Monday, July 13, 2015

Motherless Children

Mom dies, kids get by.
Dad will try, sister will fly.
On Jesus don't rely.

From what little I know about music, it seems like Eric Clapton's version of this song, the opener on "461 Ocean Boulevard," is the one that most people know. It was first performed by (and written by?) Blind Willie Johnson in 1927 or so. The original was called "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time." 

The original:
Well, well, well, ah
A motherless children have a hard time
Motherless children have a hard time, mother's dead
They'll not have anywhere to go, wanderin' around from door to door
Have a hard time Nobody on earth can take a mother's place when, when mother is dead, Lord
Nobody on earth takes mother's place when, mother's dead
Nobody on earth takes mother's place, when you were startin', paved the way
Nobody treats you like mother will when Your wife or husband may be good to you, when mother is dead, Lord
They'll be good to you, mother's dead
A wife or a husband may be good to you, but, better than nothing has proved untrue
Nobody treats you like mother will when, when mother is dead, Lord Lord, Lord, Lord
Yeah, well, ah
Well, some people say that sister will do, when mother is dead
That sister will do when mother's dead
Some people say that sister will do, but, as soon as she's married, she turn her back on you
Nobody treats you like mother will And father will do the best he can, when mother is dead, Lord
Well, the best he can when mother is dead
Father will do the best he can, so many things a father can't understand
Nobody treats you like mother will A motherless children have a hard time, when mother is dead, Lord
Motherless children have a hard time, mother's dead
They'll not have anywhere to go, Wanderin' around from door to door
Have a hard time

Dylan's version, as performed in 1962 at the Gaslight Cafe, and available on the album of the concert that was released in 2005. 

Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead
Motherless children run a hard road, a hard road, a hard road
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead

Your father will do the best he can when your mother is dead
Your father will do the best he can when your mother is dead
Your father will do the best he can, but he just does not understand
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead

Now, there's some people say your sister might do when your mother is dead
Now, there's some people say your sister might do when your mother is dead
Some people say your sister will do; soon as she married, turn her back on you
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead

You can dig my grave with a bloody spade when I'm dead
You can dig my grave with a bloody spade when I'm dead
You can dig my grave with a bloody spade; see that my digger gets well paid
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead

Jesus won't be no mother to you when your mother is dead
Jesus won't be no mother to you when your mother is dead
Jesus won't be no mother to you; his trials and tribulations won't see you through
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead






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