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Minglewood Blues

Gus Cannon, Ashley Thomson and Noah Lewis.

The history of Minglewood Blues is long and complex. The original Minglewood Blues, written by Noah Lewis, was recorded on January 30, 1928 in Memphis, Tennesse by Cannons Jug Stompers. The personnel were as follows.

This version is available on the CD "Cannon's Jug Stompers - The Complete Works 1927-1930", Yazoo 1082/3. This CD also contains Viola Lee Blues and Big Railroad Blues, also written by Noah Lewis. It should be noted that, despite it's title, the CD version does not contain both takes of Viola Lee Blues, the LP version does.

The only resemblance between Noah's Minglewood Blues and the Dead's New New Minglewood Blues and All New Minglewood Blues is the title; the songs have no lyrics in common.

Minglewood Blues by Noah Lewis

New Minglewood Blues was recorded by the Noah Lewis Jug Band on November 26, 1930 in Memphis. This recording includes Noah on harmonica, John Estes on guitar, Yank Rachel on mandolin and an unknown jug player. This version is very similar to New New Minglewood Blues as played/recorded by the Dead.

New Minglewood Blues by Noah Lewis

The first version of the song that the Dead recorded was New New Minglewood Blues. The title suggests that the Dead were aware of both Minglewood Blues and New Minglewood Blues and that New New Minglewood Blues was intended to be the next song in the sequence. New New Minglewood Blues appears to be a collection of lyrics from other traditional blues tunes.

New New Minglewood Blues (As recorded on the Dead's first album)

Now, note the similar verses from the following songs.

Water Bound Blues by Texas Alexander (recorded 6-15-29)

It Won't Be Long by Charley Patton (recorded 6-14-29)

Live versions of New New Minglewood Blues often omitted the last verse (If you don't believe me...)

The Dead stopped playing New New Minglewood Blues in 1971. Then in 1976, after they returned from their self imposed touring break, they began playing All New Minglewood Blues, which they recorded in 1978 for Shakedown Street. Only the first verse remained from New New Minglewood Blues, the rest of the song being completely overhauled.

All New Minglewood Blues (As recorded by the Dead on Shakedown Street)

In live versions the "Couple shots of whiskey" verse is sung with the following changes.

and this verse is added..... This verse too appears in a different form in traditional blues songs including this early country version.

Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas) by Jimmy Rodgers

The other verses maintain the traditional AAB blues lyric structure and could very well be lifted from traditional blues songs, though I have not found any hard evidence to support this. It is also entirely possible that these verses are of recient vintage and were crafted to fit with the general style of the song.