Leadbelly - If it wasn't for Dicky

Leadbelly - If it wasn't for Dicky.
Apparently Lead Belly's influence for this song came from an Irish singer by the name of Sam Kennedy and a song he recorded about a farmer and his dead cow, this song is known as "Drimmin Dow". Lead Belly recorded his own take of this song in 1937 and named it "If it wasn't for Dicky".
Then in 1950, The Weavers adapted Lead Belly's version of this song, and turned it into a love song named "Kisses Sweeter then Wine". Seeger and Lee Hays who were part of the band molded their thoughts together for this version, and it ended up hitting #19 on the US hit parade in 1951.

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Author StoogeKebab (17 days)
Okay so - to throw my 2 cents (or possibly throw my aerosol can into the
fire, whichever metaphor is more appropriate) Based on a recording from a
party in 1948 in Minneapolis, we learn from the introduction that the old
man blames his son Dicky for the cow's (Drimmer's) death (the intro then
fades out due to the condition of the original tape or something before
picking up again part way through the first verse) NOW. One source that
could not have been considered before unless you were in fact listening and
taking notes on August 15th 1948 is a recently released 'lost radio
broadcast' out on LP from Origin Jazz Library. This version has an extended
introduction in which Lead Belly actually says he is singing the words
"musha sweeter than thou" - which is then backed up in the liner notes by
none other than Pete Seeger himself, who misheard the words as Kisses
Sweeter than Wine despite his knowledge of Lead Belly, which is
understandable due to Seeger's constant references to Lead Belly's accent
(particularly on his 1968 tribute LP) and when he misheard the lyrics, in
person in 1949, he filed them in a folder called 'song ideas 1949' which
was then pulled out and rummaged through when looking for a new song after
the success of Irene. NOW. A search for the phrase "mush-a sweeter than
thou" (with the correct hyphen as in the liner notes) reveals lyrics to the
original Irish version of the song. We can see that Lead Belly shifted the
focus of the song slightly creating the character of Dicky, but that in the
original lyrics there is still a very clear element that the old man would
have preferred his son die than his cow, which is how Lead Belly adapted
the idea of it into the physical character of Dicky. As for the other
lyrics, while it doesn't always help, transcription of the original Irish
lyrics can be very helpful, for example, from the original "When they told
the old man that his cow was dead/Over hedges and bushes he fled/Over
hedges and bushes and fields that were plowed" So there's still definitely
some work to go re: transcription, but some pretty good discussion about it
occurred over at Weenie Cambpell Forums. +Elena Reed +TheShoreman1 +

Author jaime mateu (18 days)
esto va mas aya de esto y de aquello...

Author Erik Knutson (2 months)
They don't write like this anymore.
Leadbelly - If it wasn't for Dicky

Author Elena Reed (4 months)
I'm finding the lyrics variations discussion fascinating. Great song. Thx
aerosolchef for posting. #leadbelly

Author Nickolas Elliott (6 months)
Good ol' Leadbelly.

Author TheShoreman1 (10 months)
My lyrics may not be exactly right. ...but most of you "second guessers"
are so far off that it is laughable. I know the traditional song, but
clearly leadbelly is singing his own version.... well you all are smarter
than me, more versed in traditional Insular Celtic folk music and know way
more about raising cows. ....Oh and, of course, way more in tune with the
Southern slang of that time period. Go ahead shit on my effort. But yours
is bullshit nonsense. Sorry to be blunt but....

Author recomputed (1 year)
Ahead of his time ….

Author Dirk Puehl (1 year)
"Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on
a rainy Sunday afternoon." (Susan Ertz)

Thus, it was actually a good thing that +john williams shared an old Lead
Belly song to his stream... I haven't listen to Lead Belly in ages, fired
up a stream on YT and promptly found this gem, one of the very few mashups
between the Blues and Irish Folk from the earlies I know of - quoth

"Apparently the folk musician Lead Belly heard Irish performer Sam Kennedy
in Greenwich Village singing the traditional Irish song "Drimmin Down" aka
"Drimmen Dow", about a farmer and his dead cow. (The song, in fact, is
called "An droimfhionn donn dilís" ("The whitebacked brown faithful
cow/calf"). It is of the type categorised as "aisling" (dream) where the
country of Ireland is given form. Most times the form is that of a comely
young woman but here it is the faithful handsome cow. Lead Belly adapted
the tune for his own farmer/cow song "If it Wasn't for Dicky" which he
first recorded in 1937. Lead Belly did not like the lack of rhythm, which
had been a part of many free flowing Irish songs, so he made the piece more
rhythmic, playing the chorus with a 12-string guitar."

The tune ended up as "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" in the 1960s...

Author marco antonio (1 year)
el cantante de nirvana era buenisimo pero para la musica la mente no
cualquier persona conprende el significado de la musica gracias 

Author Winfield Dray (1 year)

Author LAM PARKINSON (1 year)

Author toribjork10 (2 years)
i think it's "over hedges and ditches and fields he had fled, over hedges
and ditches and fields he had plowed...."

Author diecast jam (4 years)
@pauloverbey1 I think it's a touch faster and al (the other version I
mean)l, I've heard a good few other of his songs on here that are better
quality than the ones I have on the likes of Gwine dig hole, and the
library of congress albums, great stuff anyway,it's a pity I don't see the
tab for this or his version of house of the rising sun, any place on-line
if any of you guys know where I can get either or both of them from i'd
much appreciate it.

Author iraplikeyoubreathe (1 year)
Sounds like eddies in the chorus second time hedges then eddies

Author akerswizard779 (2 years)
It's the blues. There are know written words. Just do the best you can.

Author boredcrab2 (2 years)
jamma saw past. she gave a me a feeling without any feels. but the blood of
her lice still doubt of her pail. so now i sit down and eat my dry meals
but i have no butter to put in my teeth. I have no milk to soppa my bread
but the way the big ole jamma jaw did. and if if weren't for dickie...
thats what I got. pretty sure its accurate

Author neighborhoodhoodlum (1 year)
My great grandfather looks just like him

Author MrJoedonbaker1 (2 years)
A cajun would be understanding of the words

Author OtisFan1 (2 years)
Thanks for your parody lyrics. I've been laughing so hard that my sides
hurt. Seriously, I remember many years ago hearing this for the first time
and saying, "Hey, that's 'Kisses Sweeter Than Wine' (which I knew from the
Jimmie Rodgers hit)"--Leadbelly adapted his version from an Irish
farmer-&-cow song, then the Weavers got the tune from Leadbelly and changed
it into a guy-&-gal song. Such is folk music.

Author fuckyoutube (3 years)
some of the fun in singing these real old songs is that u can change SOME
of the words around, like eveyone else has done to his songs its folk music

Author NO (4 years)
@michaelpatrickfox then i stand corrected haha

Author HiramLazarusChristian Rosenkreuz (2 years)
ooh, ooh which is sweeter than jam?

Author TheShoreman1 (2 years)
Thats the best I can come up with.

Author oupsenjoy (3 years)
Incredible sounds.....

Author upaluppa (3 years)
@mightybisons I apologize, I never noticed that I removed my video response
by accident until now. I actually uploaded the two Drimindown versions from
my folk collection to youtube months ago but I never reposted the response
to your video until now.

Author Tetsuos2ndComing (3 years)
I keep hearing Oohhh, oohh, witches wade at the dam... and at the end of
the second verse, it sounds like he sings, And a premature wife daddy gave
you his cow... 8>}

Author TheShoreman1 (1 year)
I have listened to that part over and over again and cannot make out what
he is actually singing. The gist of it is that the cow was his main
concern. So... I sing it "had no worry in life 'til it came to his cow."

Author Hulderen (2 years)
wheres the lyrics?? :(

Author Lynette Komidar (1 year)
I hear 'Kisses Sweeter than Wine', eh? I have never heard this song before.
Leadbelly changed my life in '66.

Author allenshepard (3 years)
@trilobite3339 This is actually drimmers cow and later the weavers rewrote
some of the lyrics well most of them and it then became kisses sweeter than
wine. alot of these older lyrics are hard to find. you might have luck on
the roger mcguinn folk den site and you can contact him he may be able to
help also

Author a10gary (1 year)
Dilla knows his shit.

Author Mazzeppa * (1 year)
she-cow got too old to give milk, so they beat her to death, hocked her up
for fodder...poor Drimma. Now only Dicky is left. He'll soon go the way of
all cows too.

Author kenjikent (3 years)
@wms72469 Complete Recorded Works Vol 6 1947

Author Aaron McCoy (2 years)
dude was a stone cold killer

Author NO (4 years)
Another blues song turned white lol

Author 1L2E3V4I (1 year)
never privy to his wife (or life?) til it came to his cow - maybe?

Author Bloocky Blockblock (1 year)
From Matthew Presti

Author Manganzy (3 years)
Hi man ! I really really thank you !!! I don't understand everything but I
now I can begin to sing ! Thanks again !

Author 0geez (3 years)

Author Manganzy (3 years)
Hi, I'm french so I'm not good in english. I would really know the lyris of
this song ! you're talking about it but but you never show it. Please let
me know. I would of course prefer to know what leadbelly is exactly saying
but I understand it's not possible ! I'll take what you got ! Thanks in

Author m pres (4 years)
I can play this on guitar, but can't figure out the words to save my life.
Cant find it online anywhere... Anybody know? Such an awesome song!

Author Lynette Komidar (1 year)
from a G chord run down the E string from G to open E

Author neighborhoodhoodlum (1 year)
Best leadbelly tune

Author RacingMindPress (2 years)
anyone know the tabs/chords to this or what album or CD collection you can
find this on?

Author Art Homer (3 years)
Done by others as "Wicked Dicky"

Author osensei75 (3 years)
@controlesexism I would love to see your interpretation of "Dicky" lyrics.
My favorite LeadBelly song of all time. Please Pleeease respond. I've never
been able to understand enough to even guess at what he says.

Author TheShoreman1 (2 years)
Oops typo, few should be fed. Each time it says Ooh Ooh.... that means Ooh
Ooh, which is sweeter than Dow? repeats. Still can't get two short
phrases,but any descent bluesman will just make up the bits they can't
understand or remember and then say that they wrote the song!

Author Cwray27 (3 years)
@kenjikent my response to every Leadbelly song

Author justforever96 (3 years)
@trilobite3339 LOL, I think I can barely make out the lyrics to less than
half of his songs, but he is one of my absolute FAVORITE singers/musicians
EVER. I never knew he wrote the music to "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine", but
it's not surprising at all, considering the vast influence he had on music
in general. A true legend, but under-appreciated.

Author michael patrick fox (4 years)
@izaks14 It's the other way around. Leadbelly learned this song in NYC in
the 1930's from Irish folksinger Sam Kennedy, but wrote new words to it.

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