With the country at a seemingly endless stalemate regarding the debt ceiling, and debating what role government should or shouldn’t take in getting the country back to work, I pulled up one of Ida Cox’s best songs: “Pink Slip Blues”. Written four years into the Depression, her woman’s viewpoint about losing her WPA job is really refreshing. As usual, her confident, direct voice delivers home the humanity of the situation which couldn’t be more simply stated: people need jobs.
I love the way Ida Cox writes and sings. I’ve been delving into her life work again as I’m preparing a book based on my Wild Women of Song project, and have been happily listening to that clarion voice, (so un- American Idol) go right to the heart of the song. Never quite as popular as the Classic Blues Queens who were her contemporaries (Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey) she nonetheless outlasted them all, successfully managing her own vaudeville troupe all through the 20’s, 30’s, through the Depression, and working steadily right up until a stroke laid her low in 1945. When clubs stopped hiring large troupes, she scaled down without apology, performing as a duo at Cafe Society for a few years with the excellent blues pianist Jesse Crump (who was also her 3rd husband.) She always stayed true to her own style, and certainly earned the title given to her by Paramount Records: “Uncrowned Queen of the Blues”.
“Just a little pink slip in a long white envelope”…to hear the song, click below: