Jelly Roll Morton, Inventor Of Jazz, Online Book by Alan Lomax

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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When I first got back to New Orleans from Biloxi, I had a ran of bad luck. I felt sick and bad. Something seemed to be wrong with my hands. When jobs came up in the district, they didn't come my way. One afternoon I was sitting around 25's and wondering if my grandmother hadn't been right after all, when old man Sona walked up to me.
"Son, you are sick/'
"That's right, Papa Sona, somebody must have put some­thing on me/' I was just kidding when I said that, of course.
"Don't you worry, son, Papa Sona gonna cure you."
I didn't know how he could tell 1 was sick. I had seen him one time before when I was a kid. That day I walked in on a ceremony in a neighbor's house. Papa Sona was dancing bare­foot on a blanket, mumbling some type of spell. Afterwards they had a feast of jambalaya rice with some kind of peculiar odor to it and they gave us kids poppy seed to put in our mouths. The seed was supposed to make you highly successful, —you could swing people your way.
These operators like Papa Sona did some kind of workman­ship with frog legs and boa-constrictor tongues to make some­body fall in love with you, but you don t know how this is done. That's all I knew about Sona, that he operated in this underground stuff I didn't half believe in. He told me, "Come along, son. I'm going to give you three baths and you wiU be well by the last bath/'
He took me to his house. He stripped me and put me in a tub with some kind of grass in it. Then he rubbed me with this grass and mumbled and shook so much it made me very, very nervous, I'm telling you. For three Fridays he gave me this bath and then he told me, "Son, I'm gonna get you a job now so you can pay me. Take me to the house where you want to work only don't say anything when we get there. Just touch me. In three days you will have that job/'
I took Papa Sona past Hilma Burt's house, which was one of the highest class mansions in the District, and did as he had requested. Three days later at two o'clock in the afternoon I