[78-L] Mississippi Mud and the Mississippi Flood of 1927
Rodger J Holtin
rjh334578 at gmail.com.invalid
Sun Nov 10 20:34:12 PST 2019
Last month I spoke for a local historical society and my subject was the
songs that were inspired by the great Mississippi flood of 1927. My
audience was mostly baby boomers one millennial and two or three
I used the usual stuff by Charlie Patton, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie,
Lonnie Johnson and so on, all available for free on the internet these days.
But I also noticed that from 1927 through early 1929 there were a number of
songs also written about rain
Rain (Ford and Glenn & Jacques Renard))
I Get The Blues When It Rains
Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella
Singing In The Rain
I don't find many others until we get to about 1934 and it seems to me that
the rash of 1927-29 rain songs might well have been influenced by news of
the rains and the flood just as much as those obvious flooding songs.
So as a little icing on the cake so to speak I played the vocal portion of
old dance band records of those songs, and then, somewhat trepidatiously, I
played the Rhythm Boys record of I Left My Sugar Standing In The
Rain/Mississippi Mud, carefully noting it was not politically correct. To
my amazement, the folks who we might have expected to have been most
offended by it declared it to be their favorite record of the presentation.
During the punch and cookies portion of the evening, the same ladies made
sure I got an extra piece of pie.
Still later, during the finger licking portion, one of the octogenarians
came over to me and said that he had a story about that for me. It seems
that his grandmother had a gramophone on her closed-in back porch and when
he was a kid (1950s) he and his cousins used to go and play with grandma's
Victrola. One of the favorite songs for the kids to pull out was Mississippi
Mud. Every time they played it, grandma would come running out and tell them
to take it off because she thought it was a terribly disrespectful song
because it made fun of the poor people that lost everything in the flood the
year that record came out. Apparently she remembered the timing of that
quite vividly. The kids asked her why, if that song was so bad, she kept the
record. I love the answer, and you will, too. "Because I like the other
side," she said.
I gave the same presentation last week for the county library, and as a wrap
up, told the Mississippi Mud record story. This time somebody asked what
was on the other side, and one of the other folks immediately piped up that
Ain't She Sweet was the flipside. I couldn't believe anybody but me in this
county would have known that. And, yes, that may or may not have been the
issue that Grandma had. Looks like it was issued on 78 about two dozen
times, so no telling which version they had, but I'm guessing the Rhythm
Boys record had the best distribution since it's the one that has crossed my
path the most often.
I'll be giving the same dog n pony show in a neighboring town in March of
2020, and you can bet I'll work in both parts of that story.
78-L Member Since MCMXCVIII
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