Of Cabbages and Kings
A tune from 1927
“Oh, We ain’t got a barrel of money.
Maybe we’re ragged and funny.
But, we travel along, singing a song.
Side by side.”
In case you’re wondering what’s wrong with my computer or my head, I just thought a little respite from last week’s serious talk might be in order. The lyrics (yes, it is a song) to the above tune were written by Gus Kahn and Harry M. Woods. This morning when my dog was walking me to our designated turn toward home and the sun was finally shining so sweetly, the little ditty popped into my mind.
It may come as a surprise to some people that music used to have words attached. And they actually rhymed. As you might notice, this particular song will never find itself among the selections in an opera setting. It doesn’t care and neither do we. It’s in the “fun only” bracket. Besides, my mother considered the word “ain’t” very low class. My dad liked to use it as he had relatives in that class.
The 1920s were noted for flappers (rather wild women). They were a minority, thankfully. Some men were gangsters. Guess you know what they were. Once in a while the flappers hung on the gangsters arms to have their pictures taken. It was a time of prohibition, (no drinking, folks) which was observed mostly by people who didn’t drink anyway.
African Americans introduced jazz to the public as early as the late 1800s. In the 1920s the King Oliver Creole Band really got things humming. They mixed traditional African beats with modern Western blues and mostly played on the south side of Chicago. That’s when the public began to hear about Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. If you’re anything like me, you think of these two talented men with respect. Of course, if you’re not even 25 years old, you don’t think of them at all. I’m in the category of those who have never heard of the King Oliver Band. I’ve never been to the south side of Chicago either.
Louie Armstrong’s first musical instrument was a cigar box guitar. He stepped into the bright lights as a member of The King Oliver jazz Band with his coronet and trumpet. Someone said, “Louie Armstrong will always be amazing.” If you’ve ever heard his rendition of “What a wonderful world” you know how it lifts the spirits and encourages us to be thankful. I can hear that voice in my mind and hope I never forget it.
As for now, “I’m traveling along, singing a song, side by side…”
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at email@example.com.