by catherine yronwode

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TITLE: Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues
MATRIX NO.: 20661-1
SINGER: Ma Rainey
COMPOSER(S): Thomas Dorsey, cop. 1928
DATE OF REC.: c. Jun 1928
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S): Paramount 12687
REISSUE(S): Milestone 2017, Milestone 47021, Riverside 12-108,
Rarities 8 [LPs], King Jazz KJ 184 [CD], ...
by Ma Rainey

Sp: Meow - (male voice:) Scat!

Black cat on my doorstep, black cat on my window-sill
Black cat on my doorstep, black cat on my window-sill
If one black cat don't cross me, another black cat will

It's bad luck if I'm jolly, bad luck if I cry
It's bad luck if I'm jolly, bad luck if I cry
It's bad luck if I stay here, it's still more bad luck if I die

Last night a hootin' owl come and sit right over my door
Last night a hootin' owl come and sit right over my door
A feelin' seems to tell me, I'll never see my man no more

I feel my left eye jumpin', my heart a-bumpin', I'm on my P's and Q's
I feel my brain a-thumpin', I got no time to lose
Mama's superstitious, tryin' to overcome these blues
TRANSCRIBED BY: Sandra Lieb. // From: Lieb, Sandra: Mother of the Blues: a Study of Ma Rainey. - Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1981. - P. 153-154

DISCOGRAPHY BY: Gorgen Antonsson ( 10 Sep 1997

LITERATURE: Lieb, Sandra: Mother of the Blues: a Study of Ma Rainey.
- Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1981. - P. 153-156, 190

COMMENTS BY GORGEN: Composer's credit according to: Lieb, Sandra:
Mother of the Blues: a study of Ma Rainey. - Univ. of Massachusetts Press,
1981. - p.193

COMMENTS BY CAT: For related "bad luck" list-songs, see also "Screech Owl
Blues" by Ma Rainey, and "Spider's Nest Blues" by Hattie Hart and The
Memphis Jug Band.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.3 black cat
V.3 door step (foot track magic)
V.3 bad luck (crossing and jinxing)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Individual acknowledgements for transcriptions and discographical data appear on each song-page, but i want to note that this Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo archive would never have been possible without the contributions of Gorgen Antonsson, who generously shared with me the format and content of his own personal lyrics archive, and Alan Balfour and Chris Smith, who have devoted a great deal of time to supplying me with tapes, transcribed lyrics, and detailed discographical information. Additionally, i wish to thank the kind members of the prewar blues e-list who have aided my research in innumerable ways. If you have missing data to supply, hear a substantially different take on a transcription, or want to let me know about a song that has been overlooked in these pages, please contact me through the prewar blues e-list:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Due to certain social, economic, and political paradigms in place at the time of their composition, many early blues songs were improperly copyrighted or not copyrighted at all. Many bore no composer credits. Many were ripped off by unethical music publishers who falsely claimed authorship and copyrighted them in their own names. Many that were once copyright-protected are now in the public domain due to publishers' or composers' failures to properly renew the copyrights. Many have since been ripped off by unethical performers or music publishers who have pretended to be the composers for the purpose of securing a belated copyright or who have claimed "arranger's" credits on songs they falsely swore were "traditional" when in fact the songs were composed by the people who originally performed them on record. It is my sincere belief that the song transcribed on this page bears the implied moral copyright of its composer, whoever that may be. If you believe that you control the copyright by virtue of authorship or legal legerdemain, you may contact me in a civil and polite manner and i will attempt in good faith to satisfy your needs in the matter of obtaining formal permission to quote the lyrics in this scholarly publication.

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