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The Blues, in 1884

wysiwyg 15 Jul 10 - 09:47 PM
Lighter 16 Jul 10 - 08:30 AM
Will Fly 16 Jul 10 - 09:30 AM
Lighter 16 Jul 10 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Neil D 16 Jul 10 - 12:13 PM
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Subject: The Blues, in 1884
From: wysiwyg
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 09:47 PM

An excerpt from Interrupted, originally published in 1884:

"Girls, don't you think our church is just dreadful?"

Whether it was a delicate tact, or a sweet spirit born of the last evening's experience, that led Claire Benedict to introduce that potent little "our" into her sentence, I will leave you to judge.

It had a curious effect on the girls around the stove. These bright-faced, keen-brained, thoroughly-good girls, who had lived all their lives in a different atmosphere from hers. They were good scholars in algebra, they were making creditable progress in Latin, and some of them were doing fairly well in music ; but they could no more set their hats on their heads with the nameless grace which hovered around Claire Benedict's plainly-trimmed plush one, than they could fly through the air. This is just one illustration of the many differences between them. This young lady had lived all her days in the environments of city culture; they had caught glimpses of city life, and it meant to them an unattainable fairy-land, full of lovely opportunities and probabilities, such as would never come to them. It struck every one of those girls as a peculiarly pleasant thing that their lovely music-teacher had said "our" instead of "your."

One of the less timid presently rallied sufficiently to make answer:

"Dreadful? It is just perfectly horrid! It fairly gives me the blues to go to church. Girls, mother has almost spoiled her new cashmere sweeping the church floor with it. She says she would be ashamed to have our wood-shed look as badly as that floor does. I don't see why the trustees allow such slovenliness."

The book is alternately titled Out in the World. Claire Benedict is a capable, responsible, solid young Christian woman. Everyone leans on her for support and depends on her to do much that needs to be done in her church and social circle. But then her businessman father dies unexpectedly and leaves the family almost penniless, interrupting her tranquil, fulfilling life. Written by Isabella Alden, under the pen name "Pansy."


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Subject: RE: The Blues, in 1884
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 08:30 AM

The emotional kind of blues, not the musical kind.

The name of the musical kind comes from the other, which goes back to the early 18th century.

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Subject: RE: The Blues, in 1884
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 09:30 AM

A fit of the blue devils - mentioned, as Lighter says, in literature of the early 18th century.

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Subject: RE: The Blues, in 1884
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 11:45 AM

You can't sing 'em if you ain't got 'em.

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Subject: RE: The Blues, in 1884
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 12:13 PM

It is possible that Blues music existed in 1884, well before there first appearance on records. W.C Handy describes first hearing them played in 1903. That being said, I have to agree with most here that the literary passage refers, not to the music, but to an emotional state. That usage was common well before the usage as a form of music. Besides even if the musical form did exist in 1884, and I think some prototype of it probably did, it would have been entirely unknown outside of the rural Southern African-American community.

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Mudcat time: 17 July 4:25 AM EDT

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