The Weary Blues
by Langston Hughes
Analysis: Calling Card
Lenox Avenue, Smokey Bars, and Blues Singers
Writers are always supposed to write what they know. And as one of Harlem's literati (reader and writer of sophisticated literature), Langston Hughes sure spent a lot of time writing about shady places. Big jazz venues on Lenox Avenue, like the Cotton Club, were being filled up by white folks who went there as tourists, rather than music fans. These cultural tourists came to Harlem to be wowed by the sights, but they didn't always show respect to the African Americans who worked and lived there. This drove the hip Harlemites into smaller and more exclusive bars like the one in "The Weary Blues." Hughes loved the common people who carried flasks of gin and weren't too good to go see a blues singer on a Saturday night.