Boodle Am Shake

Lyrics: Jack Palmer, Spencer Williams
Music: Jack Palmer, Spencer Williams

Played by Jerry Garcia with Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions but never subsequently by the Grateful Dead.

Shake a leg, shake a leg, shake a leg, shake a leg now
Break a leg, break a leg, break a leg, break a leg, wow

I know this song, it don't mean a doggone thing
All you got to do is that good old Charleston swing
And sing
Boodle am, boodle am, boodle am, boodle am, boo
Toodle am, toodle am, toodle am, toodle am, too

Boodle am, boodle am, boodle am, boodle am, boo
Toodle am, toodle am, toodle am, toodle am, too
Shake a leg, shake a leg, shake a leg, shake a leg now
Break a leg, break a leg, break a leg, break a leg, wow

I know this song, it don't mean a doggone thing
Just do that good old Charleston swing
When you sing
Boodle am, boodle am, boodle am, boodle am, boo
Toodle am, toodle am, toodle am, toodle am, too
Recordings
     Date Album
     1964 Mother Mcree's Uptown Jug Champions

Background
It seems likely that Mother McCree's learnt this song from the Jim Kweskin version. But the origins go back much further than that. Thanks to Bill Thomas's research for the following information:

"Boodle Am Shake" was written in 1926 by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams. Williams was born October 14, 1889 in New Orleans. He first took an interest in music when he used to listen to piano players in the Honkey-Tonks around the Basin Street districts at the age of 12, and he learned to play the piano by ear by listening to other pianists. He started writing songs at the age of 21. His first big hit was I Ain't Got Nobody. His works are jazz classics and have been recorded by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, et al. The first recording which I have found of Boodle-Am Shake was done by Johnny Dodds and the Dixieland Jug Blowers on December 11, 1926, on the now-defunct Biltmore label (VIC-20480, BM-1018). I tracked this one down by going through microfilm photographs of records at the Library of Congress. The other side of the record is called Memphis Shake. A cross-search in some other obscure references reveals that Dodds' name appears on this recording, even though he was not even in the studio on this date. It seems he was home nursing a hangover. The second jug and additional vocals by Henry Smith as Henry Clifford. With the violin and three banjos it looks like a string band but some jazz flavor added by Lockwood Lewis. With two jugs it became a well-structured and expressive song with lots of musical tensions."

"Here are the complete lyrics as published in 1926:
Down in Charleston land, I heard a Charleston band
Play a brand new Charleston swing
Let me tell you now, that band it was a "wow"
Hot dog baby ain't no maybe
When the leader starts to sing

Down In Charleston land, I'll tell the world is grand
When they play this Charleston tune
Let me tell you now, that band it was a "wow"
Full of pepper, every stepper
You will hear those babies croon

Boodle am Boodle am Boodle am now
Skoodle am skoodle am skoodle am wow
Gag a lag gag a lag gagh a lag too
Ska a lag ska a lag ska a lag do

I know this song don't mean a thing
Just do that plain old Charleston swing
When you sing
Toodle am toodle am toodle am now
Boodle am Boodle am Boodle am wow

When you hear music blue and sweet
Yell Hey! Hey! then you shake yo' feet
And repeat
Toodle am toodle am toodle am now
Boodle am Boodle am Boodle am wow

Just shoot yo' nelson all about
But when you do that real- cut out
You'll just shout
Toodle am toodle am toodle am now
Boodle am Boodle am Boodle am wow

When Cornet Joe begins to toot
Play jazz tunes with his wha- wha mute
Hoot 'n hoot
Toodle am toodle am toodle am now
Boodle am Boodle am Boodle am wow

Futher Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


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