Prison Cell Blues

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Overview

Although Blind Lemon’s vocal prowess is beyond top-tier throughout his recordings, Prison Cell Blues is especially great; he sings with such strength and clarity, booming the lyrics from his pipes, all the while playing beautiful accompaniment on his guitar. From the uniqueness of the playing to those thundrous pipes, it’s no wonder that Jefferson was the king bluesman of his time. Hope you enjoy this lesson on Prison Cell Blues!

Workstation

Standard — EADGBE
1st Fret

Getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell
Lord, I wouldn’t have been here if it had not been for Nell

Lay awake at night and just can’t eat a bite
Used to be my rider, but she just won’t treat me right

Got a red-eyed captain, and a squabbling boss
Got a mad dog sergeant, honey, and he won’t knock off

I’m getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell
Lord, I wouldn’t ‘ve been here if it had not been for Nell

I asked the government to knock some days off my time
Well, the way I’m treated, I’m about to lose my mind

I wrote to the governor, please turn me a-loose
Since I don’t get no answer, I know it ain’t no use

I’m getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell
Lord, I wouldn’t have been here if it had not been for Nell

I hate to turn over and find my rider gone
Walking across my floor, Lordy, how I moan

Lord, I wouldn’t have been here if it had not been for Nell
I’m getting tired of sleeping in this lowdown lonesome cell

Song History

February 1928
Chicago, IL
Paramount 12622

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