The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #97813 Message #1930666
Posted By: Goose Gander
08-Jan-07 - 05:22 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Alabama Bound & Don't You Leave Me Here
Subject: RE: origin and lyr: Alabama Bound
Hope this helps . . . .
"Another historical landmark of blues in sheet music is 'I'm Alabama Bound,' claimed by Alabama-born, New Orleans-based mainstream theatre pianist Robert Hoffman. It was originally published in 1909 by Robert Ebberman, a clerk at the D. H. Holmes Department store on Canal Street. The cover of the original Ebberman edition notes that, although Hoffman adapted it as a'ragtime two-step,' 'I'm Alabama Bound' was also known as the 'The Alabama Blues.' The implication is that by 1909 the term blues was known to describe a distinctive folk-musical genre from which Hoffman extracted his melody.
"Paul Oliver has noted that 'Alabama Bound' was one of a song cluster which included 'Don't Leave Me Here' and 'Elder Green's in Town.' Oliver cites exemplary race recordings of it by Papa Charlie Jackson, Harvey Hull, Charlie Patton, and Henry Thomas, and there are others as well. Jelly Roll Morton claimed to have originated the tune when he 'hit Mobile in 1905,' and the relationship of Hoffman's composition to the blues Morton later recorded as 'Don't You Leave Me Here' is obvious.
"'I'm Alabama Bound' was also published in 1909 by the legendary African American concert pianist Blind Boone as one of three melodies constituting 'Boone's Rag Melody No. 2 – Strains From Flat Branch.' Robert Hoffman's version appears to have enjoyed the better measure of commercial success. Shortly after that version's initial publication, the copyright was transferred to the Music Shop, another Canal Street operation, which put out a new edition with a garish coon-song-style cover illustration. At the end of 1909 Prince's Band made a commercial recording of it, and in 1910 a vocal edition appeared with lyrics attributed to the Music Shop's proprietor, John J. Puderer. The lyrics include such blues-ready couplets as:
I'm Alabama bound, I'm Alabama bound,
I've tried to you out, I've got to turn you down.
I done told you, nigger, for to be like me
Just drink good whisky, let your cocaine be.
"According to the cover of the vocal edition, Hoffman's 'I'm Alabama Bound' was being 'sung with great success' in mainstream vaudeville by the white Rag Trio. By 1910, the title was turning up in newspaper reports from African American entertainers. On a bill with Ma Rainey at the Belmont Street Theater in Pensacola, Florida, in February 1910, "Watkins and Watkins' were 'featuring a new act written by themselves entitled 'I'm Alabama Bound.'" A couple of months later a member of Richard and Pringle's Minstrel Band complained: 'We would like to know what to do when a band of fifteen pieces under the leadership of able Fred Simpson renders standard overtures from 'Il Trovatore,' William Tell,' etc., and some admirer of classic music shouts, 'play us Alabama Bound.' Well, it must be the way of the world."
Lynn Abbott, Doug Seroff, "It Cert'ly Sound Good to Me": Sheet Music, Southern Vaudeville, and the Commercial Ascendancy of the Blues," American Music Vol. 14, No. 4 (Winter 1996), p406-408