No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Elliott Hurwitt

For our final W.C. Handy song of the day we turn to one of his later gems that was a lesser hit, especially at first. “Chantez-les Bas” was composed in 1931, and is the only Handy piece in its genre, a Louisiana-inspired love song. Handy never visited New Orleans, but played many engagements in Baton Rouge and points north and on one occasion, while his band serenaded a young lady by night, a neighbor gently asked them to pipe down, i.e., “Sing ‘Em Low,” in the local patois.




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

W.C. Handy named several blues for cities of significance in his life: Memphis, where he lived from 1905-17, St. Louis, where he was a penniless, flea-infested hobo in 1893; Atlanta, where he played some career-enhancing concerts in the World War I era. “Beale Street Blues” is his only masterpiece named for a street, the main drag of the black entertainment district in Memphis.




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

Handy’s first hit, “Memphis Blues,” was self-published as a piano rag, which Handy sold, lock, stock and barrel, to a clever music publisher visiting Memphis on business in 1912. The loss of royalty income due to this transaction haunted Handy for the remainder of his life. The following year saw two pivotal developments in Handy’s career.




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

We could hardly begin a week of W.C. Handy songs without zeroing in on his biggest hit, “St. Louis Blues,” a song that has been so-often recorded that no full accounting of the recordings is possible, to be counted in thousands, not hundreds, starting in 1914. Handy wrote the song on a single night at the end of that summer, the year after he founded the Pace and Handy Music Company.




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

This week’s Song of the Day curator is Elliott Hurwitt, longtime friend of NYFOS and music historian specializing in the works of W. C. Handy.  from Elliott Hurwitt: Mose Allison was born on a farm outside Tippo, Mississippi, in 1927.  He got a college education, interrupted by a stint in the military, and arrived on […]




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

This week’s Song of the Day curator is Elliott Hurwitt, longtime friend of NYFOS and music historian specializing in the works of W. C. Handy.  from Elliott Hurwitt: Champion Jack Dupree was born in New Orleans around 1910 and died in Hanover, Germany, in 1992. Son of a father from the Belgian Congo and a […]




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

This week’s Song of the Day curator is Elliott Hurwitt, longtime friend of NYFOS and music historian specializing in the works of W. C. Handy.  from Elliott Hurwitt: They called the Count Basie Orchestra “The Band That Plays the Blues.” Its All-American Rhythm Section (Basie on piano; Freddie Greene on guitar, Walter Page on bass, […]




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

This week’s Song of the Day curator is Elliott Hurwitt, longtime friend of NYFOS and music historian specializing in the works of W. C. Handy.  from Elliott Hurwitt: We don’t know a whole lot about Geeshie Wiley, who recorded “Last Kind Words Blues” and a handful of other songs, except that she worked in a […]




 |  Elliott Hurwitt

This week’s Song of the Day curator is Elliott Hurwitt, longtime friend of NYFOS and music historian specializing in the works of W. C. Handy.  from Elliott Hurwitt: Gladys Bentley (ca. 1907-1960) was one of the biggest stars of African-American entertainment in the 1920s, along with Florence Mills, Ethel Waters, Josephine Baker among female stars […]