Ain’t nobody’s business but my own.

Here’s a nice happy-go-lucky song by Will Archibold’s Coral Group from Providencia, a tiny, peaceful island in the Colombian Caribbean. Speaking of giving proper attribution to musicians, when ChinaTuMadre and I asked some musicians in Providencia about this band, they told us that the “Coral Group” was whoever happened to be around the day that the cachacos came to record them. (“The cachaco” is Egberto Bermudez, whose work I am a big, big fan of. If you like raw traditional Colombian music, buy any or all of the compilations he’s put together!)


Nobody Business But My Own (Mento) by Coral Group

Nobody Business But My Own_(Mento)

“I work my money, just to spend it on my honey

Nobody’s business but my own


Marry to Islander girl and I changed her for a Spaniard girl
Nobody’s business but my own”

Maybe you already know that this is a really old American standard; I only found out later. And it’s not happy-go-lucky; it is a pretty twisted song. Missisippi John Hurt’s 1928 version might be my favorite, and the words are appalling:
Nobody’s Dirty Business by Mississippi John Hurt

Nobody’s Dirty Business

“Ain’t nobody’s doggone business

how my baby treats me

Nobody’s business but my own


One of these mornings gonna wake up crazy
Gonna grab my gun and kill my baby
Ain’t nobody’s business but mine”

Everything Billie Holiday touched is gold, and her version is dark and tender and honest-as-hell:

“If my man ain’t got no money

and I say take all of mine, honey,

ain’t nobody’s business if I do. 


I’d rather my man would hit me
Than have him jump up and quit me.
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.


I swear I won’t call no coppa
If I’m beat up by my papa
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.”

A lot of people (Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton, Cher!) have played this song since; they’ve often had to adapt it to something they’re willing to sing. I can’t get enough of it. Here are some other great versions by Bessy Smith and Freddie King. I like this bluegrass version too; though I can’t tell what they’re saying.


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