Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Two Charlies - Pork Chop Blues (comments, example, lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part II of a three part series that focuses on comedic Blues songs about Black people and pork chops. This post showcases the 1936 version of this song by “The Two Charlies".

Click for Part I of this series. Part I showcases the 1927 song "Pork Chop Blues' by Sam Collins. Information about Sam Collins is also given in this post.

Click for Part III of this series. Part III showcases the 1928 song "I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop Say" by Jim Jackson.

Information about those songs is included in these posts along with information about other Blues songs that mention pork chops.

This post is also part of a pancocojams series on African American songs and rhymes about "Calling the doctor". Click that tag for other posts in that series.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to The Two Charlies for recording this song. Thanks also to Max Haymes and all others who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this sound file on YouTube.

INFORMATION ABOUT COMEDIC BLUES RECORDS ABOUT PORK CHOPS "I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop" by Max Haymes, converted to web format from the original typescript by Alan White

Note: This is a summation of portions of this essay with my comments in brackets. The lyrics to Sam Collins and The Two Charlies "Pork Chop Blues" songs which are found below in this post are also from this essay.

Max Haymes describes the Jim Jackson song about pork chops and other songs about pork chops as "comedic blues", and gives the recording dates of 1890-1943 for those songs. Although he doesn't provide any definition for this sub-genre of Blues, it appears from his comments that Haymes meant that "comedic blues" are country Blues songs that either have comedic lyrics, although sometimes those comedic lyrics may hide or allude to a more serious subject or subjects. It occurs to me that like other Blues songs, some of those comedic record titles and their lyrics may also be double entendres (a word or expression that can be understood in two different ways with one way usually referring to sex).

Max Haymes writes that there were five songs that were titled "Pork Chop Blues". The earliest of these songs is a slow Blues "by Bessie Brown "with fine tenor sax playing by a young Coleman Hawkins, aptly backed by up by Fletcher Henderson on piano. {Two verses of this song are quoted].

The essayist indicates that Bessie Brown song may have sparked the idea for the record entitled "You Can Dip Your Bread In My Gravy, Put You Can't Have Any Of My Chops", which was recorded in 1925 by Virginia Liston. That Bessie Brown song may have also inspired the Sam Collins song "Pork Chop Blues" (1927) and the Jim Jackson song "I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop Say" (1928). Haymes wrote that Sam Collins' 'Pork Chop Blues' "has a definite medicine show-cum minstrel feel about it."

A version of "Pork Chop Blues" was also recorded in 1936 by "The Two Charlies". This record was issued on a Charlie Jordan CD [Charley (Charlie) Jordan was an early Blues singer who "had some moderate success in his own right as a recording artist during his own time, in the 1930s, but he's probably better known among casual blues listeners [today]"]. However, "THE" Charlie Jordan wasn't featured on that "Pork Chop Blues" record.

Max Haymes also mentions another entirely different song entitled "Pork chop Blues" by pianist Lee Green, who also went by the names "Pork chop", "Pork Chop Jackson, "Pork Chop Johnson", and Pork Chop Green/e". Haymes suggested that Lee Green, who recorded many sessions in Chicago between 1927-1935, could have taken his name from the name of an Illinois Central freight train (mea train) meat train called "Pork Chop" that traveled from Iowa through Chicago.

Regrettably, a 1935 unissued master of a record by "Funny Paper" Smith that was entitled "Pork Chop Blues" was destroyed along with other songs from that long session.

Mex Haymes also wrote that in the early part of the 19th century it was common for hogs to be run down streets to livestock yards in many American towns (including New York City). Some hogs were also run down streets to livestock yards in many small towns up to the 1920s. Some of that livestock ran into the woods, became feral, and were hunted by poor people to help supplement their meager diets.

Ragtime Guitar (CHARLEY JORDAN) 'Pork Chop Blues'

RagtimeDorianHenry Uploaded on Mar 10, 2009

CHARLEY JORDAN (1890-1954)
As a reminder, this song was recorded by "The Two Charlies", and it appears that neither of "the two Charlies" were Charley Jordan.

(The Two Charlies)

1. Folks you oughta to know, three weeks ago, I was sick an' was about to die;
I has a stomach trouble from missin' my meals, and I was sore in my side.

2. Doctor Haigh came into the front of my bus, an' set down on my wheel*
An' just about the time when mother walked in, this is what he said.
You need some pork chop poultice an' some pork n' beans, good greasy [in your] stomach three times a day

3. If you had-a been doin' three weeks ago;
the boy been well today.

4. Well, a man is sick an' about to die
Just mix 'im up some of that potato pie.
Hear the voice of the pork chop say, 'Come unto me an' rest'
(Spoken) 'Yeah' (6)

Repeat- 1-4
*Steering wheel

Sam Collins "Pork Chop Blues" (1927) and The Two Charlies' "Pork Chop Blues" are examples of country Blues and so-called comic blues songs which were performed at Black medicine shows. Click,124,124 for information about African Americans performers in black-faced minstrel shows and in traveling medicine shows.


1."Doctor Haigh came into the front of my bus" - In his essay, Max Haymes wrote that the lyrics of the song indicates that the singer was living in a bus.

I think the last name for the doctor purposely sounded like the word "high", which added comedic effect and alluded to being "high" off of liquor and/or illegal drugs - things that may also still be used by poor people whose stomachs hurt because they are hungry.

2. "An' just about the time when mother walked in" - "Mother" here is probably the singer's wife or woman.

3. "an' some pork n' beans, good greasy" - The pork and beans should be good and greasy, meaning the pork shouldn't be lean but contain a lot of animal fat (as that has a lot of protein).

4. If you had-a been doin' three weeks ago;
the boy been well today. = If you had been doing that (eating sufficient food) three weeks ago, you [that man who was sick] would be well today.

5. "Just mix 'im up some of that potato pie." = just bake him a sweet potato pie.

6. "Hear the voice of the pork chop say, 'Come unto me an' rest'" - This line references the 1928 Jim Jackson song "I Hear The Voice Of A Pork Chop Say".

That song is featured in Part III of this pancocojams series.

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