Topic: Tamp em up solid

Have played the new CD enough that now the songs and some of the songs & lyrics are memorized.  It's driving me crazy what "Tamp em' Up Solid"  means.  Since I don't know, I'm guessing. Maybe Joe or somebody can tell us what this title means, related to or came from.

Here's what I guess it might mean.   Sounds to me like an expression from the deep south.  Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana.  ?  Maybe relating to some kind of factory or warehousing work ?   

Kathy

Re: Tamp em up solid

it kind of sounds like a lullabye (sp?) weird lyrics for a lullabye but Joe's voice is very beautiful and the song is musically calming and beautiful, for me.
well i just searched for these lyrics - not sure of the accuracy, i guess that what Joe's singing i had a little different image in my head (suprised?) smile
sounds like a rail road working reference, although I have put in a few fence posts in my time and use a tamping bar to tamp the soil , so the posts don't come down, I imagine you have to pound the railroad ties fairly hard so they don't come out but wouldn't think come down. I am feeling this may have a sort of slave reference? - and thats where my head used to automatically think when i thought of blues- because of the water boy getting kicked or at least a mean old boss? and speaking of mean old boss, whats up with the So Many Roads Lyrics?
I also can think of relationship symbolism when I read these lyrics,

Ry Cooder - Tamp Em Up Solid Song Lyrics
(Traditional)

Tamp 'em up solid, so they won't come down
Tamp 'em up solid, buddy, so they won't come down
Tamp 'em up solid, so they won't come down
Tamp 'em up solid, buddy, so they won't come down

Baby, when you marry your railroad man
Every day'll be pay day, dollar bill in your hand
Baby, in your hand, baby, in your hand
Baby, in your hand, baby, in your hand
Mary and the baby laying in the bed
Thinking about the money that I ain't made
So tamp 'em up solid so they won't come down
Tamp 'em up solid, buddy, so they won't come down

Captain called the water boy and the water boy laughed
Captain kicked the water boy yelling, ";Yes, yes, yes";
So tamp 'em up solid, so they won't come down
Tamp 'em up solid, buddy, so they won't come down
And you can do it, and you can do it, and you can do it
So they won't come down

Re: Tamp em up solid

Nice research- thanks- song will have more meaning now !  kat

Re: Tamp em up solid

A tribute to the gandy dancers of yore. I really love the song selection on You & Me. I think Joe's hit so many great blues subgenres over the years that we have a really fantastic catalog of what the blues has been and what they can be. And that's such a great way of exposing the general music fan to other forms of the blues.

The blues isn't about a look or a specific sound, the blues is something deep within. But the sound doesn't hurt things, you know? ~ Ben Hernandez

5 (edited by Melissa 2006-04-26 08:45:34)

Re: Tamp em up solid

My mom, whose dad was a cement worker back in the 1940s, told me that it's a phrase meaning to pack gravel around something before you lay cement.  She said the phrase was also used to describe packing a pipe w/ tobacco, back in the day.  When I was looking for info about the song, a couple of websites described it as a "Railroad Folk song," which is a sub-genre that I had not heard of.  Like Mandilishi, I feel the slavery reference w/ that one line; and historically, minorities--both slaves & immigrants--made up a large percentage of railroad workers.  It's interesting to have an opening to that chapter of the past here in 2006!

In addition, I just love the general sound of that song; Joe's vocals, in particular.  "When She Dances" and "Waiting for Me" are two examples of his slower/softer tempo & singing but "Tamp 'em up Solid" is sung a little more tenderly and showcases his voice really well.

"The Blues is like a tonic for all that ails you."  BB King

Rock ON & Keep the Faith!

Re: Tamp em up solid

another thing about this song is some of the pickin reminds me of some of the Randy Travis songs I like. Unique to me how it came about maybe but when I get the blues, esp. before I got turned on to more blues songs from you guys, I would put on Randy Travis (non-gospel) real loud and just let it flow.
Jane

7 (edited by Chuck O 2006-04-26 14:47:09)

Re: Tamp em up solid

Being from the south originally.And having a degree in american history.It is my belief that tune is an old slave work song.From somewhere down on the delta.
"Tamp" simply means to compress or compact.

What would delta states slaves be tamping?

  Cotton,perhaps.

Bales of cotton to be exact. They stack higher and travel better when their filled "solid".

References to the railway and captian refer to modes of transfer for the product.Be it freight car or steamboat.

Re: Tamp em up solid

Chuck O, interesting comments, makes sense...

Music is good for the Soul...

Re: Tamp em up solid

Melissa is very close as it is a railroad song and there IS a slavery inference akin to what is called a chant, shout or field holler, which is a call & response song now taking different forms in today's American music (e.g. backing vocals)...Tamping is making the railroad ties tight so they do not move around in the ballast which is ROCKS, not cement which are piled along the route, the purpose being to hold the ties and drain rainwater...It is a traditional song and Ry Cooder did not write it, he just plays so much obscure music (yes Jane, tha kind of obscure!)...the song refers to tamping up the ties solid as to doing the work well so all the things in life you work for stay good-my take at least!!!

Rock On & Keep the Faith,
Rocket

"He still doesn't charge for mistakes! wink"
http://jbonamassa.com/tour-dates/
"Everybody wants ta get inta the act!"
“Now, this isn’t your ordinary party crowd, here.  I mean, there are professionals in here.”

Re: Tamp em up solid

The captain was the man in charge of the "gang" which is what rail labor parties are still called to this day and would call for a water break...

"He still doesn't charge for mistakes! wink"
http://jbonamassa.com/tour-dates/
"Everybody wants ta get inta the act!"
“Now, this isn’t your ordinary party crowd, here.  I mean, there are professionals in here.”

Re: Tamp em up solid

While I'm rolling down the railroad track of "Tamp 'em Up Solid", gandy dancer was guys on the railroad who worked around the  Gandy (brand name) tamping machine..todays' tamping machines look like something out of Star Wars:Droidekas withhout a force field...

"He still doesn't charge for mistakes! wink"
http://jbonamassa.com/tour-dates/
"Everybody wants ta get inta the act!"
“Now, this isn’t your ordinary party crowd, here.  I mean, there are professionals in here.”

Re: Tamp em up solid

Since I am FORCING myself to wait for the US release, I have NOT heard this tune by the way, although of course I have it on Ry Cooder's Paradise & Lunch album.  Curious how does Joe play it? One acoustic guitar with no backing music? Acoustic bass (IF I were PRODUCER we's do a take or 2 at least)??

Rock On & Keep the Faith,
Rocket

"He still doesn't charge for mistakes! wink"
http://jbonamassa.com/tour-dates/
"Everybody wants ta get inta the act!"
“Now, this isn’t your ordinary party crowd, here.  I mean, there are professionals in here.”

Re: Tamp em up solid

wood wrote:

I was thinking it was a reference to pavement myself as I used to work for a paving/sealing company on and off during college.  We would "tamp" the pavement in rough spots to get it nice and smooth.

I always thought 'tamp' was a lady you looked for just before the lights came on at the end of the night..........=D

“A friend is someone that will help you move............a TRUE friend will help you move the bodies." -- anon

Re: Tamp em up solid

Rocket wrote:

Since I am FORCING myself to wait for the US release, I have NOT heard this tune by the way, although of course I have it on Ry Cooder's Paradise & Lunch album.  Curious how does Joe play it? One acoustic guitar with no backing music? Acoustic bass (IF I were PRODUCER we's do a take or 2 at least)??

Rock On & Keep the Faith,
Rocket

Rocket,

He plays the song on acoustic (solo) with some subtle but stunningly beautiful slide added on top (a steel bodied Dobro I believe).  It's done in a slower, bluesier and sadder style when compared to Ry Cooders version.  Brilliant work.

Russ B.

Re: Tamp em up solid

It means to fortifiy an underground tunnel with support beams... like a railroad tunnel.


Boda

Re: Tamp em up solid

I like this song and it has a way of transporting you back in time.

StringsforaCURE~Helping cancer patients one STRING at a time.
http://stringsforacure.com/

Re: Tamp em up solid

I actually figured (not having actual intelligence) that he would use a slide and dobro but was curious if he would electrify it.. thanks Mod Tour Man

Rock On & Keep the Faith,
Rocket

"He still doesn't charge for mistakes! wink"
http://jbonamassa.com/tour-dates/
"Everybody wants ta get inta the act!"
“Now, this isn’t your ordinary party crowd, here.  I mean, there are professionals in here.”

18 (edited by Jane H. 2006-04-30 07:17:18)

Re: Tamp em up solid

dig this:
know what reminds me of a railroad track? the neck (fretboard thing?) of Joe's guitars! theres 6 rails, he tamps them down solid with the magic hands.
and onto the so many roads thing, man there's sooooooooooooooo many trains(riffs?) to ride
OH HELL YEAH THATS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!

but beyond that Boda's input makes the most sense to me