Kristina and Bessie – Perfection

Welcome. June is Black Music Month. In 2017 I wrote an article for an online magazine Unlikely Stories Mark V BlackArtMatters – this post uses a portion of that article.

My father, Eddie Green, wrote many songs in the early 1900s. His 1921 writings included “You Can Read My Letters, But You Sure Can’t Read My Mind,” “You’ve Got What I Like,” and “The World’s All Wrong.” Miss Sophie Tucker, known as “The Red-Hot Mama”, became interested in Eddie’s songs and commissioned special band arrangements for “The World’s All Wrong,” and “You Can Read My Letters, But You Sure Can’t Read My Mind,” she also had Eddie write a special version of “You’ve Got What I Like” for one of her performances.

Eddie collaborated with Cuney Conner, a music writer and musical director who wrote the music for “The World’s All Wrong.” The song is about a man who has been searching for his sweetheart and finds her at her dress rehearsal where she appears as a chorus girl. He tries to talk her into coming back to him but she wants nothing to do with him, until he happens to tell her that he has come into an inheritance. The upshot of the song is that it is not the world that is wrong but the people in it.

The words to the “The World’s All Wrong” can be found in the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, California. The Margaret Herrick Library houses a world-renowned, non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and an industry. This song is included in the library’s archives because Eddie used it in one of his movies, Dress Rehearsal (1939).

Eddie’s very first song was, however, destined to become a hit, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” written in 1917, is still being recorded one hundred years later. “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” was copyrighted by Eddie on December 28, 1917. His song writing style was relevant to the times in which he was living and in 1917 the blues was becoming a major part of the music scene. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was written in a bluesy style, probably so that it would better relate to the general public. Not being psychic, Eddie could not possibly have known to what heights this song would reach. He had written one of the Jazz standards of the Roaring 20s.

Eddie sold his song in 1918 to Pace & Handy. W. C. Handy, musician, met Harry H. Pace at the Solvent Savings Bank in Memphis. Pace was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Atlanta University and a student of W. E. B. Du Bois. By the time of their meeting, Pace had already demonstrated a strong understanding of business. He earned his reputation by recreating failing businesses. Handy liked him, and Pace later became the manager of Pace & Handy Sheet Music. His published musical works were groundbreaking because of his ethnicity, and he was among the first blacks to achieve economic success from publishing. By January 1919, Pace & Handy were advertising to supply performers with knock-out material, in the way of current songs, one of which was the 1,000,000 copy hit, sure-fire applause getter “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

In 2017 at my book signing, my niece gave Eddie and I the great honor of singing “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” in the style of Bessie Smith. Unfortunately, I have not been able to figure out how to get Kristina’s version on this blog, but here is Bessie’s. Stay tuned for Kristina’s version and thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

 

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