Mose Allison is a singer and piano player from Tippo, a small community in northwestern Mississippi. As a schoolboy Mose worked on the family farm, while learning to play piano and trumpet. After a two year stint in the U.S. Army, Allison graduated from college, and in 1956 he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a jazz musician. By 1957, he issued his first album of songs, and Allison enjoyed a successful career that lasted until his retirement in 2012. As a lyricist, he is revered for his wry humor and his sharp observations of modern society. His influence on other musicians, especially younger British Invasion musicians of the sixties, exceeds his popularity.
Mose Allison (1927-2016), piano, vocals, songwriter
Men Of A Certain Age
I like this picture. It reminds me of dear old Dad; I have a couple pictures where Dad looks like this, with a neatly trimmed beard and a peaceful, pleasant demeanor. I have this theory that men of that era wore beards because they admired the great basketball star Bill Russell, but the more likely connection is to Beat Generation culture. Both Mose Allison and my father, who died in 2003, were born in 1927. They followed a similar path in early life. Both enlisted in the military in 1945, and once their military obligation was served, received a college education paid by the G.I. Bill. And it seems fair to suggest they had similar beliefs about society.
“For the benefit of critical listeners, Mose has shared his view about the state of the world: the domination of money over everything, the growing lack of empathy on the part of the powers-that-be for the population, wars and more wars, and an underlying hypocrisy in society.”
— Thomas Brewer, December 2010
Young Man Blues
In the old days,
When a young man was a strong man.
All the people,
Stand back when a young man walked by.
The old man got all the money.
And a young man ain’t nothin’ in the world these days.”
– Mose Allison
I first experienced a Mose Allison song when I heard The Who’s wild version of “Young Man Blues” from Live At Leeds. It’s hard not to notice; The Who’s version is incredibly rambunctious and belligerent. At one minute and twenty-seven seconds, Allison’s more sedate and succinct version holds the distinction as being the shortest four star song in the collection. Another example of simple phrases with a powerful, timeless message, my favorite kind of lyrics. Over the years, more clever Mose Allison songs trickled into the collection until there were enough to merit a blog profile. The older I get, the better his economical vocal and piano style sounds. Allison separates himself from other post-World War II pianists with his thinking man’s social commentary.
Knock ’em dead.
Pack your kit,
Choose your hypocrite.
Well you don’t have to go to off-Broadway,
To see something plain absurd.
Everybody’s crying mercy,
When they don’t know the meaning of the word.
— Mose Allison
Mose Allison Song Notes:
1. In all cases, the earliest version of any given song is recommended. For instance, try the 1962 version of “Your Mind Is On Vacation”.
Mose Allison Songs:
Young Man Blues, Mose Allison ★★★★
Parchman Farm, Mose Allison ★★★
If You Live, Mose Allison ★★★
I’m Not Talking, Mose Allison ★★★
I Don’t Worry About A Thing, Mose Allison ★★
I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out!, Mose Allison ★★
Your Mind Is On Vacation, Mose Allison ★★
Fool’s Paradise, Mose Allison ★★
Everybody Cryin’ Mercy, Mose Allison ★★
The Seventh Son, Mose Allison ★★
Trouble In Mind, Mose Allison ★
Gimcracks And Geegaws, Mose Allison ★
It Didn’t Turn Out That Way, Mose Allison ★
Your Molecular Structure, Mose Allison ★
Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand, Mose Allison ★
Don’t Forget To Smile, Mose Allison ★
Young Man Blues (Live), The Who ★★★
Parchman Farm, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers ★★
Parchman Farm Blues, Bukka White ★★
I’m Not Talking, The Yardbirds ★★
I’m Not Talking (Live), The Yardbirds ★★
The Seventh Son, Willie Mabon ★★
The Seventh Son, Johnny Rivers ★★
Trouble In Mind, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry ★★
Trouble In Mind, Jay McShann’s Kansas City Stompers ★★
Trouble In Mind, Dinah Washington & Ben Webster ★★
Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand, Ray Charles ★