Sunday, June 23, 2013

Professor Longhair - Tipitina (with lyrics & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases two versions of the 1954 song "Tipitina" performed by Professor Longhair. Information about Professor Longhair, lyrics to this song, and comments about the meaning of the song's title are also included in this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd (December 19, 1918 – January 30, 1980), better known as Professor Longhair, was a New Orleans blues singer and pianist. Professor Longhair is noteworthy for having been active in two distinct periods, both in the heyday of early rhythm and blues, and in the resurgence of interest in traditional jazz after the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival...

He began his career in New Orleans in 1948, earning a gig at the Caldonia Club, where the owner, Mike Tessitore, bestowed Longhair with his stage name (due to Byrd's shaggy coiffure).[3] Longhair first recorded in 1949, creating four songs (including the first version of his signature song, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," complete with whistled intro) for the Dallas, Texas based Star Talent label. His band was called the Shuffling Hungarians, for reasons lost to time. Union problems curtailed their release, but Longhair's next effort for Mercury Records the same year was a winner.[3] Throughout the 1950s, he recorded for Atlantic Records, Federal Records and other, local, labels. Professor Longhair had only one national commercial hit, "Bald Head" in 1950, credited to Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers.[3] He also recorded his pet numbers "Tipitina", "Big Chief" and "Go to the Mardi Gras".[1] However, he lacked the early crossover appeal of Fats Domino for white audiences.[1]"...

From "My Search For Tipitina- The Meaning of Tipitina" by Todd Souvignier, Tipitina Foundation, July 9, 2010
"Tipitina’s (the music club and associated Foundation) derives its name from the song “Tipitina” by Professor Longhair (Henry Roeland Byrd, aka Roy Byrd, “Fess” to his fans). Byrd wrote and recorded the song in 1953 for Atlantic Records. It featured a rumba-derived bass line and a right hand that careens from lilting tinkling to frenzied hammering. The song was a local hit in the 1950s, and eventually appeared on the 1972 “New Orleans Piano” LP.

At first glance the verses appear to be about a woman named Loberta who likes to party. The choruses seem nonsensical, with no obvious connection to the verses"...
Read Part I & Part II of that post for more interesting information & speculation about the meaning of that song. For example, here are three speculative meanings from Part I & Part II of that post for the word "Tipitina":
1. [Some say that] "Tipitina" means [to give a] tip [to the female bartender named] Tina. The impication is that men may give Tina money for something else as well.

2. Tipitina was a woman with a physical disability which caused her to walk on her "tippy toes".

3. "Professor Longhair had all these apocryphal stories about where the name 'Tipitina" came from. One was that his neighborhood pot dealer was Tipitina. She had no feet, just two stumps. And she would hobble out to the car to bring the weed out, tipping over. Her name was Tina, so she was Tippy Tina."

4 [Professor Longhair indicated that] "Tipitina" was the name of a volcano that he read had erupted in Africa. [Speculation was that the actual name of the volcano was "Krakatoa" in Hawaii].

[The first & second speculative meanings are found in Part I of that post. The third & fourth speculative meanings of "Tipitina" are found in Part II of that post:

Click both of these links for more comments about Professor Longhair's song "Tipitina".

[Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd]

Tipitina tra la la la
Whoa la la la-ah tra la la
Tipitina, oola malla walla dalla
Tra ma tra la la

Hey Loberta, oh poor Loberta
Girl you hear me calling you
Well you’re three times seven, baby
Knows what you want to do

Say Loberta, oh poor Loberta
Girl, you tell me where you been
When you come home this morning, honey
You had your belly full of gin

I'll say hurry, hurry, come on Loberta
Girl, you have company waiting for you at home
Why don't you hurry little Loberta girl, hurry
Don't leave that boy alone

Tipitina tra la la la
Whoa la la la-ah tra la la la
Tipitina, hoola malla walla dalla
Tra ma ti na na

Come on baby, we're going balling
We're gonna have ourselves a good time
We gonna hoola tralla walla malla dalla
Drink some mellow wine

©1954 word and music by Roy H. Byrd & Cosimo V. Matassa.

"Hoola malla walla dalla" is usually interpreted as "Give a girl a dollar".
"Balling" may mean "partying" (going to "balls"/dances, or where dancing occurs i.e "clubbing" (going to one or more nightclubs)AND/OR "balling" means "having sex".

Example #1: Professor Longhair - Tipitina

gugu gumbo, Uploaded on Jan 31, 2007 [video]

Professor Longhair & The Meters
Click for an interesting discussion about this performance. WARNING: As is the case with many YouTube video viewer comment threads, some comments contain profanity.

Example #2: Tipitina - Professor Longhair

TinkNorman, Uploaded on Feb 18, 2011 [soundfile]
Click for comments about this soundfile.

Click additional information about Professor Longhair. That link automatically plays the soundfile of this song that is given above.

Thanks to Professor Longhair for his musical legacy. Thanks also to the other musicians who are featured on this video. My thanks to those who I have quoted in this post, and to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

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