JPF Home Page

Down On Fannin Street

Posted By: ben willis

Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 12:46 AM

I've been fooling around with this song for a couple of years and it's time that I finish and record it. The idea comes from the book "The Life And Legend Of Leadbelly" by Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell. In the early 1900's Fannin st. was designated the red light district of Shreveport La. by the chamber of commerce. Leadbelly played guitar in the barrelhouses there in his youth before he went to prison for the first time. He claimed to have met and played music with "Blind Lemon Jefferson" at some point in his life and it is doubtful that it was on Fannin st. but I put him in the song anyway. The structure is kind of weird because I have already put a melody to it. A verse is sung than a verse is played so it alternates vocal/instrumental through the song. The melody is a takeoff of an old Cakewalk or Dixieland/Ragtime song to match with the time period. In verse 3 I wrote "Leadbelly's in the Angola sun" which I'm afraid that only people from that region would recognise as Angola prison farm but it's the best rhyme that I could come up with. I also may need suggestions on the last verse with "The girls there are a treat". I think that something better could go there. Thanks, Ben

Down On Fannin Street
(c) copyright 2006 AB Willis

Down on Fannin street, down on Fannin street
Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet
Listen to the barrelhouse band, keep one eye open for the man
Dip your tin in bathtub gin try to stay out of the can
Down on Fannin street, down on Fannin street
Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet

(Instrumental)....Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet

Leadbelly is the king, of that ol' twelve string
He plays it loud and he makes the crowd wanna get up and sing
Down on Fannin street, down on Fannin street
Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet

(Instrumental)....Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet

Leadbelly used to run, with Lemon Jefferson
Blind Lemon had to go where the cold wind blows, Leadbelly's in the Angola sun
Down on Fannin street, down on Fannin street
Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet

(Instrumental)....Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet

If you want to meet, a girl on Fannin street
Come on down to Shreveport town the girls there are a treat
Down on Fannin street, down on Fannin street
Everybody down in Shreveport town wanna get on their feet
Posted By: Janice Hopkins

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 01:24 AM

Ben,

I can really hear this. I love this kind of music and can surely hear the beat of it here. I see where you're going with it and I think it could work.

the girls there walk a beat....or walk to the beat. That's all the help I can give ya'. Doesn't need much as far as I can see.

Jan
Posted By: Tricia Baker

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 01:31 AM

I might change the title. Huddy's already done Fannin Street. So has Tom Waites, only his is a street in Houston, I thought.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 01:44 AM

Thanks Janice, that's good.
Tricia, Yes Huddie's version is more about his leaving his parents to go to Fannin st. where mine is extolling the virtues of being there, that's why I call mine "Down On Fannin Street" instead of just plain Fannon St. Of course he was really there and I wasn't. John Hammond also did a song called "Fannon St." with an "o". There is a Fannon st. in Alexandria Va. too.
Posted By: Tricia Baker

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 01:48 AM

Ah, I gotcha, Ben. You know Huddie is buried about 10-15 minutes from my house. Been threatening to go find his grave. I believe it's clearly marked and well known.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 02:05 AM

I've driven through the area on my way to Ok. but I want to spend some time there some day. Is that where that smelly paper mill is?
Posted By: Tricia Baker

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 02:46 AM

No. That's be Jonesboro and Springhill. The box plant in Springhill is closed. I'm sure they miss that boiled cabbage smell. Then, Sterlington smells just like sulfur from a mill.

The only thing you'll have to worry about in Shreveport is a stray bullet or two. That's why I live outside the city, now.
Posted By: Mark Schuessler

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 03:57 AM

Ben:

I thought this was very strong, very polished (except the one line you pointed out.) I especially liked the contrast evoked by this line:

Blind Lemon had to go where the cold wind blows, Leadbelly's in the Angola sun

This seems good to go.

Mark
Posted By: Tricia Baker

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 04:18 AM

Ben, I'll holler at you when I find his grave. Next time you come through maybe I can tell you how to get there.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 04:21 AM

Thanks Mark, that line came from true events. Blind Lemon moved to Chicago to make "Victrola" records. One winter night after a gig his ride was late to pick him up and he wandered into the woods. Being blind he got lost and was later found frozen to death. Leadbelly went to Angola prison for attempted murder after being jumped by a gang of white guys and almost beating one of them to death. Ben

http://benwillismusic.com
Posted By: Monica L. Yasher

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 04:30 AM

I don't know anything about the place, other than you telling me that it is a red light district. Here is some help for someone else to build upon.

Come on down to Shreveport town the girls can be discrete

Come on down to Shreveport town girls serve whiskey neat

Come on down to Shreveport town the girls make summer sweet
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 04:51 AM

Thanks Monica, I like that "summer sweet" line. I'll add it to my list. Ben
Posted By: Tricia Baker

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 04:24 PM

http://www.deltablues.net/lead.html

Here you go, Ben. Look what I found.
Posted By: John Voorpostel

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/14/07 05:41 PM

Nothing wrong with this Ben...or the line as you have it...but "are summersweet" probably flows better. Nicely descriptive piece of work.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/16/07 05:10 AM

Yeah John, I tried out that "Summer Sweet" line and it sounds pretty good. Thanks for the input. Ben


"When I loves 'em they stays loved": Andrew Hogg Brown
Posted By: Derek Hines

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/16/07 01:43 PM

Hey Ben

not much aware of the Shreveport blues scene. That said this was a great blues history lesson. The story telling is top notch. May need some word tweakin here and there but you know that. All in all a very nice song!
Sincere Blessings
Derek
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Down On Fannin Street - 10/16/07 07:15 PM

Thanks Derek.
© 2019 Just Plain Folks Music Organization Message Boards