Saturday, June 30, 2012

W.C. Handy And Those "St. Louis Blues"

It's been March 1916 in my head this week and what do you listen to when it's 1916? Why, W.C. Handy, of course. Known as "The Father of the Blues," Handy turned a fairly obscure regional musical style into a national phenomenon.

Among his most popular tunes were "Memphis Blues," "Beale Street Blues" and this one, "St. Louis Blues."

It's good to be inside my head this week.


Erik Beck said...

Well, now the lines "W.C. Handy won't you look down over me / Yeah I got a first class ticket / But I'm as blue as a boy can be" from "Walking in Memphis" finally make sense to me. I never knew who he was.

Mythical Monkey said...

If you were in a music store in 1916 -- probably buying sheet music, because that's where the money was -- W.C. Handy is one of the prominent names you'd see. Apparently he made something like $25,000 a year in royalties from "St. Louis Blues" for the rest of his life. Which translates into something like half-a-million in today's dollars (or more like $7.5 million in terms of the "economic power" of that amount of money according to

Some other big names -- Eubie Blake, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter. And the hit recordings were by Enrico Caruso and Al Jolson.

Oh, and the original Dixieland "Jass" Band formed in Chicago in 1916. They were a big local hit, signed a recording contract and would issue their first record in January 1917.

mister muleboy said...

So I thought this'll be great! I figured that, being in yer head, I'd make a beeline for the Redhead Wing.

Yvonne Craig and Tina Louise are bound to greet me, thinks I. Hubba hubba.

And I mean a 1960s--not 1916-- version of each.

What did I get? D.W. Griffith walked me to a room, pushed the door open and ushered me in. Closing it behind me.

And there sit Peteer Lore and Marie Dressler.


Being in the Monkey's head is, well, hit or miss. . . .

[I'll admit -- the soundtrack up there is damned fine]

mister muleboy said...

Peteer Lore

Good glove, no stick

mister muleboy said...

it was the door, not the room.
I hate iPads. And yes, the writing device *does* affect the composition.

Mythical Monkey said...

And yes, the writing device *does* affect the composition.

I've always thought so. I have two main methods of composition -- in my head on those two mile walks with the dog (then hurried typed up when I get home) or long-hand.

I suspect that's where those long, convoluted sentences come from, the leisurely conversations between the left and right sides of my brain.

Never did learn to compose anything on a keyboard other than the boilerplate aspects of my writing.

Lupner said...

Love me some good blues. Thanks, MythMonk!

Mythical Monkey said...

You're welcome, Lupner! How are you doing? Haven't seen your face for a while.