Friday, September 10, 2010

Luella Miller: Triflin' Man Blues, 1927

This song was tough to crack, and is subject to some serious reinterpretation.  The mystery of Luella Miller of St. Louis is this: she was a pretty big deal in the late 1920s, and then what?  At this juncture (2010), no one seems to know.  Lonnie Johnson, husband of Mary Johnson at the time, had a lot to do with both -- he would know, certainly. But he's been gone since 1970.  Miller shows up several times in ads and notices in the Chicago Defender, before 1930.  Sometimes she was billed as "Luella Miller and Her Dago Hill Strutters." 

"Triflin' Man Blues" was recorded on April 26, 1927, in Chicago (The date is right, the place I'm fairly sure of. Also, according to Brunswick Records session notes, she's listed sometimes as "comedienne" and sometimes as "vocalist").

"Triflin’ Man Blues" by Luella Miller

I’m a married woman
How sad but it’s true
I’m a married woman
How sad but it’s true
Always some woman
Mistakin’ or judging me too.

I would rather be here
Than be mayor of this town
I would rather Daddy here be
Than be mayor of this town
Than the man that I hate
Always hanging around.

If the music’s nothing
I’ll keep you upside down
Music sometimes’ll
Keep you upside down
If your brains are weak
You gonna lose your mind.

If your mind’s on a dollar
All these trifling men
If your mind on a dollar
I don’t need trifling men
If they think you got a dollar
They’ll sit there and
smile and grin.

Today's Rune:  Protection.  (1927 photo: US National Archives.)


pattinase (abbott) said...

Wonderful picture and story.

Charles Gramlich said...

I ain't no triflin' man.