I had the opportunity to hear Kid Ory and his band when they performed at a joint on San Francisco’s Embarcadero in the late ’60s, called On the Levee. My companion and I enjoyed the first set, then at the break, the “Kid” was left alone near the stage, cleaning his horn. I had recently read the book Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff in which there was a story about a tune that Ory had written and recorded many years ago, called “Do What Ory Say.” In the lyrics, which Ory sang, there was a phrase pronounced in the Creole language:
Do what Ory say,
Why doncha do what Ory say,
And if you don’t like the way I do,
Then eeno beeno ha
sounding something like that.
The book said it was too raw to put into print, but if the reader ever had the chance to sit down with Ory, buy him a drink, and ask him what that meant, he’d probably reveal it.
Well, I couldn’t pass up a chance like that, so I approached him, asked if I could buy him a drink. He was very nice, joined us at our table, and of course I asked him the question. He didn’t hesitate, and said it was Creole for “Kiss old Ory’s ass!”
I have often wondered how many people alive today have heard those words from the mouth of that great man, Edward “Kid” Ory.