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.

 

 

 

 

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You Learn Something New Every Day

I have a few newer followers to this blog. So I am posting a bit of information, some of which is in my book, for the newer people, though I have added new information in this post that I have only found today. I have also included a YouTube video, so there should be something for everybody. Say Hi to this guy Eddie Green, my father. I began this blog in order to chronicle my research into and my writing of his biography. A rags-to-riches story of a man who was a composer, Broadway and movie star, an Old Time Radio icon and filmmaker.  The book has been published and has even won a Foreword INDIES 2016 Bronze Book Award (yay!!). I am in the process now of visiting libraries and Rotary Clubs and other venues to give presentations. I have been interviewed on podcasts and a National Radio program, and on YesterdayUSA.  And I am continuing to post on this blog, one reason being that I am still learning new information about my father, another is that I continue to make good friends as well as good contacts. And I continue to discover that there are lots of people in this world who knew of my father and wanted to learn more.

The title of the book is Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. In the book I mention a song that Eddie and another actor, Ernest Whitman, sang in 1945, “One Meatball”. I decided to post a YouTube video so that my audience (you) can hear Eddie announced and, can hear his voice.

When I logged onto the YouTube site I noticed these comments from tugOjackson from 2000: Eddie Green was beloved by millions of Americans who knew him as “Eddie the Waiter” on the Duffy’s Tavern radio show (which was the basis of the Cheers TV show.) Eddie was a marvelous talent and I know he would have been just as successful today. Thanks (jazzman) for not letting him be forgotten. And who knew Ernie & Eddie could sing jazz too? Their jazz/comic timing is superb in this clip! This may be the best version of “One Meatball” ever recorded! Listening again to this superb rendition of “One Meatball”. Eddie Green’s spoken comic asides as Ernie sings the first chorus are pure jazz improvisation. And Ernie can really sing too. By the way Mark Twain mentions this song in his book Roughing It, so it goes waay back. (I have tried to locate these two  gentleman to thank them for their comments, but no luck so far.)

The song is by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer.  What I didn’t put in the book is the journey this song took before it got it’s current name. In 1855 while living at Cloverden in Cambridge, Massachusetts, George Martin Lane wrote the song “The Lone Fish Ball”; after decades as a staple of Harvard undergraduates, it was modernized into the popular hit “One Meat Ball”. The song is composed upon an old english folk song entitled “Sucking Cider Through a Straw”. According to Professor Morris H. Morgan, the song is based upon an actual experience of Lane’s at a restaurant in Boston, although the reality involved a half-portion of macaroni, rather than a fish ball. The song goes on to relate the impoverished diner’s embarrassment at the hands of a disdainful waiter.

After becoming popular among Harvard undergraduates, it was translated into a mock Italian operetta, “Il Pesceballo”, by faculty members Francis James Child, James Russell Lowell and John Knowles Paine, set to a pastiche of grand opera music, and performed in Boston and Cambridge to raise funds for the Union army. A fish ball was for breakfast, cooked fish and potatoes pan fried together.

In 1944, the song was revived by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Hy Zaret and Lou Singer in a more bluesy format as “One Meat Ball”, and the recording by Josh White became one of the biggest hits of the early part of the American folk music revival. The song has been performed by  The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Savo, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and others. Hy Zaret lived to be 99 years old, dying in 2007.

 

So, take a few more minutes, sit back and enjoy seeing my father, Eddie Green, and his friend Ernest Whitman in this compilation of images put together by jazzman and tugOjackson just so I could find it and share it with you.

As always, thanks, for stopping by.

https://www.facebook.com/EddieGreenBook/

 

It has been eleven days since my last post. Now that I have finished writing the biography of my father’s (Eddie Green) life and signed with a publisher I have been concentrating on the book cover design. Actually, I have been obsessing over it. Morning, noon, and night. Today I went out to the dentist and I was so anxious to get back home to my computer, I forgot to bring home something for dinner. I have been wracking my brain over what pictures to use.

Eddie’s forte was comedy, but he also sang, wrote songs, ran a string of restaurants, owned a movie picture/television station and was a government licensed ham radio operator. In the early 1900s Eddie was what Bob Hope called “a man of all trades, master of fun.” He was present before, during and after the Harlem Renaissance. So there are photos that I can use on the cover page, but in most of them Eddie was either acting silly, as in the picture from his movie “One Round Jones” (1941), or he is making a funny face in character. Anyhow, what I want to use is a picture that showed Eddie as the business man that he was because even as a comedian he was all business.

3ONEROUNDJONES
EDDIE GREEN IN ONE ROUND JONES

So, I have chosen the only photo that I have – a head shot of Eddie in his usual attire when he wasn’t in character – a sharp suit and a snazzy hat. Back east in the 40s and 50s men wore snazzy hats. Once the design is done, I will post it here. I think I will place small images of one or two of the comedies he made on the cover also.

I have realized recently that when I post to this blog I post as if I am sending my stuff out to the whole world, worrying that if I put too much in the blog who will buy this book? But, hello, silly me, the whole world is not following my blog! I have realized that I think of my blog followers as the whole world which is a good thing. Because that means I am pleased and satisfied with the progress of this endeavor.

Once my book publishes of course, I will be making a serious effort to see that it gets out to as many people as possible.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.