St. Louis Blues

1914© Music and Lyrics by William Christopher Handy

W.C. Handy  * Florence, Al Nov 16, 1873
† New York City, NY Mar 28, 1958.

Nickname: The father of the blues
According to Handy, he found his inspiration for the song while wandering the streets of St. Louis. One afternoon he met a black woman tormented by her husband’s absence. She told Handy: ” Ma man’s got a heart like a rock cast in de sea. ” Handy, forty years old at the time, drew his inspiration for many of his songs from African-American words and music, so it is not surprising that he began to compose the theme to this woman’s anguish. He later said his aim was “to combine ragtime syncopation with a real melody in the spiritual tradition.”

The melody of “St. Louis Blues” contains the Afro-Spanish habanera rhythms (which Handy heard when he toured Cuba with his minstrel show at the turn of the century) were originally created in Cuba and related to those heard in Spanish Tangos and derived from the African “tangana”. The final strain in the song Handy borrowed from “Jogo Blues,” an instrumental he had written the year before, whose melody came from Handy’s preacher. When the preacher was a boy, he chanted the tune as the collection plate was passed. The song was dedicated to Mr. Russel Gardiner, a St. Louis friend of Handy’s, who had liked his previous composition, “Jogo Blues.”
The best known ‘blues` in the world was initially turned down by every publisher Handy approached. He was finally forced to publish it himself which he did in September of 1914 with the help of his former song writing partner, Harry Pace. The initial response was luke warm at the best, the future blockbuster did not illicit much interest…..i1 Tom Morgan

Lyrics:
Verse 1:
I hate to see de evening sun go down,
Hate to see de evening sun go down,
‘Cause ma baby he done lef dis town.
Feelin’ tomorrow lak ah feel today.
Feel tomorrow lak ah feel today.
I’ll pack my trunk make ma gitaway.

Interlude 1:
St. Louis ‘oman wid he diamon’ rings
Pulls day man roun’ by her apron strings.
‘Twant for powder an’ for store-bough hair
De man ah love would not gone nowhere.

Chorus:
Got de St. Louis Blues jes blue as ah can be.
Dat man got a heart lak a rock cast in the sea.
Or else he wouldn’t gone so far from me. Spoken: Doggone it!
I loves dat man lak a schoolboy loves his pie,
Lak a Kentucky Col’nel loves his mint an’ rye,
I’ll love ma baby till de day ah die.

Verse 2:
Been to de Gypsy to get ma fortune tole,
To de Gypsy, done got ma fortune tole,
‘Cause I’m is wile ’bout ma Jelly Roll.
Gypsy done tole me, “don’t you wear no black,”
Yas she done tole me, “don’t you wear no black,
Go to st. Louis, you can win him back.”

Interlude 2:
Help me to Cairo, make St. Louis by maself.
Git to Cairo, find ma ole friend Jeff.
Gwine to pin maself close to his side.
If ah flag his train, I show can ride.

Chorus:
Got de St. Louis Blues jes blue as ah can be.
Dat man got a heart lak a rock cast in the sea.
Or else he wouldn’t gone so far from me. Spoken: Doggone it!
I loves dat man lak a schoolboy loves his pie,
Lak a Kentucky Col’nel loves his mint an’ rye,
I’ll love ma baby till de day ah die.

Verse 3:
You ought to see dat stove pipe brown of mine,
Lak he owns de Dimon’ Joseph line,
He’d make a cross-eyed ‘oman go stone blin’.
Blacker than midnight, teeth lak flags o’ truce,
Blackest man in de whole Saint Louis,
Blacker de berry, sweeter are the juice.

Interlude 1:
About a crap game he knows a pow’ful lot,
But when work-time comes, he’s on de dot.
Gwine to ask him for a cold ten-spot,
What it takes to git, he’s cert’nly got.

Chorus:
Got de St. Louis Blues jes blue as ah can be.
Dat man got a heart lak a rock cast in the sea.
Or else he wouldn’t gone so far from me. Spoken: Doggone it!
I loves dat man lak a schoolboy loves his pie,
Lak a Kentucky Col’nel loves his mint an’ rye,
I’ll love ma baby till de day ah die.