Cocaine and the Blues

Cocaine and the Blues


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




I called my Cora, hey hey. / She come on sniffin’ with her nose all sore.

The doctor swore gonna sell no more / Sayin’, run doctor, ring the bell—the women in the alley.

I’m simply wild about my good cocaine.



Cocaine and the Blues

Bios, Lyrics, and Videos

Compiled by Rudolph Lewis


Luke Jordan—Cocaine Blues (August 1927)

Cocaine Blues

                Lyrics by Luke Jordan


Oh go on, gal, don’t you take me for no fool.

I’m not gonna quit you, pretty mama, while the weather’s cool.

Around your back door, says honey, I’m gonna creep

as long as you make those two and a half a week.


Now I got a girl, she works in the white folk’s yard.

She brings me meal, I can swear it tastes of lard.

She brings me meat, she brings me lard.

She brings me everything, I swear that she can steal.


Now Barnum ‘n Bailey Circus came to town.

They had an elephant looking good and brown.

They did not know it was against the law

for the monkey to stop at a five drugstore.

Just around the corner, just a minute too late,

Another one’s standin’ at the big back gate.

I’m simply wild about my good cocaine.


I called my Cora, hey hey.

She come on sniffin’ with her nose all sore.

The doctor swore gonna sell no more

Sayin’, run doctor, ring the bell—the women in the alley.

I’m simply wild about my good cocaine.


Now there’s the furniture man came to my house, it was last Sunday morn.

He asked me was my wife at home and I told him she hadn’t long been gone.

He backed his wagon up to my door, took everything I had.

He carried it back to the furniture store and I swear I did feel sad.


What in the world has anyone got for dealing with the furniture man.

If you got no dough, you standing for show, he’ll certainly back you back.

He’ll take everything from an earthly plant, from a skillet to a frying pan.

If ever there was a devil born without any horns,

It must have been the furniture man.


I called my Cora, hey hey.

She come on sniffin’ with her nose all sore.

Doctor swore gonna sell her more

Sayin’ coke’s for horses—not women nor men.

The doctor said it will kill you, but he didn’t say when.

I’m simply wild about my good cocaine.


Now the baby’s in the cradle in New Orleans,.

It kept a-whippin’ till it got so mean.

Kept a-whippin had to fix it so

the jokes with laughter fell  no more.

Saying, run doctor, ring the bell—the women in the alley.

I’m simply wild about my good cocaine.


I called my Cora, hey hey.

She come on sniffin’ with her nose all sore

The doctor swore gonna sell her more

Sayin’, run doctor, ring the bell—the women in the alley.

I’m simply wild about my good cocaine.

Recorded Tuesday 16 August 1927 in Charlotte NC.

Luke Jordan (January 28, 1892 – June 25, 1952) was a blues guitarist and vocalist of some renown in his local area of Lynchburg, Virginia. Born in Appomattox County, Virginia, United States, his professional career started at age 35, when he was noticed by Victor Records, and went to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1927 to record several records. These records sold moderately well, and Victor decided to take Jordan to New York in 1929, for two more sessions. He recorded very few known tracks in his career, but a few remain intact. . . . He died in Lynchburg in June 1952. His song, “Church Bells Blues” was later recorded by Ralph Willis.—Wikipedia

Luke Jordan—By Bryan Sinclair, UNC Asheville—The blues of Luke Jordan “had a beautiful sweetness and a kind of wry wistfulness that made them unforgettable,” according to Samuel Charters in Sweet as the Showers of Rain. Research by Bruce Bastin tells us that Luke Jordan was an important figure in and around Lynchburg, Virginia, highly regarded for his skillful, cleanly-picked guitar style. Although very few African American blues musicians from this region managed to record, Jordan was discovered by Victor Records around the age of 35. He traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, in August 1927, to record several sides for that label. His records sold well enough that Victor decided to bring him to New York for two further sessions in November of 1929. Luckily, 10 of the 12 tracks that he recorded during his brief career are available today on Document CDs DOCD 5045 and DOCD 5574.

His most memorable recordings, “Church Bells Blues” [1927], “Pick Poor Robin Clean” [1927], and “Cocaine Blues” [1927] feature not only some nice guitar work indicative of the East Coast style but also Jordan’s intriguing tenor voice marked by a certain ethereal, delicate quality. Most recently, the James River Blues Society has recognized Luke Jordan as a important figure in Virginia blues by erecting a historical marker in his honor in downtown Lynchburg.—PiedmontBlues

Church Bells Blues  / Pick Poor Robin Clean  / Cocaine Blues

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The Memphis Jug Band—Cocaine Habit Blues (1929)

Cocaine Habit Blues

    Lyrics by Jennie Mae Clayton


Cocaine habit is mighty bad.

It’s the worst old habit that I ever had.

Hey hey, honey take a whiff on me.


I went to mister demon in a loaf.

I saw a sign on the window said no more dough.

Hey hey, honey take a whiff on me.


If you don’t believe cocaine is good

ask Alma Rose and Nita Wood.

Hey hey, honey take a whiff on me


I love my whiskey and I love my gin

but the way I love my coke is a doggone sin.

Hey hey, honey take a whiff on me.


Since cocaine went out of style

you can catch’em shooting needles all the while.

Hey hey, honey take a whiff on me

It takes a little coke to give me ease.

Strut your stuff as long as you please

Hey hey, honey take a whiff on me

Let’s all take a little whiff on Annie.

Recorded by the Memphis Jug Band in 1930 credited to Jennie Mae Clayton

The Memphis Jug Band was an American musical group in the late 1920s and early to mid 1930s. The band featured harmonicas, violins, mandolins, banjos, and guitars, backed by washboards, kazoo, and jugs blown to supply the bass; they played in a variety of musical styles. The band recorded almost a hundred titles.

Between 1927 and 1934 various African-American musicians in the Memphis, Tennessee area grouped around singer, songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player Will Shade (also known as Son Brimmer or Sun Brimmer). The personnel of this jug band varied from day to day, with Shade booking gigs and arranging recording sessions. The band functioned as a training ground for musicians who would go on to success with careers of their own.

Among the recorded members were (at various times) Will Shade (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Charlie Burse (pronounced Bursey) (guitar, mandolin, and vocals), Charlie Nickerson (piano and vocals), Charlie Pierce (violin), Charlie Polk (jug), Tewee Blackman (vocals, guitar), “Hambone” Lewis (jug), Jab Jones (jug, piano, vocals ), Johnny Hodges/Hardge (piano), Ben Ramey (vocals and kazoo), Casey Bill Weldon (guitar and vocals), Memphis Minnie (guitar and vocals), Vol Stevens (vocals, violin, and mandolin), Milton Robie (violin), Otto Gilmore/Gilmer (drums and woodblocks), and Robert Burse (drums).

Vocals were also provided by Hattie Hart, Memphis Minnie, Jennie Mae Clayton (Shade’s wife), and Minnie Wallace, with Charlie Burse often contributing beautiful harmony parts to Shade’s lead vocal lines. In the case of Memphis Minnie, the Memphis Blues Band accompanied her on two sides for Victor Records, recorded in 1930 when the band’s career was “winding down.”

The attributed names of the group led by Shade on various recording labels vary quite a bit, but recent scholarly consensus has led writers to compile all of these works under the over-arching rubric of the Memphis Jug Band. . . .

The Memphis Jug Band played wherever they could find engagements, and busked in local parks. They were popular among white as well as black audiences.

In total, they made more than eighty recordings, first for Victor Records, then—as the Picaninny Jug Band—for the Champion-Gennett label, and finally for OKeh Records. The Victor recordings were made in Memphis and Atlanta, Georgia between 1927 and 1930, the Champion-Gennetts in Richmond, Indiana in August 1932, while the final sessions on Okeh were held in Chicago in November 1934. By that time, their style of music was no longer in demand, and Shade was no longer able to keep the musicians assembled as a group, although many of the individuals carried on working around Memphis until the 1940s.—Wikipedia

Stealin’ Stealin’ He’s In The Jailhouse Now / Everybody’s Talking About Sadie Green Beale Street Mess Around

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Lead Belly—Take A Whiff On Me

Take a Whiff on Me

     Lyrics by Lead Belly

Take a whiff on me Take a whiff on me And everybody takes a whiff on me. An-a-ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me. When I’m married Gonna call me a lie Gotta a whiff for my baby That she can’t get higher And-a ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me. When I’m married Gonna buy me a rope And buy a whiff for my baby Just because I love her It’s so-oh, baby take a whiff on me. Take a whiff on me Take a whiff on me And everybody takes a whiff on me. An-a ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me. I got a berry that’s sweeter than juice. Take this brown-skin woman For my particular use I said now, oh-ho, baby take a whiff on me Chew my tobacco, spittin’ my juice. But I love my baby Just a-can’t even let ya loose I said now, ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me Take a whiff on me Take a whiff on me And everybody takes a whiff on me It’s-a-ho-ho, baby take a whiff on me. Walked up Ellum And I come down Main Couldn’t bum a nickel Just to buy cocaine. An-a-ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me Take somethin’ Gonna make your mind ting-a-ling Two bars a-coke, can’t find my nickels An-a ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me. Take a whiff on me Take a whiff on me And everybody takes a whiff on me. And-a-ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me. You’ll take Sally And I’ll take Sue It’s a mighty little difference

between them two And they be swingin’ soon She said, “Now holler, baby take a whiff on me.” You’ll take Sally And I’d take Jane They both good lookin’ But they ain’t just the same An-a-ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me Whiff-a-ree, an-a whiff-a-rye Gotta keep on whiffin’ until I die An-a-ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me. Cocaine for horses, not for men Doctor said it kill ya But he don’t says when An-a ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me.


Take a whiff on me Take a whiff on me

And everybody takes a whiff on me. And-a-ho-oh, baby take a whiff on me.

Lead Belly’s “Take a Whiff on Me” is distantly related to “Cocaine Blues” by Reverend Gary Davis and with “Cocaine Habit Blues” recorded by the Memphis Jug Band. . . . The line “Walked up Ellum and I come down Main” refers to Elm Street in Dallas, in that city’s red light district). The song was first published by John Lomax in 1934 as “Honey, Take a Whiff on Me.” Lomax stated that its origins were uncertain. Wikipedia

Huddie William Ledbetter (January 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the 12-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced. He is best known as Lead Belly or Leadbelly. Though many releases list him as “Leadbelly,” he himself spelled it “Lead Belly.” This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as of the Lead Belly Foundation.

Although Lead Belly most commonly played the twelve string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad “John Hardy”, he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.The topics of Lead Belly’s music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding and dancing. He also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.

In 2008, Lead Belly was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. . . .

He was written up as a heroic figure by the black novelist, Richard Wright, then a member of the Communist Party, in the columns of the Daily Worker, of which Wright was the Harlem editor. The two men became personal friends, though Lead Belly himself was apolitical—if anything, a supporter of Wendell Willkie, the centrist Republican candidate, for whom he wrote a campaign song.

In 1939, Lead Belly was back in jail for assault, after stabbing a man in a fight in Manhattan. Alan Lomax, then 24, took him under his wing and helped raise money for his legal expenses, dropping out of graduate school to do so. After his release (in 1940-41), Lead Belly appeared as a regular on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray‘s groundbreaking CBS radio show, Back Where I Come From, broadcast nationwide. He also appeared in night clubs with Josh White, becoming a fixture in New York City’s surging folk music scene and befriending the likes of Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger, all fellow performers on Back Where I Come From. During the first half of the decade he recorded for RCA, the Library of Congress, and for Moe Asch (future founder of Folkways Records), and in 1944 headed to California, where he recorded strong sessions for Capitol Records. Lead Belly was the first American country blues musician to see success in Europe.

In 1949 Lead Belly had a regular radio broadcast on station WNYC in New York on Sunday nights on Henrietta Yurchenko‘s show. Later in the year he began his first European tour with a trip to France, but fell ill before its completion, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig‘s disease. His final concert was at the University of Texas in a tribute to his former mentor, John A. Lomax, who had died the previous year. Martha also performed at that concert, singing spirituals with her husband.Lead Belly died later that year in New York City, and was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Mooringsport, 8 miles (13 km) west of Blanchard, in Caddo Parish. He is honored with a life-size statue across from the Caddo Parish Courthouse in Shreveport.—Wikipedia

Midnight Special  /  House of the Rising Sun / Rider Blues / Yellow Jacket Blues / Matchbox Blues  /  Goodnight Irene

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Reverend Gary Davis—Cocaine Blues

Cocaine Blues

         By Reverend Gary Davis


A lot of people don’t know what’s the matter with them

sometimes nobody can’t get along with them, you know.

But I’m here to tell you: cocaine’s done got all around my brain.


I come in one night just about half past ten, you know.

Went to stick my key in the door I couldn’t get it in.

Cocaine’s done got all around my brain.


Come in one evening about half past nine.

My gal got a chair tried to knock me blind.

Cocaine’s done got all around my brain.


What’s that’s coming yonder looking so red?

My gal coming with a gun won’t to kill me dead.

Cocaine’s done got all around my brain.


I said run here somebody wantcha please run in a hurry.

This cocaine’s done got me worried.

Cocaine’s done got all around my brain


Some people want to know how come they can’t go to bed.

Been out all night long ain’t slept none yet

This cocaine giving them a fit.

Cocaine’s done got all around my brain.


I come in one night, one morning just about half passed four.

My gal got a chair knocked me right on back out the door.

She knows I wasn’t right: cocaine’s done got all around my brain.


I said run here somebody run here quick.

This cocaine’s done got me sick.

Cocaine’s done got all around in my brain.

Recording date unknown

One of the most familiar, usually known as “Cocaine Blues,” is Reverend Gary Davis’ arrangement, an eight-bar blues in C Major. Davis said that he learned the song in 1905 from a traveling carnival musician, Porter Irving. This version is made up of rhyming couplets, followed by a refrain “Cocaine, running all around my brain” or “Cocaine, all around my brain”). The song is sometimes known as “Coco Blues,” as on Davis’ 1965 album Pure Religion and Bad CompanyWikipedia

Reverend Gary Davis, also Blind Gary Davis, (April 30, 1896 – May 5, 1972) was a blues and gospel singer and guitarist who was also proficient on the banjo and harmonica. His finger-picking guitar style influenced many other artists and his students in New York included Stefan Grossman, David Bromberg, Roy Book Binder, Larry Johnson, Woody Mann, Nick Katzman, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Winslow, and Ernie Hawkins.

He has influenced the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Townes van Zandt, Wizz Jones, Jorma Kaukonen, Keb’ Mo’, Ollabelle and Resurrection Band.

Gary Davis was born in Laurens, South Carolina, and was the only one of eight children his mother bore who survived to adulthood. He became blind as an infant. Davis reported that his father was killed in Birmingham, Alabama when Davis was ten, and Davis later said that he had been told that his father had been shot by the Birmingham High Sheriff. He recalled being poorly treated by his mother and that before his death his father had given him into the care of his paternal grandmother.

He took to the guitar and assumed a unique multi-voice style produced solely with his thumb and index finger, playing not only ragtime and blues tunes, but also traditional and original tunes in four-part harmony. . . . The folk revival of the 1960s re-invigorated Davis’ career, culminating in a performance at the Newport Folk Festival and the recording by Peter, Paul and Mary of “Samson and Delilah,” also known as “If I Had My Way,” originally a Blind Willie Johnson recording that Davis had popularized. Davis died in May 1972, from a heart attack in Hammonton, New JerseyWikipedia

Twelve Gates to The City  /  Death Don’t Have No Mercy Candyman  /  Cross and Evil Woman Blues  / Walkin’ Dog Blues

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Keith Richards—Cocaine Blues

Cocaine Blues

        Lyrics by Keith Richards well, yonder comes my baby all dressed in white see baby gonna stay all night cocaine all around my brain yonder comes my baby all dressed in blue see baby what you gonna do cocaine all around my brain hey baby come here quick this old cocaine is making me sick cocaine all around my brain cocaine’s for horses, its not for men they say it’ll kill you but they don’t say when cocaine all around my brain ohh baby wouldn’t you get here quick this old cocaine is making me sick cocaine all around my brain it’s all around my brain

Keith Richards: guitar and vocals (1994).

This is Keith’s cover of the classic blues-song originally written and recorded by Reverend Gary Davis. But it also has a line from Luke Jordan’s “Cocaine Blues,” e.g., “cocaine’s for horses not for men.”

Keith Richards (born 18 December 1943) is an English musician best known as guitarist for the Rolling Stones, of which he has been a member since its founding. Known for his innovative rhythm playing, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him as the “10th greatest guitarist of all time.” Fourteen of the songs he has written with songwriting partner and Rolling Stones lead vocalist Mick Jagger are listed by Rolling Stone as among the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The only child of Bert Richards and Doris Dupree Richards, he was born in Dartford, Kent. His father was a factory labourer, injured during World War II. Their flat on Chastilian Road was hit by a Nazi V-1 flying bomb on 5 July 1944 while he and his mother visited Bert Richards at the hospital. Normandy invasion. Richards’ paternal grandparents were socialists and civic leaders. His maternal grandfather (Augustus Theodore Dupree), who toured Britain in a jazz big band called Gus Dupree and his Boys, was an early influence on Richards’s musical ambitions and got him interested in playing guitar.

 Richards’ mother introduced him to the music of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and bought him his first guitar, a Rosetti acoustic, for seven pounds. His father was less encouraging, telling his son to ‘Stop that bloody noise.'” Richards’s first guitar hero was Scotty Moore. . . . On 28 October 2008 Richards appeared at the Musicians’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, joining the newly inducted Crickets on stage for performances of “Peggy Sue“, “Not Fade Away” and “That’ll Be the Day.”

In August 2009, Richards was ranked #4 in Time magazine’s list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time. In September 2009 Richards revealed to Rolling Stone magazine that in addition to anticipating a new Rolling Stones album, he has done some recording with: “I enjoy working with Jack,” he said. “We’ve done a couple of tracks.” On 17 October 2009, Richards received the Rock Immortal Award at Spike TV’s Scream 2009 awards ceremony at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles; the award was presented by Johnny Depp. “I liked the living legend, that was all right,” Richards said, referring to an award he received in 1989, “but immortal is even better.”

In 2009, a book of Richards’ quotations was published, titled What Would Keith Richards Do?: Daily Affirmations from a Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor.

In August 2007 Richards signed a publishing deal for his autobiography, Life, which was released October 26, 2010. On October 15, 2010, the Associated Press published an article stating that Richards refers to Mick Jagger as “unbearable” in the book and notes that their relationship has been strained “for decades.”—Wikipedia

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Charley Patton—Spoonful Blues

Spoonful Blues

     Lyrics by Charley Patton (spoken: I’m about to go to jail about this spoonful)

In all a spoon’, ’bout that spoon’ The women goin’ crazy, every day in their life ’bout a . . . It’s all I want, in this creation is a . . . I go home (spoken: wanna fight!) ’bout a . . . Doctor’s dyin’ (way in Hot Springs!) just ’bout a . . . These women goin’ crazy every day in their life ’bout a . . . Would you kill a man babe? (spoken: yes, I will!) just ’bout a… Oh babe, I’m a fool about my . . . (spoken: Don’t take me long!) to get my . . . Hey baby, you know I need my . . . It’s mens on Parchman (done lifetime) just ’bout a . . . Hey baby, (spoken: you know I ain’t long) ’bout my . . . It’s all I want (spoken: honey, in this creation) is a . . . I go to bed, get up and wanna fight ’bout a . . . (spoken: Look-y here, baby, would you slap me? Yes I will!) just ’bout a . . . Hey baby, (spoken: you know I’m a fool a-) ’bout my . . . Would you kill a man? (spoken: Yes I would, you know I’d kill him) just ’bout a . . . Most every man (spoken: that you see is) fool ’bout his . . . (spoken: You know baby, I need) that ol’ . . . Hey baby, (spoken: I wanna hit the judge ’bout a) ’bout a . . . (spoken: Baby, you gonna quit me? Yeah honey!) just ’bout a . . . It’s all I want, baby, this creation is a . . . (spoken: look-y here, baby, I’m leavin’ town!) just ’bout a . . . Hey baby, (spoken: you know I need) that ol’ . . . (spoken: Don’t make me mad, baby!) ’cause I want my . . . Hey baby, I’m a fool ’bout that . . . (spoken: Look-y here, honey!) I need that . . . Most every man leaves without a . . . Sundays’ mean (spoken: I know they are) ’bout a . . . Hey baby, (spoken: I’m sneakin’ around here) and ain’t got me no . . . Oh, that spoon’, hey baby, you know I need my . . .

A song about cocaine. Recorded 1929 Richmond, Indiana

Charlie Patton, better known as Charley Patton (born between April 1887 & 1891 – died April 28, 1934) is best known as an American Delta blues musician. He is considered by many to be the “Father of the Delta Blues” and therefore one of the oldest known figures of American popular music. He is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man (Palmer, 1995). Musicologist Robert Palmer considers him among the most important musicians that America produced in the twentieth century. . . .

Charlie Patton was one of the first mainstream stars of the Delta blues genre. Patton, who was born in Hinds County, Mississippi near Edwards, lived most of his life in Sunflower County, in the Mississippi Delta. Most sources say he was born in 1891, but there is some debate about this, and the years 1887 and 1894 have also been suggested. In 1900, his family moved 100 miles (160 km) north to the legendary 10,000-acre (40 km2) Dockery Plantation sawmill and cotton farm near Ruleville, Mississippi. It was here that both John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf fell under the Patton spell. It was also here that Robert Johnson played and was given his first guitar. . . . Although Patton was a small man at about 5 foot 5 and 135 pounds, his gravelly voice was rumored to have been loud enough to carry 500 yards without amplification. Patton’s gritty bellowing was a major influence on the singing style of his young friend Chester Burnett, who went on to gain fame in Chicago as Howlin’ Wolf.

Patton settled in Holly Ridge, Mississippi with his common-law wife and recording partner Bertha Lee in 1933. He died on the Heathman-Dedham plantation near Indianola from heart disease on April 28, 1934 and is buried in Holly Ridge (both towns are located in Sunflower County). . . .

Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton is a boxed set collecting Charley Patton’s recorded works. It also featuring recordings by many of his friends and associates. The set won three Grammy Awards in 2003 for Best Historical Album, Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, and Best Album Notes.

Another collection of Patton recordings, released under Catfish Records is titled The Definitive Charley Patton. Charley Patton’s song “Pony Blues” (1929) was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2006. The board selects songs in an annual basis that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”—Wikipedia

Stone Pony Blues  / Running Wild (1929, Grafton) / Going To Move To Alabama  / Moon Goin Down 1930 / Rattlesnake Blues

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Hoodoo Lady

By Memphis Minnie

True to her billing (“plays guitar like a man”), Minnie held her own in a genre dominated by male artists. She had a gutsy voice and a no-nonsense guitar style. These 20 prime cuts were done in Chicago for the Vocalion and ARC labels. Recorded in the late ’30s, many contain small band accompaniment that included Charlie McCoy’s dynamic mandolin as well as legendary pianists Blind John Davis and Black Bob. Two cuts, “Please Don’t Stop Him” and “I’m Going Don’t You Know,” feature Arnett Nelson’s smooth clarinet work. Although Minnie would continue to record for several more decades, she would never be better than she was during these sessions.—Lars Gandil /

Hoodoo Lady Blues  /  When the levee breaks  / New Bumble Bee (1930)  / Me And My Chauffeur Blues

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Harlem Street Singer

By Reverend Gary Davis

My collection includes all of The Reverend’s recorded works. If you are going to buy just one Davis disc — or if you are looking for a good introduction to this Blues/Ragtime master, “Harlem Street Singer” is unquestionably the best choice. The recording captures Davis at his most passionate vocally and at this top of his game as a guitarist. A lot of his early work suffers from poor recording technology, however this disc sounds like it was cut in a 21st Century studio. I’m not a religious person, but Davis’ music is almost enough to send me running to church. The piercing conviction of the lyrics and syncopated guitar in “Twelve Gates,” “Great Change” and “Samson and Delilah” still send chills of guilt up my spine.—amazon customer

If you enjoy both blues and gospel music, you will discover on this CD that for Reverend Davis there is no distinction between the two forms. “Samson and Delilah” and “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” were tunes that influenced The Grateful Dead and other Rock bands, but here you get the full, original impact of these songs. Reverend Davis was without question one of the greatest blues guitar stylists ever, and this album captures some of his strongest recorded work.—Charles A Cooper

Twelve Gates to The City  /  Death Don’t Have No Mercy Candyman  /  Cross and Evil Woman Blues  / Walkin’ Dog Blues

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Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues

By Paul Gordon and Beth Garon

Born Lizzie Douglas in Algiers, Louisiana, Minnie was one of the most influential and pioneering female blues musicians and guitarists of all time.

Universally recognized as one of the greatest blues artists, Memphis Minnie (1897–1973) wrote and recorded hundreds of songs, among them the famous “Bumble Bee Blues,” “I’m Talking About You,” and “What’s the Matter with the Mill?” Blues people as diverse as Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines, Big Mama Thornton, and Chuck Berry have acknowledged her as a major influence. At a time when most female vocalists sang Tin Pan Alley material, Minnie write her own lyrics and accompanied her singing with magnificent guitar-playing. Thanks to her merciless imagination and dark humor, her songs rank among the most vigorous and challenging popular poetry in any language.

Although organized feminism was at its lowest ebb, Memphis Minnie, a black working-class woman, called no man master, defied gender stereotypes, and exemplified a radically adventurous life-style that makes most careers of the ’20s and ’30s seem dull by comparison. Woman with Guitar is the first full-length study of the life and work of this extraordinary free spirit, focusing on the lively interplay between Minnie’s evolving artistry and the African American community in which she lived and worked. Drawing on folklore, psychoanalysis, critical theory, women’s studies, and surrealism, the Garons’ inspired explorations of Minnie’s songs illuminate the poetics of popular culture as well as the largely hidden history of working-class women’s self emancipation.

Hoodoo Lady Blues  /  When the levee breaks  / New Bumble Bee (1930)  / Me And My Chauffeur Blues

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 1 December 2010




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