Knocking Myself Out Gradually By Degrees

Words & Music:

Li'l Green


Per, this was originally recorded in January 1941 by Li'l Green (vocal) & Big Bill Broonzy (guitar).  Yack Taylor also recorded a version in April 1941.  I discovered this via Catfish Keith, who included it on his Homespun Tapes instruction DVD.  His version is marvelous and must be heard to be believed.  I cannot even approximate his chords on paper.  These are the Yack Taylor words.


Listen, girls and boys, I got one stick.

Give me a match and let me take a whiff quick.

I'm gonna knock myself out, I'm gonna kill myself,

I'm gonna knock myself out, gradually by degrees.


I started blowing my gage, and I was havin' my fun.

I spied the police and I started to run.

I was knocking myself out, I was killing myself,

I'm knockin' myself out, gradually by degrees.


But, the very moment I looked around,

My mind said "Yack throw that gage on the ground."

The police captain said "Kill yourself!"

The police captain said "Kill yourself!"

He said, "Knock yourself out, yeah, gradually by degrees."


I used ta didn't blow gage, drink nothin' of the kind.

But, my man quit me and that changed my mind.

That's why I'm knockin' myself out,

Yes, I'm get killin' myself

I'm knocking myself out, gradually by degrees.


I'm gonna blow this jive, it's a sin and a shame.

But it's the only thing that ease my heart about my man.

When I knock myself out. Lord, when I kill myself,

I just knock myself smack out gradually by degrees.



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