Artist: The Ditty Bops

Album: The Ditty Bops

Appears On (Mixes): Past The Barber and Gymnasium

Song Notes: The Ditty Bops are one of my brand new favorite bands. Their self-titled album (which this comes from) is on the shortlist of "Best Albums Of 2004", if not at the very top. And as good as that record is, they're even better live; where the album is often more country-tinged, live, they've got more of a 1920s cabaret feel. As for the song, it was written by A. J. Piron, although it actually had a somewhat sordid history; Louis Armstrong claimed that Piron had stolen it from him, who had a similar song (never recorded, but played amongst the band members) about a murdered Madam, with rather filthy lyrics. According to the story, Piron cleaned up the lyrics at published it in 1919 under his own name (which angered Armstrong, who would accuse him of plagiarism, according to one of the Armstrong biographies). "Sister Kate" was a success, and Piron signed up with ASCAP, but was driven insane with anger when his royalty check was only a few dollars (though, that was the custom of ASCAP; the first royalty check would only be a few dollars due to their automatic system, with the higher royalties coming in later), and disappeared from the music scene. However, when asked about Armstrong's claims in 1939, Piron confirmed that he didn't write the tune, but neither did Armstrong; it's one of those traditional songs that's been around forever, and people just put different words to it; "Sister Kate" was his particular set of words; Louis had his own (in addition to the version about the murder), that had a much bluer tinge. - Rev. Syung Myung Me


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