This wonderful jazz artifact emerged from an antique store somewhere near Hillsdale, New York — a hot little room with too much sheet music to go through in one visit. (The double and triple copies of songs that must have been popular are always revealing: in Maine, everyone must have been singing CHONG, HE CAME FROM HONG KONG in 1931; here, I perceived a collective obsession with songs about Old Wyoming. Go figure.) I picked out about a dozen pieces of music — Ray Noble, Connee Boswell, and others — and took them to the counter to find out the prices the amiable proprietor had in mind. Of course, when she began to mutter after every other sheet, “Oh, this one’s going to be expensive,” I knew I was in trouble. But I had to have the Waller-Razaf one above.
I admire its Deco caricatures, top and bottom, as well as the list of other Waller-Razaf songs (all obscure) that made up the musical score. And, of course, this post is another example of cyber cross-pollination: Ricky Riccardi — sole proprietor of The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong online — has been posting extensively researched segments on Louis’s recordings of the song from 1929 on. Extremely rewarding reading!
But there’s more. Songs of that period had both choruses and verses — the verse serving to set up the song’s dramatic situation. And the whole idea of chorus and verse was tied to theatrical presentation. AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ has two simultaneous verses. One I knew (as recorded by Seger Ellis and others) turns out to have been the boy’s part. But I had never heard the girl’s . . .
Here they are, for your edification and for singing around the parlor piano. Or perhaps in the car – – –
BOY: Though it’s a fickle age, With flirting all the rage, Here is one bird with self-control; Happy inside my cage.
GIRL: Your type of man is rare, I know you really care, That’s why my conscience never sleeps; When you’re away somewhere.
BOY: I know who I love best, Thumbs down on all the rest, My love was given heart and soul; So it can stand the test.
GIRL: Sure was a lucky day; When fate sent you my way, And made you mine alone for keeps, Ditto to all you say.
The Boy’s lines are slangy; the Girl’s much more sentimentally pedestrian (and perhaps the logic of her conscience never sleeping is awry) but they do Andy Razaf every credit.
More purchases to share soon!