> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Motherless Child

Motherless Child

[trad.]

Peter Bellamy sang Motherless Child in 1985 on his EFDSS album Second Wind. This track was also included in 1999 on his anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes. He commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

How did I get into all this? Motherless Child holds the clue; loosely based on a set of floating verses recorded by Barbecue Bob in the late 1920s, this is the sort of music that I was desperately trying to find and emulate in my mid-teens, and this particular song is one of the first I ever learned. Country Blues has continued to be one of my ruling passions ever since, though I long-since ceased to be too purist about it; these days blues-based compositions, be they by Mick Jagger or Chris Smither, are likely to find their way into my less public repertoire. Chris, originally from New Orleans, now living in Massachusetts, composed Devil Got Your Man (not, I think, altogether uninfluenced by Skip James at the time). I first worked with him in 1967, and have sung this song—usually in private—ever since. My abilities as a guitarist reached a not-very-prominent plateau about the same time too; however careful strategic placing of these tracks on the record gives you total control!

Christine Collister sang another traditional song with the same title, Motherless Child (Roud 10072), in 2001 on her Topic CD An Equal Love.

Si Kahn's Motherless Child on his 2007 CD Thanksgiving is a song he composed for his mother, Rosalind Kahn.

Lyrics

Peter Bellamy sings Motherless Child

If I mistreat you gal, I sure don't mean no harm,
If I mistreat you gal, I sure don't mean no harm.
'Cause I'm a motherless child, baby, don't know right from wrong.

So now tell me pretty mama, honey where'd you stay last night?
So please tell me pretty mama, honey where'd you stay last night?
Well, you didn't come home till the sun was shining bright.

I had to go so far, gal, to get my hambone boiled,
I had to go so far just to get my little hambone boiled.
Well, all you Atlanta women won't let my hambone spoil.

I done more for you, gal, than your daddy ever done,
I done more for you than your old man ever done.
I give you all my jelly, he ain't never give you none.

So if you see two women, always running hand in hand,
And if you see two women, always running hand in hand,
Well, you can bet your bottom dollar, one got the other one's man.

So go away from my window, honey get away from my door,
So get away from my window, honey get away from my door,
'Cause now I'm a married man, don't want you hanging there no more.

So now I'm going to the river, get me the old rocking chair,
Said I'm going to the river, get me a rocking chair.
And if the blues overtake me, gonna rock away from there.