Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History

By Robert Walser | Go to book overview

I can't stand no green horn lover, like a rookie goin to war,
With a load of big artillery, but don't know what it's for.
He's got to bring me reference with a great long pedigree
And must prove he's got endurance, or he don't mean snap to me.

I can't stand no crowin rooster, what just likes a hit or two,
Action is the only booster of just what my man can do.
I don't want no imitation, my requirements ain't no joke,
Cause I got pure indignation for a guy what's lost his stroke.

I'm a one hour mama, so no one minute papa
Ain't the kind of man for me.
Set your alarm clock papa, one hour that's proper,
Then love me like I like to be.

I may want love for one hour, then decide to make it two.
Takes a hour 'fore I get started, maybe three before I'm through.
I'm a one hour mama, so no one minute papa
Ain't the kind of man for me.

But this moment of optimism, of the blues as the exercise of power and control over sexuality, was short lived. The space occupied by these blues singers was opened up by race records but race records did not survive the depression. Some of these blues women, like Ethel Waters and Hattie McDaniels, broke through the racial boundaries of Hollywood film and were inserted into a different aspect of the culture industry where they occupied not a privileged but a subordinate space and articulated not the possibilities of black female sexual power but the "Yes, Ma'ams" of the black maid. The power of the blues singer was resurrected in a different moment of black power, re-emerging in Gayl Jones's Corregidora; and the woman blues singer remains an important part of our 20th century black cultural reconstruction. The blues singers had assertive and demanding voices; they had no respect for sexual taboos or for breaking through the boundaries of respectability and convention, and we hear the "we" when they say "I."


REFERENCES

Brown S. ( 1980). "Ma Rainey". The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown. New York: Harper and Row.

Carby H. V. ( 1986). "On the Threshold of Woman's Era: Lynching, Empire, and Sexuality in Black Feminist Theory". In H. L. Gates Jr., ed., "Race, " Writing, and Difference (301-16). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Carby H. V. ( 1987). Reconstructing Womanbood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cooper A. J. ( 1892). A Voice from the South. Xenia, OH: Aldine Publishing House.

Cox I. ( 1980). "One Hour Mama". Mean Mothers. Rosetta Records, RR 1300.

Leib S. ( 1981). Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Rainey G. ( 1974). Ma Rainey. Milestone Records, M47021.

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Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • First Accounts 1
  • The Twenties 23
  • The Thirties 71
  • The Forties 121
  • The Fifties 193
  • The Sixties 251
  • The Seventies 295
  • The Eighties 325
  • References 364
  • The Nineties 387
  • References 424
  • Editing Notes 425
  • Select Bibliography 427
  • Index 439
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