Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Online Excerpts About The Song "Funky Butt" (Also Known As "Buddy Bolden's Blues") with YouTube examples

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a pancocojams series of the song "Funky Butt" (also known as "Buddy Bolden's Blues").

Part I presents various excerpts from online sites that provide information about the African American song "Funky Butt" (also known as "Buddy Bolden's Blues"). Some of these excerpts include lyrics.

A 1939 YouTube example of this song that is performed by Jelly Roll Morton and a later YouTube example of this song that is sung by Sidney Betchet are also included in this post along with selected comments from those sound files' discussion threads.

Click for Part II of this pancocojams series. Part II presents a variant form of "Funky Butt" called "Tampa" that was sung by folklorist and author Zora Neale Hurston from her childhood memories of growing up in Florida. A segment of a YouTube video that features that song is highlighted in this post along with my transcription of that recording.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who composed or helped influence the composition and documentation of early examples of this song. Special thanks to Jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden.
Click for a 2015 pancocojams post entitled "How "Funky" Came To Mean Something Good (African American Vernacular Meanings)"

These excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.

Excerpt #1:
"Charles Joseph "Buddy" Bolden (September 6, 1877 – November 4, 1931) was an African-American cornetist who was regarded by contemporaries as a key figure in the development of a New Orleans style of ragtime music, or "jass", which later came to be known as jazz.

Musical career
Bolden was known as "King" Bolden[4] (see Jazz royalty), and his band was popular in New Orleans from around 1900 to 1907. He was known for his loud sound and improvisational skills, and his style had an impact on younger musicians. Bolden's trombonist Willie Cornish (among others) recalled making phonograph cylinder recordings with the Bolden band, but there are no known surviving copies.[5]

Many early jazz musicians credited Bolden and his bandmates with having originated what came to be known as jazz, though the term was not in common musical use until after the era of Bolden's prominence. At least one writer has labeled Bolden the father of jazz.[6] He is credited with creating a looser, more improvised version of ragtime and adding blues; Bolden's band was said to be the first to have brass instruments play the blues. He was also said to have adapted ideas from gospel music heard in uptown African-American Baptist churches.

Instead of imitating other cornetists, Bolden played music he heard "by ear" and adapted it to his horn. In doing so, he created an exciting and novel fusion of ragtime, black sacred music, marching-band music, and rural blues.


One of the most famous Bolden numbers is "Funky Butt" (later known as "Buddy Bolden's Blues"), which represents one of the earliest references to the concept of funk in popular music. Bolden's "Funky Butt" was, as Danny Barker once put it, a reference to the olfactory effect of an auditorium packed full of sweaty people "dancing close together and belly rubbing."[8] "Funky Butt" was one of many in the Bolden repertory with rude or off-color lyrics popular in some of the rougher places where he played; Bolden's trombonist Willy Cornish claimed authorship. It became so well known as a rude song that even whistling the melody on a public street was considered offensive. The melody was incorporated into an early published ragtime number, "St. Louis Tickle.""...

Excerpt #2
1. Subject: Lyr Req: Buddy Bolden's Blues
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 08:22 PM

This is a song I learned so long ago that I've forgotten some of the lines. This is what I remember..

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say
It's nasty but, funky but, take it away
It's nasty but, funky but, take it away
I thought I heard him say

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout
Open up the window let the bad air out
Open up the window let the bad air out
I thought I heard him shout

Those are all the words I ever heard.”...

2. Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Buddy Bolden's Blues
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 09:48 PM

...."Paul Oliver, in his book "Screening the Blues," p. 168, says only the first verse of "Funky Butt" was sung originally, and other verses were added about Storyville characters as time went on. I haven't found any of these, but they might appear on various early recordings. The tune is supposed to be Bolden's.

Jelly Roll's "Buddy Bolden's Blues" [is] a late recording (1939)."...

3. Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Buddy Bolden's Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 14 Nov 14 - 01:48 PM

"Funky Butt" was a folk song known across the South. That's why Zora Neale Hurston (of Alabama and Florida) and John Hurt knew it, and why Newman White recalled hearing a folk variant in North Carolina in about 1903. (Hurston, Hurt, and White were both all born about 1892, even though Hurston sometimes falsely claimed about a decade younger.) Bolden has no special claim on "Funky Butt" in that context.

As most performed "Funky Butt," it didn't bear all that much relationship to the "blues" songs. Claims that Buddy Bolden performed blues have been mostly based on defining "blues" broadly enough to include... folk songs that he did play, such as "Careless Love." But he may have played the tune that sometimes had lyrics about "2:19," which is what we generally consider a blues tune.

The Ossman-Dudley Trio recorded "Funky Butt" as one of the strains in "St. Louis Tickle" in January 1906. If we consider "Funky Butt" a "blues," then the guitarist in that trio, George Dudley, was the first guitarist to record "blues." But simply calling "Funky Butt" a "blues" is being arbitrarily broad about what we call a "blues" -- too broad, imo."...

4. Subject: Lyr Req: BUDDY BOLDEN'S BLUES (f/Jelly Roll Morton
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Nov 14 - 06:48 PM

As sung by Jelly Roll Morton on "Last Sessions: The Complete General Recordings" (Verve, 1997)

Thought I heard Buddy Bolden say:
"You're nasty; you're dirty; take it away.
You're terrible; you're awful; take it away."
I thought I heard him say.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout:
"Open up that window and let that bad air out.
Open up that window and let the foul air out."
I though I heard Buddy Bolden say.

Thought I heard Judge Fogarty say:
"Thirty days in the market; take him away.
Get him a good broom to sweep with; take him away."
I thought I heard him say.

Thought I heard Frankie Duson shout:
"Gal, gimme that money; I'm gonna beat it out.
I mean, gimme that money like I explain ya; I'm gonna beat it out."
'Cause I thought I heard Frankie Duson say.

* * *
As sung and narrated by Jelly Roll Morton on "The Anamule Dance: The Library of Congress Recordings, Vol. 2" (Rounder, 1993)

This is like one of the earliest blues. This no doubt is the earliest blues ... the real deal, that is, a variation from the real barrelhouse blues. The composer was Buddy Bolden, the most powerful trumpet player I've ever heard, or ever was known. The name of this was named by some old honky-tonk people. While he played this, they sang a little theme to it. He was a favorite in New Orleans at the time.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say:
"Dirty nasty stinky butt, take it away.
Dirty nasty stinky butt, take it away.
Oh, Mister Bolden, play."

I thought I heard Bolden play:
"Dirty nasty stinky butt, take it away.
Funky butt, stinky butt, take it away
And let Mister Bolden play."

Later on this tune was, uh, I guess I'd have to say stolen, by some author I don't know anything about—I don't remember his name—and published under the title of "St. Louis Tickler" [sic]. But there's all the proof in the world that this tune was wrote by Buddy Bolden. Plenty old musicians know it. — Oh, this number is no doubt about nineteen-two.... [There is more talk that I have omitted.--JD]

5. Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Buddy Bolden's Blues
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Nov 14 - 07:30 PM

This is apparently the "stolen" version that Jelly Roll Morton was referring to:

[an instrumental piece scored for piano]
Music by "Barney & Seymour" *
©1904 by Victor Kremer Co.,
Copyright assigned 1912 to Harold Rossiter Music Co., Chicago.

* The catalog entry at the University of Mississippi has this annotation:
"Barney & Seymour is a pseudonym for Theron Catlan Bennett (1879-1937)"”...

6. Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Buddy Bolden's Blues
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 15 May 16 - 03:11 AM

"Version of "Funky Butt" in E. C. Perrow's notes, probably from about 1909. (See "E.C. Perrow original manuscripts online" thread.) Not included in Perrow's 1910s multipart article.

Here comes a little girl with a red dress on.
She's got pocky butt, funky butt
Shore as you born.

I thought I heard somebody shout
Open the door and let the funk out.
Pocky butt Funky butt Take it away.

I will give 8 or 10 more verses" "

Excerpt #3
"In early jam sessions, musicians would encourage one another to "get down" by telling one another, "Now, put some stank on it!". At least as early as 1907, jazz songs carried titles such as Funky. The first example is an unrecorded number by Buddy Bolden, remembered as either "Funky Butt" or "Buddy Bolden's Blues" with improvised lyrics that were, according to Donald M. Marquis, either "comical and light" or "crude and downright obscene" but, in one way or another, referring to the sweaty atmosphere at dances where Bolden's band played.[6][7] As late as the 1950s and early 1960s, when "funk" and "funky" were used increasingly in the context of jazz music, the terms still were considered indelicate and inappropriate for use in polite company. According to one source, New Orleans-born drummer Earl Palmer "was the first to use the word 'funky' to explain to other musicians that their music should be made more syncopated and danceable."[8] The style later evolved into a rather hard-driving, insistent rhythm, implying a more carnal quality. This early form of the music set the pattern for later musicians.[9] The music was identified as slow, sexy, loose, riff-oriented and danceable."...

Example #1: Jelly Roll Morton - Buddy Bolden's Blues [1939]

Morahman7vnNo2, Published on Feb 2, 2009

Jelly Roll Morton playing and singing his composition of "Buddy Bolden's Blues"
Here's information about Jelly Roll Morton:
"Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (October 20, 1890 – July 10, 1941), known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer who started his career in New Orleans, Louisiana."

Here are some selected comments from this sound file's discussion thread, with numbers added for referencing purposes only.
1. suthern, 2011
"it's interesting that this is buddy bolden's blues...there is a recording on here of zora neale hurston singing it (she calls it Tampa)...saying it was a folksong she remembered from her childhood in fl, and that everybody sang it and performed it at dances. Buddy Bolden was only 13 years older than Zora, so I doubt he was the catalyst there...anybody know how this song wound up being buddy bolden's blues?"

2. oncexist, 2011
"This is certainly not Morton's composition. Morton accredits this one to Buddy Bolden himself and says that the "St. Louis Tickler" is just a theft as somebody copyrighted it. This was after Bolden used to play it regulary by himself in Lincorn Park with his bell headed to downtown New Orleans (about 10-12 miles away)

Anyway this is what Morton tells Lomax in the congress library. Much of this series is dubious but more in the sense that Morton takes credit, not gives.

3. pianiplunker, 2011
"@oncexist I would assume it was a folk tune which Bolden popularized to his audiences. Since Bolden was institutionalized in 1907 he probably played the tune well before it was published. Although Jelly Roll Morton was a great chronicler of the underworld he was not a musicologist."

gfjchs3n1, 2011
"@IndependentGeorge76 My grandfather is Frank Duson, Jr. (correct spelling) that you have mentioned here. He had two dgts one of which is my mother. Her sister is deceased. He raised them til his death in the late 30's. Their mother died 5 yrs earlier. Heard he was a character but loved and took care of his little family which was during the early 30's. Thanks for the post. Check out Donald Marquis' book, "IN SEARCH OF BUDDY BOLDEN".
This comment refers to musician Frank Duson, who Jelly Roll Morton didn't get along with. In his version of this song, Morton characterized Duson as a pimp.

Example #2: Jelly Roll Morton-I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say

paintpot2, Published on Oct 24, 2009

I thought I heard buddy bolden say.
You're nasty, you're dirty. Take it away !
You're terrible, you're awful. Take it away.
I thought I heard him say !

I thought I heard buddy bolden shout.
Open up that window, let that bad air out !
Open up that window, let the foul air out !
I thought I heard him say !

ah mr. jelly lord !! one of morton's greatest tunes ! he sings a couple of lines and his greatness becomes immortal ! sidney bechet is fantastic on anything !
Pancocojams Editor's Note: To clarify, the singer in this sound file is Sidney Bechet, and not Jelly Roll Morton.

I'm not sure when this sound file was recorded. If you know that date, please add that information in the comments below. Thanks!

Here's information about Sidney Bechet:
"Sidney Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. He was one of the first important soloists in jazz, beating trumpeter Louis Armstrong to the recording studio by several months."

1. bengreens, 2011
"Amazing solo by Bechet here! (all the players are amazing, but man!) Thanks for posting. Time to get lost in YouTube . . . will start by following Bechet, but god knows where I'll end up.

2. RaananVolesPianist, 2013
"I think I read somewhere that the original lyrics were "I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say, you dirty, funky, nasty butt, take it away..."

3. K K, 2013
"Ranaan Voles, you're right, that was more or less the original lyrics, which I believe was banned in the city for indecency. A sad day for NOLA, which the new "noise ordinance" multiplies a millionfold."
Both Jelly Roll Morton and Sidney Bechet were Creoles from New Orleans, Louisiana (USA). Historically, Creoles of color were largely considered to be Black Americans and are largely considered to be Black Americans now.

This concludes Part I of this two part pancocojams series on the song "Funky Butt".

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment