[Dixielandjazz] Dr Jazz - Jelly Roll?

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Sun, 29 Sep 2002 11:30:00 -0400

John Farrell asked for 'hard evidence" for the lyric being related to

List mates & John:

Well, I don't have any hard evidence. Best I can do is say that in order
to fully understand what was going on in the mind of Jelly Roll Morton,
one would have had to have been there.

The next best thing, when non-blacks seek to understand what "black"
jazz and black jazz men were/are all about either in current years, or
prior years, is to often be in the company of black jazz musicians. As
the rest of us look back on history, we can see only what is written,
which is very incomplete regarding JRM, or any black musos' life. Even
Louis Armstrong, whose life was extensively documented, is seen just a
bit differently as his personal tapes come to light.

All I can tell you is that I gigged and talked extensively with black
OKOMers and mainstream jazz players in the 50s, and 60s in NYC. Just
about all of them thought the song was about Drugs. If that's the
message they got, from a tune written and first sung by a couple of
brothers. Who am I to say they were wrong? Or that I can't imagine such
a thing?

Very similar to "That's Why They Call Me Shine". How many of us saw it
as perhaps the very first Black Protest Song in jazz,  before Audrey Van
Dyke so kindly researched the original lyrics from 1910, and printed
them on the List?  Was it about "Shine your shoesies?"  Not likely.

There is, every so often, a message in OKOM (and other forms of jazz).
Sometimes we fail to get the message. Perhaps because we see it as happy
music, dance music, party music etc. Re-worked 1920s pop tunes often
played now by bands with no balls. For me, OKOM it is raw, visceral and
very powerful. Both in the music and in it's history. Just an opinion.

And, like Mrs. Slocum,  I am unanimous in that.  ;-)

Steve Barbone