Background Info: Corrina, Corrina back to "Corrina, Corrina" Cover Page



Corrina, Corrina

(Background Info)


[1] Ben Taylor
[2] Chuck Falzone


Posted to rmd by Ross Whitwam:

In the liner notes to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Nat Hentoff quotes Dylan:

"I'm not one of those guys who goes around changing songs just for the sake of changing them. But I'd never heard "Corrina, Corrina" exactly the way it first was, so that this version is the way it came out of me.

Now Dylan wasn't always at his most forthcoming about his sources, his life, etc. at this point in his career, but this quote suggests his "Corrina, Corrina" had a definite model.

The earliest version of Corrina that I'm aware of pre-dates the Lomaxes' field recordings of the 30's. Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded "Corrina Blues" in Apr 1926. Only one verse, the last one, actually refers to Corrina:

If you see Corrina, tell her to hurry home
I ain't had no true love since Corrina been gone
I ain't had no true love since Corrina been gone
I ain't had no true love since Corrina been gone

Like many of the earliest blues songs, its verses are cobbled together in an almost random fashion from a variety of sources and are only marginally linked to one another in content. The Corrina verse may well have come from an old WWI-era song. Tin pan alley songs and other popular non- "race" records often were adapted and transformed into blues songs by such blues pioneers as Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Skip James.

The melody of Jefferson's "Corrina Blues" *is* the same as Leadbelly's "Roberta" and "Alberta", but all these songs' melodies are really variants on the familiar "C.C. Rider" -- "See see rider, see what you done done/You made me love you, now your man done come" -- and the tune is not the same as Dylan's "Corrina."

In Dec 1928, Bo Chatmon (a.k.a. Bo Carter, Bo Chatman) and Charlie McCoy, with Walter Vinscon on guitar, recorded "Corrine, Corrina". (In an earlier post I misattributed this to the Mississippi Sheiks. The Sheiks were actually Bo Chatmon, Vinscon, and Lonnie Chatmon and Sam Chatmon, in various permutations, but without McCoy.) I've only heard the Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys 1940 cover of this song. The Wills cover jumbles the verses around a bit but only includes lyrics found in the original and very much has the Chatmon-Vinscon sound, so I imagine it's a faithful recreation. This song has essentially the same tune as Dylan's "Corrina," though Dylan has slowed down the tempo of the song considerably. The Chatmon/McCoy lyrics are quite different from Dylan's:

Corrina, Corrina, where you been so long?
Corrina, Corrina, where you been so long?
I ain't had no loving since you've been gone.

Corrina, Corrina, where'd you stay last night?
Corrina, Corrina, where'd you stay last night?
Come in this morning, sun was shining bright.

I met Corrina way across the sea
I met Corrina way across the sea
She wouldn't write no letter, she didn't care for me.

Corrina, Corrina, what you gonna do?
Corrina, Corrina, what you gonna do?
Just a little bit of loving, let your heart be true.

I love Corrina, tell the world I do.
I love Corrina, tell the world I do.
Just a little bit of loving, let your heart be true.

Corrina, Corrina, you're a pal of mine.
Corrina, Corrina, you're a pal of mine.
Now she left me walking, she'll roll in them dimes

Corrina, Corrina, what's the matter now?
Corrina, Corrina, what's the matter now?
You wouldn't write me no letter, you didn't love me nohow.

Goodbye Corrina, it's fare you well.
Goodbye Corrina, it's fare you well.
When I's getting back here, can't anyone tell.

Mississippi John Hurt used to do a version of this song after his "rediscovery" in 1963 (post-Freewheelin'), but it wasn't part of his original Dec 1928 recordings, so it is unlikely Dylan knew of Hurt's version at the time he recorded his own. (Unless Hurt performed a version when he was recorded by the Library of Congress in the 1940s. I don't know the sessionography of those recordings.)

In Oct 1929, Charley Patton brought violinist Henry Sims with him as an accompanist to one of his recording sessions. There, Sims took vocals on a few of the recordings, one of which was "Come Back, Corrina", but I haven't heard this version, so I can't say whether it is more similar to Jefferson's patchwork "C.C. Rider" version or to Chatmon's more unified 1928 version.

There are other versions I haven't heard either. In Oct 1929, the Too Bad Boys recorded "Corrine, Corrina Blues"; its lyrics are identical to the Chatmon/McCoy version. In July 1937 Blind Boy Fuller recorded "Corrine, What Makes You Treat Me So"; only the first verse mentions Corrine:

Corrine, Corrine, what makes you treat me so (3x)
You done stopped me from knocking at your door.

Dylan's version has taken the basic melody of the Chatmon- McCoy version and put somewhat altered lyrics to it. If, as Dylan implies, this is a cover of an existing recorded version, I don't know who's it is. On the album, Dylan simply credits the song to "Trad/adapted by B. Dylan," providing no clue as to his real source.


REFERENCES:

R Dixon & J Godrich Blues and Gospel Records, 1902-1943, 3rd rev. ed. 1982. Storyville Publications, Essex. [Discography]

R.R. Macleod Yazoo 21-83 1992. PAT Publications, Ediburgh. [Lyrical transcriptions]