Play the Classic Blues Song "The Dardanella Blues"

Posted by Orville Johnson

“Dardanella” was one of the most popular songs of 1919, selling over two million copies and residing at No. 1 on the charts for 13 weeks. It inspired this song, “The Dardanella Blues,” which comments on the original. Sung by Billy Murray and Ed Smalle, “The Dardanella Blues” has a verse-chorus form and tells the story of a fellow whose girlfriend is so wild about “Dardanella” that she can’t seem to keep her mind on him. This lack of attention has apparently given him the blues.

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On the original recording, an orchestra accompanies call-and-response vocals by two singers with light opera-style phrasing and tone. To transform this into a solo-guitar/vocal arrangement, I edited the lyrics to eliminate the responses so that they made sense for a single vocalist. I arranged the song with three parts: verse, chorus, and a repeating instrumental section (excerpted here) that takes part of its melody from the original “Dardanella” strain.

Excerpted from Arranging Folk and Blues Songs

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