HESITATION BLUES (song in progress)

*Scroll down for 2 YouTube videos


Wandered into the Cage Coffee House in 1964

Listened to the music and didn’t look no more

This was my place, found what life was for

Learned rhythm and rhyme’s the way to stop a war


W.C. Handy, Father of the Blues

Wrote about folk but I followed his clues

Subtext was there, in lyrics that might confuse

Hesitation was wrong, the way to always lose


So young and ready to embrace life

Could cut the cigarette smoke with a knife

People drinking coffee, no sign of strife

Guitarist announcing:  “Hesitation Blues for my ex-wife”


I learned that life is meant to be seized

Never play around, be sure not to tease

Take it seriously unlocking with proper keys

‘Cause it’s short and often ugly, never like a breeze


Learned lots that day and the years I hung out there

Some days happy but others in teenage despair

Music schooled me down a path sometimes unfair

But still felt protected in the Cage, my lair


Wrote crazy songs and honed my political voice

Played kazoos and sang and learned about choice

One thing I knew, loving the wrong man destroys

But when he looked at me, it was easy to rejoice


One day I wrote a poem in honor of Handy

Performed but the crowd was bored of my modus operandi

Shouted, the song’s old fashioned! And I was pelted with candy

Hesitation should be laid back like drinking good brandy


So here are two takes on hesitation’s merit

Some say “look before you leap” so don’t stir it

But ”he who hesitates is lost” is my best commit

Father of the Blues simply is no hypocrite

He knows…


© 2021 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: W.C. Handy and only known photo of The Cage


W.C. Handy St. Louis Blues (Ed Sullivan show)  https://youtu.be/0r81aNCYi0A

Hesitation Blues, Louis Armstrong with W.C. Handy on trumpet https://youtu.be/4EhnhddJLzY


*W.C. Handy originally titled his 1915 song Hesitating Blues

Here is a vintage photo depicting a typical audience enjoying the musical ambience of the old Gilded Cage.

**Photo of The Gilded Cage in Philly seems to be the only photo in existence (note:None of us carried cameras or could afford to get film developed anyway AND it wasn’t hip to take pix. So an entire historical movement is soon to be lost by those of us who remember but didn’t record it)