Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sam Collins - "Pork Chop Blues" (comments, example, lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part I of a three part series that focuses on comedic Blues songs about Black people and pork chops. This post 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".

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 Sam Collins 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.

From ttp://
"Sam Collins (August 11, 1887 – October 20, 1949)[1] who was sometimes known as Crying Sam Collins and also, according to one authoritative website,[2] as Jim Foster, Jelly Roll Hunter, Big Boy Woods, Bunny Carter, and Salty Dog Sam, was an early American blues singer and guitarist.[1]

He was born in Louisiana, United States,[1] and grew up just across the state border in McComb, Mississippi. By 1924 he was performing in local barrelhouses, often with King Solomon Hill with whom he shared the use of falsetto singing and slide guitar. He was first recorded by Gennett Records, on "Yellow Dog Blues", in 1927, and recorded again in 1931, some of his later recordings appearing under different pseudonyms. His rural bottleneck guitar pieces were among the first to be compiled on LP. His best known recording was "The Jail House Blues".[1]

He relocated to Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1930s, and died there from the effects of heart disease in October 1949, at the age of 62.[1]"

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.

'Pork Chop Blues' SAM COLLINS, Delta Blues Guitar Legend

RagtimeDorianHenry, Uploaded on Mar 19, 2009
" Pork Chop Blues "

Early country Blues...
(Sam Collins)

1. I went out west about a year ago. I taken sick an’ I like to die.
Had the rheumatism all in my chest, tuberculosis all in my side.

2. I went to the doctor, the doctor said, “Boy, what’s the matter with you?
That doctor looked around at me: I said “Doctor, what I need?”

3. The doctor shook his head and said
“You need the pork chop poultice an’ the stew an’
veg. in’ your stomach three times a day.

4. If you had been doin all the time
You’d-a been a healthy child today

5. When a man get sick and die
Stop in a swell café and get a chocolate pie
Pork chop poultice, stew an’ beans in your stomach three times a day

6. Some say that preachers won’t steal
I caught two in my cornfield
One had a bushel and the other had a bag
They both had crocus sacks around their neck
Pork chop poultice, stew an’ beans in your stomach three times a day.

7. Need a pork chop poultice, stew an’ beans in your stomach three times a day.
Do you know last time winter when the time was tough?
Pork an’ beans in the kitchen was a struttin ‘is stuff
Pork chop poultice, stew an’ beans in your stomach three times a day [5]

Source: The essayist includes the comments that Jim Jackson may have gotten the idea for his song about pork chops from "contemporary songster and bluesman Sam Collins. Born in Louisiana in 1887 (3 years younger than Jackson) Collins recorded quite extensively in 1927 and 1931. At one of his earlier sessions he cut Pork Chop Blues (Gennett 6260) which had a definite medicine show-cum minstrel feel about it."
Click,124,124 for information about African Americans performers in black-faced minstrel shows and in traveling medicine shows.

I've assigned numberrs to these comments for referencing purposes. Those comments are given in the order that the words or phrases are found in the song, but the numbers aren't necessarily the same as the line numbers.
1."I like to die" = It was like I was dying ; I almost died

2. "the pork chop poultice" - There probably wasn't an actual poultice made up of pork chops. That was made up for the purpose of this song.

3."veg." = vegetables

4."If you had been doin all the time" = If you had been doing that all the time [i.e. eating enough food]

5. "Some say that preachers won’t steal/I caught two in my cornfield" - This is a floating verse that is found in a number of African American plantation songs/early Blues, including a example in the now classic 1922 collection entitled Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise And Other Wise which was edited by Thomas W. Talley. The version in Talley's collection uses what is now known as "the n word" instead of the word "preacher".

6. "One had a bushel and the other had a bag" - In the Max Haymes article that line is given as question marks. This is my transcription of that line which is given as question marks in the Max Haymes article. Click for information about and photographs of fruit and vegetables bushels (baskets).

7. "struttin like it was king" - strutting (walking with a proud, erect gait) because it was the food that many poor people ate because it was relatively low cost
UPDATE: July 20/2014 8:20 AM: Read the comment below about the meaning of "crocus sacks" and about the real meaning of this song.

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Visitors' comments are welcome.


  1. I think in verse six the lyrics might refer to 'crocus sacks' or 'croker sacks', defined online as a Southern US expression for a burlap sack.
    This is hardly a funny song is it, despite jokes about 'pork chop poultice'?. It's a wry commentary on the links between longterm malnutrition and poor health.

    1. Hi, slam2011. Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, "crocus sacks" is the same as "burlap sacks".
      And yes, I agree that "Pork Chop Blues" isn't really a comic song but is as you phrased it so well "a wry commentary on the links between long term malnutrition and poor health."

      I plan to publish a pancocojams post soon about various African American "Call The Doctor" songs that allude to or directly refer to malnutrition. Sam Collins's "Pork Chop Blues" and The Two Charllies Pork Shop Blue" songs are two of the songs that will be featured in that post.

      I'll add a link to that post in this comment section when I publish it.