Sayings and blues related words (1-3)

In this column: Terraplane, Axe-handle pistol, Meet at the bottom |
This column is about sayings and words in blues lyrics. For a Dutchman it is sometimes hard to understand, what a singer is singing. In earlier days, we copied lyrics from vinyl records. If we didn't understand, we used "an English sounding word". Now with internet one can find out the meaning.

I'VE BEEN DRIVING MY TERRAPLANE

I've been driving my Terraplane for a year since I've been gone... (Robert Johnson)
1936 Terraplane Hudson 2Doors

Meaning
The Terraplane was popular and Robert Johnson wrote "Terraplane Blues" in 1936. In that song the Terraplane becomes a stand-in for sex. When the car won't start and suffers other mechanical difficulties, the singer suspects his girlfriend may have let another man drive it.

I'm goin' heist your hood, mama
I'm bound to check your oil
I'm goin' heist your hood, mama
I'm bound to check your oil

1936 Terraplane Engine

Note
In a Dutchman's ears you think that terraplane is an area, but it is a low-cost, high-performance vehicle.
The Hudson Terraplane (made by Hudson Motors in Detroit) was linked with speed, excitement, and the fascination of flight. Built between 1932 and 1938, it was offered with this sales slogan: "On the sea that's aquaplaning, in the air that's aeroplaning, but on the land, in the traffic, on the hills, hot diggity dog, THAT'S TERRAPLANING".

1936 Terraplane Hudson 4Doors
1936 Terraplane Coupe

Flashy Terraplane, a metaphor for a flashy woman.

I GOT AN AXE-HANDLE PISTOL ON A GRAVEYARD FRAME

I got an axe-handle pistol on a graveyard frame
That shoot tombstone bullets, wearin' balls and chain
I'm drinkin' TNT, I'm smokin' dynamite
I hope some screwball start a fight
'Cause I'm ready, ready as anybody can be
I am ready for you, I hope you're ready for me

(I'm Ready, song by Willie Dixon, performed by Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf)

Meaning
John Pinckney "Pink" Calhoun Higgins (28 March 1851 – 18 December 1913) was a little-known gunman and cowboy of the Old West. He killed more men in his lifetime than better-known gunfighters. Higgins had a .44 pistol built on a .45-calibre structure. The pistol was a popular configuration celebrated in Southern folklore as the "axe-handle pistol on a graveyard frame" that shoots "tombstone bullets wearin' balls-and-chain".

Pink Higgins (left)

.44 pistol late 19th century
Tombstone bullets

Tombstone bullets, balls and chain; a lot of boasting is going on.

Muddy Waters | The Johnny Winters Sessions

MEET ME AT THE BOTTOM

Meet me in the bottom, baby
Bring me my boots and shoes
Gotta leave this town ain't got no time to loose

For the first time I heard this song  on the vinyl record "The blues of Otis Spann (Decca 1964)".

Meaning
The Bottom is the flood plain of the Mississippi River. It is mostly protected from flooding in the 21st century by a levee and drainage canal system.

Origin
Otis Spann changed the lyrics to make it his own. He was not the only one who did that.
"Hey Lawdy Mama" is a Piedmont (style) blues song recorded by Buddy Moss in 1934.

Meet me down at the river, you can bring me my shoes and clothes
Oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Said meet me down at the river, bring me my shoes and clothes
Says I ain't got so many, but I got so far to go

In 1935 Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton) followed with "Hey Lawdy Mama". A year later he re-recorded it with some new lyrics as "Meet Me in the Bottom".
Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes
Oh Lawdy mama, great God almighty
Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes
I've got to leave this town I, got no time to lose

Pink Anderson recorded his version in 1961.
In 1961, Howlin' Wolf recorded "Down in the Bottom"(Chess 1961). Although "Down in the Bottom" is different musically, Bumble Bee Slim's "Hey Lawdy Mama" is the song that Willie Dixon transformed into the classic "Meet Me in the Bottom" for Howlin' Wolf".

Well now meet me in the bottom, bring me my running shoes
Well now meet me in the bottom, bring me my running shoes
Well I'll come out the window I, won't have time to lose

Buddy Mosh
Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton)
Pink Anderson
Otis Spann

Note

Pinkney "Pink" Anderson (February 12, 1900 – October 12, 1974) was born in Laurens, South Carolina, and raised in nearby Greenville (the city which we know from the great flood, see this blog).
Syd Barrett, from Pink Floyd, created the band's name with the first names of Pink Anderson and North Carolina bluesman Floyd Council. He read the names in the liner notes of a 1962 album by Blind Boy Fuller.

Versions of Meet Me At The Bottom

Sources: pancocojams.blogspot.nl, americanbluesscene.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, Hudson Motors Compagny, Archive Minneapolis, The Cruel Plains, M.H.Price a.o., truewestmagazine.com,