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Published on Mar 10, 2010
"Potato Head Blues" is a Louis Armstrong composition regarded as one of his finest recordings. It was made by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven for Okeh Records in Chicago, Illinois on May 10, 1927. It was recorded during a remarkably productive week in which Armstrong's usual Hot Five was temporarily expanded to seven players by the addition of tuba and drums; over five sessions the group recorded twelve sides.
Not strictly speaking a "blues," the chord structure is a 32-bar form in the same neighborhood as "(Back Home Again in) Indiana." The recording features notable clarinet work by Johnny Dodds, and the stop-time solo chorus in the last half of the recording is one of Armstrong's most famous solos. The last, hot "ride out" chorus is an example of this New Orleans jazz custom brought to the level of genius through Armstrong's inspired melodic playing.
Tallulah Bankhead said that she played it in her dressing room every day during intermission while she appeared on Broadway for the invigorating effect it gave her.
In Woody Allen's 1979 film, Manhattan, the character Isaac Davis (played by Allen) lists Armstrong's recording of "Potato Head Blues" as one of the reasons that life is worth living.