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The early 'Classic Female Blues', which sort of covers everything from Crazy Blues onwards when record companies suddenly noticed there was a market for Black music for Black audiences. Sort of 1920-1935, tapering off pretty heavily after that.

Skipping Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith because they need their own posts. A lot of these women came straight out of the music hall circuit, I've tried to keep this to jazz blues and straight up blues.



Mamie Smith - not just the first blues lady to be recorded, the first blues *artist* to be recorded. And she was good. This is the song, pure blues themes of been dun wrong and gonna kill a cop:

Mamie Smith - Crazy Blues



I can't sleep at night
I can't eat a bite
'cause the man I love
he don't treat me right

He makes me feel so blue
I don't know what to do
Sometime I sit and sigh
and then begin to cry
'cause my best friend
said his last goodbye

There's a change in the ocean
change in the deep blue sea, my baby
I'll tell you folks there, ain't no change in me
My love for that man, will always be

Now I got the crazy blues, since my baby went away
I ain't got no time to lose
I must find him today

Now the doctor's gonna do all that he can
But what you're gonna need is a undertaker man
I ain't had nothin' but bad news
Now I got the crazy blues

Now I can read his letters, I sure can't read his mind
I thought he's lovin' me
He's leavin' all the time
Now I see my poor love was blind

I went to the railroad, stick my head on the track
Lord about your daddy, I'll glady snap his back
Now I've been gone and gave me the sack

So I got the crazy blues
Since my baby went away
I ain't had no time to lose
I must find him today

I'm gonna do like a Chinaman
Go and get some hops
Get myself a gun
And shoot myself a cop
I ain't had nothing but bad news
Now I got the crazy blues


Ethel Waters was an all-in leading lady Diva - her true bluesy pop songs like Organ Grinder Blues are my favourites, but I love this 1930 version of a number from the revue Hot Chocolates. I suppose it was meant as a lament (she did lots), but the Louis Armstrong version killed that for me and now it's more protest:

Ethel Waters - (What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue



Out in the street, shufflin' feet
Couples passin' two by two
And here am I, left high and dry
Black, and 'cause I'm Black I'm blue
All the race fellas crave high yellows
Gentlemen prefer them light
I'm just another spade who can't make the grade
Looks like there's nothing but dark days in sight

With a cold empty bed, springs hard as lead
Pains in my head and I feel like old Ned
What did I do, to be so Black and blue?
No joys for me, no company
Even the mouse ran from my house
All my life through, I've been so Black and blue

I'm White, but it's inside, so that don't help my case
'Cause I, can't hide, just what is on my face, oh!
Sad and forlorn, life's just a thorn
My heart is torn, oh why was I born?
What did I do, to be so Black and blue?

Just 'cause you're Black, boys think you lack
They laugh at you, and scorn you too
What did I do, to be so Black and blue?
When I draws near, they laugh and sneer
I'm set aside, always denied
All my life through, I've been so Black and blue

How sad, I am, and each day the situation gets worse
My mark, of Ham, seems to be a curse, oh!
How will it end? can't get a boyfriend
Yet my only sin, lies in my skin
What did I do, to be so Black and blue?


Aside from the light hearted dirty stuff she did, Victoria Spivey was a great moaner in lots of ways - a proper blues lady, she wasn't happy in Texas. This gave us some of the world's greatest snake songs. Then somewhat charmingly she wasn't happy anywhere else. Brilliant stuff, lots of crime and disease and general bluesiness. I think this is her earliest - oh them bad men. Yay:

Victoria Spivey - Black Snake Blues



Don't it blow just like
It ain't never blowed before
Some black snake been suckin my rattle
Hear me cry, Lord I mean it
Some black snake been suckin' my rattles oh
You can tell by that I ain't gonna say how long

`Cause my left eye's jumpin' my
Flesh begins to crawl
My left eye's jumpin' my
Flesh begins to crawl
Bet you my last dollar
Another woman's kickin` in my stall

Oh, I ain`t gonna tell you no more
Oh, I ain`t gonna tell you no more
Stay from my window
Don`t knock at my back door

I`d rather be a catfish swimming in that deep blue
Low beneath a submarine, behind a floating boat
I`d rather be a catfish
Low in that deep blue sea
Than to stayed in Texas, treated like they wanted to do me

Oh, I ain`t gonna tell you no more
Oh, swimmin' that deep blue sea
Than to stayed in Texas, treated like they wanted to do fo' me

It`s a mean black snake that`s carried me to his gate
Brought me to my mistake, ain't hard for me to take
It`s a mean black snake that`s doing me this way
If I ever go back South I`m going back there to stay


Sippie Wallace was a pretty good straight up Texas Blues woman, Shorty George and Goin' Up The Country (<-- watch that) started her out. Then she disappeared for a bit and came back with Bedroom Blues and other sound advice, dunno why. Anyway, I like her:

Sippie Wallace - I'm A Mighty Tight Woman



I've come to you sweet man
Falling on my knees
I've come to you, pretty papa
Falling on my knees
To ask, if you ain't got nobody
Kind darlin', take me please

'Cause I'm a mighty tight woman
I'm a real tight woman, I'm a jack of all trades
I can be yo' sweet woman an' also be yo' slave
I can do things so good
'Til you will swear that I have a halo over me

I hear ev'rybody saying
That I'm tight in ev'rything that I do
I've got all the men cryin'
I'm a broad that never feels blue
All I want is a good man
And I will make him happy too

If you a married man
You ain't got no business here
'Cause when you out with me
I might make yo' wife shed tears
'Cause I'm a mighty tight woman
And there is nothin' that I fear


Ida Cox had one of the strongest and smoothest blues voices of the time:

Ida Cox - Four Day Creep



When you lose your money don't lose your mind
When you lose your money don't lose your mind
When you lose your good man please don't mess with mine

And I'm gonna buy me a bulldog to watch my man while he sleeps
I'm gonna buy me a bulldog to watch my man while he sleeps
Men are so doggone crooked, afraid he might make a four day creep

Girls I'm gonna tell you this, ain't gonna tell you nothin' else
Girls I'm gonna tell you this, ain't gonna tell you nothin' else
Any woman's a fool who thinks she's got a whole man by herself
Girls I'm gonna tell you this, ain't gonna tell you nothin' else
Any woman's a fool who thinks she's got a whole man by herself

But if you got a good man and don't want him taken away from you
Girls if you got a good man and don't want him taken away from you
Don't ever tell your friend woman what your man can do

[missing from the vid above, but lovely:]

Lord Lord I'm getting up in years
Lordy Lordy Lordy I'm getting up in years
But mama ain't too old to shift her gears

And I'm a big fat mama, got the meat shakin' on my bones
I'm a big fat mama, got the meat shakin' on my bones
And every time I shake, some skinny gal loses her home


Alberta Hunter, couldn't choose between You Can't Tell The Difference After Dark (about skin colour again) and this, which is way more blues. This won because she wrote it:

Alberta Hunter - Downhearted Blues



Gee but it's hard, to love someone
When that someone don't love you (it's a mess)
I'm so disgusted, heartbroken too
I've got the downhearted blues

Once I was crazy, about a man
He mistreated me all the time
Next man I get, has got to promise to
Be mine, all mine

'Cause he mistreated me, drove me from his door
Yes he mistreated me, he drove me from his door
Good Book says brother, you're gonna reap just what you sow

Lord I walked the floor, I wrang my hands and I cried
Yes I walked the floor, wrang my hands and I cried
I had the down hearted blues, and I couldn't be satisfied

Lord, I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long
Yes I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long
It takes a worried woman, to sing these worried songs

Lord I ain't never loved, but three men in my life
No I ain't never loved, but three men in my life
'twas my father, my brother and the man that wrecked my life

Now I got the world in a jug, stopper right here in my hand
Yeah I got the world in a jug, stopper right here in my hand
And the next man that gets me, has gotta come under, my command!


Clara Smith had a somewhat lighter voice, but she still knew what made the blues:

Clara Smith - He's Mine All Mine



He ain't no brown and he ain't no yellow
But, he's mine all mine
He's just a fast black and a hard workin' fellow
But, he's mine all mine

He works all day, with all his might
And brings me his money every Saturday night
I want all you women to, understand that
He's mine all mine

He don't dress up and he ain't good lookin', but
He's mine all mine
I washes his clothes and does all his cooking, so
He's mine all mine

He's all [...], he's a hard darling, but I
Keep him eating right out of my hand
I dare any woman to take him and keep him
'Cause he's mine all mine

He can't make love, he's as mean as the devil, but
He's mine all mine
He makes of a living with a pick and a shovel, but
He's mine all mine

He digs in a ditch full of mud and slime
And when it ain't rainin' he's makin' that time
He's just a plug ugly, but still I'm crying
He's mine all mine

He eats his supper, throws his clothes on the floor
And he's up every mornin' at, half past four
He ain't so particular, but one thing's sure
Oh Lord he's mine




See also: Lucille Hegamin, Margaret Johnson, Trixie Smith, yada. Enjoy \o/

Date: 2009-08-28 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Gonna play with my hamster, stroke it all night long

Gonna play with my hamster, stroke it all night long

That's one furry little rodent


love that critter so strong


Gonna sing to my hamster
Lowdown dirty blues songs
Gonna sing to my hamster
Lowdown dirty blue songs
Gonna rock that furry rodent
Till the night is gone

D
x

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