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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ella Fitzgerald - "Darktown Strutters Ball" (example, lyrics, and more)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part II of a two part series on the Jazz classic "Darktown Strutters Ball".

Part II showcases a 1936 example of "Darktown Strutters Ball" that was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb band. The lyrics of this version are included in this post.

The Addendum to this post presents two brief excerpts of biographies of Shelton Brooks and a bonus video of Shelton Brooks singing one of his other compositions, "Hole in the Wall".

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-words-darktown-and-strutters.html for Part I of this series,
Part I provides information & comments about the meaning of the words in the title "Darktown Strutters Ball". That post also provides a sound file & lyrics of that early Jazz classic, and information about the song's composer, Shelton Brooks.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Shelton Brooks, the composer of "Darktown Strutters Ball", Ella Fitzgerald, and Chick Webb & his band for their musical legacy. Thanks also to the publisher of this featured soundfile and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT "DARKTOWN STRUTTERS BALL"
From http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2011-4/thismonth/feature.php
"Just a year after [composing] Walkin' the Dog, Brooks wrote what is his most lasting hit. I suspect that even now, nearly one hundred years later, many people could still sing at least the opening phrase of the chorus; "I'll be down to get you in a taxi honey." It is no doubt his most recorded song as well. Popularized by Sophie Tucker, it may have been introduced on Vaudeville by the young lady on the cover, Blossom Seeley. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers performed it in the film, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle in 1937. It was also performed in other films including, Broadway (1942), Incendiary Blonde (1944), The Dolly Sisters (1946) and Little Boy Lost in 1953. Seeley was born Minnie Guyer, in San Francisco, California. A top vaudeville headliner, she was known as the "Queen of Syncopation" and helped bring jazz and ragtime into the mainstream of American music. She introduced the Shelton Brooks classic "Some of These Days" in vaudeville in 1910, one year before Sophie Tucker recorded it in 1911.

This is one of "ragtime's" greatest hits and it simply speaks for itself. Enjoy the music..

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SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: Darktown Strutter's Ball by Ella Fitzgerald



Fireworksandsunshine, Uploaded on Jul 29, 2011
-snip-
Here are two comments from this sound file's discussion thread.
oldtimeswinger, 2012
"The recording was made on 19 November, 1936. The backing may be by Chick Webb's Band."

**
Sovery Strange, Aug 13, 2012 in reply to oldtimeswinger
"Definitely Chick Webb:)"
-snip-
Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ella_Fitzgerald for information about African American Jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996).

Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_Webb for information about African American jazz and swing music drummer as well as band leader Chick Webb(February 10, 1905 – June 16, 1939).

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LYRICS OF THIS VERSION: DARKTOWN STRUTTER’S BLUES
(originally written by Shelton Brooks [1917], This version as sung by Ella Fitzgerald)

I'll be down to get you in a taxi honey
Better be ready 'bout half past eight
I mean don't be late
Be there when the band starts playin'
Remember when you get there honey
Dance all over the floor, dance all over my shoes
When the band plays the Jelly Roll blues
Say t'morrow night at the darktown strutters ball

[instrumental]

I'll be down to get you in a push cart honey
Better be ready 'bout half past eight
I mean don't be late
Be there when the band starts playin'

'Member when you get there honey
Shim sham wins them all
Dance all over my shoes
When the band plays the Jelly Roll's blues
Say t'morrow night at the darktown strutters ball

Source: http://www.metrolyrics.com/darktown-strutters-ball-lyrics-ella-fitzgerald.html
-snip-
This is a shortened version of the 1917 lyrics for "Darktown Strutters' Ball".

**
"Jelly Roll Blues" (The OriginalJelly Roll Blues" is a 1915 fox trot song that was composed by African American pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton. Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelly_Roll_Blues for more information about this song.

**
Notice the substitution of the "Shim Sham" dance for the two step, the buck and wing and other dances that were mentioned in the 1917 version of this song.

"The Shim Sham" originally referred to and still refers to a tap dance routine.
"If you’re at a tap event, you’ll probably see the classic Shim Sham, which is a lot like Reed’s Goofus: A single chorus routine with four counts of eight bars each. According to Valis Hill’s recent book Tap Dancing America, these sections are: the double shuffle, the crossover, the Tack Annie, and the half break (also known as “falling off the log”). Source: http://www.dancespirit.com/2010/12/the_shim_sham_a_tap_tradition/ [hereafter given as dancespirit:Shim Sham]
-snip-
However, that tap dance evolved to a social dance called the "Shim Sham Shimmy".
"In the 1930s, the Shim Sham became the Shim Sham Shimmy when a quick shoulder shake was added to the choreography. Harold Cromer, a more-than-50-year tap veteran best known as Stumpy from the famous comedy tap team Stump and Stumpy, recalls learning the Shim Sham Shimmy with the chorus girls at the Apollo in NYC. “Over the years, the Shim Sham has mutated into a simple dance,” he says. “But it used to be a sexy dance. That’s what the girls were doing: the Shim Sham Shimmy with frills and heels.” Source: dancespirit:Shim Sham
-snip-
I think that the "Shim Sham Shimmy" (and not the "Shim Sham" tap dance or the "Shimmy" shaking dance) is the dance that is referred to in that "Darktown Strutters Ball" line. Here's information about the earlier "Shimmy" dance from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimmy
"A shimmy is a dance move in which the body is held still, except for the shoulders, which are alternated back and forth. When the right shoulder goes back, the left one comes forward. It may help to hold the arms out slightly bent at the elbow, and when the shoulders are moved, keep the hands in the same position. In 1917, a dance-song titled "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" by Spencer Williams was published, as was "The Jazz Dance", which included the "Shimmy-She", among others. Flappers often performed the dance in the 1920s."
-snip-
In that Ella Fitzgerald version of "Darktown Strutters Ball", the line "Shim sham wins them all" alludes to the dancing contest or dancing contests that occurred during that Strutters' ball.

Part I of this pancocojams series provides information about this actual annual African American event in Chicago, Illinois.

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ADDENDUM: INFORMATION ABOUT SHELTON BROOKS & A VIDEO OF BROOKS SINGING ONE OF HIS COMPOSITIONS
From http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/lyricist-extraordinaire-shelton-brooks "African American Registry
Tue, 1886-05-04"
"Shelton Brooks, a popular African American music composer, was born on this date in 1886,in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada.

At about the age of 15, in 1901, he and his family moved to Detroit. Brooks sang, played piano, and performed in vaudeville and in musical comedies. He had a songwriting career and a radio show on the CBS network in the 1930s.

Brooks wrote some of the biggest hits of the first third of the 20th century. His compositions included "All Night Long," "At the Darktown Strutters' Ball," "Every Day," "Some of These Days," "Somewhere in France," "Swing That Thing," "That Man of Mine," "There'll Come A Time," and "Walkin' The Dog." Shelton Brooks died on September 6, 1975."

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From http://www.allmusic.com/artist/shelton-brooks-mn0000024890/biography
"Shelton Brooks was raised in Detroit and began his career as a ragtime piano player, initially entertaining the public in Detroit's cafes and nightclubs, then expanding his territory to include Chicago. It was right around 1909 that Brooks began to compose his own material. By this time he had also developed into an accomplished vaudeville entertainer. Brooks toured the United States of America, Canada, and the British Isles.

"Some of These Days" was published in 1910 and eventually sold more than two million units on the sheet music market. It was also destined to become a jazz standard. Barry Singer, in his biography of lyricist Andy Razaf, claims that this number was "...perhaps the landmark song of this Tin Pan Alley epoch, whereby Brooks, with sophisticated lyric colloquialism and heartfelt passion, elevated the coon song into the realm of expressive emotion." Brooks wrote "All Night Long" in 1912 and "Walkin' the Dog" in 1916. He should also be remembered as the composer of "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone."

But it was "The Darktown Strutter's Ball" that constituted Brooks' next big hit. First circulated on the vaudeville circuit, this rowdy syncopated novelty just happened to get utilized by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band at their first recording session on January 30, 1917. This first nominal jazz record sold like hotcakes, and the sheet music sales exceeded three million... It was as a performer on-stage, in movies, and on the radio that Brooks continued to circulate after he stopped composing great melodies."...

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Shelton Brooks - Hole in the Wall



Adamgswanson, Uploaded on Nov 26, 2009

Shelton Brooks, composer of "Some of These Days" and "Darktown Strutters' Ball," sings "Hole in the Wall." From a 1939 all-black film, Double Deal. The credits state Brooks also wrote another song for the movie, "Jitterbugs Cuttin' Rugs," but apparently it was cut from the film.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

Friday, October 24, 2014

What The Words "Darktown Strutters Ball" REALLY Mean

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series on the Jazz classic "Darktown Strutters Ball".

Part I provides information & comments about the meaning of the words in the title "Darktown Strutters Ball". It also provides a sound file & lyrics of that early Jazz classic, and information about the song's composer, Shelton Brooks.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/10/ella-fitzgerald-darktown-strutters-ball.html for Part II of this series. Part II showcases a 1936 example of "Darktown Strutters Ball" that was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb band. That post also includes other two brief excerpts of biographies of Shelton Brooks as well as a bonus video of Shelton Brooks singing one of his other compositions.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Shelton Brooks for his musical legacy and thanks to the other performers who are featured in sound files that are showcased in this post. Thanks also to the publisher of this featured soundfile and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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WHAT THE WORDS "DARKTOWN STRUTTERS' BALL REALLY MEAN

DARKTOWN
In the now classic 1917 song "Darktown Strutters' Ball", "darktown" is a referent for a section of Chicago where Black people lived.

In my opinion, in the context of the Jazz song "Darktown Strutters' Ball", the word "darktown" isn't racist, but a similar word "darkie" is. That said, some use of the word "darktown" is racist.

Read this comment posted by Marjorie Searl (September 12, 2011) in http://www.harmonicdissidents.org/issue-3-columns/letters-issue-3/ as a response to a question about "Is the song "Darktown Strutters' Ball" racist:
"It’s interesting and horrifying to google “Darktown” and see how many horribly racist images come up. Currier & Ives did a whole series called the “Darktown” series and it is a challenge for museums to deal with this material, although it is part of the art historical record."... http://www.harmonicdissidents.org/issue-3-columns/letters-issue-3/

It seems likely to me that the phrase "Darktown" may have been informally given to that section of Chicago as a statement of fact. And there's nothing wrong with being dark. In contrast the word "darkie" was probably coined by White people as a referent to Black people. "Darkie" has blackface minstrel origins. Unlike the word "darktown" in the song "Darktown Strutters' Ball", the word "darkie" evokes offensive stereotypes of Black people who speak in exaggerated dialects. Contrast that with the lack of dialect in the "Darktown Strutters' Ball" song and the images of Black people in that song who are wearing formal, fashionable clothing and taking a taxi to arrive at the an elite ball.

That said, I believe that nowadays it would be socially inappropriate to refer to a neighborhood or neighborhoods where Black people live as "darktown" or refer to other neighborhoods using color referents. Read additonal comments that I wrote about the word "darktown" in the pancocojams post on Blind Willie McTell - "Georgia Rag http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/10/blind-willie-mctell-georgia-rag-sound.html

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STRUTTERS
In the 1917 Jazz song "Darktown Strutters' Ball" the word "strutters" is an equivalent term for "dancers". After studying the original lyrics to that song, it seems clear to me that that word doesn't refer to a particular dance called the "Strut" that was done at that ball. Instead, the dancers competed for a prize (or prizes) by "dancing out both of their shoes" doing "the two step", "the classic buck and wing", the wooden clog", "Walkin The Dog", and probably other African American originated social dances. (The 1936 version that Ella Fitzgerald sung included the lyrics "Shim sham wins them all" meaning dancing the "Shim Sham" (the Shimmy) would win the dance competition for that couple.)

That said, it's interesting to read comments on a discussion thread of word reference forum about the meaning of "strutters" in the "Darktown Strutters Ball" song. Here's the first commeent in that discussion and one response:

blue baron, 17th July 2009 [Native language:Dutch]
"'Darktown Strutters' Ball.' is one of the earliest traditional jazz songs to become a standard. The words and music, by Shelton Brooks, were inspired by a ball at the 1915 Pacific-Panama Exposition in San Francisco.

What is the meaning of "strutter" in this title?"

**
Franzi (Native language:(San Francisco) English) 17th July 2009
"You're probably best off searching for books on jazz history. Google books has, for example, Jazz Dance by Marshall & Jean Stearns, which contains quotes like:
"He was a strutter in the cakewalk tradition and an eccentric dancer who employed legomania, a rhythmic twisting and turning of the legs."

http://books.google.com/books?id=KT-Y5ddqmTEC&printsec=frontcover

There appear to be many, many jazz groups called "The [something] Strutters".

Here is a reference to the dance (which I suppose probably preceded the use of 'strutter' as a noun for a certain kind of person): "In November 1937, Dancing Times reported a new dance craze: 'Such steps as the Shag, the Flea Hop, the Strut, and the Walk are combined with the new Big Apple.'"

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/good-questions--dragging-out-the-lobster-theory-1392545.html*

From the Online Etymology Dictionary: "To strut (one's) stuff is black slang, first recorded 1926, from strut as the name of a dance popular from c.1900. "
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=strut
-snip-
*This quote appears midway in the article and is excerpted from the response to the question "Why is New York called "The Big Apple".

Another commenter to that discussion,Eamnyc22, gave the definition of "to strut" as "to walk proudly or haughtily." That blogger also wrote that "If I had to guess, the original dance probably looked a lot more like what African-Americans today call "stepping" (the dancers are called "Steppers")"
-snip-
I disagree with that analogy unless the commenter is referring to the "strolls" (also known as "party walks") that historically Black (African American) fraternity and sorority members do. (Visit this page of my cocojams cultural website to view videos of steppin' and strolls. "The Camel Walk" is a mid to late 20th century African American originated dance form that reminds me of fraternity/sorority strolls and thus may be similar to "The Strut" dance. That movement is called "riding" when it is performed by members of the Black fraternal order The Prince Hall Shriners. Visit this page of my zumalayah blog (a blog that I admit to neglecting) for this post on "rince Hall Shriners Riding (Doing The Camel Walk)" http://zumalayah.blogspot.com/2013/05/prince-hall-shriners-riding-doing-camel.html
-snip-
But an even closer connection can be made between the 19th century Strut dance and the Cakewalk dance.

A pancocojams post on the Strut dance will be published ASAP.

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THE STORY BEHIND THE "DARKTOWN STRUTTERS BALL" SONG
From http://www.harmonicdissidents.org/issue-3-columns/letters-issue-3/, posted by TheProf, January 11, 2012 [excerpt]
"The “Darktown Ball” was, in fact, a real event, but it did not start out as being for the higher classes. It was originated by the ladies of the evening in the Darktown area of Chicago. They decided to create the ball as their way of showing that, for at least 1 night per year, they were just as good as everyone else. It was by invitation only and, over time, became THE most sought after ticket. Even the Major of Chicago could not attend without an invitation.

The composer was Shelton Brooks, a black man who was celebrating the event and the fact that it had become such an important part of the city’s history..."
-snip-
The word "ball" is still used to refer to a formal event where dancing is the main activity. Almost always balls include eating a catered meal, drinking alcoholic beverages, and being entertained by some performance act or acts. (Notice the reference to the "Baby Dolls" that is given in the original lyrics to this song. My guess is that the "Baby Dolls" were a group of young women who performed some kind of dance act on stage.)

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SHOWCASE VIDEO: "The Darktown Strutters' Ball" The American Quartet 1918 (with lyrics)



Brent Abrahamson, Published on Jul 30, 2013

It's a Southbridge Old Time Radio Nostalgia Song.

"The Darktown Strutters' Ball" American Quartet 1918 (with lyrics)
-snip-
Southbridge Old Time Radio is from Southbridge, Massachusetts.
**
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Quartet_(ensemble)
“The American Quartet was a four-member vocal group that recorded for various companies in the United States between 1899 and 1925".
-snip-
Those vocalists were Anglo-American.
**
"Darktown Strutters' Ball" begins at 1:44 in this sound file.

The words to that song are superimposed on the screen and are found below.

**
Here's my transcription of the radio host's introductory comments:
"This is Brent Abrahamson your host on Southbridge Old Time Radio.

As we look back at very old songs in our American history, we’re faced with a significant problem –How do we deal with ethnic songs, songs sung in dialect? It’s not a pleasant part of our music history to explore. Yet, it is one which we should not forget. Some recordings from the early 20th century were indeed filled with racial stereotypes. They were even known as “coon songs”. Some belong in the dust bin of history.

Smash hits such as the "Darktown Strutters Ball" may deserve special recognition. First of all the song was written by a Canadian, the Black composer Shelton Brooks. Second, it depicts an African American annual event in Chicago when people got all dressed up and let themselves go, refusing to play the second class citizen that society had assigned them to, at least for one night. It reflects an attitude that signaled determination to break the bonds. Finally, it’s a catchy tune. The American Quartet clearly had fun singing it. And, it’s been recorded, minus the dialect many times since. So with all that said, Here is the American Quartet 1918 with Dark Town Strutters Ball.
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell. Additions and corrections are welcome.

For the most part I agree with Brent Abrahamson's comments. To be clear, I don't consider the use of the word "darktown" in that song to be racist. However, Black composed songs about Black people can be offensive- Ernest Hogan's "All Coons Look Alike to Me" is just one example.

Also, when Brent Abrahamson says that [Darktown Strutters Ball has "been recorded, minus the dialect many times", I think that by "dialect", he means African American vernacular words such as "highbrowns". That isn't what I think of when I hear or read the word "dialect".
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THE LYRICS TO "DARKTOWN STRUTTERS BALL"

Words and Music by SHELTON BROOKS
Published 1917, by Will Rossiter

[Verse 1.]
I've got some good news Honey,
An invitation to the Darktown Ball,
It's a very swell affair,
All the "highbrowns" will be there,

I'll wear my high silk hat, and a frocktail coat,
You wear your Paris gown. and your new silk shawl,
There ain't no douby about it babe,
We'll be the best dressed in the hall.

[Chorus]
I'll be down to get you in a Taxi honey,
You better be ready about half past eight,
Now dearie don't be late,
I want to be there when the band starts playing.

Remember when we get there,Honey,
the two steps I'm goin' to have em all,
Goin' to dance out both my shoes:
When they play the "Jelly Roll Blues,"
Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutter's Ball.


[Verse 2.]
We'll meet our hightoned neighbors,
an exhibition of the "Baby dolls,"
And each one will do their best,
Just to outclass all the rest,

And there'll be dancers from ev'ry foreign land,
The classie, buck and wing, and the wooden clog:
We'll winn that fifty dollar prize,
When we step out and "Walk the Dog."

[Chorus]

From http://parlorsongs.com/content/d/dktownstrutters-lyr.php

Those same lyrics are also found on http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/c/chet_atkins/darktown_strutters_ball.html. That page also provides some explanations of some of those lyrics but doesn't give any explanations for the word "darktown" or "strutters".

One of the terms it does explain is "highbrown" -"Either light-skinned or well-to-do African-Americans. Compare with 'high-yellow" as a designation for persons of mixed race, and lighter complexion".

For what it's worth, I think that "highbrown" originally meant a light skinned Black person, but in the context of this record means a well-to-do Black person. Note that because of various reasons, until at least the mid 20th century, light skin color was generally considered a criteria of elitism for African Americans. I also think that the word "hightones" probably has the same meaning.

Another phrase that that site explains is "Walking the Dog" -
The composer of this song ["Darktown Strutters Ball"] Shelton Brooks also wrote a song and invented a dance known as Walkin' the Dog. The lyrics to the song describe how to do the dance"a song that Shelton Brooks wrote in 1916".
-snip-
Click http://parlorsongs.com/content/w/walkinthedog-lyr.php for the lyrics to Shelton Brooks' Walkin' The Dog".

By the way, besides its title and the fact that the song is about a "new dance craze", and the song includes some dance instructions, Shelton Brooks's "Walkin The Dog" is nothing like the Rufus Thomas' 1963 song of the same name.

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ADDENDUM - INFORMATION ABOUT SHELTON BROOKS
Here are links to two biographies of Shelton Brooks and brief excerpts from those websites.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelton_Brooks
"Shelton Brooks (May 4, 1886 – September 6, 1975) was a Canadian composer of popular music and jazz,[1] who wrote some of the biggest hits of the first third of the 20th century"...

Brooks' works include Some of These Days, At the Darktown Strutters' Ball,[3] I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone, Every Day, All Night Long, Somewhere in France, Swing That Thing, That Man of Mine, There'll Come A Time, and Walkin' the Dog."

****
From http://jass.com/sheltonbrooks/brooks.html
"Shelton Brooks was born to Native American & Black parents in Amherstburg, Ontario, on May 4, 1886...

Along with W. C. Handy and William Grant Still, the dean of black classical composers, Brooks was honored in San Francisco at the ASCAP-sponsored Festival of American Music in 1940. He died in Los Angeles on September 6, 1975."

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Visitor comments are welcome.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blind Willie McTell - "Georgia Rag" (sound file & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a 1931 sound file of "Georgia Rag" by Blind Willie McTell. My transcription of the lyrics to this song are also included in this post along with my comments about the meaning of some of those lyrics.

The Addendum to this post provides some information about Rags [music].

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Blind Willie McTell for his musical legacy. Thanks also to the publisher of this video.

RELATED LINK
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/10/blind-blake-wabash-rag-sound-file-lyrics.html for a pancocojams post on Blind Blake's 1927 record "Wabash Rag". That song served as the prototype for Blind Willie McTell's "Georgia Rag".

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SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: Georgia Rag (Blind Willie McTell, October 1931) Ragtime Guitar Legend



RagtimeDorianHenry, Uploaded on May 22, 2009

"Georgia Rag " (October 1931)
-snip-
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Willie_McTell
"Blind Willie McTell (born William Samuel McTier; May 5, 1898 – August 19, 1959) was a Piedmont and ragtime blues singer and guitarist."...

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LYRICS: GEORGIA RAG
(Blind Willie McTell)

Down in Atlanta on Harris Street
That's where the boys and gals do meet
Doin' that rag, that Georgia Rag

Out in the alley, in the street
Every little kid that you meet
Doin that rag, that wuh* Georgia Rag
[Spoken] Sing that Georgia Rag, boy.

[instrumental]

[Sung] Buzz around like a bee
Shake it like a ship on the sea
That wild Rag, that crazy Rag
Better known as the Georgia Rag

Came all the way from Paris, France.
Come in to Atlanta to get a chance.
Doin' that rag, that Georgia Rag

[Spoken words something like "Put it a little bit on it”]

[Instrumental]

{Sung] That Georgia Rag
Grab me mama and hold me tight
Let's mess around the rest of the night
Doin' that rag. That Georgia Rag
[Spoken] Sing that Georgia Rag!

[Sung] I sure like that Georgia Rag
I’m wild about that Georgia Rag
I mean that Georgie Rag, Georgie Rag

Buzz around like a bee
Shake it like a ship on the sea
That wild Rag, that crazy Rag
Better known as the Georgia Rag
[Spoken: I wouldn’t. That makes me feel good right in there]

[Instrumental]

[Sung] Rustle your head way up high
Grab your daddy and make him cry
Doin that Rag, that rag
That Georgia Rag.

I’m wild about that Georgia Rag
I mean that Georgie Rag, Georgie Rag

Why don’t you buzz around like a bee
Shake it like a ship on the sea
That wild Rag, that crazy Rag
Better known as the Georgia Rag

Spoken: Ah pull it now.

[instrumental]

Sung: Ah you shake it like a ship on the sea
And buzz around like a bee.
Ah, that wild Rag, that crazy Rag
Better known as the Georgia Rag

People come from miles around
Come to darktown to break it down
Doin' that rag, that Georgia Rag
Out in darktown night and day
Trying to dance them Blues away

[Spoken] Alright now boy, sang ‘em?

[instrumental]

That wild Rag, that crazy Rag
Better known as that Georgia Rag

Ah, I went back to Newport News
Singin these doggone Atlanta Blues
Doin that Rag, that Georgia Rag

[Spoken] – Alright now, play ‘em.

[instrumental]

[Sung] Why don’t you buzz around like a bee
Shake it like a ship on the sea
That wild Rag, that crazy Rag
Better known as the Georgia Rag
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell. Additions and corrections are welcome.

Explanations for certain words & phrases.

"Mama" = a female who is man's lover

"Daddy = a man who is a female's lover

"break 'em down" (break them down) = dance really good
I think that the word "them" in "break 'em down" refers to the dance moves.

When you break something down, you take something apart in order to know how it works. As a result of that action, you should understand it better than before. I think that in the same way, if you break down a dance, you know how to do it better than ever.
I think that the word "them" in "break 'em down" refers to the dance moves.

"that wild Rag, that crazy Rag" = uptempo music that people dance to frenetically, or at least in ways that are the opposite of sedate.

"Shake it like a ship on the sea" = "it" refers to your butt and/or your hips

"Rustle your head way up high = "shake your head while you hold it up high (don't look down)

"Newport News" = a city located in the state of Virginia

"Darktown" - a referent for a section of Chicago where Black people lived. In my opinion, in the context of the Jazz song "Darktown Strutters' Ball", the word "darktown" isn't racist, but a similar word "darkie" is. That said, some use of the word "darktown" is racist.

Nowadays it would be socially unacceptable to refer to any section of a town as "darktown", not to mention that it's illegal to prohibit people from living where they want to because of their race, ethnicity, religion etc. That said, for various reasons including economic and choice, most major cities in the United States still have neighborhoods in which all or the majority of the residents are Black.

The use of "darktown" almost certainly came from the hit 1917 Jazz song "Darktown Strutters' Ball", which was written by Black composer Shelton Brooks. A post about that song will be published ASAP. Read additional comments about that word in this pancocojams post on Darktown Strutters' Ball" http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-words-darktown-and-strutters.html

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ADDENDUM: INFORMATION ABOUT "RAGS" (RAGTIME MUSIC)
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragtime
"Ragtime (alternatively spelled rag-time or rag time)[1] is a musical genre that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918.[2] Its main characteristic trait is its syncopated, or "ragged," rhythm...

Ragtime originated in African American music in the late 19th century, descending from the jigs and march music played by African American bands.[13] By the start of the 20th century, it became widely popular throughout North America and was listened and danced to, performed, and written by people of many different subcultures. A distinctly American musical style, ragtime may be considered a synthesis of African syncopation and European classical music, especially the marches made popular by John Philip Sousa.

Some early piano rags are entitled marches, and "jig" and "rag" were used interchangeably in the mid-1890s.[13] Ragtime was also preceded by its close relative the cakewalk. In 1895, black entertainer Ernest Hogan published two of the earliest sheet music rags...

The emergence of mature ragtime is usually dated to 1897, the year in which several important early rags were published. In 1899, Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" was published and became a great hit and demonstrated more depth and sophistication than earlier ragtime. Ragtime was one of the main influences on the early development of jazz (along with the blues). Some artists, such as Jelly Roll Morton, were present and performed both ragtime and jazz styles during the period the two genres overlapped. He also incorporated the Spanish Tinge in his performances, which gave a habanera or tango rhythm to his music.[17] Jazz largely surpassed ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920s, although ragtime compositions continue to be written up to the present, and periodic revivals of popular interest in ragtime occurred in the 1950s and the 1970s."
-snip-
Note that Blind Blake's "The Wabash Rag" (and Blind Willie McTell's "Georgia Rag" which copied that song) focus on the dance that is done to the Rag music, and not the music itself.
Blind Willie McTell's song describes the type of dancing that was done to his song more than Blind Blake does.

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Blind Blake - The Wabash Rag (sound file & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a sound file of Blind Blake (Arthur Blake)'s 1927 recording "The Wabash Rag". My transcription of the lyrics to this song are also included in this post along with my comments about the meaning of some of those lyrics.

The Addendum to this post provides some information about Rags [music].

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Blind Blake for his musical legacy. Thanks also to the publisher of this video:

RELATED LINK
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/10/blind-willie-mctell-georgia-rag-sound.html for a pancocojams post on the Blind Willie McTell's record "Georgia Rag". Blind Blake's "Wabash Rag" served as the prototype for "Georgia Rag".

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SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: Wabash Rag (Blind Blake, November 1927) [Remastered]



RagtimeDorianHenry, Uploaded on May 14, 2009

* Wabash Rag
* Blind Arthur Blake (Guitar / Vocal)
* November 1927
-snip-
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Blake
"Arthur "Blind" Blake (1896 – December 1, 1934) was an American blues and ragtime singer and guitarist. He is known for his series of recordings for Paramount Records between 1926 and 1932 and the mystery surrounding his life."...
-snip-
This isn't the same artist as the Calypso performer Blake Alphonso Higgs who was also known as "Blind Blake".

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LYRICS: THE WABASH RAG
(Arthur Blake,aka "Blind Blake")

Instrumental

Down south on Wabash Street
Everybody you chance to meet
Doin' that Rag, that Wabash Rag.

They're doin' it night and day.
See if it will drive your Blues away.
Doin' that Rag, that Wabash Rag.

Every little kid that you meet
In the alley in the street
Doin' that Rag, that Wabash Rag

Stand up stand up stand up
Stand up standup stand up
Stand up stand up stand up
Stand up standup stand up
Doin' that Rag, that Wabash Rag

[instrumental]

Grab me, mama. Hold me tight.
Let's mess around the rest of the night
Doin' that Rag, that Wabash Rag

Throw your hands way up high
Grab me mama. Make me cry.
Doin that Rag, That Wabash Rag

Stand up, stand up stand up
Stand up, stand up stand up
Stand up, stand up stand up
Stand up.

Stand up, stand up stand up
Stand up, stand up stand up
Doin that Rag, that Washbash Rag

People come from miles around
Get on Wabash, break ‘em down
Doin' that Rag, that Wabash Rag

Anybody stand up.
Last time for standing.

[instrumental]

Doin that Rag, that Wabash Rag.
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell. Additions and corrections are welcome.
-snip-
Explanations of certain words or phrases:
"mama" = female who is man's lover

"stand up" = get up (stand up) and dance
Last time for standing = Last chance to dance

"break 'em down (break them down) = dance really good
I think that the word "them" in "break 'em down" refers to the dance moves.

When you break something down, you take something apart in order to know how it works. As a result of that action, you should understand it better than before. I think that in the same way, if you break down a dance, you know how to do it better than ever.
-snip-
In the United State it's socially incorrect now for performers' stage namee to refer to a physical condition, except perhaps for height (for instance Hip Hop artists whose stage names include the word "Lil" (Little).

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ADDENDUM: INFORMATION ABOUT "RAGS" (RAGTIME MUSIC)
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragtime
"Ragtime (alternatively spelled rag-time or rag time)[1] is a musical genre that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918.[2] Its main characteristic trait is its syncopated, or "ragged," rhythm...

Ragtime originated in African American music in the late 19th century, descending from the jigs and march music played by African American bands.[13] By the start of the 20th century, it became widely popular throughout North America and was listened and danced to, performed, and written by people of many different subcultures. A distinctly American musical style, ragtime may be considered a synthesis of African syncopation and European classical music, especially the marches made popular by John Philip Sousa.

Some early piano rags are entitled marches, and "jig" and "rag" were used interchangeably in the mid-1890s.[13] Ragtime was also preceded by its close relative the cakewalk. In 1895, black entertainer Ernest Hogan published two of the earliest sheet music rags...

The emergence of mature ragtime is usually dated to 1897, the year in which several important early rags were published. In 1899, Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" was published and became a great hit and demonstrated more depth and sophistication than earlier ragtime. Ragtime was one of the main influences on the early development of jazz (along with the blues). Some artists, such as Jelly Roll Morton, were present and performed both ragtime and jazz styles during the period the two genres overlapped. He also incorporated the Spanish Tinge in his performances, which gave a habanera or tango rhythm to his music.[17] Jazz largely surpassed ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920s, although ragtime compositions continue to be written up to the present, and periodic revivals of popular interest in ragtime occurred in the 1950s and the 1970s."
-snip-
Note that Blind Blake's "The Wabash Rag" (and Blind Willie McTell's "Georgia Rag" which copied that song) focus on the dance that is done to the Rag music, and not the music itself.

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Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.