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Blues Lyrics: Josie Miles

Josephine "Josie" Miles was born ca. 1900 in Summerville, South Carolina. She moved to New York in 1920 and became a vaudeville artist, appearing in musical comedies, touring shows - and the popular blues, as they were sung then, were just one part of her repertoire. She recorded more than 50 sides, using nine names, for sixteen different labels, between about 1923 and 1928.

This page contains lyrics to the following song(s):

A to Z blues

This was a duet with Billy Higgins, recorded in New York in November 1924 or thereabouts. Actually Billy Higgins took the leading role and sang the main lyrics; Josie only gave him reply in the spoken intro dialogue. The musical accompaniment was provided by the Choo Choo Jazzers. From Document CD DOCD5467.

The remarkable lyrics are, in the words of the CD booklet (where most of the lyrics are given), "a violently bizarre, sadistic tour de force of psychological, and economic domination". It's certainly an original way to learn the alphabet. They don't teach it like this anymore.

Josie's lines are preceded by "J", Billy's by "B".

J: Yes looka here, every night, when you come home from work,
   you don't do nothin' but stomp and fight
B: Is that so?
   Now you left last night at half past eight
J: Yes and I come home this mornin' at four
B: And you had the nerve to bring another man
   Right smack up to my door
J: Don't let that worry you old gal(?)
   Now man, I'm through with you
B: Through with me?
J: Yessir
B: Before you go, here's what I'm goin' to do
J: What you gonna do, boy?

B: I'm gonna cut your nappy head four diff'rent ways
   Long, short, deep and wide
   When I get through usin' my black-handled razor
   You know you're gonna take a ride
J: If you can catch me!
B: I'm gonna cut A B C D
    In the top of your head
   That's gonna be treatin' you nice
   And you ain't gonna be dead
   I'm gonna cut E F G
   Right across your face
   H I J K
   That where runnin' takes place
   I'm gonna cut L M N
   'Cross both of your arms
   You gonna sell shoestrings and pencils
   Your whole life long
   I'm gonna cut O P Q
   That means trouble to you
   I'm gonna grab you too and turn you
   Ev'ry way but loose
   I'm gonna cut R S T
   Just to hear you cry
   That's the last time tears
   Are gonna run from both of your eyes
   I'm gonna cut U V W
   On the bottom of your feet
   And that's the last time you'll walk down
   Thirty-fifth Street
   I'm gonna mark you 'cross your bosom
   With X Y Z
   When I get through with alphabet
   You'll stop messin' with me

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Mad Mama's Blues

It probably is a sign of madness if you want to kill the whole world. Now "graphical" violence is not rare in the blues; see e.g. "A to Z blues" on this page, or some lyrics on Lonnie Johnson's page. But it's normally directed at a particular person, usually that mean mistreatin' doublecrossin' two-timin' dirty no-good partner. Here however we have a case of non-directional, senseless, blind violence . Bizarre. Mad.

She recorded it in New York around November 1924 with the Kansas City Five. From Document CD DOCD-5467 (the booklet provides most of the lyrics)

Wanna set the world on fire
  That is my one mad desire
I'm a devil in disguise
  Got murder in my eyes

Now I could see blood runnin'
  Through the streets
Now I could see blood runnin'
  Through the streets
Could be everybody
  Layin' dead right at my feet

Now man who invented war
  Sure is my friend
The man invented war
  Sure is my friend
Don't believe that I'm sinkin'
  Just look what a hole I am in

Give me gunpowder
  Give me dynamite
Give me gunpowder
  Give me dynamite
Yes I'd wreck the city
Wanna blow it up tonight

I took my big Winchester
  Down off the shelf
I took my big Winchester
  Down off the shelf
When I get through shootin'
  There won't be nobody left

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