Weary Blues with Langston Hughes, Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather
Reviewed by Jason Morris, Reference and Instruction Specialist
Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more--
"I got the Weary Blues
And I can't be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can't be satisfied--
I ain't happy no mo'
And I wish that I had died."
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
- from 'Weary Blues' by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was the Poet Laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. While his words are beautiful on the written page, they are enhanced by hearing him read his work. Hughes first performed his poems with a live jazz accompaniment in the 1920s.
When the 'Beat' poets of the 50s revived this art, Hughes returned to reading at jazz clubs. This lead to the recording of the 'Weary Blues' LP in 1958 (reissued on CD in 1990).
It's interesting to hear his delivery, which ranges from relaxed to tongue-in-cheek. It makes a listener wonder what he thought of the poems on this album, since most of them were written 30 years before the recording. Hughes is backed by world-class jazz musicians, including legendary bass player/composer Charles Mingus.