[Dixielandjazz] Re: Darktown Strutter's Ball

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Sun Mar 13 13:51:07 PST 2005

Dear Pam,
All of the following came from a quick Google search.
  "Darktown Strutters Ball" + lyrics
I am not sure about your comment: "racist though its lyrics may sound".
They belong to the period and were certainly acceptable at the time they
were written.
Still are, so far as I am concerned.
PC people may disagree. Good luck to them.
Kind regards,

>From Betty Nygaard King.
This is another classic example of a song whose refrain became so well-known
that it completely overshadowed the verses (there were two of them) -- to
such a degree that I haven't yet even been able to locate an audio source
that has them, even though finding the lyrics was not difficult.
I found this historical information on the 'Net:
"Darktown Strutters' Ball. One of the earliest traditional jazz songs to
become a standard. The words and music, by Shelton Brooks, were inspired by
a ball at the 1915 Pacific-Panama Exposition in San Francisco. The music, in
arrangements for band and for orchestra, was first published 18 Jan 1917 by
Will Rossiter, Chicago.
The version recorded 30 Jan 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band may be
the earliest commercially made jazz record. "Darktown Strutters' Ball" was
subsequently recorded by many pop and jazz artists, including the Six Brown
Brothers (1917), the Brunswick Military Band (Brunswick 5170, 1918), Miff
Mole's Molers (1928), Trump Davidson (1937), Jimmy Dorsey (1938), and Benny
Goodman (1945). 
The song has also been recorded by musicians as varied as Ella Fitzgerald,
the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and the Beach Boys.
It was selected in 1963 by ASCAP for its All-Time Hit Parade. It has often
been featured in film soundtracks. 'Darktown Strutters' Ball' has been
arranged for barbershop ensemble, piano solo, brass quintet, and choir.

Darktown Strutters¹ Ball (1917. Shelton Brooks)

Verse 1. 
I¹ve got some good news honey,
An invitation to the Darktown ball.
It¹s a very swell affair,
all the high class will be there.
I¹ll wear my high silk hat and a frock tail coat.
You wear your Paris gown and your new silk shawl.
There ain¹t no doubt about it babe,
we¹ll be the best dressed in the Hall.

I'll be down to get you in a Taxi, Honey 
You better be ready about half past eight 
Now dearie, don't be late 
I want to be there when the band starts playing 
Remember when we get there, Honey 
The two-steps, I'm goin' to have 'em all 
Goin' to dance out both my shoes 
When they play the "Jelly Roll Blues" 
Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters' Ball...

Verse 2. 
We¹ll meet our high-toned neighbors,
an exhibition of the baby dolls,
and each one will do their best,
just to outclass all the rest.   
And there¹ll be dancers from ev¹ry foreign land.
The classic, buck and swing, and the wooden clog.
We¹ll Win that fifty dollar prize,
when we step out and walk the dog.

I'll be down to get you in a Taxi, Honey 

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