Nobody's Fault But Mine

Lyrics: Traditional/Blind Willie Johnson
Music: Traditional/Blind Willie Johnson

Played intermittently by Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead throughout their career, sometimes with lyrics, sometimes without.

The earliest versions are played much faster, and with different lyrics to the later versions. The recording on "Birth of the Dead" is credited as "traditional, arranged Grateful Dead."

Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I leave my love behind
Nobody's fault but mine

Had good love in my home
Had a good love in my home
If I leave my love behind
Nobody's fault but mine

Loves my sugar in my tea
Loves my sugar in my tea
If I leave my love behind
Nobody's fault but mine

Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I leave my love behind
Nobody's fault but mine

Love will cry when I leave
Love will cry when I leave
If I leave my love behind
Nobody's fault but mine

Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I leave my love behind
Nobody's fault but mine
The song was played most frequently in 1973-74, and by then the lyrics had changed considerably. This is the version from Dick's Picks Vol 1, credited to Blind Willie Johnson:
Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read, my soul get lost
Nobody's fault but mine

My mama she taught me how to read
My mama she taught me how to read
If I don't read, my soul be lost
Ain't nobody's fault but mine

My sister she taught me how to read
My sister she taught me how to read
If I don't read, my soul be lost
Ain't nobody's fault but mine

Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read, my soul be lost
Ain't nobody's fault but mine

Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read, my soul get lost
Nobody's fault but mine
[Garcia may have sung additional verses on other occasions (eg "I got a bible in my house") but I haven't confirmed that.]

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     live Jul 1966 Birth Of The Dead (note 1)
     studio 13 Aug 1968 Aoxomoxoa (note 2)
     21 Nov 1973 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 3
     10 Dec 1973 Download Series Vol 8
     19 Dec 1973 Dick's Picks Vol 1
     18 Jun 1974 Road Trips Number 2, Volume 3 (bonus disc) (note 3)
     29 Jul 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 2 (Bonus disc)

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

Weir-Robinson-Greene Trio Live!

Notes
(1) originally released as part of the Rhino box set The Golden Road (1965-1973), now also available separately
(2) part of "Nobody's Spoonful Jam" (no lyrics). Bonus track on Aoxomoxoa, originally released as part of The Golden Road box set, but now also available separately.
(3) jam only, no lyrics

Roots
The origins of this song aren't clear--and the lyrics the Dead sang in 1966 don't appear in any other versions I've yet found. Randy Jackson lists "Tain't Nobody's Fault But Mine" by Clara Smith as the first recording, in 1925. But it quite possibly dates back well before that.

The most popular version (and the one the Dead played in the 1970s and thereafter) was recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in 1927:
Nobody's fault but mine
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read my soul be lost

I have a Bible in my home
I have a Bible in my home
If I don't read my soul be lost

My father taught me how to read
My father taught me how to read
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

Lord, Lord
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read my soul be lost

I have a Bible in my house
I have a Bible in my house
If I don't read my soul be lost

Mother, she taught me how to read
Mother, she taught me how to read
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

Lord, Lord
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read my soul be lost

My sister she taught me how to read
My sister she taught me how to read
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

Lord, Lord
Nobody's fault but mine
If I don't read my soul be lost
(Thanks to Anita Cantor for help with this)


Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


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