Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Howlin' Wolf, "Meet Me In The Bottom"

Jim chose "Bottom/End/Middle/Side/Top" as today’s prompt, which gives me a chance to use this song by Chester Arthur Burnett, better known as Howlin’ Wolf. This is typical of a lot of blues songs, in that you’ll find the line "Meet me in the bottom, bring me my runnin’ shoes" in a lot of different songs, including Robert Johnson’s "Rollin’ and Tumblin’," covered by Muddy Waters, Canned Heat, Cream, and too many others to list. In short, we don’t know exactly who wrote this or who did it first. The words have just been out there all these years for anyone who comes along.

This was evidently recorded at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival; the person who posted it says he got the original film from Alan Lomax. I’m going to guess that the saxophone player is Eddie Shaw, who played with Wolf in his later days in Chicago, and it looks like Hubert Sumlin, Wolf’s longtime guitarist, is on Wolf’s right, off-camera except for a brief moment at the start of the video. The film runs out about a minute from the end, although the music continues. Don’t ask me how.

The lyrics are from LyricsOnDemand.com:

Well, now meet me in the bottom,
Bring me my runnin shoes.
Well, now meet me in the bottom,
Bring me my runnin shoes.
When I jump out the window,
I won’t have time to loose.

When you see me streakin by,
Please, don’t be late.
When you see me streakin by,
Please, don’t be late.
Well, when you see me movin,
You know my life is at stake.

Well, I hope you see me,
I come streakin by.
Well, I hope you’ll see me when,
I come streakin by.
She got a bad old man,
You know, I’m too young to die.
Boy, I got to leave here.
Fore I get caught in there.

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday for January 12, 2020.

22 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Howlin' Wolf, "Meet Me In The Bottom"

  1. I never heard of Howlin’ Wolf, so I learn something new today. But, the tune is great and I love seeing the vintage performance.

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    1. My Song of the Day today is another vintage performance, if you want to check it out. It’s Muddy Waters, another great Chicago bluesman, doing his theme song, “Got My Mojo Workin'” at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival.

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    1. He and Muddy Waters are two of the many people that you could consider “granddaddys.” There are all kinds of them, though, and if I sat here and listed them, I’d be here all afternoon… But he’s one of the biggest, if not THE biggest; a lot of the British blues guys picked it up from him.

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      1. Have you seen that Keith Richard documentary on netflix? I got through some of it last night and was thrilled by it. Keith is an amazing person and a living legend.

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    1. Wolf influenced a lot of British bands in the ’60’s, including the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. He died before I could see him live, but he used to play on the west side a lot. I don’t think he ever played the clubs on Lincoln Avenue, where white people could feel safe when they went to listen to some of the great blues masters. Oddly enough, the British guys that came over had no qualms about heading to some of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago, and all made it out alive and better for the experience.

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