16 August 2009

Caldonia

One of the notable female impersonators in New Orleans in the early 1940s was Caldonia, who was a major influence on Patsy Valdalia.

In 1945 Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five has a number one on the ‘Race Records Charts” with a song called ‘Caldonia’.  The song was written by Louis Jordan under his then wife’s name.  It was featured in the film Caldonia, 1945, and the sequence was cut out and featured as a Soundie, a short musical piece that was played in cinemas at that time (a precursor of the music video).  The song was also recorded by Woody Herman, B.B. King, Muddy Water, Bill Haley, James Brown, The Band, Van Morrison and many others.  Thus it is one of the standards of Blues and Rock music.
Here are the lyrics:
Walking with my baby, she got great big feet
Long, lean and cranky and ain't had nothing to eat
But she's my baby, I love her just the same
I'm crazy about my baby 'cause Caldonia is her name
Caldonia, Caldonia
What makes your big head so hard?
I love you, I love you just the same
I'm crazy about you, baby, 'cause Caldonia is your name
You know my mother told me to leave Caldonia alone
No kidding, that what she said
She said, "Son, the woman ain't no good, leave her alone"
But mama didn't know what Caldonia had been putting down
So I'm going down to Caldonia's house and ask her just one more time
Caldonia, Caldonia
What makes your big head so hard?
I love you, love you just the same
I'm crazy about you, baby, 'cause Caldonia is your name
Now remember the analysis of Little Richard’s lyrics.   Is this song about Caldonia the female impersonator?   I cannot find any statement that it is.  But it is suggestive that it might be.

One of the performers who had toured with Louis Jordan was Estella Young, a contortionist who was almost sixty but still agile.  She danced to the song and took Caldonia as her professional name, but not until after he had written the song.

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