By Mez Mezzrow, Bernard Wolfe
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You couldn't drag me away from that victrola, not even to eat. What knocked me out most on those records was the slurring and division of words to fit the musical pattern, the way the words were put to work for the music. I tried to write them down because I figured the only way to dig Bessie's unique phrasing was to get the words down exactly as she sang them. It was something I had to do; there was a great secret buried in that woman's genius that I had to get After every few words I'd stop the record to write the lyrics down, so my dad made a suggestion.
Get her out of here. " I should have had my head examined--all of a sudden I got interested in talking it over. "I won't fire her," I said. "She's one of the best entertainers we got around here. " I was so hot under the collar, I forgot that you need something to wrap a collar around. "She can't sing anyway," Al said. "Can't sing," I yelled. " All of a sudden I remembered that I was talking to Mr. Fifty Callber himself, and lockjaw came on. I began to wonder how many bounces my head was going to take crossing the street.
I wasn't that stir-happy. My six months rolled by and I was turned loose. I walked through the gates, took one last look at the Bridge of Sighs that led over the canal to The Band House, and hopped a trouey for home. After being cooped up in a world of killjoy grays for so long, it made my head swim to see all the colors in the trolley ads and on the civilian clothes of the passengers. The sudden stops and starts, the loud clanging of the motorman's bell, the bright sunlight and the cars rushing by, all made me dizzy.