"Flow My Tears" and "Lost Your Head Blues"
“Lost your Head Blues” was written and performed by Bessie smith, known as the “Empress of the Blues.” She lived from 1894-1937. The songs Smith sang along with her performances allowed her the opportunity to become popular in the 1920’s. While the songs she sang were revolved around her life, and not that of the community, many folks said that the stories were relatable to them. “Lost Your Head Blues” in particular was a sad love song that became a popular hit in the 1920’s, specifically 1926. Due to how the man was treating her with such disrespect, Smith sings about leaving the man she loves. Her music was considered to be classical blues based on the African American blues genre. Long before Smith’s time, this type of music with its sad and negative tone was already being played. For instance, “Flow My Tears” was written around the 1600’s which was during the Renaissance period. This was considered popular during Shakespeare’s time. It was produced by John Downland, who was a well-known English composer in Europe. He lived from 1563-1626. It was derived from a poem perhaps previously written by Downland. Downland is well-known for his pieces which represent sadness. In that, it portrays one’s happiness coming to an end—similarly to that of “Lost Your Head Blues.”
Both “Flow My Tears” and “Lost Your Head Blues” were solo songs; however, Smith, a woman soloist, was accompanied by a piano played by Fletcher Henderson and a cornet played by Joe Smith. In contrast, Downland’s piece was sung by a male and was accompanied by a lute, a plucked wooden string instrument popular at this time, and similar to the guitar which we are familiar with today.
In the piece, “Lost Your Head Blues” the melodies come in descending pitches which represent sadness through word painting. The form is considered to be A, A, B form where the music and text are imitated in the first two lines, and changed...