Franklin Onn12

Member Since: 4/2/2002
Total Mixes: 95
Total Feedback: 360

The 20th Century's Greatest Hit - or - The Battle Hymn of the Ethiopians

Artist Song
Louis Armstrong  St. Louis Blues 
Bessie Smith w/ Louis Armstrong  St. Louis Blues 
Albert Ammons  St. Louis Blues 
Emmett Miller  St. Louis Blues 
Django Reinhardt  St. Louis Blues 
David Grisman, Mike Auldridge, Bob Brozman  St. Louis Blues 
Doc & Merle Watson  St. Louis Blues 
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys  St. Louis Blues (Part 2) 
The Boswell Sisters  St. Louis Blues 
The Mills Brothers  St. Louis Blues 
Lonnie Johnson & Elmer Snowden  St. Louis Blues 
Etta James  St. Louis Blues 
Sun Ra  St. Louis Blues 
Count Basie & Ella Fitzgerald  St. Louis Blues 
Duke Ellington  St. Louis Blues 
Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra  St. Louis Blues 
Sol Hoopii  St. Louis Blues 
Sidney Bechet  St. Louis Blues 
Benny Goodman & His Orchestra  St. Louis Blues (Take 1) 
Louis Prima  St. Louis Blues 
Illinois Jacquet  St. Louis Blues 
The Hall Johnson Choir  St. Louis Blues 


In 1893, the story goes, W.C. Handy, a young down-and-out musician, was wandering the streets of St. Louis (or maybe New Orleans) when he met a tormented woman whose husband had run out on her. She told Handy, "My man's got a heart like a rock cast in the sea." That became Handy's inspiration for the most popular blues song of the 20th Century and a key line in the song -- the story of a sophisticated woman from St. Louis who has stolen the affection of the singer's lover. Explaining the song's opening line Handy wrote, "If you ever had to sleep on the cobbles down by the river in St. Louis, you'll understand the complaint" of "I hate to see the evenin' sun go down." Composed by Handy in Memphis, he published the song himself in 1914 after being turned down by every publisher he offered it to. The song initially went nowhere, but began to receive some notice when Handy and his partner Harry Pace moved their publishing business to New York two years later. It was first performed publicly by an unknown female impersonator. In the audience at the time was a young Ethel Waters, who acquired the performance rights from Handy and became the first woman to publicly perform the song. The song gained rapidly in popularity as stars of stage and vaudeville began to record it and it became America's first blues hit song. One source I came across said it is the most recorded song in history (although another had it second to "Silent Night"). It has become a blues and jazz standard recorded by a Who's Who of artists. It's inspired dance crazes, movies, and it's said that in the 1930s when Ethiopia was invaded by Italy, the Ethiopians adopted it as their battle hymn.
Handy explained that in writing "St. Louis Blues," he took "the humor of the coon song, the syncopation of ragtime and the spirit of Negro folk song and called it a blues." He was also inspired by the tango and habanera rhythms he heard when touring Cuba with his minstrel show in 1900. The song has three parts: a 12-bar blues verse ("I hate to see the evening sun go down") and 12-bar blues chorus ("Got the St. Louis blues, I'm blue as I can be") juxtaposed with a 16-bar habanera or Spanish-tinged bridge ("St. Louis woman with her diamond rings"). The three parts are often combined in various other ways and there are numerous other verses used by various artists. "St. Louis Blues" has proven itself endlessly adaptable as a blues, jazz and pop standard, as the variety in this mix attests.

The basic song:
I hate to see that evenin' sun go down,
I hate to see that evenin' sun go down,
'Cause my baby, he done lef' this town.
Feelin' tomorrow like I feel today,
Feelin' tomorrow like I feel today.
I'll pack my trunk, and make my getaway.
St. Louis woman, with her diamond rings
Pulls that man around by her apron strings.
If it weren't for powder and for store-bought hair,
The man I love wouldn't have gone nowhere.
Got the St. Louis blues just as blue as I can be
That man got a heart like a rock cast in the sea.
Or else he wouldn't have gone so far from me.

Other verses sometimes added:
I love my man like a schoolboy loves his pie,
Like a Kentucky Colonel loves his mint an' rye.
I'll love my baby 'til the day I die.
A black-headed woman make a freight train jump the track,
Said a black-headed gal make a freight train jump the track;
But a long tall gal makes a preacher ball the jack.
Takes a blonde-headed woman make a good man leave this town
I said blonde-headed woman makes a good man leave this town
But a red-headed woman make a boy slap his papa down.
Oh Mama, Mama look at Sam,
Oh Mama, won't you look at Sam,
He's eaten' all the meat and lickin' at the fryin' pan.


James Jackson
Date: 4/23/2005
Whoa, this is impressive!
Date: 4/23/2005
Wow, this is very interesting. Thanks for these great liner notes, I love to read about the history of songs, and music in general. And what a great gathering of artists!
Mo Twang!
Date: 4/23/2005
What a great song. Thanks for those notes.
Instru Mental
Date: 4/23/2005
Wow, this is tres cool. I was thinking JUST today of doing the same thing, although not with such great notes. Maybe we could trade St. Louis Blues mixes, as I don't think we'd have much overlap (with the exception, perhaps, of the Ellington). This is a favorite tune of mine, so I'd love to exchange mixes. I won't post my mix, as I don't want to seem a copycat, so just e-mail me if you want to trade. Great job.
Date: 4/23/2005
tremendous stuff once again.
Date: 4/23/2005
Excellent mix and kudos on the well-informed (and informative) liner notes.
This mix is being added to the AOTM Exhibition Never Too Much of a Good Thing.
Date: 4/24/2005
Great job!
Date: 4/24/2005
Excellent Steve.
Dead Man
Date: 4/24/2005
Absolutely great!
Date: 4/24/2005
nice one again!!!!!
Sean Lally
Date: 4/24/2005
AWESOME! Great tribute to one of the best songs ever. My fave is the Flamin' Groovies' version, but it probably doesn't fit the vibe here.
Date: 4/24/2005
Excellent music and brilliant notes.
sport !
Date: 4/24/2005
I agree with everybody else! And the notes should come in "Handy"!
Date: 4/24/2005
This looks great and thanks for the additional history.
Date: 4/24/2005
Absolutely fascinating...and educational!
Date: 4/25/2005
This is wonderful.
The Misfit
Date: 4/25/2005
Impressive, to say the least!
Date: 4/25/2005
Madly fantastic Mr Onn!
joey de vivre
Date: 4/25/2005
I love the way you've gone all over the musical universe with just one song, although rally of course you've got 22 different songs here . . .

I'm dying to hear what Django & Sol Hoopii did with it . . .
Date: 5/25/2005
Praise Jesus! I am another true believer! ;-)
Date: 2/29/2008
late to pack my trunk and join the bandwagon. really enjoyed reading the notes you hit spot on.