Papa Charlie Jackson Keys and Positions

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Compiled by John Miller

The songs in this list are presented in the order in which they're found on the three Document CDs. The following tables include title, position played, and concert pitch of the recording. If he is sharp of the concert key, I have indicated "s" after the key name; if flat, I've indicated "f" after the key name.

Papa Charlie has some interesting chordal idiosyncracies. When he plays a I-VI-II-V progression in C, he will often play a D minor chord rather than a G7 chord where the V chord would normally fall in the progression. He does the same thing in D tunes, where he will go to an E or E7 out of the D shape, and then, rather than resolving to the A7, he'll go to an E minor before resolving to D.

TrackTitle Position Pitch
1Papa's Lawdy Lawdy Blues E E
2Airy Man BluesDD
3Salt Lake City Blues (Take 2)AA
4Salty Dog Blues (Take 2)GG
5The Cat's Got the MeaslesCC
6I Got What It Takes, But It Breaks My Heart To Give It AwayGF#
7Shave 'em Dry (Take 2)EE
8Coffee Pot BluesEE
9Mister Man, Part I (Take 2) (w/Ida Cox)GF#
10Mister Man, Part II (w/Ida Cox)GF#
11Shake That Thing (Take 2)DD
12The Faking Blues (Take 2)EE
13I'm Alabama Bound (unidentified 2nd banjo)GA flat
14Drop that Sack (unidentified 2nd banjo)AA flat
15Hot Papa Blues (Take 2)AA
16Take Me Back BluesDD
17Mama Don't Allow ItGF# s
18Mama, Don't You Think I Know (Take 2)CC
19How Long, Daddy, How Long (w/Ida Cox)CBflat (Ida Cox, Bflat s)
20Maxwell Street BluesEE
21All I Want Is A SpoonfulCC s
22I'm Going Where The Chilly Winds Don't Blow (Take 2)GG
23Texas Blues (Take 1), (high-strung guitar)ED
24Texas Blues (Take 2), as aboveED
25I'm Tired Of Fooling Around with YouAA f
26Jackson's Blues (guitar)AG
27Let's Get AlongDD
28Mumsy Mumsy BluesEE
29Butter and Egg Man BluesGG
30The Judge Cliff Davis BluesGF#
31Up the Way Bound (Take 1) (guitar)DD
32Up the Way Bound (Take 2) as aboveDB
33Four Eleven Fourty-FourB flatA
34Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like MineCConcert B flat s
35Bad Luck Woman BluesCB flat
36Salty Dog (Take 2)GG
37Gay Cattin'DC# f
38Fat Mouth BluesGG
39She Belongs to Me BluesFF
40Coal Man Blues (unidentified 2nd banjo)GG
41Skoodle Um SkooB flatB f
42Sheik of Displaines StreetGA flat
43Look Out Papa, Don't Tear Your PantsA minor/CA minor/C
44Baby, Don't You Be So MeanEE
45Bright EyesCB s
46Blue Monday Morning BluesCB s
47Long Gone, Lost JohnCC# f
48I'm Looking for A Woman Who Knows How To Treat Me RightCC# f
49Ash Tray BluesE flatE flat f
50No Need of Knockin' On The BlindGA flat f
51I Like to Love My BabyGG s
52Baby, Papa Needs His Lovin'EHalfway between E and F
53Lexington, Kentucky BluesDE flat f
54Good Doing Papa BluesEF
55Ma and Pa Poorhouse Blues (w/Ma Rainey)FF f
56Big Feeling Blues (w/Ma Rainey)FF f
57Jungle Man BluesAA f
58Corn Liquor BluesFE s
59Don't Break Down On MeDD
60Baby, Please Loan Me Your HeartB flatB flat
61Dentist Chair Blues, Part I (guitar, w/Hattie McDaniels & pianist)EE flat s
62Dentist Chair Blues, Part IIEE flat s
63Hot Papa Blues, no.2 (guitar)AA flat s
64We Can't Buy It No More (guitar)DC# s
65Tailor Made LoverAF# f
66Take Me Back Blues, no. 2 (guitar)DB f
67Taint What You Do, But How You Do ItEE flat
68Forgotten BluesAA flat
69Papa Do Do BluesCC#
70I'll Be Gone, BabeGA flat
71Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About It, Part ICC
72Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About It, Part IICC
73You Got that Wrong (guitar)GG
74Self Experience (guitar)GG f
75Skoodle Um SkooB flatA s
76If I Got What You WantCB f
77What's That Thing She's ShakingGG
78You Put It In, I'll Take It OutCC


Jackson's Blues (Volume 1, 26): In many ways, this sounds more like G standard than A standard, and it is pitched at G. The only problem is he hits a low root of the V chord in the intro and the solo, which makes G standard impossible. I suppose he could be in the DGDGBE tuning, but I don't think he used it. The strings sound slack like A tuned low. This is a really tough identification.
Up the Way Bound (Take 2)(Volume 2, 5): Record is defective.
Salty Dog (Take 2) (Volume 2, 9): Vocal only.
Hot Papa Blues, no.2 (Volume 3, 10): Another really tough identification, in some ways it sounds like G standard, but the IV chord sounds like a D chord, not a C chord to me. It lacks the low third you have in C on the fourth string. I can think of no other player in this genre who makes differentiating between his playing in G and A standard so difficult. Normally it's a piece of cake telling the difference.
Take Me Back Blues, no. 2 (Volume 3, 13): Pitch is not incorrect, he is tuned this low by design, sounds like Rabbit Brown, even the same right hand flamencoey stuff. Fascinating!