This song was written by Bob Cole and J. Rosamond Johnson.
By 1901, Bob Cole and Rosamond Johnson had put together a sophisticated vaudeville act. Dressed in evening clothes, Rosamond played classical works on the piano, then the pair sang their own compositions and ended the act with a soft-shoe routine by Cole. According to Rosamond, they were walking back uptown after a performance one day when he began to hum the African-American spiritual Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen. Hearing the song, Cole got the idea to rearrange it and work it into their act. When Rosamond objected that this was sacrilegious, Cole responded, "What kind of a musician are you anyway? Been to the Boston Conservatory and can't change a little old tune around." By the time Rosamond finally conceded, Cole had already written the words. The resulting song, Under the Bamboo Tree, sold over 400,000 copies, making it one of the biggest sellers ever.
Described as "the king of ragtime tunes", it was one of the most significant and succesful ragtime songs before 1910. Its setting is an African jungle where a Zulu and a dusky maid become convinced that two men can live as cheaply as one. Even though the lyric was authored by 2 African Americans, it would be found terribly offensive today.
The song was introduced in 1902 by Cole and Johnson. At that time the title of the song was "If You Lak-A-Me" (the first words of the chorus).
Cole's publisher suggested the change of title to "Under The Bamboo Tree"
J. Rosamond Johnson - Wikipedia
Bob Cole (composer) - Wikipedia
Marie Cahill, musical comedy-star, heard the song at a stage party and interpolated it in her musical "Sally in Our Alley" (1902), where she brought down the house with it; from then on this song became basic to her repertory.
The first recording of this song was made by Artur Collins.
In July 1902 he recorded the song for Edison Records.
Released in November 1902 on Edison Gold Moulded Record # 8215.
Edison Gold Moulded Record: 8215.. Arthur Collins. | UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive
Or here: cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/mp3s/4000/4348/cusb-cyl4348d.mp3
Arthur also recorded a few versions of this song in a duet with Byron G. Harlan.
(c) Collins and Harlan (1902)
Recorded end 1902 in New York
Released on Harvard 970, Columbia 970 and Oxford 970
Collins And Harlan - Under The Bamboo Tree (Shellac) at Discogs
Columbia matrix 970. Under the bamboo tree / Collins and Harlan - Discography of American Historical Recordings
On June 25, 1903 Collins re-recorded the song for the Victor-label
(c) Arthur Collins (1903)
Released on Victor Monarch 1633
(c) Mina Hickman (1903)
Recorded in 1903 in New York
Released on Zon-O-Phone C 5413
Zonophone matrix [Zo cat C 5413]. Under the bamboo tree / Mina Hickman - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Harry MacDonough (1903)
Recorded February 27, 1903
Released on Victor 1993
Victor matrix [Pre-matrix B-]1993. Under the bamboo tree / Harry Macdonough - Discography of American Historical Recordings
On the same day MacDonough recorded a version in a dutet with John Bieling
(c) Harry MacDonough and John Bieling (1903)
Recorded February 27, 1903
Released on Victor Monarch 1998
Victor matrix [Pre-matrix B-]1998. Under the bamboo tree / John H. Bieling ; Harry Macdonough - Discography of American Historical Recordings
In 1917 Marie Cahill, who initially made this song famous, finally recorded her version of "Under The Bamboo Tree".
(c) Marie Cahill (1917)
Recorded May 29, 1917 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor 45125
Victor matrix B-20004. Under the bamboo tree / Marie Cahill - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Orquesta de Pablo Valenzuela (1906) (as "La Patti Negra")
The songtitle was named after opera singer Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones, who was named The Black Patti (La Patti Negra), because she was the African-American counterpart of the famous opera diva Adelina Patti.
Released on Edison Gold Moulded Record 18862
Edison Gold Moulded Record: 18862.. Orquesta de Pablo Valenzuela. | UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive
Listen here: cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/mp3s/16000/16116/cusb-cyl16116d.mp3
Part of the lyrics of "Under the Bamboo Tree" were used in T.S. Eliot's play in verse "Fragment of an Agon" (1927).
T.S. Eliot – Fragment of an Agon | Genius
In 1943 Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien perform the song in the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis"
(c) Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band (1945)
Recorded in Hollywood, CA, August 5, 1945.
78 RPM - Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band - Panama / Under The Bamboo Tree - Crescent - USA - 7
Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band* - Panama / Under The Bamboo Tree (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) The DeMarco Sisters (1950)
Released on King 15038
KING numerical listing discography - 15000 series
www.rocknroll-schallplatten-forum.de :: Thema anzeigen - DE MARCO SISTERS
(c) Ken Colyer's Jazzmen (1959)
Recorded in London, August 5, 1958
Ken Colyer's Jazzmen - Colyer Plays Standards (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs
(c) Papa Bue's Viking Jazzband (1960)
Recorded May 2, 1960
Papa Bue's Viking Jazz Band - On Tour (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs
(c) Clinton Ford (1962)
Clinton Ford - Who's Next In Line? (Vinyl) at Discogs
Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minelli also sang "Under The Bamboo Tree"
Recorded in December 1999 live at New York's Palace Theather
(c) Liza Minnelli (2000)
CD Album - Liza Minnelli - Minnelli On Minnelli - Live At The Palace - Angel - USA
More versions here:
The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - UNDER THE BAMBOO TREE