Boogie Woogie: A twohundredandthirtystr story

Boogie – (from:

  • verb: 1) to dance to Rock music, also: revel, party. 2) to move quickly.
  • noun: 1) boogie-woogie. 2) earthy and strongly rhythmic rock music conducive to dancing.

Boogie Woogie – (from: Harvard Dictionary of Music)

  • Originally, a special type of piano blues first heard in Chicago in the early 1920’s.

The first time the term “boogie boogie” appeared on a record was in 1928.

The recording was “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” by Clarence “Pine Top” Smith. It was made on December 29, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, for the Brunswick/Vocalion record label.

Here are Clarence Smith’s spoken lyrics:

I want all of y’all to know this is Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie.

I want everybody to dance ’em just like I tell you.

And when I say “Hold yourself,” I want all of you to get ready to stop.

And when I said “Stop!”, don’t move!

And when I say “Get it,” I want all of y’all to do a boogie woogie.

Hold it, now… Stop!… Boogie Woogie!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Now when I say “Hold yourself” this time, I want all of you to get ready to stop.

And when I said “Stop!”, don’t move a peg.

And when I say “Get it,” ev’rybody mess around.

Hold it yourself, now… Stop!… Mess around!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Give a listen for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!


Clarence Smith was born on January 11, 1904 in Orion, Alabama. He gave his first public performance in Birmingham at about the age of fifteen. According to his wife, Sarah, he started playing “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” around 1924.

Clarence and his family moved to Chicago in 1928. There, over the course of three sessions – December 29, 1928 and January 14 & 15, 1929 – Clarence recorded 8 pieces for Brunswick/Vocalion Records. Three of those pieces were recorded twice – labelled as “Take A” and “Take B” – leaving Pine Top Smith’s total discography at 11 sides.

Clarence Smith died on March 15, 1929, two days after being struck by a stray bullet in a dance hall brawl. He was 25 years old.

Information for this post came from Mike Rowe’s liner notes to the 2007 Document Records CD (DOCD-5102): Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano, Volume 1: 1928-1930.

The title of this post is based on the first number – 230 – that came up when I searched for: “How many strings does a piano have?”

This post was written in response to the “Song Lyric Sunday” challenge – Boogie/Rock/Rolling Stone –  by Jim Adams on his excellent WordPress blog, A Unique Title For Me.

Here’s the link to Jim’s blog: Song Lyric Sunday.


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12 Responses to Boogie Woogie: A twohundredandthirtystr story

  1. Nice song, perfect for the theme and a great write up. I wish this video showed the audience following Clarence Smith’s lyrics, as it would be fun to watch them stop and then boogie.

  2. msjadeli says:

    I love Boogie Woogie music. So sorry to hear Clarence died so young. Excellent choice for the prompt!

  3. ghostmmnc says:

    Fun song! I’d never heard it before, but this is the kind of music I think of when I hear the words boogie woogie! Thanks for sharing this today! 🙂

  4. aisasami says:

    What a wonderful entry in this week’s theme! I love how you featured a classic Boogie song! Was this the first boogie songs to be released? I know you wrote that this song was released in 1928 when boogie came out but I didn’t see if this was the first boogie songs.

    • Thanks for your comment. As far as I know, “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” was the first recording to use the term “boogie woogie.” There may have been other recordings of that style of piano playing that did not use the term. Thanks again!

  5. badfinger20 says:

    This is wonderful. I love the music you present on your blog. Love the playing and the sound.

  6. Love the post! Excellent commentary. 👍😊

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