Eagles On A Half

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Overview

Here’s a great Geeshie Wiley tune, featuring her guitar playing alongside Elvie Thomas’ playing. Similar to to Last Kind Words, the guitar work features slides on the 2nd string into the 5th fret, followed by open top strings; creating this “double-note” effect, it’s a unique kind of blues vocabulary for Wiley to have used.

On top of that, Wiley uses quite classic blues shapes on the guitar, such as the barre across the top 4 strongs along the 2nd fret, as well as using her thumb to fret the 2nd fret of the 6th string on the IV chord. The monotone basslines used throughout the song have a Texas blues style feel, which shows how Geeshie was quite open to using different types of blues stylings for her songs, given that some of her other repertoire like Pick Poor Robin Clean had more of a ragtime, alternating bass style.

Workstation

Standard — but each string detuned one half-step, so Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb

a low, it’s a low low, lowdown dirty shame
It’s a low, it’s a low low, lowdown dirty shame
I’ve got a brownskin man but I’m scared to call his name

I say squat low, papa, let your mama see
I say squat low, papa, let your mama see
I want to see that old business, keeps on worrying me

I twisted and I tumbled, I rolled the whole night long
I twisted and I tumbled, I rolled the whole night long
I didn’t have no daddy to hold me in his arms

I say get back, rider, don’t care how you lay
I say get back, rider, don’t care how you lay
I want to tell you I can’t stay here till day

I say eagles on a half, lord, say in God we trust
I cry eagles on a half, babe, ah in God we trust
I love you, daddy, but your dollar’s first

Song History

March 1931
Grafton, WI
Paramount 13074

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