Inquiries into the early years of SJI

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Carl "Deacon" Moore - "Evolution Mama" mp3

Some of my earlier posts discussed Carl "Deacon" Moore, a fascinating personality who became a central character in my book, I Went Down to St. James Infirmary. Pictured here with his orchestra in 1940, Moore (leaning against the piano) was credited as co-composer on Fess Williams' 1927 recording of "Gambler's Blues." Born and raised in Arkansas, Moore adopted the persona of the hillbilly hick in his performances. His drawling vocalizations contrasted appealingly with the smooth sounds of his orchestra. He made only four records, all during the same session for Decca records on August 9th, 1938. None of his recordings have ever been reproduced since those early 78s. In upcoming posts I shall make these recordings available - here's the first one.

"Evolution Mama" is Moore's strangest record. Referring to the controversy over evolution vs creation ("Evolution Mama, don't you make a monkey out of me") the song was written by Terry Shand . . . according to the credit on Moore's record label, anyway. The song had been recorded perhaps three times between 1925 and 1927, generally credited to Doc Dasher and Eddie Heywood. Since then it has been recorded by the Even Dozen Jug Band in 1964 (credited as a traditional tune).

By clicking on the song title below, you can hear Carl "Deacon" Moore and his orchestra perform "Evolution Mama" MP3 - the song is courtesy of Moore's wife, Marjorie Moore, and was transferred to tape for me by the big band historian Joseph E. Bennett.

Lyrics to "Evolution Mama"

Well old Lucian Burn had a gal, way down in Tennessee
Now, she told Lucian all about evolution
While she was sitting down on his knee
When one fine day she got gay and started steppin’ out
Well sir, then ol’ Lucian started a revolution
And the neighbours heard him shout

He said, Evolution Mama, Evolution Mama
He says, Honey Lamb don’t you make a monkey out of me
'Cause Evolution Mama don’t you think you’ve got me up a tree
I remember the time you had me nice and tame
and I was eating right out of your hand
But some sweet day I’m going to take dead aim
And knock that peanut whistle right off your stand

‘Cause Evolution Mama, sweet smellin’ mama
Listen here while I get you told
This is odd, but you ain’t no organ grinder
And I ain’t a hangin’ on your chain
He says I got me a razor and I got me a gun
And I’m gonna cut you if you stand still
And shoot you if you run

‘Cause Evolution Mama, sweet smellin’ mama
Don’t you make a monkey out of me
Says, I ain’t half man and I ain’t half beast
But I can do you more good than this here store-bought yeast
‘Cause Evolution Mama, sweet smellin’ mama
Don’t you make a monkey out of me