Kid Ory and his band had a reputation for playing original material, and Ory was known for singing songs he made up, with the band working them out on the spot.
“Do What Ory Say” was one of these songs. It was born one day while Ory and his band rode around in an advertising wagon.
The birth of this tune is remembered by Ory:
We were in a big furniture wagon, drifting along and when we came to a dull section, we weren’t playing every corner, just the hot spots, the hot corners so he said, “Keep playing it, play it again for me, please.” So, he said, “I think I have it.”
So, we got on a corner and he said, “Let’s try it. Let’s go.” I stomped off and (King) Oliver kept the melody and that quick I picked up harmony. Oliver was pretty fast himself, as everyone knows, but that was a fast hand on the climax, my ideas. So we started playing it. We played it once or twice before we hit Toledano & Franklin where all the crowd was and there we met Jack Carey’s band.
We started to play it and everyone wanted to know what number was it. It was so new, we didn’t know it ourselves. WE didn’t have no title more than “Do What Ory Say.” I didn’t have no idea of no title so someone hollered and said, “What’s the number you played, Kid?”
I said, “Oh, we’re just playing.” King Oliver said, “Do What Ory Say,” and the word started spreading around.
First sung by newsboys all over the city, “Do What Ory Say” caught on.
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