Music - Public Domain 4U

Early Roots of Jazz

I owe my understanding of recorded music to record collectors. In today’s world, these collections need to be digitized (analog to digital) and posted somewhere. Like this one on Jazz roots have been recorded, and are now in the public domain starting with the early recordings in the beginning of the 20th century. It was called Jazz when it got to Chicago at the turn of the century.


This 1924 recording of this top-selling “Hillbilly-marketed” song became public domain in January. Recorded by Country Hall of Fame Honoree, Vernon Dahlhart, who was born Marion Try Slaughter, for Victor Records, this recording became one of the biggest selling singles of the 1920s. Written by Vernon but copyrighted in the name of his cousin, Guy Massey, it has been re-recorded by many famous artists such as Hank Snow and Bill Monroe. This single “The Prisoner’s Song” was #1 on the charts for over 12 weeks and sold over 9 million copies.



I want to be first in 2020 to share some music that arrived in the public domain. Can you believe George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” is ours to use!?

The composition was commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman. It was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. It was considered modern in 1924. I selected a performance done in 2011. It still sounds modern whenever it’s performed.


Impeachment is on everyone’s mind as well it should be.
There are two important documents in the public domain.
Here are links to both:

In 1972 The Honeydrippers recorded “Impeach The President.” Seems Tyrone Brown brought this song to the present with some contemporary graphics. This song makes the past the present.



So far this year there has been much written and published about the Public Domain. The concept of copyright expiration for the good of mankind has been around since the advent of copyright protection. This might be an old concept, but it has only come to being this year in the U.S. There have been many articlesThis is a good one, about why and what comes into public ownership this year, so the public can use or enjoy the content without copyright restrictions. I try to make some of this music known. I’ve become interested in the roots of rock and roll, the Delta Blues. Son House, born in 1902. He was in his 20s when his songs were recorded by Alan Lomax.

Son House was discovered and promoted as a young man by reigning Delta Blues king, Charley Patton. House’s style would greatly influence Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, and later Bonnie Raitt, John Hammond, Jr. and The White Stripes. Released in 1930, the 78 RPM vinyl of “Clarksdale Moan” was long considered a “Holy Grail” of lost blues recordings. Here’s an mp3 from an original copy found by an ecstatic collector in the 1990’s. An absolute treasure.




I first heard a Theremin used in rock music by Rev. Paul Jackson of The Uptones. The instrument was easy to record, but you looked lame playing it. Not much later I saw Aron Mardo not looking lame using this all electronic instrument in an inspired performance with his brother in their band Mardo. I fell in love with the unlimited possibilities of this electronic instrument. As I looked further, into this instrument’s roots, I also found some Public Domain music using all electronic music instruments. As you guessed, it wasn’t made before 1925, it was made in 1960 in a no-copyright-law USSR! This video features Russian Thereminist Konstantin Kovalsky, performing with Vyacheslav Mescherin’s ensemble of electro-musical instruments. I find this a mind-boggling display of electronic instruments. Konstantin makes the theremin sound almost human in his solo. I found this video fascinating.


JAYBIRD COLEMAN – “No More Good Water”

Everybody listen to this man, listen to the depth of sorrow in that harmonica. A real blues player cannot cheat the feeling of grief on any topic. It comes from within. Bad water wasn’t a modern problem. When the river runs dry on land and in the heart, the music must replenish the soul for hope to be replenished. I’m proud to link to this song by Jaybird Coleman.

Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars – “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”

Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars recorded “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” in Chicago, Illinois on December 9, 1927. The moment was captured in a crisp recording that is as impressive as it is pure fun. Armstrong’s inspired composition and tight arrangement are brought to life by one of the hottest big bands of all time. Ripped to mp3 from a well preserved 78 RPM vinyl side, this ebullient instrumental classic is free to enjoy and share.


Kokomo Arnold – “Sissy Man Blues”

Kokomo Arnold’s left-handed slide guitar playing and vocals, delivered with the same intensity and conviction as a sermon from a Sunday preacher, made his records sound 20 years ahead of their time. From 1934, “Sissy Man Blues” has a place in gay music history, with the famous, and perhaps the most lucidly sung phrase on the record, “Lord if you can’t send me no woman, please send me some sissy man.” This is evidence of the presence of a queer vibe in 1934,  when this song was written.


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