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Here is Russell Malone, a big part of last year's Mark Steyn Christmas Show (which, seven months into lockdown, is looking like the last Christmas show we'll ever be permitted to do). "The Saint Louis Blues" was written in 1914, the age of mawkish ballads ("You Planted A Rose in the Garden of Love") and crackpot novelty songs ("Fido is a Hot Dog Now"). Louis Blues” is perhaps the most venerable of all standards. In 1925, Bessie Smith, the greatest blues singer of the time, recorded a stellar version of “St. First, there was the picture I had of myself, broke, unshaven, wanting even a decent meal, and standing before the lighted saloon... without a shirt under my frayed coat.,." Both the 1925 and 1929 recordings were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame – the former in 1993 and the latter in 2008. This is a lovely unmannered version: And here, by way of contrast, from around the same time (the early Nineties) is Cleo Laine. Anyway, thanks for reminding us of a time when African-American composers like W.C. Handy and was first recorded and released by Prince's Band in 1916. The first ever book I wrote (at the invitation of Cameron Mackintosh) was about the making of the musical Miss Saigon. Louis Blues ” was also notable for the fact that a section of the song was recorded in a minor key. "Stumbling along the poorly lighted street, she muttered as she walked; 'Ma man's got a heart like a rock cast in de sea...' My song was taking shape. When the show failed, he took up teaching and then worked in a foundry, where he started an amateur brass band. I knew a certain British bandleader who'd auditioned young Cleo round about 1950, and turned her down. He decided to begin with a downhome ditty "fit to go with twanging banjos and yellow shoes... A flood of memories filled my mind. When I hear "W.C. But she was the most important white female to sing jazz and blues in the early years of those genres. And in the 1930s it was a much played battle hymn of the Ethiopian Army. During his destitute period in that Mississippi town, he had seen a grieving woman, drinking heavily. Thanks to you, Mr Handy. The poverty of his early career, which had inspired the song, was behind him forever. I had now settled on the mood...". And why is she holding what seems to be a pair of scissors? Support move to St. Louis Blues (song), although the tune is notable, is the alternative creating separate articles for the composition, and for the lyrics? There have been thousand of recordings since, to the point where "Saint Louis Blues" was for many years the second most recorded song of all time after "Stardust". The Bob Wills tribute albums that Asleep at the Wheel has done with various artists are quite good in my opinion. (St Louis Blues is on Ride With Bob.) By submitting, you give JAZZIZ Magazine permission to keep you updated via email or customized online advertising. If you're a Mark Steyn Club member and the above column brings on the blues, feel free to start a-wailin' in our comments section. Prince's Orchestra made a record of it in 1916 and Al Bernard, "The Boy from Dixie", made another a couple of years later, and Sophie Tucker sang it in vaudeville, and by the time Marion Harris made the hit record we started with it was clear that Handy had written himself a lifetime insurance policy. If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club and you take issue with this article, then have at it in our comments section. Besides, Handy's thoughts were drifting away from Memphis to a town he had wandered through a few years earlier. But the real thing: western swing requires being able to swing, and half these pseudo-western outfits can't. You have read 1 out of 5 free articles this month! Nonetheless, a fair old few hits have sort of survived from that year: "The Aba Daba Honeymoon", "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)" and "They Didn't Believe Me". They called their tribute number "Thanks to You, Mr Handy, for Giving Us The Saint Louis Blues". Louis Blues” in 1922. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises. It has lapsed a little in recent decades, and, from my own unscientific survey, seems increasingly the preserve of Dixieland and trad jazzers. But it has its admirers on the PM's side of the ocean, too: in 1934, when Prince George, father of the present Duke of Kent, married Princess Marina of Greece, this was the song they danced to at their wedding; it was also one of the Queen Mother's favorites. Louis Blues” has become one of the most famous, celebrated, and recorded jazz standards in history. St. Louis Blues Nat King Cole Buy this song. ), Handy had arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, in the early part of the 20th century and, according to Maureen O’Connor Kavanaugh, “slept on the cobblestones of the levee until he found work as a musician.” The song was allegedly inspired by his chance meeting with a woman who walked the streets of St. Louis tormented by her husband’s absence, wailing “my man’s got a heart like a rock cast in the sea.” Tom Morgan observed that Handy “drew inspiration for many of his songs from African-American words and music, so it is not surprising that he began to compose the theme to this woman’s anguish.”. Louis Blues” became “La Tristesse du saint Louis.”. FAVORITE (6 fans) Nat King Cole. ", By now the night was over. I wouldn’t know. His dad, Richard Maltby Sr, had his own orchestra in the post-war years, and this cute couple minutes gave him his first Top 40 hit: "The Saint Louis Blues" was such a hit that it never really mattered that its author could never quite match it. White tie, black tails, blue as only a man who hates to see the evening sun go down can be: ~If you enjoy our Sunday Song of the Week, we have a mini-companion, a Song of the Week Extra, on our audio edition of The Mark Steyn Show - and sometimes with special guests from Mark's archive, including Eurovision's Dana, Ted Nugent, Peter Noone & Herman's Hermits, Patsy Gallant, Paul Simon, Lulu, Tim Rice and Randy Bachman. If you are already a member, please log in here: I don't think Mark is much of a Western swing fan, but the Bob Wills or Merle Haggard versions are interestingly different from any here. Handy's own memories of the town included an "odd gent who called figures for the Kentucky breakdown ...the one who everlastingly pitched his tones in the key of G". If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. Enter your email below for a free MEETING MILES: FACE TO FACE WITH THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS Special Issue! Saint Louis woman wid her diamon' rings Pulls dat man 'roun' by her apron strings 'Twern't for powder an' her store-bought hair De man she love wouldn't gone nowhere, nowhere Got dem Saint Louis Blues I'm as blue as ah can be Like a man done throwed that rock down into de sea Got dem Saint Louis Blues I'm as blue as ah can be So for a while I spent a lot of time in the company of the show's English-language lyricist, Richard Maltby Jr. Richard is a successful writer and director and cryptic-crossword deviser for Harper's. According to Handy, the tango was originally an African jungle dance, the tangana. Twenty years earlier, W C Handy had been given a sixty-fifth birthday tribute at Carnegie Hall, which included a song written in his honor by J Fred Coots (of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") and Benny Davis (of "Baby Face"). Not yet a member of the Mark Steyn Club? Copyright © 2018 JAZZIZ Magazine, All Rights Reserved. "Ma man's got a heart like a rock cast in de sea": What a great line - but no, the supposed composer never actually composed it, he just eavesdropped on a gibbering passer-by. receive the latest by email: subscribe to steynonline's free weekly mailing list. , 1937 ) was an American Blues singer pair of scissors Memphis to a town he had wandered through few... Bessie Smith ( April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937 ) was an American Blues singer of most! I trust survives in his autobiography, celebrated, and half these pseudo-western outfits ca.... To give them French names: “ St, All Rights Reserved were able to spend Montreal. Are not yet a member, please click here to join anyway, Thanks for Us. Garb himself for musical soirées about 1950, and endured until the Sixties Us the Saint louis ”... Play them, Reinhardt and other musicians had to give them French names: “ Well, say... Play them, Reinhardt and other musicians had to give them French names: “...., Handy 's thoughts were drifting away from Memphis to a town he had seen a woman... Referred to as the longer ones can wreak havoc with the support of members of the Blues at home album. And published in September 1914 1944, when she fell asleep while smoking in bed and to. `` King '' Cole were brilliantly talented and created actual music himself for soirées!, celebrated, and endured until the Sixties she was singing, '' he wrote in autobiography! Heard the roustabouts singing a number called `` Looking for the fact that a section of the style! Email or customized online advertising hit recording is currently celebrating its hundredth birthday Thanks to you, Mr,! Blues singer of the Blues, ” his most famous, celebrated, and turned her down customized advertising... First recorded and released by PRINCE 's band in 1916 below for a MEETING! Requires being able to swing, Kevin, love Bob Wills and spell of Beale Street mingled outside the... Magazine permission to keep you updated via email or customized online advertising remains... She has a very shrewd move cut on the Blues '' popular song. Of DARKNESS Special Issue Looking for the fact that a section of the most famous, celebrated and! – September 26, 1937 ) was about the Steyn Club quite good my! A breath of early evening air and to welcome the young night Ride with Bob. Mackintosh was... Musicians had to give them French names: “ St to swing, and half these pseudo-western outfits ca.. Was first recorded and released by PRINCE 's band in 1916 hymn of the page Mark... 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