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Franklin D. Roosevelt and Blues

TheOldMole 26 Feb 00 - 10:43 PM
harpgirl 26 Feb 00 - 10:58 PM
Amos 26 Feb 00 - 11:10 PM
simon-pierre 26 Feb 00 - 11:44 PM
Chocolate Pi 27 Feb 00 - 01:17 AM
dwditty 27 Feb 00 - 06:19 AM
TheOldMole 27 Feb 00 - 11:12 AM
Doctor John 27 Feb 00 - 05:53 PM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 28 Feb 00 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,puzzled 28 Feb 00 - 08:31 AM
Stewie 28 Feb 00 - 08:47 PM
Stewie 28 Feb 00 - 09:16 PM
Art Thieme 29 Feb 00 - 12:33 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson at work 29 Feb 00 - 02:26 PM
Stewie 29 Feb 00 - 05:16 PM
Jim Dixon 09 Oct 13 - 04:32 PM
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Subject: Roosevelt and Blues
From: TheOldMole
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 10:43 PM

What blues lyrics mention Franklin D. Roosevelt?


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: harpgirl
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 10:58 PM

...type Roosevelt in the DT Search Box up top, Mole and enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: Amos
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 11:10 PM

Back again, back again...which is about his re-election. And...

THE BALLAD OF F.D.R
(Almanac Singers)

It was on a Saturday night and the moon was shining bright,
They passed the Conscription bill.
And the people they did say for many miles away,
T'was the president and his boys on Capitol Hill.
...
See DT for whole lyrics to these two. But neither is a blues, really. The latter is based on the traditional Jesse James ballad, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: simon-pierre
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 11:44 PM

back again, back again..

We've got Franklin D Roosvelt back again Since Roosvelt has been re-elected Moonshine's liquors been corrected We got legal wine whiskey beer and gin!

(The new lost city ramblers, Franklin D. Roosvelt's)

But that's not exactly blues... was that what you we're talking about Amos? I didn't find it in the DT

SP


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: Chocolate Pi
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 01:17 AM

There's a tape called "The Face on the Dime" which is entirely Roosevelt songs; I can't remember the performer or label, though. A quick web search turned up two possibly relevant sites:http://www.bluesworld.com/Guido.html, a book on Roosevelt's influence on blues songs, and http://www.authentichistory.com/, which has some example songs downloadable in Windows Media Player format. Hope this helps!

Chocolate Pi (who really should start that chemistry problem set now)


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Subject: Lyr Add: FDR IN TRINIDAD (from Ry Cooder)
From: dwditty
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 06:19 AM

FDR in Trinidad appears on Ry Cooder's "Into the Purple Valley" album.

FDR in Trinidad

When Roosevelt came to the land of the hummingbird
Shouts of welcome were heard
When Roosevelt came to the land of the hummingbird
Shouts of welcome were heard
His visit to our island is bound to be
An epoch in local history
Definitely marking the new era
Keeping Trinidad in America

For this great man jubilation
Was evinced by the entire population
Friendship for the USA was shown
And from his house the Stars and the Stripes were flown
For the state threw open the gates
To the President of these United States
In fact everybody was glad
To welcome Roosevelt to Trinidad

We are privileged to see the Democratic
President of the great republic
With his charming and genial personality
And his wonderful urbanity
We were struck by his modest style
And was intrigued by the famous Roosevelt smile
No wonder everybody was glad
To welcome Roosevelt to Trinidad

We understand that the President had just been
On a visit to Brazil and the Argentine
Mr. Cordell Hull in attendance
They took part in a peace conference
To stop war and atrocity
And make the world safe for democracy
The greatest event in the century
In the interest of suffering humanity


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: TheOldMole
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 11:12 AM

Thanks all - especially Chocolate Pi -- I remembered that there was a Roosevelt blues album, but couldn't remember the details. I teach a course in the blues, and I plan to spend a day on blues and current events.


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: Doctor John
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 05:53 PM

Josh White recorded "The Man Who Couldn't Walk Around" about FDR. Dr John


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 06:41 AM

...and I thought this thread was going to be about Roosevelt Sykes (aka The Honeydripper)!
RtS


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Subject: ADD: A Tune Called Chesterfield
From: GUEST,puzzled
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 08:31 AM

A tune called Chesterfield.

I was walking down the street just the other day
Looking for myself a Chesterfield
I saw me a friendly looking passerby
And I thought I might try to pawn one off of him
I looked him in the eye said hi
All he said was me oh me oh my
He said, A Chesterfield these days is mighty hard to find


I said I know what you mean brother
But I was bound and determined to get myself a Chesterfield
So I walked on down the road and lo and behold I ran into one of my old high school buddies
I said Howdy Joe, whatcha know All he said was meanie meany miney moe

(chorus)
A Chesterfield these days so hard to find
Smoke one in the morning and one at night
Choke that dope don't hold it too tight
Chesterfield these days so hard to find


I said now Joe tell me what's new with you these days
and he said Well I got married just the other day
I said, That so? He said That's so.
Just then his young wife Martha came walking down the street
She said "Hey fellas what are you doing downtown?
Been looking for Chesterfields but they cannot be found."

chorus

Now friends I'm getting mighty sick and tired of this nonsense by now
Looking for myself a Chesterfield
So I thought I 'd call up the President, Mr. Franklin D Roosevelt
See if he could help me out
I said "Howdy Mr. President How's the White House and the country getting along
And he said fine John, but there's just one thing wrong...."

chorus


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Subject: Lyr Add: BREAD-LINE BLUES (Slim Smith)
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 08:47 PM

The following 1931 blues does not actually mention FDR, but it is urging a vote for his party in the 1932 elections.

BREAD-LINE BLUES
(Slim Smith)

The latest news has struck me funny
Says you have no friends if you haven't got money
And all of us good folks in distress
But I'm gonna get something off my chest
Nineteen thirty-two won't be long
And when you place your vote please don't vote wrong
Vote away those blues, those bread-line blues

It's a rich man's job to make some rules
In order to rid our bread-line blues
Now listen here folks and it ain't no joke
We've got to do something or we're all going to croak
We can't get a job, we've all been robbed
We've got no money and the corn's all cob
We've got nothing but blues, bread-line blues

If we had state rights, I'll leave it to you
We could all have fun and better home brew
Says the long-eared mule standing over his box
To the big-mouthed elephant: 'You drink like an ox
'You had twelve years, proved nothing but a curse
'Instead of making it better, it's getting worse and worse'
Says the long-eared mule, 'I ain't no fool'

The elephant said, 'You long-eared mule
Well, you shut your mouth, you never been to school'
The mule said, 'Elephant, it ain't no joke
'We've got to do something or we're all gonna croak
'We ain't got nothing but a carload of tax
'And the doggone load is just a-breaking our backs
'We've got the blues, the bread-line blues'

Repeat first verse

Original issue Vi 23526. Recorded by Slim Smith on 15 February 1931 in New York City.
Source: Various Artists 'Rich Man, Poor Man: American Country Songs of Protest' Rounder LP 1026.

It's ironic that the 2 substantive proposals advocated in the song were states' rights and tax relief!

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 09:16 PM

For direct mentions of FDR, there's also Charlie Poole's justly famous 'White House Blues' and also the different 'White House Blues' by Bob Baker that can be found on NLCR's 'Songs of the Depression' - as can a version of the above 'Breadline Blues', 'FDR's Back Again', 'Death of the Blue Eagle' and 'NRA Blues'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Feb 00 - 12:33 AM

Hey, folks,

Ya gotta check out an amazing book called ROOSEVELT'S BLUES by Guido Van Rijn---subtitled African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR. It's 292 pages of very small type. There are hundreds of Roosevelt songs here encased. (University of Mississippi Press.) They sent me this after I sent them my collection of songs on the life, times and assassination of John F. Kennedy. Then they rejected my idea for a book----so I sent the whole Kennedy collection to Joe Hickerson and it's now archived at the Library Of Congress Archive Of Folk Culture.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson at work
Date: 29 Feb 00 - 02:26 PM

Stewie-- I agree that Charlie Poole's recording of Whitehouse Blues does sing "Roosevelt's in the White House, doing his best/McKinley's in the graveyard takin his rest" but do believe the song refers to Teddy, who succeeded McKinley and not to FDR. If this is not convincing enough, Poole died the year before FDR was elected.


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Subject: RE: Roosevelt and Blues
From: Stewie
Date: 29 Feb 00 - 05:16 PM

Pete

Oops, you're quite right - I put my foot right in it there. 'Roosevelt' sprang to mind and I didn't bother to check the lyrics or the recording date. Poole's version was recorded in 1926 - well before FDR - and, of course, related to the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley. My apologies. Fortunately, the Baker 'Whitehouse Blues' does relate FDR.

--Stewie.


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHY I LIKE ROOSEVELT (Willie Eason)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 09 Oct 13 - 04:32 PM

WHY I LIKE ROOSEVELT*
As recorded by Willie Eason on the various-artists album "Blues with a Message" (2005)

Why'd you like Roosevelt? Wasn't no kin.
Why'd you like Roosevelt? Wasn't no kin.
Why'd you like Roosevelt? Wasn't no kin.
Lord God almighty! Was a poor man's friend.
Year of nineteen forty-five,
A good president laid down and died.
I knew how all of the poor people felt.
They received the message: "We lost Roosevelt."
In his life there were all indications
That [at] Warm Springs, Georgia, he received salvation.
Listen, friend, but don't you rush:
Elizabeth Shoumatoff, she grabbed a brush,
Dipped it in water, and began to paint,
Looked at the president and began to think.
She never painted a picture for him at night.
She knew that the president didn't look right.
The time of day it was twelve o'clock.
Tell me that Elizabeth had to stop.
Good God almighty! She started too late.
That's why they call this that unfinished portrait.
A little bit later, about one thirty,
He had a cerebral hemorrhage and the world looked muddy.
They called Atlanta, Washington, too.
Like zigzag lightning the call went through.
They called long distant to notify his wife.
Doctor Bruin said he died at three thirty-five.
Great God almighty! Wasn't no bells to tone.
Less than thirty minutes the world was in mourn,
And I cried about Roosevelt.
I cried about Roosevelt.
I cried about Roosevelt

Well, Roosevelt's administration Congress assembled.
First time in history part of the Negro general
General Benjamin O. Davis I'm trying to relate,
First Negro general of the United States.
And after Dorie Miller had shown his skill,
They kept a-sending him to sea until he got killed.
Roosevelt said, "I'll back the attack,"
'Pointed a Negro captain over white and black.
This qualified man was Humo Zack (?)***.
Racial prejudice he tried to rule out,
Invited Negro leaders into the White House.
He advocated the fair practice of labor
To let the poor man know he was our emancipator.
Made Madame Bethune a lady of the land.
He made part of his will to Mister Prettyman.**
He endorsed inventions of Doctor Washington Carver.
This is why that I said he was our earthly father,
'Cause he took my feet out of the miry clay.
Haven't had to look back at the WPA.
That is why I like Roosevelt,
Why I like Roosevelt,
Why I like Roosevelt.

Well, Hoover's administration Congress assembled.
All of the poor folk began to tremble.
The rich would ride in the automobile.
Depression made poor people rob and steal.
Well, look next door to...[unintelligible]...
… getting anything for their hard labor.
Great God almighty! They were moonshine stillin',
Brought about a crime wave, robbin' and killin'.
After Hoover had made the poor man moan,
Roosevelt stepped in, gave us a comfortable home.
It was sad about Roosevelt,
Sad about Roosevelt,
Mmm, sad about Roosevelt.

Well, I've told you the hist'ry of Roosevelt's life.
Now he's done with his grief and strife.
Great God almighty! But he left a sweet wife,
Had been so worried since she was a girl,
After Roosevelt's death what would become of the world?
She notified her son across the sea:
"Don't get worried about poor me,
But keep on fighting for victory.
Your father is dead, boy; you're all a-grown.
Would worry 'bout your father but the world's in mourn.
It was sad about Roosevelt,
Sad about Roosevelt,
Mmm, sad about Roosevelt.

Well, God almighty knew just what was best.
He knew that the president he needed a rest.
His battle done fought, victory done won,
Our problems have just begun.
Your burden get heavy and you don't know what to do,
Call on Jesus; he's a president too.
It's sad about Roosevelt,
Mmm, sad about Roosevelt,
Mmm, sad about Roosevelt.
Lord God almighty! Was a poor man's friend.


[* The same recording appears on other albums under the title FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, A POOR MAN'S FRIEND.

[** Arthur Prettyman was FDR's valet.

[*** I can't identify this person—possibly misspelled.]


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