Recently, I re-read Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea (1938), and was struck more by the use of music in the repeated refrain “Some of these days/You’ll miss me honey!” During my previous reading, the possibility that the song actually existed hadn’t struck me. The song in question very much does exist, and the narrator’s comment that “I had heard some American soldiers whistle it in 1917 . . . But the recording is much more recent” matches the recording history of the song itself. Written by Shelton Brooks, the song was released first in 1911 sung by Sophie Tucker. The re-recorded song, released in 1926, proved even more popular than the original release. Nausea takes place in 1932. Contrary to the narrator’s labelling of the artist as a “Negress,” Tucker was in fact Ukrainian-American. This confusion likely results from the 1926 recording’s Dixieland jazz arrangement.
Sophie Tucker, “Some of These Days” (1911)
Sophie Tucker, “Some of These Days” (1926)
After listening to these songs for the first time, I was struck by something else that should have been obvious to me. One of my favourite songs, by my favourite pre-war blues musician is a cover of this same song. In fact, Charley Patton recorded his own version, “Some These Days I’ll Be Gone,” a mere three years after the recording that Sartre references, the version with which Patton’s bears the most structural similarity.
Charley Patton, “Some These Days I’ll Be Gone” (1929)