original song.

Al Dexter's Texas swing tune "Rock and Rye Rag" is a similar melody. See also eastern Nebraska fiddler Bob Walters' (1889-1960) version as "Piece (1)."


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Doc Roberts (KY) and Tommy Jackson [Phillips]; Cotton Combs (1921-1984, Fayetteville, Arkansas) [Beisswenger/McCann]; Skillet Lickers (north Georgia) [Milliner & Koken]; Doc Roberts (Ky.) [Milliner & Koken].

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Tunes), 2008; p. 23. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 139. Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; pp. 309-310. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 67.

Recorded sources : - Conqueror 8239 (78 RPM), Doc Roberts (Ky. Recorded in 1932 and learned directly from the earlier Skillet Lickers recording). County 412, "Fiddling Doc Roberts" (1983). County 517, Red Headed Fiddlers – “Texas Farewell.” Davis Unlimited 33015, Doc Roberts - "Classic Fiddle Tunes." DCF LP 1063, Donald (Cotton) Combs & The Country Folks - "Versions of Old Time Fiddling" (n.d.). Document DOCD 8044, "Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, vol. 3." Document DOCD 8056, "The Skillet Lickers, vol. 1." Melotone M 12746 (78 RPM), Fiddlin' Doc Roberts Trio (1933). OKeh 45101 (78 RPM), Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers (1927). Romeo 5251 (78 RPM), Fiddlin' Doc Roberts Trio (1932). Rooster Records RLP-001, Cotton Combs – “My Fiddle and I” (c. 1970’s). Rounder 0088, Allen Shelton - "Shelton Special." Rounder 0133, Art Galbraith - "Dixie Blossoms" (1981). Rounder SS-0145, Snuffy Jenkins. Rounder Records, Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers - "The Kickapoo Medecine Show" (appears as 5th tune of the Kickapoo Medecine Show skit). Starday SLP 235, Curly Fox (1963). In the repertoire of W.Va. brother band the Tweedy Brothers (Harry, George, and Charles), c. 1930, who played twin fiddles and piano; in the repertoire of banjo player Elizabeth Cotten (1895-198?), Chapel Hill, N.C.

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Doc Roberts' recording at Slippery Hill [2]
Hear the Skillet Lickers recording at Slippery Hill [3]
Hear Cotton Combs' recording at Slippery Hill [4]



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  1. Liner notes to Rounder 133, Art Galbraith, "Dixie Blossoms." Galbraith's second strain, in A minor, is his own composition "dimly suggested by Tommy Jackson's or Buddy Durham's versions."