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Hot Lips Page, Thirsty Mama Blues. A classic blues tale.

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[Monday's Notes No. 80] The picture of the slacker who stays at home drinking while his wife works to support the family is recurrent in the blues. In fact, in certain historical periods it was easier for a black woman to find work as a servant than for a man. Thirsty Mama Blues by Hot Lips Page tells just such a story, albeit in reverse.

In the blues, gender differences often disappear, with vigorous women beating their husbands, or proving to be stronger drinkers than them. The blues singer interprets 'repertoire' verses that belong to the genre and are declined in a different way every night, even improvising and reinventing.

This is the setting for Thirsty Mama Blues, played and sung by Hot Lips Page. After a brief guitar introduction, we hear an initial chorus played by the trumpet (0'15''). As is often the case with jazz music, the score does not do justice to the recording. The sound of the muted trumpet is warm and indolent, with a hint of vibrato on the final notes.

Thirsty Mama Blues - instrumental theme

Thirsty Mama Blues, lo spartito
Thirsty Mama Blues first chorus sheet music

The next four choruses are sung and tell of a man who complains about his woman staying home and drinking all day. The full lyrics of Thirsty Mama Blues follow.

Thirsty Mama Blues - lyrics

I went home this evening, after working all day long

I went home this evening, after working all day long

When I came back home, I found my gal had done me wrong

My gal won’t love me until she’s had a gin

My gal won’t love me until she’s had a gin

She drinks two bottles, and says will do, we begin

She won’t go out, she won’t go to town, she sits at home and drinks all down

she’s so done thirsty, she’d even drink my tears

She’s got a mouth full of liquor, and her head full of wrong ideas

Sometimes I wish my gal had left me on a shelf

Sometimes I wish my gal had left me on a shelf

So I got loose all my troubles, and keep the liquor for myself

We have already mentioned that the topic is typical of many blues, nevertheless Thirsty Mama Blues is a particularly well done song. Very effective is the central phrase She's got a mouth full of liquor, and her head full of wrong ideas, and also the final admission, full of self-mockery: he who sings and complains about the drunken girl, after all he just wants to keep the liquor for himself!

After the sung text, Hot Lips Page plays a second chorus with the trumpet (2'46).

Thirsty Mama Blues spartito secondo chorus
Thirsty Mama Blues second chorus sheet music

This second instrumental intervention is much more vigorous than the first, the story has concluded and the music is somehow its continuation. The blues always tells a tale, both the word and the instrumental parts are functional to it. In this case the story of a man in despair… but not that much.

Until next Monday!

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