Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jim Jackson - "I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop Say" (comments, example, lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part III of a three part series that focuses on comedic Blues songs about Black people and pork chops. This post Part III showcases the 1928 song "I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop Say" by Jim Jackson.

Information about Jim Jackson and the lyrics to that song are included in the summary statement prepared by the publisher of the featured YouTube sound file of that song.

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 II of this series. Part II showcases the 1936 version of this song by “The Two Charlies".

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

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Jim Jackson for his musical legacy. 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). 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.

Jim Jackson - I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop


rombusrockeria, Published on Dec 20, 2012

Jim Jackson (c.1884-1937) was a blues and hokum singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Mississippi, whose recordings in the late 1920s were popular and influential on later artists. This comical medicine show song was first recorded for Victor (unissued) in Memphis, Tennessee in January of 1928. [For an essay on this song, see]

[Editor's Note: That link is the same as the Max Haymes essay whose link is given above]

Spoken: Ah! Don't that sound good? It sounds good to me. It's just like somethin' good to drink. It's alright with me. I know that's playin' good.

Vocal: 1. I walked an' I walked, an' I walked an' I walked;
I stopped for to rest my feet.
I sit down on an old oak tree, there went fast asleep;
I dreamt I was sittin' in a swell café as hungry as a bear.
My stomach sent a telegram to my soul: 'There's a wreck on the road somewhere'.

Refrain: I heard the voice of a pork chop say 'Come unto me an' rest';
Well, you talk about your stewin' beans, I know what's the best.
Well, you talk about your chicken, ham an' egg, turkey stuffed an' dressed;
But I heard the voice of a pork chop say: 'Come unto me an' rest'
Yeh! I heard the voice of a pork chop say: 'Come unto me an' rest'.

Ref: Well, you talk about your stewin' beans, etc.

Spoken: Ah! Stir it up now. Ah! Don't that sound good? Ah! Stir it up.

Repeat 1.

Ref: I heard the voice, etc.

Spoken: Oh! Ah! Ain't that soundin' good? Oh! Play it, man. Don't I do that thing?

Ref: I heard the voice, etc.

Spoken: Aw! Ain't that nice? Lord, it's nice to be nice when you can be nice.

The Max Haymes essay provides interesting information about the history of African American songs and sermons in the 1920s that use the Biblical verse "I heard the voice of Jesus say/come unto me and rest" (Matthew 11:28 King James Version). And Haymes suggests that the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet 1929 recording of "I Heard The Voice..." which had a "jaunty piano accompaniment ...a much quicker tempo, [and included the bass singer's] brief scat vocal" instead of the typical slow, lining out style that Black Quartet groups had previously used was because of Jim Jackson's 1928 "I Heard The Voice of A Pork Chop" song.

With regard to that Jim Jackson song, Max Haymes wrote "Jackson’s “Pork Chop” is not so much a parody of the religious number as a brilliant adaptation of it into a quite subtle (at that time) protest song about starvation or at least a general lack of sufficient food, experienced by many of his black audience".

Here are a few other comments about that song:

The lyrics "There's a wreck on the road somewhere" refer to a hog being road kill [being accidentally killed by a car which was being driven on the road.]

"stewin' beans" - stewin' beans is the same as pork and beans.

"turkey stuffed an' dressed" - turkey stuffed with "dressing" (cornbread dressing or other types of "stuffing" that is put inside the turkey for baking.)

"Ah! Don't that sound good? - I think that this refers both to the food and to Jim Jackson's performance. "Ain't that soundin' good?, "Don't I do that thing?", and "Aw! Ain't that nice? Lord, it's nice to be nice when you can be nice" also are self praising statements.

That custom of big upping" yourself within the song is also found in Hip-Hop, and probably other genres of Black music (for instance Calypso?).

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