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|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
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Cities in Jazz
song titles than any other city. To wit:
Float Me Down the River Down to New Orleans New Orleans
Do You Know What It means to Miss New Orleans? New Orleans Stomp
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans New Orleans Shuffle
Why Don’t You All Go Down to New Orleans? New Orleans Wiggle
New Orleans Joys New Orleans Parade
New Orleans Shout New Orleans Blues
New Orleans Hop Scop Blues New Orleans Hula
New Orleans Low Down …………and probably many more that I’m not aware of.
However, New Orleans is hardly the only city whose name is contained in a song
title. This issue takes a look at cities besides New Orleans whose names are used
in song titles. Such as:
ATLANTA BLUES – written in 1923 by W. C. Handy with lyrics by Dave Elman.
Handy wrote this tune to commemorate a concert his band played in Atlanta in
1916 before 7000 people. He drew his ideas from two folk tunes, one of which
provides the song’s other title: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” which was played
by legendary New Orleans cornetist Buddy Bolden as early as 1894.
BIG NOISE FROM WINNETKA – this paean to a small town in Illinois was
written in 1938, by bassist Bob Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc. It’s
performance by the Bob Crosby Bobcats, of which its composers were both
members, featured the whistling of Haggart and the striking of the bass fiddle’s
strings with drum sticks by Bauduc.
CHARLESTON – yes, the dance came from the name of this South Carolina City
used as the title to the song written in 1923, by stride-pianist/composer James P.
Johnson for the show “Runnin’ Wild.” The dance it inspired characterized “hot
jazz” for a decade. Even though followed by other Charleston numbers in other
shows, it was this one that caught on. In the show, “Runnin’ Wild,” it was sung by
Elizabeth Welch and danced by a group of chorus boys known as the Dancing
Redcaps. Johnson also wrote “Old Fashioned Love” for the same show.
DALLAS BLUES – written in 1912 by Hart A. Wand with lyrics by Lloyd Garrett.
This song was published two days before W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” even
though it was written later. “Dallas Blues” and “Memphis Blues” were reputed to
be the first published pieces of sheet music to use the word “blues” in their titles;
however, Chris Smith and Elmer Bowman’s 1901, “I’ve Got De Blues,” may be an
exception to this.
DAVENPORT BLUES – written about his Iowa hometown on the Mississippi
River by cornetist Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderbecke in 1925, and introduced by Bix
Beiderbecke and His Rhythm Jugglers. Bix also wrote piano compositions titled:
“In a Mist,” “In the Dark,” and “Candlelight.
IT’S A LONG LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY – this memory of the Munster
Province town in Ireland was written by Harry Williams in 1912. It was introduced
in the popular musical show “Chin Chin” and was popularized by one John
I’M A DING DONG DADDY FROM DUMAS – written in 1928 by Phil Baxter who
also wrote “Piccolo Pete.” Baxter and his band also introduced the tune, but it was
popularized by Louis Armstrong. It was revived in 1937 by the Benny Goodman
Quartet for the film “Hollywood Hotel.” Dumas is in Texas.
MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW – also known as “Moscow Nights,” a virtual “infant” in
the catalog of jazz tunes, it was written in 1962 by Vasseli Soloviev-Sedo, based on
an older Russian song, and adapted by dixielander Kenny Ball who popularized it.
MOBILE STOMP – Alabama gets in on the action with this composition by Sam
Morgan who also wrote “Bogalusa Strut.” As “The Waltz You Saved for Me” it
was the theme song of the Wayne King Orchestra.
NAGASAKI – written in 1928 by Harry Warren who also wrote “You Must Have
Been a Beautiful Baby.” Harry’s real name was Salvatore Guaragna, but this city is
not in Italy. It was used in the 1933 movie “Barber Shop Blues” and was
performed by the Claude Hopkins Orchestra.
PEORIA – ( actually “I Wish’t I Was in Peoria”) Going back to part I of this article
(last month - Winnetka) this makes the second tune treated here with an Illinois
town in the title. It was written in 1925 by Harry Woods who also wrote “I’m
Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover,” “Side by Side,” and “What a Little Moonlight
Can Do.” It was written for the show “Kitchen Mechanic’s Revue” presented at
Small’s Paradise in Harlem.
ST. LOUIS BLUES – written in 1914 by W.C. Handy who also wrote “Aunt Hagar’
s Blues.” This was Handy’s first financially successful tune and the tune which
necessitated his launching a musical publishing company since no other
publishing company wanted the tune. Sales at first were slow but picked up when
he and his partner, Harry Pace, moved to New York. Forty years after its original
issue Handy was still collecting over $25,000 a year in royalties. When Italy
invaded Ethiopia in 1935 the Ethiopians used “St. Louis Blues” as their war song.
Sophie Tucker helped make it famous by singing it in vaudeville. It was written in
Memphis at a favorite hangout of Handy’s called P-Wee’s.
SHANGHAI SHUFFLE – written in 1924 by Gene Rodemich who, with his
orchestra, also introduced it. It was actually popularized by the Fletcher
Henderson Orchestra with Louis Armstrong.
TISHOMINGO BLUES – written about a little crossroads town in northern
Mississippi by Spencer Williams in 1918, but not copyrighted until 1928. Spencer
also wrote “Basin Street Blues.” This tune was first recorded in 1918 by the
American Marimbaphone Band, and then, in 1922, by singer Lizzie Miles. In 1928
it was recorded by Duke Ellington. Much later it was used as the theme song for
the Garrison Keeler radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”
RIMSHOT; To fellow Earlyjas Rag columnist Bert Thompson who, in response to
my April “In Tune” on Joe “King” Oliver informs us that Louis Armstrong’s first
cornet probably did not come from Oliver. According to Louis’ own account, it
was purchased for $5 from a local pawnshop. He saved up the money while
working on the Karnofsky family’s junk wagon.
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