March being Women’s History Month, and mistermuse being a classic jazz enthusiast, I’d be remiss to let this conjunction of constellations pass without honoring women’s place in jazz history. Though I can’t expound on these subjects at length in one post, I’ll highlight my favorite period in jazz history — the 1920s, 30s and 40s — and the all-girl bands of that time, as opposed to female jazz vocalists of the period, because the latter are much better known (Billie Holiday, for example) than the former, and their legacy has far better survived that era’s male-dominated world of jazz and popular music.

Starting with the 1920’s, here is one of the first and foremost all-girl bands of the period:

Moving on to the 1930s & 40s….

As the latter clip demonstrates, African-American female musicians faced not only gender, but racial, discrimination — not so much from white musicians as from the powers behind the scenes and the general public….and not just in the South. The were exceptions, but the best jazz musicians didn’t sweat skin color — if you could play, you should play.

There is much more that could be said along the lines of this post; perhaps I’ll do so in a future post.




I have never been able to discover anything disgraceful in being a colored man. But I have often found it inconvenient. –Bert Williams

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Yesterday marked the 96th anniversary of the death of the great “colored” comedian Bert Williams, whose humorous 1920 song I WANT TO KNOW WHERE TOSTI WENT (WHEN HE SAID GOODBYE) appeared in my last post. You can learn a bit more about this pioneering black entertainer in the racist America of the late 1800s/early 1900s by clicking here: https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200038860/

To commemorate the anniversary of the day Bert Williams said “Goodbye forever,” I thought I would extend that post’s theme with a curtain call of several later “goodbye” songs from America’s Golden Age of Popular Music (if not yet America’s Golden Age of race relations). Just a little something to keep in mind, every time we say goodbye (courtesy of Cole Porter):

So, what’s good about goodbye? I’m glad you asked (courtesy of Harold Arlen):

Perhaps next post, I’ll transition into some ‘hello’ songs. It would help the transfiguration if I could put this song title in reverse:

P.S. The first several readers of this post may have been confused by changes made in the last clip after I posted it. What I initially thought was a clip of another vocalist singing “Hello, My Lover, Goodbye” turned out to be in error, so, left with few choices, I hastily tried to switch to a clip of Doris Day (NOT one of my favorite vocalists) singing the song. After a few ‘haste-makes-waste’ starts, I made the substitution, but probably left a few of you wondering if I hadn’t said goodbye to my mind. But all’s well that ends well (I hope).



Part 02 is such sweet sorrow,
I could not wait till it be morrow
To bring to you 02 before
I bring to you Parts 03 and 04.
Beyond 04 I cannot see,
But two to one it won’t be 03.

It’s not every day you see a poem co-authored by Shakespeare and Mistermuse….or a post about a man (Fats Waller) who was born in May and died in December, three days after my previous post featured a man (Spike Jones) who was born in December and died in May. A bit odd, perhaps, but hardly more noteworthy than a May-December romance….so, just for laughs, let’s call it a May-December Much Ado About Nothing.

Thomas “Fats” Waller, for those whose knowledge of jazz history is thin, was born May 21, 1904 in NYC. His father, a minister, was strict and tried to restrict his son to church music, but Fats was more attracted to popular music, and after his mother died, he moved in with a man who befriended him, stride pianist James P. Johnson. At age 15, Waller was hired by the Lincoln Theatre as house organist, providing improvisational background music for silent movies. Thus began his career as one of the most beloved jazz musicians and prolific song writers of his time, ending with his premature death at age 39.

Perhaps Waller is best remembered (if at all) for is his jovial personality and humorous way with popular songs such as this….

….and this:

But Fats could do ’em straight, too, as with this 1936 classic:

It’s only fitting to close with his 1929 composition and most famous song, which he often performed tongue-in-cheek, but took (mostly) seriously here:

Until the next post in this series, behave yourself.


“W” MAY TROUBLE YA (it certainly troubles me)

I’ve seen A Fish Named Wanda, but I’ve never heard a song named Wanda. I thought of using the Fish Named Wanda movie theme music in this post, but it’s hardly a song, and in any case, too recent (1988) to qualify as an oldie by my picky standards for this series. This illustrates my problem: although there are a number of girls names starting with W, few of them made their way into old song titles. Luckily (?) for you, however, I have managed to dredge up three, the first of which is so old (1906), even I don’t remember it.

ARRAH WANNA tells of an Irish lad named Barney Carney proposing marriage to an Indian maiden named Wanna, after which they “can love and bill and coo in a wigwam built of shamrocks green.” Arrah is an old Irish term; its meaning isn’t well defined, but seems well intended, given the setup as Barney sets a record for blarney because he don’t wanna Lack-a-Wanna. Needing a W song, I decided ‘owl’ play along — it may be a hoot:

Next is a song I do remember, though it’s not the most memorable song in the world (well, maybe it is in Copenhagen):

We close with an oldie so young, I suspect many of you remember it (first recorded in 1964 by the life-is-a-Beach Boys):


To V or not to V….  Verily, I wouldst
say, That is the question; methinks I shouldst
look for those old V gals wherever I couldst.

From what I’ve heard, there were at least three….
including one who’s as inViolate as she can be.
Now I remember “My Song” — will she hear me?

This time of year, many newspapers reprint an editorial which appeared in the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897 — an editorial which famously responded “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” to a letter written to the paper by eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon. Today I would further respond to Virginia that not only is there a Santa Claus, but Santa assures me that, just as in those indelible childhood days, he is coming back to wherever is home on the night before Christmas — and this time he hopes to stay, if only in spirit:

As for #3: They say it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Far be it from me to say any such things.

None-the-less, and in any case, it’s over.


Although R (Part II) brings the number of posts (18) in this series in line with the corresponding letter of the alphabet, I foresee that after S and T, most of the remaining letters are going to present a challenge to staying on course  — especially X. The only gal I’m aware of whose name starts with X was Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, but as far as I know, no one back then wrote a song about her….and if they did, they left no record — or even sheet music. Papyrus would have been available, though apparently it was used for different ends, which in hindsight was a good idea on paper, but went to waste in practice.

Meanswhile, back at the R, it’s time to ride:

Red may have had a head start, but Rosetta and Rosalie have their own tales to tell:

That’s all four now. Happy Thanksgiving!


In doing research for the posts of this fem song series, I occasionally come across an old tune which not only is unfamiliar to me, but has a ‘trivia’ connection that catches my attention as much as the song itself. Such is the case with my first N song — NINA, recorded in 1931 by Wooding’s Grand Central Red Caps:

Orchestras of that era often adopted the names of venues where they played extended gigs, such as Richard Himber and His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra / Billy Wynne and His Greenwich Village Inn Orchestra. These venues lent a certain prestige to the orchestra and, one assumes, vice versa — though it’s hard to see how Grand Central Station could gain prestige from being coupled with a relatively obscure band like Wooding’s. But beyond that, it seems unlikely that any orchestra would be the ‘house band’ at a train terminal ….even one so grand as Grand Central — unless a night club was ‘on board’ there (which I can find no record of). If anyone can throw some light on the latter, please comment.

Moving on, we have a gal named NELLIE who is also waiting for some light:

The end dame of our N game is NANCY….you know — the one with the laughing face.