Lost Your Head Blues
Composer: Bessie Smith
Performer: Bessie Smith
Date: 1926


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Song information

This performance also features Joe Smith on trumpet and Fletcher Henderson on piano.This song is in the classic blues style, also known as vaudeville or stage-style blues. The verse is in AAB form and the harmonies follow a twelve bar blues pattern. The lyrics are typical of the blues dealing with painful relationships and hard times. The instrumentation features an accompanying piano and a responding trumpet. The voice and trumpet work together in a call and response style typical of music with African roots. Like other styles of blues, aspects of the vocal technique and the dialogue-like nature the performance can be traced to roots in the work songs sung by African American slaves.

Composer information

Bessie Smith: In the 1920's Smith was one of the most celebrated blues artists. Like most blues singers, she was adept at taking pre-composed lines, and conventional blues patterns and creating new songs on the spot. This recording is a good example of that skill. It is reported that during the recording session she was told that she and her musicians would need something more to fill out the record. So she ad libbed "Lost Your Head Blues."

Bessie Smith was one of the first blues artists recorded. She gained a multi-racial audience and was popular with white as well as African American listeners.

Performer information:

Bessie Smith: Although a masterful singer and a captivating entertainer, Bessie Smith (1895-1937) was tough. She was known to be a crude, rough, and violent woman. Early in her career she worked with Ma Rainey who molded the young woman into the classic blues performer of her day. In the 1920's Smith was one of the most celebrated blues artists. She was one of the first blues artists recorded and thus she gained a multi-racial audience and was popular with white as well as African American listeners.

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