New Minglewood Blues

Lyrics: Noah Lewis
Music: Noah Lewis

A song written in the 1920's and played by the Dead right from 1966 through to 1995. Bob Weir has also played it with most of his solo bands. Also played by the New Riders of the Purple Sage - see below

This is the version the Dead sang most of their career, though not all verses were sung each time. It was recorded as "All New Minglewood Blues" on "Shakedown Street":

I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den
I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den
And my number one occupation is stealing women from their men

Well I'm a wanted man in Texas, busted jail and I'm gone for good
Well I'm a wanted man in Texas, busted jail and I'm gone for good
Well the sheriff couldn't catch me
But his little girl sure wished she would

Yes and the doctor call me crazy, some says I am some says I ain't (note a)
Yes and the doctor call me crazy, some says I am some says I ain't
The preacher man call me a sinner, but his little girl call me a saint

Well a couple of shots of whiskey, women round here start lookin' good
Well a couple of shots of whiskey, women round here start lookin' good (note b)
Couple more shots of whiskey, I'm goin' back to Minglewood

It's T for Texas, yes and it's T for Timbuctoo (note c)
It's T for Texas, yes and it's T for Timbuctoo
Yes and it's T for [San Francisco - or wherever!]
Where the little girls know what to do
The version on the Dead's first LP (called "New New Minglewood Blues") was rather different:
I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den
I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den
And my number one occupation is stealing women from their men

If you're ever in Memphis, better stop by Minglewood
If you're ever in Memphis, better stop by Minglewood
Well take a walk down town, the women sure look good

If you can't believe me, don't make it hard to believe in you
If you can't believe me, don't make it hard to believe in you
'Cause we all need each other, well you know it's true
Notes
(a) Bobby sometimes sang "... sometimes, I am sometimes I ain't" (thanks to Dan Franzen for pointing this out). Another variant is "... some say I am, I say I ain't"
(b) Bobby varied this line too - "Couple of shots of whiskey, those [Dayton/Long Island/etc] girls start looking good."
(c) OK: there are lots of different ways to spell "Timbuctoo." "Timbuktu" is a common modern spelling. "Tomboctou" is the French spelling. Other spellings include "Tumbutu" (the Koyra Chiini language version). (Thanks (?!) to Dan Franzen for stimulating this footnote).

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1967 The Grateful Dead (first album) (note 1)
     15 May 1970 Road Trips Vol 3 No 3 (early show)
     26 Dec 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2010)
     24 Feb 1971 30 Days Of The Dead (2012) (note 2)
     29 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead
     24 Sep 1976 Dave's Picks Vol 4
     25 Sep 1976 Dick's Picks Vol 20
     28 Sep 1976 Dick's Picks Vol 20
      9 Oct 1976 Dick's Picks Vol 33
     12 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     13 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     15 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     17 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     21 May 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 29
     28 May 1977 To Terrapin: Hartford '77
      8 Jun 1977 Winterland June 1977 - The Complete Recordings
      3 Sep 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 15
      4 Nov 1977 Dave's Picks Volume 12
      5 Nov 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 34
     29 Dec 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 10
     studio 1978 Shakedown Street
      5 Feb 1978 Dick's Picks Vol 18
     11 May 1978 Dick's Picks Vol 25
     16 Sep 1978 Rocking The Cradle: Egypt 1978 (CD and DVD)
     24 Nov 1978 Shakedown Street (note 3)
      4 May 1979 Live At The Coliseum
     26 Dec 1979 Dick's Picks Vol 5
     30 Dec 1979 Road Trips Vol 3, No 1 (bonus disc)
     16 May 1980 Go To Nassau
     10 Oct 1980 Dead Set
      6 May 1981 Dick's Picks Vol 13
     26 Jul 1987 View From The Vault IV (DVD & CD soundtrack)
      3 Oct 1987 View From The Vault III (DVD & CD soundtrack)
      1 Apr 1988 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 2
     14 Oct 1989 Weir Here: The Best Of Bob Weir
     16 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     21 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     28 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
      8 Jul 1990 View From The Vault (video/DVD & CD soundtrack)

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

"The Dead" Concert Recordings
 
Bob Weir Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
      3 Apr 1976 In Concert (King Biscuit Flower Hour) Kingfish
     25 Apr 2001 Live At The Roseland Ratdog

Ratdoglive CDs and downloads

Phil Lesh and Friends Digital Download Series

Furthur Digital Downloads and CDs

Bob Weir Solo Acoustic Live!

Scaring The Children Downloads
 
New Riders Recordings
     Date Album
     2009 Where I Come From
 
Other Dead-related Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     16 Jun 2004 Mick's Picks, Volume 3 Jefferson Starship (with Tom Constanten)

Notes
(1) also on the compilation What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
(2) also on 30 Days Of The Dead (2013)
(3) issued as a bonus track on the version in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)

Roots
The Grateful Dead's version on their first LP was a modified version of the song by Noah Lewis, recorded in 1930, on which it was originally based ("New Minglewood Blues"):
I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den
I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den
And my regular occupation is seeking women from other men

When you come to Memphis, please stop by Minglewood
When you come to Memphis, please stop by Minglewood
The women in the camp don't mean no man no good
"New Minglewood Blues" was itself a complete rewrite of the song "Minglewood Blues" that Noah Lewis had previously recorded with Canon's Jug Stompers in 1928:
Don't you never let one woman rule your mind
Don't you never let one woman rule your mind
Then she keep you worried, troubled all the time

Don't you wish your [Sarah] was little and cute like mine
Don't you wish your [Sarah] was little and cute like mine
She's a married woman, but she comes to me sometime

Don't you never let no woman rule your mind
Don't you never let no woman rule your mind
Then she keep you troubled, worried all the time

Well I got a letter Lord, and you oughta heard it read
Well I got a letter Lord, and you oughta heard it read
Baby I'm coming back baby, and I'll be all in red
The New Riders' version is based on this original version, but with a couple of verses added from Charley Patton's "Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues."
Don't you never let one woman rule your mind
I said, don't you never let one woman rule your mind
Because she give you trouble, worries all the time

I got a letter and you oughta heard it read
I got me a letter and you oughta heard it read
She said, me coming home darling, and I'll be all in red

Jackson on a high hill, mama, Natchez just below
Jackson on a high hill, mama, Natchez just below
If I ever get back home, I won't be here no more

My mama's getting old, and her hair is turning grey
My mama's getting old, and her hair is turning grey
Don't you know it'll break her heart, my leaving this a-way

When you come to Memphis, stop by Minglewood
When you come to Memphis, stop by Minglewood
Just 'cause those women in the camp, don't do no man no good
For more background, see the pages on Minglewood Blues and In Search Of Minglewood on the Roots Of The Grateful Dead site.

Eric Levy has discovered a verse in a song called "It Won't Be Long" recorded by Charley Patton in 1929 that may be a source for Noah Lewis's "New Minglewood Blues" recorded almost two years later:
You ever go down to Memphis, stop by Minglewood
You ever go down to Memphis, stop by Minglewood
You Memphis women don' mean no man no good
John L Yarbro, Jr. sent me an email with additional background:
"New Minglewood Blues was originally written about a company mill village, Menglewood, Tennessee (built by the Menglewood Box Company) which my grandfather purchased along with the former woodlands in the 1920's, cleared and farmed. The property is still in my family. My father grew up in Menglewood, but it was a lot tamer after my grandfather moved his people there. Local history about Menglewood as a company town paint it as wild and wide open with whiskley, women and gambling. Menglewood is located about 78 miles north of Memphis, Tennessee, alongside the Obion River which is in the Mississippi River floodplain."



"This image is from 1938 I think, as it shows my father holding a horse in front of the old office building, which my grandparents used as a home from 1921 till 1939, when they moved permanently to Dyersburg. That would put my father at about age 17. There is someone sitting up on the porch, holding a child with a dog standng in front of them too. I imagine that would be my grandmother, but I haven't been able to zoom in well enough to know for sure. Note how high the structure is off the ground. This allowed it to be occupied during the yearly floods. I remember my father showing this building to me as a child in the 1960's as well as another structure. He also explained how the village was laid out,which by that time was mostly gone. I remember him talking about the ark(?) a road where gambling houses and such had been, which after my grandfather took over had been razed and ploughed over. My father told me they would often find coins out there when plowing or after a rain. All that now remains are a concrete vault that was inside the office building and the old millworks which consist of concrete boiling vats and brick furnaces."


Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com

 


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