Jelly Roll Morton


Honky Tonk Blues

Well, the girls’d start. They’d say, “Play me something there, boy, play me some blues.”
So they’d start playin’ in this way: Honky Tonk Blues

I could sit right here, think a thousand miles away,
Sit right here, think a thousand miles away,
Since I had the blues this bad, cannot remember the day.

Tell me, baby, what you got on your mind,
Tell me, baby, what you got on your mind,
I’m eating here and drinkin’, havin’ a lovely time.

Let me be your wiggler, till your wobbler comes,
Let me be your wiggler, till your wobbler comes,
You tell your wobbler, what your wiggler done.

I never believe in havin’ one woman at a time,
I never believe in havin’ one woman at a time,
I always have six, seven, eight or nine.

She said, “Babe, oh, baby,
Babe, oh, baby,
You bound to set your sweet papa cra . . . crazy.”

Sometimes they’d have good lookin’ . . . good lookin’ women of all kinds.
Beautiful women, some was ugly, very ugly. Some looked like they had lips . . .
lips looked like bumpers on a boxcar.

I’m tellin’ you they had all kind of ‘em dressed up.
Rags . . . rags looked like ribbons on some of ‘em.
Some of ‘em with big guns in their bosoms.
It was the law in New Orleans that anybody could carry a gun if they wanted — almost.
‘Course it was just about a ten-dollar fine, er, didn’t make very much difference.
And if they found you ten dollars . . . why, your sentence would be thirty days in jail.
And possibly they’d put you in the market to clean up the market in the mornin’.
And most of the prisoners would always run away.

King Porter Stomp

“King Porter” was the first stomp, or the first tune with the name stomp, wrote in the United States.
You must pardon me for clearing my throat, ‘cause I’ve gotta do it occasionally.
Of course, I’ll tell you the fact about it, I don’t know what the name stomp mean,
myself. It really wasn’t any meaning, only that people would stamp their feet, and I
decided that the name stomp would be fitted for it.

Of course, this tune . . . I was inspired by the name from a very dear friend of mine,
and a marvellous pianist, now in the cold, cold ground — a gentleman from Florida,
an educated gentleman with a wonderful musical education, far much better than mine.
Er, this gentleman’s name was Mr. King — Porter King.

Time in Mobile

Of course, I wrote this tune, er, while I was in Alabama about the year of nineteen-five,
when I was about, er, twenty years old. I was considered very good amongst my friends —
that is, so far as the writing period. And I’ve always had a kind of a little inkling to write a tune at most any place that I would ever land.

Of course, we had King Porter around there — that is, I mean, Porter King — the man that “King Porter Stomp”
was named after. He was considered a very good piano player. And of course, we had, er, King —
I disremember his name — I think his name’s Charlie King, another piano player around there.
Baby Grice was another one, that was supposed to be good.

Where was this?

Er, that was all in Mobile. Baby Grice was, was from Pensacola, Florida.
Then we had another one around that was supposed to be very good from Florida, also.
His name was Frazier Davis. And Frank Rachel was supposed to be the tops, when it came down to around Georgia.
But somehow or another, most all those boys kinda felt that I had, er, little composing ideas, and always tried to,
er, that is, encourage me to play some numbers. That is, er, write a number, I mean. So that’s why I wrote “Alabama Bound.”

Let’s hear you play it on the piano.

What you wanna me to do?

Bang it away on the piano.

Alabama Bound

That’s the way I’d play it for the girls, who’d do the high kicks.

Said, “My, my, play that thing, boy.”

And I’d say, “Well, certainly do it, little old girl.”

That’s just the way they used to act down in Mobile in those days, around
St. Louis and Warren, part of the Famous Corner.
I never will ever forget, after I beat some guys playing pool, if it wasn’t for
one of my piano playing friends, you’d never heard this record because the
guy was gonna knife me right in the back, I’m tellin’ you. He had a knife right on me.
He said that I only used the piano for a decoy, which he was right.

And, of course, er, he had it, had added to his mind that I was kind of nice looking. Imagine that, huh?
Well, I said . . .

Of course, he wasn’t such a good-looking fellow his-self.
He had some awful rubber-looking lips, I’m telling you.

Yes indeed. He was kinda jealous of me — I suppose he was, anyhow.

But I said, “Alabama bound . . . ound,
Yes, Alabama bound,”
One of them good-looking gals told me,
“Baby, come on and leave this town.”

I got put in jail,
I got put in jail,
There wasn’t no one in town,
Wouldn’t go my bail.

They had a sweet, sweet gal,
They had a sweet, sweet gal,
She got stuck on me,
And took me for her pal.


copyright © László Zoltán 2012