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He and Elizabeth Cotten developed a good friendship. He liked her music, too. He told me earlier that if he were to start playing all over again, he would want to play guitar like Mississippi John Hurt - Mike Seeger recalling his interviews with Dock Boggs

Author Topic: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?  (Read 1120 times)

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Offline Westside

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Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« on: April 23, 2013, 06:47:19 PM »
I remember reading or hearing that quite a few tunes that many had thought to be original blues tunes actually started life as Tin Pan Alley tunes.  An example of this would be the tune "Fishin' Blues".  Many people thought this to be an original Henry Thomas tune when it actually came from Tin Pan Alley.  I also remember someone saying something about the 12 bars blues also originating in Tin Pan Alley as backing for female vocalists?  Does anybody know of any more "blues" tunes that came from Tin Pan Alley and if the 12 bar actually originated there as well?
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 08:32:13 PM by Westside Ryan »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 07:54:09 PM »
Can't recall if they were specifically Tin Pan Alley in origin, but supposedly "I'm So Glad" and "Some of These Days" had non-blues origins.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 09:49:59 PM »
"Hesitation Blues" was a Pop Song.  I have sheet music for it.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2013, 05:26:20 AM »
It's safe to say that any blues that became known to the world at large before c. 1920 became known through sheet music or the stage or, in the late teens, through a recording by a white vaudeville performer.  In many cases, such as Garrett and Wand's "Dallas Blues" (the first 12 bar blues published and, I believe, the first recorded) the songwriters probably either fully or partially adapted an existing melody or lyrics.  But once published and recorded, the songs went on to be influential in their own right. 

Peter C. Muir's "Long Lost Blues" is a good source for early published blues.  It seems to be out of print and expensive to buy.  Get it from a library. 

Offline Stuart

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2013, 11:03:16 AM »
Peter C. Muir's "Long Lost Blues" is a good source for early published blues.  It seems to be out of print and expensive to buy.  Get it from a library.

It appears to still be available:

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/32ykh8wx9780252034879.html

Plug the pb ISBN 978-0-252-07676-3 into BookFinder:

http://www.bookfinder.com/

There are numerous copies for sale, both new and used. But as dj says, your local public library is going to be the least expensive option--and if they don't have it in their holdings, there's always inter-library loan.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2013, 11:04:58 AM by Stuart »

Offline Cleoma

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2013, 11:16:42 AM »
Two of Elijah Wald's books touch on this topic, and are well worth reading anyway:
In Search of Robert Johnson (not about RJ except peripherally)
How the Beatles Destroyed Rock and Roll (not about the Beatles, nor about rock and roll, except peripherally)

The first blues music by black musicians to be widely recorded and sold was not the country blues of Henry Thomas etc. but rather the "classic" blues singers starting with Mamie Smith, then Bessie, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, etc. etc.  "Classic" blues singers (almost always women) sang songs that definitely were as close to pop tunes (or vaudeville/music hall) as they were to what we think of as "blues".

Similarly, there's a huge Tin Pan Alley influence on the hillbilly music recorded in the 1920s.

Offline dj

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 11:58:01 AM »
Yes, I'd recommend Elijah Wald's books cited above. 

Also David Wondrich's "Stomp And Swerve: American Music Gets Hot 1843 - 1924, though I have a few quibbles with it here and there.

And Lynn Abbott and Doug Serroff's "Ragged but Right: Black Traveling Shows, "Coon Songs," and the Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz", which deals more specifically with Black theater, travelling shows, and circus bands from the tail end of the 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th.

To me, the whole period from the dawn of recording through 1920 is really fascinating.  (And I have to admit that 10 years ago, my reaction to music from that period was "BO-RING!"  Live and learn.  Or at least live and broaden your horizons.)

Offline Slack

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2013, 02:43:27 PM »
That's it.

In Search of Robert Johnson is a documentary.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2013, 10:28:17 PM »
Also David Wondrich's "Stomp And Swerve: American Music Gets Hot 1843 - 1924, though I have a few quibbles with it here and there.

There's also a companion CD:

http://www.archeophone.com/product_info.php?products_id=38

Offline alyoung

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2013, 06:45:04 AM »

In Search of Robert Johnson is a documentary.

... featuring John Hammond Jr  with Johnny Shines in a supporting role, and mainly notable for perpetuating the ridiculous Robert-Johnson-at-the-crossroads myth. It's on YouTube for anyone with the time to waste.

Offline Cleoma

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Re: Tin Pan Alley's Influence on Early Blues?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2013, 12:03:14 AM »
Sorry about that, it is "Escaping the Delta:  RJ and the Invention of the BLues" by Elijah Wald. 

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