When You’ve Got a Good Friend


cd cover: you better lie down by scott ainslie(Robert Johnson)
Music & Media, Intl.

When you’ve got a good friend that will stay right by your side. (2x)
Give her all your spare time. Love and treat her right.

I mistreated my baby. I can’t see the reason why. (2x)
Every time I think about it, I just wring my hands and cry.

I wonder could I bear to apologize. And would she sympathize with me? (2x)
She’s a brown-skinned woman, just as sweet as any girlfriend can be.

Oh, babe, I may be right or wrong.
Maybe in your opinion, well, I may be right or wrong.
Watch your close friends, baby, then your enemies can’t do you no wrong.


The L’Arrivee in standard tuning, key of E. And rhythmic shifts from duple to triple rhythms that echo the polyrhythmic root stock of African drumming. We also hear the clear roots of electric blues and rock here,as well as the vestiges of the African call and response vocal tradition, in which the lead guitar licks hold the place for the community response so commonly heard in church music, and generally completely lacking in the jukes.

This straight forward E Blues comes from Robert Johnson, of course. In it’s eight short lines, it reveals the world in a teacup: what should we do? what have we done? what will we do now? and a commentary on the inability to depend or trust anyone. It occurs to me that the Blues may be the Western equivalent of Haiku: economy of means, imagery from the natural and everyday world, and plenty of room for universals.

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