Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Remembering Fats Waller

Thomas “Fats” Waller – one of the great jazz musicians of all time, and probably the funniest – was born on May 21, 1904. He had a fruitful recording career, but he died too young – in December of 1943.

I’m streaming one of Waller’s final recordings on my Vox blog. Click here and check out “The Reefer Song,” alternately titled “You’re a Viper.” (“Viper” was a slang term for marijuana smoker.)

Curiously, this pro-pot ditty was recorded under the direct sponsorship of the U.S. government. It was a V-Disc... made specifically for U.S. armed forces overseas as a morale-booster.

One never knows, do one?


Anonymous said...

I'm curious what you think about Fats' song "Black and Blue". It's a great tune, but the lyrics are a little dicey by modern standards. "My only sin is in my skin" being one such verse. Kermit Ruffins did a great version of it a while back and kept all the lyrics.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Dave, LOVE how you keep hittin' 'em on their primal notes with these muscian homages.

Fats was a great piano and organ player. But above all else was a great composer.

Keep doing what you do. Listening to some Led Zeppelin right now.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. Armed Services were such "culture vultures" back in the WW II days. I just stumbled on their book publishing project reprinting classic and popular fiction and non-fiction for the troops and to flood the Nazi occupied nations with books under the propaganda banner "We don't burn books." This project actually introduced the paperback book.

What happened?

Undercover Black Man said...

This project actually introduced the paperback book.

I didn't know that! Thanks, Cuz... I love finding out stuff like that.

Undercover Black Man said...

Doug: Believe it or not, I was unfamiliar with that song. Sounds like an artifact of its time, though. (Have you heard Frankie Laine's cover? It's on eMusic.)

DeAngelo: I haven't heard Waller's organ playing. I have some catching up to do.

Anonymous said...

Frankie Laine??? That I gotta hear!

estiv said...

"It's high time." Sometimes the simplest jokes are the best.

Years ago I decided that if I had lived in one of the cultures that worships multiple gods, and which allows new gods to be introduced into the pantheon, I'd add Fats Waller to my shrine. He was so. damn. sly. A genius passing himself off as a buffoon. I bet he was a hell of a poker player.