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April Song Of The Month: Blue Drag

MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
in History Posts: 389

This month's tune is commonly called in my town, especially when it's time to spice up the set with something minor. It was composed by Josef Myrow in 1932 and first recorded by The Washboard Rhythm Kings. Django first recorded it in 1935, the same year it was recorded by Freddy Taylor. Interestingly, Freddy Taylor recorded some tracks (on vocals) with the Hot Club Quintette that same year in France. It makes you wonder whether Django gave it to Freddy or Freddy gave it to Django. Either way, it's a great tune, with a cool intro and splendid bridge.

Here's a link to the version recorded in France in April of '35--


Later I'll post a link to the bizarre version of Django "singing" this tune (and giggling) with Jean Sablon & Naguine.

Other notable versions include those by Allen Toussaint and Angelo Debarre. I'll post the chart my band uses later as well.

rudolfochristbillyshakesDoubleWhiskydjazzyBillDaCostaWilliamsWillieMichaelHorowitzvoutoreenieBucoPetrov
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Comments

  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,344

    I remember going to a class with Robin Nolan at DFNW back in ~2002 and he taught this song. Probably the first time I played it in a group so it has fond memories for me.

    MikeK
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,459

    I'll relay a friend's anecdote about this tune. He was listening to music in his apartment, and this song was playing. His girlfriend asks "what is this music? it's f**king depressing" and gets up and heads out the door. And she never comes back. So he always remembers this tune (Django version) as the one his girl dumped him to.

    I can only assume the relationship was already on the rocks, but I agree the tune is a drag.. maybe he should have been playing Tcha Badjo version instead, it's fun and upbeat!


    BillDaCostaWilliamsWillieDoubleWhiskyMikeKBuco
  • djazzydjazzy New Riccardo Mordeglia, AJL
    Posts: 72

    Lots of versions of this cool tune.

    Whenever I research a tune for the first time I look for it on Secondhandsongs for all kinds of covers. Hoping for surprises.

    https://secondhandsongs.com/performance/853036/versions#nav-entity.

    BillDaCostaWilliamsWillieDoubleWhiskyMikeK
  • BillDaCostaWilliamsBillDaCostaWilliams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos, Altamira M01F, Huttl
    Posts: 644

    It makes you wonder whether Django gave it to Freddy or Freddy gave it to Django

    I would lean towards the second option as Freddy's version is in the same key (Gm) as the original by the Washboard Rhythm Kings and is similar in arrangement, whereas Django does it in Dm with a rather different flavour.

    DoubleWhiskyMikeKBuco
  • DoubleWhiskyDoubleWhisky Upper FranconiaNew Dupont MD60, 1940s Castelluccia
    Posts: 143

    I'm in the middle of a move and there my old washboard fell into my hands again. I think when a little peace has returned I have to make a mix of Django style with washboard as in the original.

    Btw @MikeK i'm a big fan if your song of the month series, thanks for doing this!

    Bucobillyshakes
  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
    Posts: 389

    Thanks DW! I appreciate that. As long as I know members like you are enjoying it, I'm happy to keep it rolling each month.

    billyshakesDoubleWhisky
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,344

    I do like this uptempo version of the song. It is fun and different. And I'm sorry for your friend who went through that experience. But if she was going to leave over a Django tune, it probably would have happened sooner or later. Perhaps after hearing Minor Swing for the umpteenth time? Who knows...maybe your friend dodged a bullet.

    That said, the name of this tune says it all; with "Drag" in the title, you aren't epecting to do the Lindy Hop here at 220bpm! I always liked the bass movement in the harmony and the B section octaves to return to the last A.

  • edited April 2023 Posts: 4,832

    One peculiar thing about this song is the guitar descending intro after the bass starts. Just about everybody I heard in jams plays

    Dm C Bb A and repeats this until melody starts. But Django played

    Dm Dbdim Bb A|Dm C Bb A

    DoubleWhiskybillyshakesrudolfochristBillDaCostaWilliams
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • DoubleWhiskyDoubleWhisky Upper FranconiaNew Dupont MD60, 1940s Castelluccia
    Posts: 143
  • PapsPierPapsPier ✭✭
    Posts: 428

    Hi Mike

    nice job with this series!

    It seems admitted that Django is not playing with Freddie Taylor but Oscar Aleman

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