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Origins: Early Blues Songs

GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Rcihie 27 Feb 11 - 07:43 PM
GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Richie 27 Feb 11 - 09:39 PM
josepp 27 Feb 11 - 11:10 PM
TinDor 28 Feb 11 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,Richie 28 Feb 11 - 11:21 PM
GUEST,Rcihie 28 Feb 11 - 11:45 PM
Gibb Sahib 01 Mar 11 - 01:35 AM
Billy Weeks 01 Mar 11 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Richie 01 Mar 11 - 08:20 AM
Lonesome EJ 01 Mar 11 - 12:05 PM
josepp 01 Mar 11 - 12:09 PM
Lonesome EJ 01 Mar 11 - 12:20 PM
Lonesome EJ 01 Mar 11 - 12:41 PM
Darowyn 01 Mar 11 - 12:49 PM
Gibb Sahib 01 Mar 11 - 01:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Mar 11 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Richie 02 Mar 11 - 12:03 AM
Bobert 02 Mar 11 - 10:14 PM
GUEST 03 Mar 11 - 12:04 AM
GUEST,Richie 03 Mar 11 - 12:20 AM
GUEST,Richie 03 Mar 11 - 12:29 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 18 Dec 16 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,harpgirl 17 Jul 17 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Jul 17 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 29 Jul 17 - 12:25 PM
Amos 29 Jul 17 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Lighter 30 Jul 17 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 31 Jul 17 - 10:10 PM
meself 01 Aug 17 - 12:08 AM
Joe Offer 01 Aug 17 - 02:35 AM
David Carter (UK) 01 Aug 17 - 05:53 AM
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Subject: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 07:17 PM

Hi,

What do you think the first blues songs were? Please include a date and source if possible.

They can be 8 bar (AB), 12 bar (AAB) or 16 bar (AAAB)

I'll include 3 of mine:

Careless love AAAB; (WC Handy 1888) circa 1880
Joe Turner (Joe Turner Blues) AAB (WC Handy 1895) circa 1885
Alabama Bound AABA; or AAB (as Elder Green) Early 1900 pub circa 1905

This info is from memory so...

Do you agree?

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 07:24 PM

Also will consider gospel songs with the same form:

Do you hear church bell a -tonin'?
Do you hear church bell a -tonin'?
My time ain't long, my time ain't long.

AAB

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Rcihie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 07:43 PM

I assume that Alabama Bound was first published in 1908 altho Morton claimed he wrote/knew it in 1905:

"Some years later Gates Thomas published his own, fuller version that included Alabama Boun' with Elder Green verses, which he dated at 1908."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 08:14 PM

From South Texas in 1890 Gates Thomas recalled a song called "Nobody There," with the following single stanza:

That you, *sinner man, knockin' at my door?
Hear me tell you, *sinner man, "Nobody there no more."

*Edited


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 08:26 PM

Here's a partial transcription- original transcribes by JJ Niles in 1898

BLACK ALFALFA'S JAIL-HOUSE SHOUTING BLUES

Ophelia Simpson, composer. Kentucky, 1898.

I ain't got not a friend in dis town,
I ain't got not a friend in dis town,
'Cause my New Orleans partner done turned me down.

Po' gal wishin' for dat jail-house key,
Po' gal wishin' for dat jail-house key,
To open up de door and let herself go free.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 08:29 PM

Info about last artist:

Simpson, Ophelia

According to John Jacob Niles, Ophelia Simpson was the first "shouter" in the Ohio Valley to be accepted and paid. Niles credited shouters' singing as a style of ancient origin, calling it "coon-shouting." It had two distinct styles: sacred shouting and the shouted moaning in blues and ballads. The singing technique had voice-breaks, slides, and high, rasping wails. Ophelia Simpson's shouting was new and novel and most effective when she sang the blues in Dr. Parker's Medicine Show. She was also the cook and helped prepare Parker's tapeworm eradicator. Ophelia Simpson was married to Henry (Dead Dog) Simpson, who worked at the fertilizer factory near Louisville, KY. In the winter of 1898 the Simpsons had a disagreement, and Ophelia killed Henry. While in jail, she wrote the long remembered ballad, Black Alfalfa's Jail-House Shouting Blues. After her release from jail, the name Ophelia Simpson was lost in time. For more see J. J. Niles, "Shout, Coon, Shout!" Musical Quarterly, vol. 16 (1930), pp. 516-521.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 09:26 PM

From WC Handy is a twelve-bar blues with the line, "Got no mo' home dan a dog," repeated three tines. Instead of an instrumental response, the quartet extended the word "dog" and added the exclamation "Lawd" at the end of the first and second line.

Got no mo' home dan a dog, Lawd
Got no mo' home dan a dog, Lawd
Got no mo' home dan a dog.

Performed in quartet WC Handy joined around 1890 in Florence, Alabama, it was adapted from a twelve-bar guitar blues.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 09:39 PM

East St. Louis- AB- Eight bar- WC Handy circa 1892


In 1941 Handy recalled that in 1892 he "heard shabby guitarists picking out a tune called 'East St. Louis.' It had numerous one-line verses and they would sing it all night: 'I walked all the way from old East St. Louis, And I didn't have but one po' measly dime. That one line was an entire stanza." The tune that Handy prints is a typical eight-bar blues tune, here's Blind Willie McTell's version:


I walked all the way from East Saint Louis
I never had but that one, one thin dime

I laid my head in a New York woman's lap
She laid her little cute head in mine

She tried to make me bleed by the rattlings of her tongue
The sun would never, never shine

I pawned my sword and I pawned my chain
Well I pawned myself but I fell to shame

I tried to see you in the fall
When you didn't have no man at all

I'd love to meet you in the spring when the bluebird's almost ready to sing
Faree, honey, faree well

You can shake like a cannon ball, get out and learn that old Georgia crawl
Faree, honey, faree well

(play it boy...)

And I laid my head in a barroom door
And I can't get drunk, drunk no more

Now if you can't do the sugary get yourself on out of this house to me
Faree, baby, faree well

I tried to see you in the spring when the bluebird's almost ready to sing
Faree, honey, faree well

And I walked on back to East Saint Louis
Never had but that one, one thin dime


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: josepp
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 11:10 PM

I've always wondered if "Out on the Western Plain" might qualify as an early AAB blues. A lot of cowboys were black and I learned the song from listening to Lead Belly.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: TinDor
Date: 28 Feb 11 - 02:56 AM

interesting thread!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 28 Feb 11 - 11:21 PM

Some blues ballads may also fit the form: Railroad Bill, or Stagger Lee.

There's also a connection with blues and the English Music Hall tradition.

Some rural blues singers like Big Joe Williams and maybe Furry Lewis go back in to the 1800s.

I always thought Crow Jane to be an earlt 1900s blues,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Rcihie
Date: 28 Feb 11 - 11:45 PM

Here's a quote from online- notice the English Music Hall was singing songs about your "doney" or "donah" back in the 1800s:

GUS ELEN sang songs in the character of a cockney coster. Elen was a genuine cockney and his songs were truer to life than the more sentimental numbers of his closest rival, Albert Chevalier. As pictures of Elen show, his characters appeared bad tempered and pugnacious. Born in Pimlico in 1862, Elen had worked as a barman, a draper's assistant and had packed eggs for the Co-op before becoming a singer. At first he busked in the street and at small music halls. His first big success was in 1891 with a song called 'Never introduce your Donah to a pal' ('donah' meaning girlfriend).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 01:35 AM

Hi Richie

Good question -- I'll follow this thread with interest.

I wonder if you or someone else with some expertise wouldn't mind defining what is to be considered "blues." I don't mean to start a debate about how to define blues, I mean just for the purpose of this particular historical investigation. Is it a style of singing, or a verse form, or chord progression or a labeled category or lyrical content, or what?

When is it generally (or when do you) consider Blues to exist as a fairly distinct genre from other stuff from which it came. Please forgive me and, if necessary, ignore me if the question is just to hackneyed to require response. However, it would help me to understand and "fit" the references you have made to as far back as 1880.

I for one would be interested in some more historical context of the songs you are naming, for example who WC Handy was writing and performing for in 1880 and how "Careless Love" was appreciably different from styles of music that preceded it. Thanks

Gibb


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 06:33 AM

An aside: Nat Ayer's 1912 song 'You're My Baby' has a 12-bar verse recognisable as the common 'Frankie and Johnnie'tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 08:20 AM

Hi,

WC handy called Careless Love one of the first blues (I'll find a quote later) and played a version in 1888.

It's a 16 bar song with three repeated verse which Handy said was shortened to form the standard 12 bar blues

Sorrow, sorrow to my heart
Sorrow, sorrow to my heart
Sorrow, sorrow to my heart
Now my love and I did part.

Whether this is a blues is a matter of debate. Other white (could be black or white origin) blues from a similar time period would include Little Maggie/ Darling Corey/ Country Blues/ Hustlin' Gamblers/Wild Bill Jones type songs. Most of these feature flat seventh notes and are in mixolydian mode.

The song above from Texas heard by Gates thomas in 1890 was sung in a blues style with a pentatonic scale.

Certainly English Music Hall songs weren't blues but they had an influence on blues showing the borrowing of elements that make up a style. The coon songs/ minstrel songs/ tin pan alley songs all contributed to the genre directly or indirectly.

Mainly we're looking at 12 bar or 8 bar songs (Crow Jane) even if the 16 bar was the original form as Handy mentioned.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 12:05 PM

Very intrigued by the genre term "coon-shouting." Are there recorded examples of this?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: josepp
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 12:09 PM

I always understood coon-shouting to be when a white man sang like a black man. Emmett Miller was a coon-shouter as was Bing Crosby. But there certainly may have been other applications of the word.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 12:20 PM

Richie credits Niles with saying The singing technique had voice-breaks, slides, and high, rasping wails. All of the "coon shouter" videos on Youtube seem to be white people singing vaudeville versions of ragtime blues ( Sophie Tucker doing After You've Gone), and the technique displayed contains very little of slides and rasping wails. Now, the style might have been considered radical in its era, but sounds pretty contrived and theatrical today.
I'd love to hear the original source material.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 12:41 PM

This is one of the earliest black artist blues recordings that I found on Youtube, dating from 1923, by Lena Wilson and the Kansas City 5, with some great barrelhouse piano. The vocal styling is pretty subdued but very tasty.
Chirpin' the Blues


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Darowyn
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 12:49 PM

I'd recommend a step further back.
A West African student came into the lecture room when I was playing some Robert Johnson songs once.
When I told him who it was, he said "I just thought it was some people from Mali"
Here's some Malian Music. Slides and wails galore!
Sibiri Samake
I've also seen it explained that "Shout" means something different in Mandinka and other West African languages- namely a circle dance.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 01:58 PM

Thanks, Richie, that helps.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 02:02 PM

Reference for 1888 "Careless Love", Handy?

He was 13 at that time and not into blues, which first came into his life after he joined the minstrels in 1896. His family would not have known anything approaching 'blues' as generally defined. No verses typical of the song were recorded until 1909 (Perrow); of course collected versus first occurrence is not the same, but the latter is often hearsay.

There were older songs with the title but were typical popular white laments.

Generally considered, the 'blues' were from the lower class Blacks and not recognized by 'straight', church-going members. As a result the early record (1890-1920) is sparse until they became a fad, as Odum and Johnson said, in the 1920s. They were closely associated with the Blacks changing status, migration, and conflicts, as Johnson, Oliver and others have written.

Some sort of definition is needed, but Richie has given some good examples to start with.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 12:03 AM

Hi Q,

Handy writes about Careless Love and Loveless Love in his autobiography, Father of the Blues:

"Loveless Love is another of my songs of which one part has an easily traceable folk ancestry. It was based on the Careless Love melody that I had played first in Bessemer in 1892 and that had since become popular all over the South. In Henderson I was told that the words of Careless Love were based on a tragedy in a local family, and one night a gentleman of that city's tobacco-planter aristocracy requested our band to play and sing this folk melody, using the following words:

You see what Careless Love has done,
You see what Careless Love has done
You see what Careless Love has done,
It killed the Governor's only son.

We did our best with these lines and then went into the second stanza:

Poor Archie didn't mean no harm,
Poor Archie didn't mean no harm,
Poor Archie didn't mean no harm -

But there the song ended. The police stepped in and stopped us. The song, they said, was a reflection on two prominent families. Careless Love had too beautiful a melody to be lost or neglected, however, and I was determined to preserve it.

............................
Another similar 16 bar song Handy knew from the 1892 time frame was "High Sheriff" AKA "Deadheads and Suckers" AKA "Two Dollar Bill". I guess Handy was around 19 in 1892. I was off a few years on the date.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Bobert
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 10:14 PM

Yeah, the blues come from Africa... The rhythms puzzled Europeans so much when they first heard them that the Europeans couldn't figure it out and these same rhythms got incorporated into field hollers on the plantations and sung around campfires in the slave areas of the plantations... Africans always sang and danced and beat drums as a way of telling stories and celebrating and mourning...

Good book on this is "No Man Can Hinder Me" by Velma Maia Thomas... Goes into all that old blues/gospel/African stuff...

Film came out a few years back with Cori Harris going over to Africa and hookin' up... Purdy cool... Don't remember who did it but it was spooky how similar Cori's stuff was to the folks in Africa...

B~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 12:04 AM

One early source of early blues lyrics is Howard Odum, who started collecting lryics from African-Americans in Mississippi around 1904-1905. He described the blues musicians playing with a knife or a slide made of bone.

His lyrisc and commntary were publish in 1911 as "Folk-Song and Folk-Poetry as Found in the Secular Songs of the Southern Negroes" in two numbers of the Journal of American Folklore.

Look at #8. PO' BOY LONG WAY FROM HOME

In the following song, which is sometimes sung with the knife
instrumental music described elsewhere, each stanza consists of a
single line repeated three times.

I : I'm po' boy 'long way from home, :]
Oh, I'm po' boy 'long way from home.

I : I wish a 'scushion train would run, :|
Carry me back where I cum frum.

Come here, babe, an' sit on yo' papa's knee. :|

You brought me here an' let 'em throw me down. :|

I ain't got a frien' in dis town. :|

I'm out in de wide worl' alone. :|

If you mistreat me, you sho' will see it again. :|

These blues songs are similar is some way to the "Carelss Love" variety of song. These songs pre-date published blues are among the early examples of collected blues.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 12:20 AM

Here's are some two-line standard blues lyrics circa 1905 from Odum. The first batch are from:

8. PO' BOY LONG WAY FROM HOME


No need, O babe! try to throw me down,
A po' little boy jus' come to town.

I wish that ole engeneer wus dead.
Brought me 'way from my home.

Central gi' me long-distance phone.
Talk to my babe all night long.

If I die in State of Alabam',
Send my papa great long telegram.


10. FRISCO RAG-TIME

Even more disjointed and senseless is the song called, for convenience at the moment, "Frisco Rag-Time," "K. C," or any other railroad name that happens to be desired. The song may be sung by man or woman or by both. It is expected that the viewpoint of man be
indicated in the use of woman as the object, and woman's viewpoint
be indicated in the reference to man. Such is sometimes the case;
but usually the negro sings the song through, shifting from time to time from man to woman without so much as noticing the incongruity of meaning. In the verses which follow the scenes will be portrayed
with clear vision by the negro singer.

Got up in the mornin', couldn't keep from cryin', :|(three times)
Thinkin' 'bout that brown-skin man o' mine.

Yonder comes that lovin' man o' mine. : | (three times)
Comin' to pay his baby's fine.

Well, I begged the jedge to low' my baby's fine, : | (three times)
Said de jedge done fine her, clerk dune wrote it down.

Couldn't pay dat fine, so taken her to de jail. : I (three times)

So she laid in jail back to de wall, : | (three times)
Dis brown-skin man cause of it all.

I : No need babe tryin' to ilimw me down, :](three times)
Cause I'm jx)' boy jus' come to town.

I: Hun if you don't want me, please don't dog me 'roun,(three times)
Give me this money, sho' will leave this town.

I : Ain't no use tryin' to send me 'roun'. :| (three times)
I got plenty money to pay my fine.

As WC Handy commented, at some point the blues were shortened to two repeats, fitting the standard 12 bar pattern which became popular less than ten years later,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 12:29 AM

This is the last example from Odum circa 1905. This lyric clearly establishes the genre of music: "I got the blues, but too damn mean to cry."

II. look'd down de road

Mixed in just the same way, and covering a number of themes,
utterly without sense-connection, the following song might well be a
continuation of those just given. It is sung, however, to a different tune, and should be ranked as a separate song. Its form is not unlike that already cited, — repetition of a single line twice, or, in rare instances, a rhymed couplet.

Look'd down de road jes' far as I could see,
Well, the band did play "Nearer, my God, to Thee."

: I got the blues, but too damn mean to cry. :|

Now when you git a dollar, you got a frien'
Will stick to you through thick an' thin.

I didn't come here fer to steal nobody's find.
I didn't jes' come here to serve my time.

I ask jailer, "Captain, how can I sleep?"
All 'round my bedside Police S. creeps.

The jailer said, "Let me tell you what's best:
Go 'way back in yo' dark cell an' take yo' rest."

If my kind man quit me, my main man thruw me down;
I goin' run to de river, jump overboard 'n' drown.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 18 Dec 16 - 06:01 PM

Songs who lyrics mentioned having the quote "blues," in general, were occasionally being written during e.g. 1850-1901, because to have "the blues" meaning to be depressed was a well-known expression in the 19th century. Black folk songs that mentioned having the quote "blues" in the lyrics became popular enough by about 1909 that people began talking about those songs as so-called "blues songs" as such in about 1909 -- and on the evidence, the same was not true as of 1904.

But the "blues songs" about having the quote "blues" that were rapidly becoming better known during the 1909 to 1916 period were very, very similar to songs without the word "blues" in their lyrics that apparently went back to before about 1904, along the lines of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" and "Got No More Home Than A Dog." Even as of the 1910s, in folk music, complaining that you had the quote "blues" seems to have been no more popular, in what we generally think of as blues songs, than complaining you were quote "worried" seems to have been, in what we generally think of as blues songs.

John Jacob Niles wasn't a reliable source of information. For some reason Sam Charters took blues material that was clearly cited as collected in the 1910s and reimagined "1904" in his famous 1959 blues book, so that's another example of a red herring. So is "Nobody There"; it gets mentioned a lot because David Evans mentioned it in connection with blues in his well-known 1982 book, but that fragment doesn't have a known special connection to blues relative to a lot of other material of about the same time. (Also, Gates Thomas was honest, unlike Niles, but his guesses at dates, as he remembered music he'd heard, don't seem to have been particularly reliable. Similarly, Handy was honest, but in his 1941 book his story about being in St. Louis in "1892" because he had left Bessemer because of the Panic Of 1893 doesn't add up chronologically.)

The idea that "8-bar blues" as such is a "thing" seems to have largely arisen out of Leroy Carr's popularity (although of course there were certainly sad songs with 8-bar structures in e.g. the 1890s). His version of "How Long Daddy, How Long" was retitled "How Long - How Long Blues" and was a huge hit.

Regarding all the songs that were on the V chord as the first half of the progression ended -- you know, like generally similar to the song that goes "This morning, this evening, so soon" -- that was a cliche 19th-century thing, and overall is very negatively correlated with which tunes black musicians generally called "blues" tunes.

The belief of the researcher of black folk music Newman White (born in the South in 1892) that the two most popular lyric forms in blues as of the 1910s were AAB and AAAB seems to be accurate based on other evidence. Sixteen-bar music very similar to "One Dime Blues" by Lemon Jefferson was more popular before about 1925 than is generally recognized, and routinely had AAAB lyrics, but could have other lyric forms such as ABBC. Musicians who knew that 16-bar type of blues (which is almost never on V as the first half of the progression ends, is basically just like a 12-bar blues that's been expanded to have another IV-IV-I-I bit) include Leadbelly, Furry Lewis, Rev. Gary Davis, Sara Martin, Peg Leg Howell, Henry Thomas, Bo Carter, Skip James, Big Bill Broonzy, L.V. Thomas, Texas Alexander, the Mississippi Sheiks, Barbecue Bob, Pink Anderson, Blind Boy Fuller, Jesse Fuller, Tom Darby, Bobby Grant, Marshall Owens, Cow Cow Davenport, Clarence "Jelly" Johnson, Butch Cage, Mance Lipscomb, Lucille Bogan, Henry Whitter, Wiley Barner, Sonny Terry, the Memphis Jug Band, Louis Armstrong, Thomas Shaw, Bayless Rose, Lightnin' Hopkins, Cecil Barfield, Elizabeth Cotten, Andrew Baxter, Bill Moore, Euday Bowman, J. Neal Montgomery, Wilton Crawley, Clarence Williams, Charles H. Booker Jr., William Harris, Daddy Stovepipe, Charley Jordan, and many, many others.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 17 Jul 17 - 09:26 PM

Refry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Jul 17 - 01:02 PM

Wilgus's invention of the term "blues ballad" was a misnomer and is not useful. The ballads that were not blues songs and were around long before people began talking about "blues songs" were bad man ballads, often had 12 bars, and does that mean we should call them "blues ballads," no. We don't call Sam Cooke a "disco soul" singer just because he was a soul singer and soul influenced disco.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 29 Jul 17 - 12:25 PM

Richie and others, for one of the earliest plausible examples of blues melodies check out I Natur'ly Loves That Yaller Man (1898, discovered by Peter Muir) on youtube.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Amos
Date: 29 Jul 17 - 01:19 PM

Recently came across an article (Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff) disputing the notion that the blues were born in the Mississippi Delta region, and asserting instead they were cradled in/by vaudeville acts . Any thoughts on this notion?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Jul 17 - 01:07 PM

Very interesting article. The authors seem to have done an extraordinary amount of research.

That the blues originated in black vaudeville is hardly implausible. Certainly it seems more plausible than the idea that the genre was somehow spread in a relatively few years by rural musicians who were confined almost entirely to the Mississippi Delta and were essentially unable to travel or communicate with the outside world.

If the blues were much older than, say, 1900, early blues songs should have shown up in the Lomax collections. Did they?

The blues-type notes in "Yellow Man" are hard to miss. What was the background of composer "Jack the Bear"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 31 Jul 17 - 10:10 PM

There is no credible evidence that professional musicians black or non-black helped invent the earliest blues music. None. Black folk musicians did (as Handy and his pro peers admitted they did).

Stephen Calt (an eccentric), Elijah Wald (who's read Calt), and others have handwaved at the pro-musicians idea, an idea that sounds interesting if you're looking for something new to sound interesting. Each time I've asked Elijah to come up with actual evidence for that idea, over years, he can't.

The article linked to by Amos is by one George de Stefano, and misrepresents what Abbott and Seroff's most recent book claims. Abbott and Seroff's most recent book is misleading in places, and my 3 out of 5 star review of it for amazon is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Original-Blues-Emergence-American-Vaudeville/dp/1496810023/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501552232&sr=8-1&keywords=original+blues

Abbott and Seroff's earlier _Ragged But Right_, which I would give 5 out of 5 stars, was carefully worded to indicate that professional musicians learned blues music from folk musicians.

(That surprising contrast is enough to make me wonder if it was Abbott who produced the final version of _Ragged But Right_ and Seroff who produced the final version of the most recent book, or vice-versa.)

There is no credible evidence that blues music was born in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. Never was any. A. Lomax e.g. said it for decades because he liked the sound of it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: meself
Date: 01 Aug 17 - 12:08 AM

Well - you have to admit, anything with the name 'Yazoo' in it sounds better than anything that doesn't ... !


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Aug 17 - 02:35 AM

I saw Yazoo City, Mississippi, in the mid-1980s. It was the ugliest town I had ever seen. It was hard to imagine that people actually lived in a place that looked so much like a dump. I wonder if it has cleaned itself up in the years since. It really was a horrible place. I saw my first cypress swamp not far from there, and it was absolutely beautiful; but Yazoo City was ugly.

It was a real challenge to work on the "Blues" chapter of the Rise Again songbook, and I think it ended up being a pretty good piece of work. We did our best to get copyright permissions from the right people, but sometimes that was impossible. Many times, three recordings of the same song came out in the same year, and it was almost impossible to tell who deserved the credit for the song.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early Blues Songs
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 01 Aug 17 - 05:53 AM

Hmm... never been there, but it has a website, visityazoo.org, which is really good. Not sure whether this is just window dressing, but if it wasn't 5000 miles away it would be the kind of place I would visit.


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