Sleepy John Estes: Song Analysis

2012 Words9 Pages
Sleepy John Estes or John Adams Estes, was a well-known Blues singer from Tennessee. Estes was known for his vocals, Estes teamed with Yank Rachell, a mandolinist, and Hammie Nixon, a harmonica player which helped him on his road to success (Pearson, Barry Lee). Estes is described as the “Tennessee country blues king who popularized “Drop Down Mama” and “Milk Cow Blues” (Pearson, Barry Lee). Sleepy John Este recorded this song in Memphis on May 13th, 1930. It appears that at this time he was not under any record label. This recording features instruments such as a piano and mandolin. Sleepy John Estes starts his song off slowly, with natural strummings of the mandolin. Estes’s song tells of an affair, that leads to depression. Earlier it was discussed that main topics can be seen in each cover of “Milk Cow Blues”, Estes clearly talks about the ending of a relationship with the line “Now, went upstairs to pack my leavin’ trunk”. At no point in his version is a milk cow actually…show more content…
They are said to have transformed “Milk Cow Blues” “into a number that would appeal to their audiences” (Boyd, Jean A). As for the main themes, he repeats similar lyrics to Kokomo Arnold “ If my good gal quits me, I don’t want nobody else” and “I can’t do right, baby, you don’t do right yourself”.
While looking at Cliff Bruner and His Teas Wanderer’s version of “Milk Cow Blues” to Kokomo Arnold’s, many similarities and differences can be noticed. His lyrics are extremely similar to Arnold’s first version, Bruner did modernize the phrasing and remove some repetition from the lyrics. Ultimately the largest difference between Bruner’s version and Arnold’s is the sound and instruments. Bruner was not afraid to step away from the blues sound and create more of a country western feel. A piano can be seen in both renditions of this song, but Bruner is the first to add a bass, a guitar, and an electric

More about Sleepy John Estes: Song Analysis

Open Document