DESCRIPTION: Singer confesses to all sorts of infractions -- rambling, drinking, gambling -- but says it's "nobody's business if I do." He says he might even kill somebody; his girlfriend "runs a weenie stand..." and drives a Cadillac, but it's all nobody's business
AUTHOR: Porter Grainger, Clarence Williams, Graham Prince, Everett Robbins?
EARLIEST DATE: 1911 (JAFL)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer confesses to all sorts of infractions -- rambling, drinking, gambling -- but says it's "nobody's business if I do." He says he might even kill somebody; morphine, cocaine and women will drive him out of his mind; his money goes to buy his girlfriend fancy clothes; "she runs a weenie stand/way down in no man's land" and drives a Cadillac, but it's all nobody's business
KEYWORDS: sex homicide clothes gambling rambling drink nonballad whore
FOUND IN: US West Indies(Jamaica)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Murray, pp. 34-35, "Nobody's Business" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Noel Dexter and Geodfrey Taylor, _Mango Time: Folk Songs of Jamaica_ (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2007), pp. 86-87, "Nobody's Business" (1 text, 1 tune)
Emry Arthur, "Nobody's Business" (Vocalion 5230, 1928)
Jerry Behrens, "Nobody's Business" (OKeh 45564, 1932)
Tommie Bradley "Nobody's Business If I Do" (Champion 16696, 1933; Varsity 6055, n.d. [as by Big Richard]; rec. 1932; on GoodForWhatAilsYou)
Warren Caplinger's Cumberland Mountain Entertainers, "Nobody's Business" (Brunswick 224/Brunswick [Canada] 224, 1928)
Edric Connor with the Caribbeans and Earl Inkman, "Nobody's Business" (on WIEConnor01)
Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Jordan & his Tympany Five, "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do" (Decca 27200, c. 1950)
The Gaylads, "Nobody's Business" (2002, on "Ska Days," Soul Beat CD, 2002 [apparently a reissue of a Rolando & Powie 1964 45EP)
Boysie Grant with Reynolds' Calypso Clippers, "Sweet Charlie";"Mattie Rag";"Nobody's Business" (1952, on Motta MRS 06A, 2004, "Mento Madness, Motta's Jamaican Mento: 1951-56," V2 Music Ltd CD 63881-27201-2)
Alberta Hunter, "T'ain't Nobody's Biz-ness" (Paramount 12018, 1923)
Mississippi John Hurt, "Nobody's Dirty Business" (OKeh 8560, 1928; on MJHurt01, MJHurt02; on MJHurt05); "Nobody's Business" (on MJHurt04)
Earl Johnson & his Dixie Entertainers, "Ain't Nobody's Business" (OKeh 45092, 1927, on Rough2)
[Billy] Jones & [Ernest] Hare, "Nobody's Business" (CYL: Edison [BA] 5115, n.d.)
Lulu Belle & Scotty, "It Ain't Nobody's Bizness" (OKeh 04962, 1939)
Sara Martin w. Fats Waller "'Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do" (OKeh 8043, 1923; rec. 1922)
Charles Nabell, "Nobody's Business" (OKeh 40389, 1925)
Riley Puckett, "Nobody's Business" (Bluebird B-6103, 1935; Bluebird B-8621, 1941)
Roy Sexton & his Arizona Hoedowners, "Nobody's Business" (Old Timer 8013, n.d.)
Bessie Smith, "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do" (Columbia A3898, 1923)
Leo Soileau & his Aces, "Nobody's Business" (Decca 5101, 1935)
Peter Tosh, "Leave My Business" (on "Early Masters," (2009, on Goldenlane Records MP3 [recorded 1971; see NOTES])
Walker's Corbin Ramblers, "Nobody's Business" (Vocalion 01648, 1934)
Lena Wilson, "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do" (Victor 19085, 1923)
Jimmy Witherspoon, "Ain't Nobody's Business, Pts. 1 & 2" (Supreme 1506/Swing Time 263, 1947)
She Came from Kelligrews, She Likes Her Fish and Brewis (by Harry Mercer) (Cox-Newfoundland, p. 161)
NOTES [337 words]: This shouldn't be confused with Will E. Skidmore & Marshall Walker's 1919 "It's Nobody's Business But My Own," which concerned the extracurricular activities of a deacon. Skidmore and Walker copyrighted that song (and Bert Williams recorded it on Columbia A2750 the same year), but the JAF reference precedes that copyright, so it's likely they arranged and adapted a traditional piece. And, while I have not seen the sheet music to the copyrighted version, I strongly suspect it doesn't contain all the verses listed above. - PJS
THE JAMAICAN VERSIONS
The Gaylads' ska structure is the same as Dexter/Taylor and Murray, with the chorus line being "nobody's business, business" and a verse of "if I marry a tiny girl/ or I marry a fat gal/ nobody's business but me own." Dextor/Taylor and Murray is in Jamaican patois with, partly, a similar theme to Gaylads' "if I marry a black man/ And left him for a Chinese man/...." This theme is also in - for example - Tommy Bradley's version: "If I dislike my lover/ And leave her for another/ Nobody's business if I do."
The structure of Boysie Grant's mento version and Peter Tosh's reggae version is like the U.S. recordings: the chorus line is simply "nobody's business" rather than "nobody's business, business."
Grant's verse, like all but Tosh's, has to do with trading lovers: a sailor man for a soldier man, and a Coolie [East Indian] man for a Chinee man.
Tosh's, like the U. S. versions, deals with hard times and shady business, among other things: "When landlord come collectiing rent/ Me not come beg you fifty cent/ That's nobody's business but my own" and "If I get high and fly like bird/ You should never say a word...." So does Dexter/Taylor, "Solomon granma swear she no go beg/ Tief 'way an Bra Sammy fowl an' egg/ Nobody's business but she own."
The date on the Peter Tosh recording is from KAZO, Bob Marley and the Wailers "Compared Discography", Issue 14(February 2nd, 2010) p. 52, downloaded March 14, 2015, from http://kazo.wailers.free.fr/. - BS
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