Great Song: Come On In My Kitchen

If I hadn’t heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that would have been shut down—that I wouldn’t have felt free enough or upraised enough to write.

— Bob Dylan
Chronicles: Volume One

Wikipedia:

Come On in My Kitchen” is a blues song by Robert Johnson. Johnson recorded the song on November 23, 1936 at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas – his first recording session. The melody is based on the song cycle by the string band the Mississippi Sheiks, “Sitting on Top of the World” (1930)/Things About Coming My Way (1931)/I’ll Be Gone, Long Gone (1932)/Hitting The Numbers (1934).

Johnson’s arrangement on slide guitar (in open tuning, commonly thought to be open G) is based on Tampa Red’s recording of the same tune with the title “Things ‘Bout Coming My Way”. Tampa Red had recorded an instrumental version in 1936, and the song had been recorded earlier by him in 1931, and by Kokomo Arnold in 1935 (Tampa Red may in fact have been the first to use the melody with his song “You Got To Reap What You Sow” (1929) based on Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell’s version).

Johnson’s recording was released on the Vocalion label (no. 03563) as a “race record” – cheap records for the black consumer market. The song was among those compiled on the King of the Delta Blues Singers LP in the 1960s. (A slower alternate take was also later found and released on CD collections; this version also has ten extra lines of lyrics.)

Come on in my kitchen by Robert Johnson:

Lyrics: 

Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm
mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm
Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm
mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm

You’d better come on in my kitchen
babe it going to be rainin outdoors
Ah the woman I love
took from my best friend
Some joker got lucky
stole her back again

You’d better come on in my kitchen
babe it going to be rainin outdoors
Oh-ah she’s gone
I know she won’t come back again
I’ve taken the last nickel
out of her nation sack

You’d better come on in my kitchen
babe it going to be rainin outdoors
When a woman gets in trouble
everybody throws her down
Lookin for her good friend
none can be found

You’d better come on in my kitchen
babe it going to be rainin outdoors
Winter time’s comin
its gonna be slow
You can’t make the winter babe
thats dry long so

You’d better come on in my kitchen
babe it going to be rainin outdoors

Robert Johnson winstout

There are at least two takes of the song and they differ slightly in the lyrics, one has these added lines :

Nnn, the woman that I love
I crave to see
She’s up the country won’t write to me
I went to the mountain
far as eyes could see
Some other man got my woman
lonesome blues got me

My mama dead
papa well’s to be
Ain’t got nobody
to love and care for me
She better come on in this kitchen..

This  take makes the song a more personal tale instead of the generic story told in the first take. Johnson seems more open and vulnerable in the second take.

Nikki Barnett:

The line “I’ve taken the last nickel out of her nation sack,” has been omitted from take 2 of Come on in my Kitchen. It’s omission serves to support the sincerity of the second take. The line seems to imply not that he has emptied her sack of nickels, but that he has gotten the last nickel from her that he ever will because she is gone and won’t give him any more money — that she will no longer care for him. In the second take, Johnson sings instead, of going to the mountain to look for her. He doesn’t want just anyone to care for him, he wants her. When he sees that she is with another man, he sings, Lonesome blues got me.” He apparently has feelings for her. (Read More)

Alternate take:

The song has been covered numerous times especially after it’s re-release in the 60s. I have tried to compile a collection of some of my favorite interpretations.

Let’s start with Leon Russel and friends with a fantastic version from “The Homewood Sessions” in 1971:

My second choice is a great find, Steve Miller Band (live 1974):

My third pick is the great Taj Mahal doing a very good and bluesy version:

My fourth and final version is this, in my opinion, great take from Cat Power and Buddy Guy (french TV5):

– Hallgeir

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