14 December 2014


'Stick out your can! Here comes the Garbage Man!'

I have enjoyed this song ever since I first heard it three years ago. It's simple, catchy and requires only the singing of the above words three times over a basic 12-bar blues.

However, having got round to studying the tune and writing it out (by ear) today, I discovered it has quite a history.

Originally it was 'Call of the Freaks', recorded in 1929 by both the Luis Russell Orchestra and the King Oliver Orchestra. I am uncertain who composed it. Possibly it was King Oliver (perhaps collaborating with Dave Nelson) or more probably it was Luis Russell.

Within a  year or two, it was recorded by the Luis Russell band as 'New Call of the Freaks', said to be by Russell's percussionist, Paul Barbarin. In fact, I can't detect much that is 'new' about this version. Maybe it was the words that were written by Barbarin.

Certainly, about this time it had acquired the 'Garbage Man' vocal chorus and it caught on with vaudeville-type singers, such as Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies. By then, it was renamed 'Garbage Man Blues'.

A further stage (in my opinion one we could have done without) involved a few singers thinking it funny to add scatological lyrics.

But in its latest manifestation - performed by that great young band Tuba Skinny - it is simple, infectious, innocuous and pure delight.

To enjoy it, CLICK ON HERE.

There's much that makes this piece appealing. Best played at a tempo of crotchet = 150, it begins by vamping these two bars.
They can be repeated anything from four to eight times. Then there can be some solo choruses - either 12-bars or 16 bars (over the continued vamping of the above bars). Then we have this little bridge:
It leads us into the 12-bar blues, with the 'Stick out your can' vocal.

Following this, the 12-bar blues pattern may be repeated ad lib; but a good coda is provided if the band plays the 'bridge' again to finish.