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.

However, at about this time it acquired the 'Garbage Man' vocal chorus mentioned above and it caught on with vaudeville-type singers, such as Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies. By now, 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.