[Dixielandjazz] Re: Dixielandjazz Digest, Vol 9, Issue 53

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 30 18:48:07 PDT 2003

> Harole Smith wrote
> Respect your knowledge, Steve, and your involvement in historical
> accuracy, but the lyrics of "Black and Blue"  belie the premise of the
> song pertaining  to black males prefering the "high yellow" gals.
> Indeed, the show might have used the song in such a context.

The show did indeed use the song in that context and in that premise. Unless, of course,
we choose to believe that the entire show was a coded effort to subtly state another
premise. (IMO unlikely)

> But, what
> the hell, they certainly wouldn't have shown Negro Males lusting after
> WHITE women
> in 1930.
Of course not, but that's 180 degrees out of phase. It is about Black males preferring
light skinned black women over the dark skinned black woman who sings the song in the
show. The premise you state has nothing to do with the show

> As far as your comment on Louis fooling the world in the name of
> showmanship vs.
> the intent of the song, I ask you to listen to Louis singing "Now, I am
> white deep down inside, but that don't help my case/"
> And, later, "I can' t hide  what is on my face."

One needs to listen to the entire song, especially the verse in order to understand the
context: the verse is shown below:

Verse: Out in the street, shufflin' feet, Couples passin' two by two, While here am I,
left high and dry, Black, and 'cause I'm black
I'm blue. Browns and yellers, all have fellers, Gentlemen prefer them light, Wish I could
fade, can't make the grade, Nothing but dark days in sight:

> If Louis was just a clever entertainer, he sure could have fooled the
> hell out of me.

I think you miss characterize my words. I am one who believes that Louis was the number
one jazz musician of the 20th century. I am also one who believes that Louis was the
number one entertainer of the 20th Century. I hope I did not imply, infer, or otherwise
mislead anyone into thinking I meant he was just a "clever" entertainer in the derogatory
sense. I did not use the word "clever". and would be the last person in the world to
deride him as an entertainer. What I said was:

"Only because Louis took that song and fooled those who had not seen the show from whence
it came. The people, not
familiar with "Hot Chocolates" circa 1930 Broadway, who heard the record, assumed he was
talking about Black & White
relationships. Actually, the song is about the prejudice among light skinned blacks,
against dark skinned blacks."

The bottom line is that Louis took this song, made it his own, and "transformed it,
without a hint of self pity, into a song about being black in a world run by whites."
from "Jazz"-Geoffrey Ward & Ken Burns, in the context of an interview with Arvell Shaw.

To me, that is just another of his many, monumental achievements.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list