You Better Lie Down


Blues, old-time gospel and worksongs, some from Ainslie’s own field recordings, in solo settings, along with songs of David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Mississippi John Hurt, Lonnie Johnson, B. B. King, Sam Cooke, and Robert Johnson.

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You Better Lie Down brings together a rich and varied body of work from African American blues, worksongs, gospel and rhythm and blues traditions, including songs learned from my field recordings of some of the Southeast’s little known blues and gospel musicians. A disk full of remarkable guitar playing and powerful singing, this is a recording for anyone who loves acoustic music and a welcome new collection from the guy who literally ‘wrote the book’ on Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson.

The instruments used on this recording include a Jean L’Arrivee Maple-body OM from the 1990’s, a Michael Gurian Mahoghany body, classical inspired steel-string guitar from about 1974, a National Resophonic Style-O, round neck from 1931., a Washburn fretless bass, and a non-descript Japanese knock-off of an f-style mandolin.

Links to Lyrics and Other Info about the Tracks

  1. You Better Lie Down
  2. Don’t Let the Devil Ride
  3. Big Fat Mama
  4. Pay Day
  5. I’ll Be Rested
  6. Broken Levee Blues
  7. Phonograph Blues
  8. Losing Faith in You
  9. Bring It On Home To Me
  10. When You’ve Got A Good Friend
  11. I Will Trust In The Lord
  12. Wade In The Water


  1. barb

    Scott Ainslie: You Better Lie Down (Cattail Music)

    North Carolinian Scott Ainslie began exploring traditional music as an old-time fiddler. His most recent travels find him playing blues guitar and mining the deep vein in the Piedmont and Delta styles. Much of the music on You Better Lie Down was learned first hand from players of the region.

    His sound is big and robust with a strong voice and aggressive playing style. Standards such as Mississippi John Hurt’s “Pay Day” get reworked with slide guitar punctuating the sweet John Hurt syncopation. Another standout track is Robert Johnson’s “Phonograph Blues.”

    Scott has written an instructional manual and produced a teaching video on the playing style of Johnson and his rendition is true to the source. There’s power in those steel strings and voice!

    Most of the selections included on You Better Lie Down are much more obscure. “Losing Faith in You” is from a 1968 B. B. King album and Ainslie’s strong vocals make it a standout. “Big Fat Mama” comes from the playing of David “Honeyboy” Edwards and includes mandolin, guitar and fretless bass in a loose and funky rendition ala Martin, Bogan and Armstrong.

    Lonnie Johnson’s “Broken Levee Blues” is one of many tunes written about the catastrophic 1927 flood on the Mississippi. Once again Scott’s strong guitar style makes this rendition work so well.

    Two more selections may surprise the listener: Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” and the traditional “Wade In The Water.” Each spotlights Scott’s wonderful voice and must be very effective in performance.

    I don’t understand why Scott Ainslie is not one of the best-known interpreters. His style is both authentic to the source as well as highly entertaining to the blues neophyte and truly deserves wider recognition.”

    – Sing Out! Winter 2003

  2. Scott Ainslie

    Scott Ainslie “You Better Lie Down”
    Cattail Music

    Scott Ainslie’s promotional flyer proclaims him Blues singer and Guitarist. The simplicity of this statement belies a much more complex artist, one whose latest CD release, “You Better Lie Down”, reveals not only an excellent singer/guitarist but a fine historian and storyteller as well.

    Ainslie has made a study of African roots music and the American diversity of the Blues, and his music shows a fond familiarity with everything from early gospel and soul, old-time country and bluegrass, to East Coast ragtime Blues and the Mississippi Delta’s deep slide Blues. It’s not surprising to discover that he’s written both a best selling book on Robert Johnson and a guitar teaching video called “Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques”, and indeed covers two of Johnson’s tunes on this CD, including the lesser known and often overlooked masterpiece “Phonograph Blues”.

    Nowhere is Ainslie’s roots research more evident than in his adaptation of Lonnie Johnson’s “Broken Levee Blues”, which tells the tale of a catastrophic 1927 flooding of the Mississippi River. As the water rose to threaten the entire delta area, blacks were rounded up at gunpoint and made to work at reinforcing the levees, most of which eventually gave way. The subsequent flooding was deadly and destructive, and the story, told from the perspective of the coerced laborer, takes on vivid recollection in Ainslie’s musical recreation.

    Ainslie’s guitar work is solid. His Delta picking is both precise and passionate, his slide work is inventive and memorable, and his technique is rhythmically vibrant. Here’s a guy who also understands the value of a bridge.

    Perhaps even more impressive however is Ainslie’s singing. His strong, clear baritone is pure of tone with just enough gritty edge to be the perfect foil to his instrument, and he uses it very well. It’s a voice that is passionate yet controlled, and nowhere does it shine more than on the title track and in the several gospel tunes included on the album…

    Overall, “You Better Lie Down” is immensely listenable, even for one who prefers more densely arranged instrumentation. While it makes this reviewer want to go back and find his earlier releases, it also creates an eager anticipation for what works might lie ahead produced by the mind, voice, and fingers of Scott Ainslie.

    – River City Blues Society News, Richmond VA 2002

  3. Scott Ainslie

    Scott Ainslie
    “You Better Lie Down” Cattail Music-2002

    You Blues purists out there are gonna love this one. I don’t usually write about this kind of music, as I’m not as familiar with “roots” blues, or “Delta” blues as I probably should be, but Scott Ainslie seems to have a lock on this particular genre. This is a very good sounding CD, meaning that the production values apparently were quite high—it just sounds like a great recording. He’s a solo artist and plays a steel guitar. This is picking and Blues singing performed truly at the roots level, but played in such a way as to not really sound like that’s what it is. Does that make any sense?

    Not only is Scott Ainslie a wonderful traditional blues artist, he’s “worked on Broadway and toured Europe for the US Information Agency.” He lectures on the music at the college level and “he’s written the best-selling book, ‘Robert Johnson/At the Crossroads”, and has released a teaching video called ‘Robert Johnson’ Guitar Techniques”. He has two previous CDs to his credit. Quite the versatile guy.

    He has some music here that he arranged, as well as songs of others. Represented are two cuts from Robert Johnson, himself, “Phonograph Blues” and “When You’ve Got A Good Friend”. B.B. King has a song covered here, “Losing Faith in You”–not a song I’m familiar with, but it’s a pretty one and Scott sings and plays it very well. Lonnie Johnson’s “Broken Levee Blues” is here, and “Pay Day” by John Hurt…

    You might compare Scott Ainslie to musicians like John Hammond, Jr., or even Taj Mahal, he does play music in a similar style, but he has a style all his own. So, if this is your type of music, check it out. I have a notion that this CD might be hard to find in the Toledo area, but you could contact , or Scott himself, at and you’d be quickly advised how to pick up a copy. Give it a listen.

    – Swamp Watch, Black Swamp Blues Society, Toledo OH 2002

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