Friday, October 21, 2011

Track 2: Careless Love

Posted by Benson

Today we're going to take a look at a bit of the history behind the first song on Tuba Skinny: Live at Friends, Careless Love.

Careless Love is a traditional song of obscure origins, but it was one of the best-known pieces in the repertory of the Buddy Bolden band in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century, and has remained a jazz and blues standard.  

As can be expected with obscure classics like Careless Love, there are numerous versions of the lyrics.  Aside from 'King' Bolden, with whom the song is closely associated, Careless Love has been sung by numerous artists who have performed the song in a wide variety of styles.  Some of the more memorable versions include those by Bessie Smith (who we'll learn more about next week), Marilyn Lee, and Pete Seeger.  It was recorded by Big Joe Turner as well as Fats Domino; and it has been sung by such artists as Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash.

Let's have a look at the lyrics Erica used in her performance:

Love, oh love, oh careless love,

How you fill my head like wine
You've wrecked the life
Of many a poor girl
And you led me to this life of mine

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
All night long I weep and moan
You brought the wrong man into this life of mine
And until my dying day I’m alone
Love, oh love, oh careless love,
In your clutches of desire
You've filled my heart with those weary old blues
Then you set my very soul on fire

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Found out where I used to lay
You've made me throw my only friend down
That's why I sing this song of pain

As you can see, even though the exact lyrics tended to vary, the song is most often about abandoned love, heartbreak, and death.  

Here, Erica sings of the capricious nature of love.  The song laments love's ability to inflame passion, which often leads one towards heartbreak.  The singer is left alone, a helpless victim caught in love's destructive path.  We're given a sense that love, as a force of nature, is at once primal, irresistible, and dangerous.  It weaves a path like a hurricane, sweeping up those it passes by and leaving them to wallow in the destruction of it's wake.

More than a couple of the songs on the CD are about love, but not all of them are about heartbreak.  As much as love can bring pain, it can also bring pleasure.  Next week we'll take a look at some of the songs that are most closely associated with Besse Smith, Empress of the Blues, including one of my favorites, You've Got To Give Me Some.

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