" I remembered songs. And in the night the American scene underwent a curious change. The whining, shouting Slavic folk tunes, the chants from the Congo, the rollicking street ditties from Paris, Prague, Vienna; Chinese, Malay, African, European, Asiatic--all of them lay in the anthems of our cabarets. Illiterate, monotonous jingles which stuttered out the loves and despairs, the gawky mirths and naive excitements of a conglomerate folk."
"I Got the Blues" is one of several stories Hecht wrote based on his observations in Chicago cabarets, night clubs featuring black musicians and a racially mixed clientele. The story is noteworthy for its respectful recital of the vernacular of the blues, without exaggerated dialect.
Left, Dave Payton, seen at the piano with his band circa 1923, served as jazz critic for the important black newspaper "The Chicago Defender." Payton was for a time Hecht's collaborator on a musical review for which Hecht's illustrator Herman Rosse designed sets. Payton photograph Library of Congress. Above, "Blues," 1928 by native Chicago artist Archibald Motley who worked in Paris to escape American prejudice. Courtesy Smithsonian Arcchive of American Art