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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SPREAD THE INSPIRATION

6765541_1_lThis movie, written, directed and produced by my father, Eddie Green, in which he also starred, prompted one journalist to refer to Eddie as the “comic movie making mogul”, because the movie proved to be quite popular.

Dress Rehearsal (1939) was Eddie’s first movie that was released under Sepia-Art Pictures Co. (which Eddie owned) at the 125th Street Apollo in New York on October 21, 1939. The film was also shown in the Lichtman chain of theaters in the South. Eddie’s sales manager reported that after the first showing of the movie the “White as well as the Black audiences grabbed at it greedily.” And that due to this unexpected phenomenon “the entire plant had to be reorganized.” The “plant” being Eddie’s movie studio in Palisades, New Jersey.

The next “first” for Eddie is that in December of 1939 the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) picked Dress Rehearsal for broadcast over their television station in New York, making this movie the first Black (Negro in those days) motion picture to be sent out over the air.

Unfortunately, I have yet to locate copies of this film, although I do have copies of a script. The original script is kept in the Margaret Herrick Museum which is a non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture.

Today, I am looking forward to my first “First,” my upcoming book signing event. On November 9, 2016 at 7:00PM PST I will be at Book Soup in Los Angeles signing Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. When I started this book writing venture I concentrated only on research and writing. I intended to present this book to my grandson as inspiration to go forward with his life. It turns out that my father’s story has provided inspiration for me and a lot of other people who have read the book or seen this blog. During this process, however, it never dawned on me that I would have book signings.

To paraphrase Norma Desmond, after this book signing there will be another one and another one! I already have two invites. This first one though has become a sort of celebration for me so I am having snacks, and a comedy clip and a reading and a raffle. And of course my marketing continues. I have become a part of a couple of social media sites and I am beginning to be a bit more outgoing in regard to “selling” the book.

One thing I know is that if I have a desire to do something, I can. And if the something I want to do gives me pleasure I will take the necessary steps to get it done. My father was a good example of that. Anyone can do the same. I appreciate my followers on this site because they help me to keep writing.  I hope you will mention this blog to others so that we can spread the inspiration.

Thanks, for stopping by and KCB.