Walkin' Blues

Lyrics: Robert Johnson
Music: Robert Johnson

Sung by Bob Weir with the Grateful Dead as well with Rob Wasserman and with Ratdog. He sometimes varied the order of the verses, but the basic pattern was:

Well I woke up this morning and I felt around for my shoes
That's when I knew I had them walkin' blues
Well I woke up this morning and I look around and I felt around for my shoes
That's when I knew I had them mean old walkin' blues

Feel like goin' out, leave my old lonesome home
Woke up this mornin', what I had was gone
Feel like goin' out, leave my old lonesome home
Woke up this mornin', what I had was gone

Some people tell you the walkin' blues ain't bad
Worst old feelin' that I've ever had
Some people tell you the walkin' blues ain't so bad
Worst old feelin' that I've ever had

Leaving in the mornin' if I have to ride the blind
Well I've been mistreated and I don't mind dyin'
Leaving in the mornin' if I have to ride the blind
Well I've been mistreated and I don't mind dyin'

She got the Elgin movement from her head down to her toes (note 1)
Break in on a dollar over almost anywhere she goes
She got the Elgin movement from her head down to her toes
Break in on a dollar over almost anywhere she goes

Well I woke up this morning and I felt around for my shoes
That's when I knew I had them walkin' blues
Well I woke up this morning and I look around and I felt around for my shoes
That's when I knew I had them mean old walkin' blues
Notes
(1) The Elgin Watch Co. of Elgin, Illinois, was famous for watches made with the special Elgin Movement, guaranteed for 20 years. (Thanks to Catherine Yronwode for this information).

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
      3 Apr 1989 Download Series Vol 9
      4 Jul 1989 Truckin' Up To Buffalo (DVD & CD soundtrack)
      8 Oct 1989 Warlocks Box
     ?15 Mar 1990 Without A Net
     15 Mar 1990 Terrapin Station (Limited Edition)
     24 Mar 1990 Dozin' At The Knick
      1 Apr 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     25 Sep 1991 Dick's Picks 17
     26 May 1993 Road Trips Vol 2, No 4
 
Bob Weir Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
      fall 1988 Weir/Wasserman: Live Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman
      6 Sep 1989 Fall 1989: The Long Island Sound Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman
      1992 Acoustic Blues: Live At Sweetwater Hot Tuna (with Bob Weir as guest) (note 2)
     26 Sep 1998 Hellhounds On My Trail Weir, Wasserman and Others (note 3)

Notes
(2) this is a DVD version. I believe this track also features as a bonus track on the re-issue of the CD "Live At Sweetwater: Vol 2," but I have not confirmed this.
(3) DVD/VHS only. Documentary on Robert Johnson, with various artists performing at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Weir & Wasserman played with Matt Abbs and Warren Haynes (Government Mule) on the recording of "Walkin' Blues. The DVD also includes an audio track of Weir & Wasserman with Chris Whitely and Jeffrey Clemmens playing "Walkin' Blues (Hotel Jam)" possibly from the next night.

Roots
Although the song is normally credited to Robert Johnson, it seems as if he learnt it from Son House. This from Dick Rosemont's Originals Project site:
Eddie "Son" House's first recording session, May 28, 1930, yielded three 2-part blues releases on the Paramount label and a test pressing of "Walking Blues." That particular copy was discovered many years later (in the attic of a house!) and finally made available in 1990. "Walking Blues" was his theme song and it's hard to know for sure why it wasn't issued at the time. One possible factor was Paramount's demise soon thereafter.

"My Black Mama, Part 2," one of the three 78s pressed in 1930, was melodically similar to Robert Johnson's version of "Walking Blues." It�s possible that when Johnson learned it from House, he either took the initiative to work the two together or Son's arrangement had evolved. Robert Johnson often gets credit for the song, but it should go to House.

Son House made a 1942 recording titled "Walking Blues," but it�s a different song(!), which may be an indication of how loose he was with his own compositions.
Many of the Son House recordings now available don't make it clear, or are muddled about, which recording they include. So far as I can tell, there were three Son House recordings that seem to have been titled "Walking Blues." The first was recorded in 1930 with Son House and Willie Brown playing guitars. The lyrics are:
I got the blues so bad, darling, that my [tongue can't talk?]
I got the blues so bad, darling, that my [tongue can't talk?]
If I had the walking blues, it would hurt my feet to walk

I woke up this morning, feeling round for my shoes
I got up this morning, feeling round for my shoes
You know about that, people, I must have got the walking blues

I woke up this morning, just about the break of day
I got up this morning, just about the break of day
Just give it to me mama, good girl you [gone away]

And I start a-walking, I'm gonna walk on [?]
And I start a-walking, I'm gonna walk on [?]
Ain't gonna quit walking until my [sun is ?]

Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
Now listen here mama, gonna have a few words with you
This is the version on the CD "Roots Of The Dead", though the liner notes aren't clear.

The second version was recorded by Alan Lomax in 1941 again with Son House and Willie Brown on guitar, but this time also with fiddle, mandolin and harmonica. It is longer, but has some of the lyrics in common with the 1930 recording:
Got up this morning, feeling around for my shoes
No doubt that I go the walking blues
I said I got up this morning, I was feeling round for my shoes
I said I know about that now honey, I got them walking blues

Oh the blues ain't nothing but a low-down shaking chill
If you ain't had 'em, I hope you never will
Lord the blues, is a low-down shaking chill
If ain't had that feeling, boy, Lord I hope you never will

When you get worried, drop me a line
If I don't go crazy, honey, I'm going to lose my mind
When you get worried, I said sit down and drop me a line
If I don't go crazy honey, I'm going to lose my mind

Yeah hair ain't curly, your doggone eyes ain't blue
If you don't want me, what in the world I want with you
Your hair ain't curly, and your doggone eyes ain't blue
I said if you don't want me, babe, what in the world I want with you

Don't a man feel bad, good Lord, when the sun go down
If he don't have nobody to throw his arms around
Yeah a man feel bad, I said, when the, good Lord, sun go down
I said he don't have a soul, not to throw his arms around

Look here baby, what you want me to do
I've done all I could, just to get along with you
Look here honey, what do you want me to do
I say I've done all I could honey, just to get along you

You know I love my baby like a cow love to chew a cud
I'm laying round here, though, I ain't doing no good
I love you honey, like a cow love to chew a cud
I'm laying round here baby, but I sure ain't doing no good

When you're lonely, the minutes seems like hours, hours seem like days
Seem like my baby won't stop her low-down ways
The minutes seem like hours, hours seem like days
It seem like my baby won't stop her low-down ways

I'm going to the gypsy now, and have my fortune told
I believe somebody is stealing my jelly-roll
I'm going to the gypsy, I believe I have my fortune told
'Cause I believe somebody is trying to steal my jelly-roll

I got up this morning, feeling sick and bad
Thinking about the good times that I once had had
I said soon this morning, I was feeling so sick and bad
You know I was thinking about the good times that I once had had

Sun is going down behind that old western hill
Yeah, yeah, Lord, behind that old western hill
Now I wouldn't do nothing boys, not against my woman's will

You know I'm going away, going to stay a long time
I ain't coming back here till you change your mind
I'm going away, I believe I'll stay a long time
I said I ain't coming back, honey, until you change your mind
The third recording was made in 1942, also by Alan Lomax, this time with Son House alone accompanying himself on guitar. This has very little in common with the two previous recordings - indeed, it has much more in common with Death Letter Blues. Indeed, some collections have this titled "Walking Blues (Death Letter)." The lyrics are:
Well did you get that letter, I mailed in your back yard?
Oh, that I mailed in your back yard
It's mighty sad to say that the best friend you had got to part

Well I got a letter this morning, how do you reckon it read?
I got a letter this morning, how do you reckon it read?
Said, hurry, hurry, 'cause the girl you love is dead

You know I got my suitcase and I took out down the road
Mmm, took out down the road
But when I got there, she was laying on the cooling board

You know I walked up close and I looked down in her face
Mmm, I peeped down in her face
You's a good old girl, but you got delivered to judgement day

You know I turned around and I slowly walked away
Mmm, I slowly walked away
Says you's a good old girl but I just can't take your place
Robert Johnson's version seems to be the source for what Bob Weir sang:
I woke up this mornin', feelin' round for my shoes
Know by that I got these old walkin' blues, well
Woke this mornin' feelin round for my shoes
But you know by that, I got these old walkin' blues

Lord I feel like blowin my old lonesome horn
Got up this mornin, my little Bernice was gone, Lord
I feel like blowin my lonesome horn
Well I got up this mornin, whoa all I had was gone

Well, leave this mornin' if I have to, ride the blinds
I feel mistreated, and I don't mind dyin'
Leavin this mornin', if I have to ride the blind
Babe, Ive been mistreated, baby and I don't mind dyin'

Well, some people tell me that the worried blues ain't bad
Worst old feelin' I most ever had
Some people tell me that these old worried old blues ain't bad
It's the worst old feelin', I most ever had

Shes got a Elgin movement from her head down to her toes
Break in on a dollar most anywhere she goes
Ooh, from her head down to her toes
Lord, she break in on a dollar, most anywhere she goes
I have sometimes seen Ma Rainey listed as having been the first to record this song (in 1923). Ma Rainey's song of the same title is in fact a very different song, with lyrics:
Woke up this morning, woke up this morning
With my head bowed down hey, hey, hey
Woke up this morning with my head bowed down
I had that mean old feeling I was in the wrong damn town

Mailman's been here, mailman's been here
But didn't leave no news, hey, hey, hey
He may have been here, but didn't leave no news
That's the reason why mama's got the walking blues

Walked and walked now, walked and walked now
Almost lost my mind, hey, hey, hey
Walked and walked now, almost lost my mind
I was afraid to stop walking 'cause I might lose some time

Got a short time to make it, short time to make it
And a long ways to go, Lord, Lord, Lord
Short time to make it and a long ways to go
Trying to find the town they call [San Antonio]

Lord I'd rest me, Lord I'd rest me
I couldn't hear no news, Lord, Lord, Lord
Lord I'd rest me, I couldn't hear no news
I'd soon be there 'cause I got the walking blues