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   "Goodbye Newport Blues"

When white audience members rioted after they were unable to get tickets, the Newport Jazz Festival's final three sets (one that night / two the following day on the 4th) were unexpectedly canceled on the afternoon of July 3, 1960.  This was the first time the blues had been played on this scale before white audiences in America, and the demand exceeded all expectations for the 13,000 seat outdoor venue. 


At the end of Langston Hughes's instructive blues session, Muddy Waters (with his right hand on the piano below) was approached to sing a song Hughes had just written (most likely mere hours before the official announcement).  As an official board member of the festival, Hughes would have been involved in the private discussions occurring before the official decision was made public. Though Waters is mistakenly credited, Otis Spann actually sang Hughes's song, also playing piano, with John Lee Hooker (seated below) joining in on acoustic guitar as well.

At the time the song was performed (which can be heard below), it was sincerely believed this might be the bitter end of the festival forever. The very last words on the recording are of Langston Hughes himself solemnly saying, with a heavy heart, "Goodbye Newport."

Goodbye Newport Blues FINAL.jpg

Hughes's line "drown in my own tears" (above) alludes to the song Ray Charles sang the night before (see below). 

By alluding to "Drown in My Own Tears," Hughes suggests the key source of the sorrow expressed in "Goodbye Newport Blues" is the closing of the festival that resulted from the rioting that occurred while Ray Charles was singing this very song. 

Drown in my Own tears   BRiGHT.jpg
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