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CC Rider, See See Rider or Easy Rider?

This song represents the best of a century of Blues.

Traditional sentiments with  creative adaptations to keep pace with social and musical developments.

“See See Rider”, also known as “C.C. Rider” or “See See Rider Blues” or “Easy Rider” is a popular American 12-bar blues” song. It was first recorded by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey in 1924, and since then has been recorded by many other artists.

Listen to some of the many (more than 100) versions and then consider how the lyrics have changed over time and  the meanings of the song.

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marainey

See See Rider Blues -Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey 1925 -the vocal version first

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bigbillbroonzy

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CC Rider Big Bill Broonzy   1934 -the guitar version

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john davis

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Blind John Davis – try the piano version

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Lead_Belly_publicity_shot

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and the slide guitar version from Leadbelly

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John-Hurt-with-a-Guild

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and Mississippi John Hurt -one of my personal favourites

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raycharles buckowensopry

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and a slow piano  version by Ray Charles -another great piano version

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elvis

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a very,very different version by Elvis (not my favourite!)

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Mitch_Ryder_and_the_Detroit_Wheels_1966

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Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels

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The+Animals

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The Animals also did a version

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and try the Dead…

Grateful+Dead+++Live

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(you might also check out versions in 1982 and 1970 -another evolutionary sequence)

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rare_celebrity_pics_41Janis

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Remembering Ma Rainey we come back to a fine female voice

– a great version by Janis Joplin (see from 02.50 ) -early recordings 1962/3

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See how the lyrics have been adapted over nearly a century:

Ma Rainey

See see rider 
, see what you have done, Lord, Lord, Lord 
Made me love you, now your gal has come 
You made me love you, now your gal has come 


I’m goin’ away, baby, I won’t be back till fall, Lord, Lord, Lord 
Goin’ away, baby, won’t be back till fall 
If I find me a good man, won’t be back at all 


 

I’m gonna buy me a pistol, just as long as I am tall, Lord, Lord, Lord 
Shoot my man, and catch a cannonball 
If he won’t have me, he won’t have no gal at all 


 

See See Rider, where did you stay last night? Lord, Lord, Lord 
Your shoes ain’t buttoned and your clothes don’t fit you right 
You didn’t come home till the sun was shining bright

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Chuck Willis

Well now see, C. C. Rider

Well now see, see what you have done

Well now see, C. C. Rider

Well now see, see what you have done

Well you made me love you woman

Now your man has come

So I’m goin’ away now baby

And I won’t be back till fall

I’m goin’ away now baby

And I won’t be back till fall

Just might find me a good girl

Might not be comin’ back at all

Well now see, C. C. Rider

See now the moon is shining bright

Well now see, C. C. Rider

See now the moon is shining bright

Just might find me that good girl

And everything would be alright

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Animals

Oh see, See See Rider

Girl see, what you’ve done

Oh, oh, oh See See Rider

See what you’ve done now

You’ve gone away and left me,

Lord, now and now the blues have come, oh yes, they do

Oh, well I’m goin’, goin’ away baby

And I won’t be back till fall

Oh yes I am, going away baby

And I won’t be back till fall

If I get me a good lookin’ woman

No, no, no, I won’t be back at all, all right

And I see, See See Rider, I love you, yes I do

And there isn’t one thing darlin’

I would not do for you

You know I want you See See

I need you by my side

See See Rider, ough, keep me satisfied

Oh See See Rider, See See Rider, See See Rider

See See Rider, See See Rider, See See Rider

You keep on ridin’, keep on riding

Here I come baby, look out, beat it, all right

Don’t lose it now, come one, come on, yeah

Here she comes, she’s all right,

She’s so fine, she’s all mine

See See, come on, can we take a ride now, hey

 

Well, I’m goin, goin’ away baby

And I won’t be back till fall

Oh yes I’m goin’, going away baby

And I won’t be back till fall

If I find me a good lookin’ woman

No, no, no, I won’t be back at all

And that’s the truth baby

Listen, I’m going, all right

Somebody told me, somebody told me

I’m Joe Jackson, I’m leavin’

All right, all right, ough!

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And what do the words really mean?

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Some ideas before you make up your own mind:

The song uses mostly traditional blues lyrics to tell the story of an unfaithful lover, commonly called easy riders: “See See rider, see what you have done,” making a play on the word see and the sound of easy.

“See see rider” or “c c rider”, is actually a blues metaphor for a sexual partner. But this most popular translation is not the original.

Originally, it referred to the guitar hung on the back of the travelling bluesman. The word easy has different meanings for the female and male lover: applied to a woman it is an expression of admiration but applied to a male it usually carries the meaning of reckless and unfaithful.

In one of Alan Lomax’s collection of poems it says that C.C. means Calvary Corporal and that they had no female soldiers at that time (19th century). Well, the unknown songwriter even could be a woman singing this song to her soldier lover!

And from Wikipedia

The term “See See Rider” is usually taken as synonymous with “easy rider.” In particular, in blues songs it often refers to a woman who had liberal sexual views, had been married more than once, or was skilled at sex. Although Ma Rainey’s version seems on the face of it to refer to “See See Rider” as a man, one theory is that the term refers to a prostitute and in the lyric, “You made me love you, now your man done come,” “your man” refers to the woman’s pimp. So, rather than being directed to a male “easy rider,” the song is in fact an admonition to a prostitute to give up her evil ways.

There are further theories:

“Easy rider” was sometimes used to refer to the partner of a hypersexual woman who therefore does not have to work or pay for sex.

Other confused sources indicate that ‘C.C. Rider’ refers to early ‘Country Circuit’ Riding Preachers who traveled on horseback into many towns that were without formal churches at the time.

What do you think the words mean? Perhaps just enjoy the music….

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