You Better Recognize!

Everyone can enjoy music. Any race or gender. It’s not normally about who is playing it. It really does not matter who is performing the music, only the notes matter. I think, however, what does matter is, who writes the notes and the lyrics. Who gets the recognition. I am happy that despite the fact that my father wrote his first song way back in 1917 his name is still listed as the writer. It’s pretty much a well known fact. And many, many people have recorded or performed Eddie’s song. Just recently a friend played it in a hotel where he works as a pianist. He was surprised how many people recognized the song, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is still being played by someone, somewhere in the world.

The song was made popular in 1919 by a White woman, Marion Harris, the first widely known White woman to sing jazz and blues. Then Sophie Tucker (the Red Hot Mama) fell in love with the song and sung it night after night in her nightclub act. Alberta Hunter took it after that. Bessie Smith, Louie Prima, and on and on. It’s been a fox trot, it’s been played with a ukulele. It was sung by Frank Sinatra in a movie joined by Shelley Winters. However, until I wrote Eddie’s biography most people were unaware that the writer of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was a Black man.

What I have known for a long time is that there are many songs written and/or performed first by African-Americans that became widely popular through White singers who wound up getting the kudos (think Elvis and “Hound Dog”).

John Turner Layton, Jr., was an African-American songwriter, singer and pianist. Born 1894, he died in 1978. Turner Layton’s buddy, Harry Sterling Creamer, born 1879, died 1930, was also an African-American song lyricist. He co-wrote many popular songs in the years from 1900 to 1929. These men were talented, dedicated, and also patriotic as you can see by their first album. And like my father, Eddie, also appeared in vaudeville.

These two men wrote the song “After You’ve Gone” in 1918. Like Eddie’s song, Marion Harris helped make this song popular, as did Sophie Tucker. Edyie Gorme has sung the song, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was also a popular song with music by John Turner Layton, lyrics by Harry  Creamer. Sung by The Andrews Sisters (1950) Freddie Cannon, Bing Crosby, Jan and Dean (1963!) among others. Yet, how many people are aware of the fact that these songs were written by African-American men? Where is their recognition?

Layton and Creamer were even commissioned to do a play. ” COBURNS PLAN MUSICAL SHOW: Mr. and Mrs. Coburn. it was learned last week, have practically completed negotiations for a new musical play which they plan to produce. The play is called “The Three Showers,” and the book, lyrics and music were written Jointly by Harry S. Creamer and Turner Layton. If George M. Cohan consents to fix up the book of “The Three Showers,” as is contemplated by the Coburns.”

About 1924 Turner Layton went to Europe. He teamed up with a Mr. Clarence “Tandy” Johnstone and enjoyed a great deal of success. Per the Pittsburgh Courier, 1927: “Turner Layton, Clarence Johnstone Are Playing To Big Crowds In London.”

Like Eddie, Turner Layton was often mentioned in the Black newspapers even as late as 1950, Pittsburgh Courier, 1950: “The Turner Laytons with daughter Alelia vacationing in usual swank style on French Riviera. Turner Layton happy at relief of gas rationing . . . Rolls Royces do less than 8 miles to the gallon. ” The man had a Rolls Royce.

We hear the songs and even recognize the people who sing them and that’s cool. But the recognition of the fact that there is much widely popular music that was written by African-Americans is absent in America. There, I’ve said it. Which is why who wrote the music matters, today. Music is universal. As is the African-American contribution.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Check out my book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.







3rd set with new pictures 168
my father and mother 1945

The book I have written (yay!) on my father, Eddie Green includes a chapter donated specifically to my mom, Norma Anne Amato Green Beasley Washington. As this blog is basically about inspiring folks through the life story of my father’s success in the early 1900s in the entertainment industry I haven’t written a lot about my mom. For instance, Norma is not just “my” mom. As a Beasley she had four more children, Lance, Brad, Donna and Brian. Lancie-pants is no longer with us. Mom died in 2010. She was 87. If Eddie had lived until 2010 he would have been 119 years old. Yea, he was a lot older than Norma when they married.

When I was about ten or twelve, Mom told me that Eddie had written a song titled, A Good Man Is Hard To Find. She also told me that he said he had written it for her.  I always thought that was really sweet, until I grew up and found out that the song was written in 1917 and Mom wasn’t even born until 1923. I guess Mom knew that Eddie hadn’t really written that song for her as they didn’t meet until 1939 or so, but the fact that he told her it was written for her shows us that how we want to be treated as significant others never really changes.

Lately, it seems to me that a lot of comments have been placed on a certain social media site regarding how men need to learn how to treat their women. Appreciation is a big deal. Well, these types of issues were relevant back in 1917 also. Only in Eddie’s case it was about how  women need to treat their men. Eddie’s song was a major hit and was recorded many times by well-known and little-known artists, check out Bessie Smith’s version.

Thanks, for stopping by.

Elva D. Green





“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, written by Eddie Green and popularized by the singer Bessie Smith in 1927.

Hi there!  I missed out.  I wanted to watch “Bessie” with Queen Latifah on HBO, May 16th, but my landlady cancelled our cable, boo hoo.  I received a comment today about “Bessie”, so of course I had to see if I could find it on the net.  For this post, however, I decided to post a video of Bessie Smith singing the song my father wrote way back in 1917.

There were also a few other people who recorded the song, for instance:

By Eddie Green
Marion Harris – 1919
Wilbur C. Sweatman’s Jazz Orchestra – 1919
Viola McCoy – 1927
Eddie Condon & His Band – 1940
Butch Stone – 1942
Frank Sinatra – 1951
George Lewis – 1953
Big Maybelle – 1956
Brenda Lee – 1959
Also recorded by: Trinity; Di Anne Price; Bix Beiderbecke; Fats Waller; Rosemary Clooney; Les Brown;
Champion Jack Dupree; Barbra Streisand; Frances Faye; Hank Thompson; Lizzie Miles; Louis Prima;
Carol Channing; Nancy Wilson; Ralph Sutton; Juanita Hall; Kid Ory; Judith Durham; Dorothy Loudon;
Bob Wills, to name a few.

I should be finished with the first draft of my book about Eddie at the beginning of June.  I have the feeling that this year will be a good time for this book to become available.  To my knowledge, Eddie’s song has been performed in two recent movies, “Bessie” and “Blue Jasmin” (a Woody Allen movie).  I love the fact that this song has endured and remained relevant all these years.  Eddie died in 1950, so he was only aware of a few of these people performing the song.   While he was alive  he knew a few of the people on the above list, like Fats Waller and Frank Sinatra.  Oh yeah, and Sophie Tucker, he knew Sophie, she used Eddie’s song as her “torch” song (if you are too young to remember Sophie Tucker, look her up, she was what they called a “real hot mama” back in the day.

My father continues to provide the inspiration that helps me stay focused on this book-writing process, as do those who read my posts and those who comment.    Eddie has shown me that there are obstacles in life, Eddie had them as a Black man living his life in the early 20th century through 1950, but he never stopped moving forward,  he went on to write 29 more songs, to perform on Broadway and radio, and even to write, produce and star in his own movies, as I have mentioned in previous posts and will elaborate on in future posts.  I am experiencing a sense of optimism through tracing Eddie’s life and I hope I am able to pass this feeling on.  Thanks so much for stopping by.




In my last post, I wrote about finding my father’s WWI Draft Registration Card and the added information I discovered on the card.  Eddie did in fact, show up on June 5.  Eddie had a small child at the time, and I have no idea if that made a difference in whether a man was sent off to the war. As a side note, the first training camp for black officers was set up in March, of 1917.

eddie green - amos n andy

In the meantime,  Eddie was working as an actor at the Standard Theater on 12th and South in Philadelphia.

Standard Theater (3 views)
Standard Theater (3

Eddie was 25 now and he was working and supporting a family, though times were difficult.


There was also a riot that year:  The city of East St. Louis, Illinois was the scene of one of the bloodiest race riots in the 20th century.  Racial tensions began to increase in February, 1917 when 470 African American workers were hired to replace white workers who had gone on strike against the Aluminum Ore Company.The violence started on May 28th, 1917, shortly after a city council meeting was called.

Life was happening, as always.  Some good, some bad.  It is difficult to write inspiring stories without including the “bad”.  But it does help to highlight the success stories.  Not everyone gets caught up in what is wrong in this world.  Even when it is difficult to stay out of the madness.  Hey, that sounds inspiring, doesn’t it?

On August 10, John Lee Hooker was born, and on December 18, Ossie Davis was born.  Good things were to come.

On December 28, Eddie copyrighted his first  song “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, which would go on to become a  hit.  He wrote 29 more songs over the next 15 years, five of which are still under copyright.

What a year!

Thanks for stopping by.

Name Dropping

Eddie Green-Getty Image
My father-Eddie Green

This is going to be short and sweet.  In my quest to find information on my father, Eddie Green, I have encountered a few blank areas in his life.  So far, I have found nothing about Eddie between 1910 and 1917.  So today I got the bright idea to check out what was happening in the world 100 years ago, this month.  I figured I might be able to connect with Eddie’s life somehow.  Basically, what I found was information about the War.  All about the War.  Eddie was 24 years old in 1915, he had yet to write his first song, nor had he begun making any headway in his career as a magician.  He was not in the service for this War.   He was married but, so far I don’t know to whom he was married.

One interesting fact I found out was that Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1915.

Well, Frank Sinatra would, years later, record the first song that Eddie wrote in 1917 “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, as you can see below:


10 2:55

I love dropping names.

Thanks for stopping by.


sophie tucker - a good man

Over the past month, I have been a bit depressed because a friend died, so I have not been so keen on posting.  It is much easier to sit back and contemplate the “why’s” of Life.  However, writing is something I like to do and life goes on, doesn’t it?  My friend was a good man.  According to his wife, he was a good man in her book, too.  As you can see from the above, my father, Eddie Green, wrote the song “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”.  I went online trying to find pictures that I could use in this post along that line, but I only found pictures like:

Benny Goodman - Stage Door Canteen
Benny Goodman – Stage Door Canteen
Pic showing how to find a good man-Tesla-Inventor-Alternating Current (AC)
Pic showing how to find a good man-Tesla-Inventor-Alternating Current (AC)

Then I remembered, I already had a good picture to use, of Miss Sophie Tucker, from 1919, advertising “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”.  This song actually became Sophie Tucker’s signature song for a while.

Sophia Tucker Says
Sophia Tucker Says

The paragraph in the oblong box reads:  “Miss Tucker has sung “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” nightly for 10 consecutive weeks, to thousands, in the Sophie Tucker room at Reisenweber’s and will continue to use it until her engagement terminates.  Hear her and be convinced.  Miss Tucker says:  “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” is the best blue number she has ever used.”  This is saying something, she has used “some good ones.”

For those of you who do not know, Sophie Tucker was known as “the Red Hot Momma” in her day, and she took a liking to Eddie’s songs.  Miss Tucker made special orchestra parts of Eddie’s 1921 songs, “The World’s All Wrong” and “You Can Read My Letters, But You Sure Can’t Read My Mind.”  This was in April, of 1921, Eddie had become a music publisher by then, and his business was doing so well that, according to the March 5, 1921 Billboard, Eddie would be moving his office into larger quarters the following April.   In this same Billboard article, it says “Miss Tucker also had Mr. Green write a special version of “You’ve Got What I Like”, another song Eddie wrote in 1921.  Sophie Tucker was famous and now I know that my father actually spoke to her! He probably was not as excited about it as I am.

I feel much better now that I have written this post.  My book is progressing slowly.  The fact that I am going to write something and publish it and then wait for someone to buy it, is daunting.  It seems like such a good idea when I remember that my purpose is to preserve the history of my father’s career, and to show my grandson just what type of stock he comes from.  (Poor English, oh well.)  Have you been inspired to research a relative?

Thanks for stopping by.