“…A SONG I HAVE JUST WRITEN…‘YOUNG BLACK JOE’ –
Black American author.
Typewritten Letter Signed, Langston, one page, quarto, Los Angeles, California, November 29, 1940. To Dan Burley, as accomplished musician and journalist with a lengthy career in the African-American press. With a handwritten postscript, and a few handwritten corrections. Fine condition.
“Our letters must have crossed. In any case, yours just reached me today, and I think your anthology of Jive is going to be a swell idea. If you have already done something else that you think might be interesting for the Revue out here, please send us a copy. I would be very much interested in working with you on the book for a musical if I were in New York, but being way out here, I don’t think it would be very advantageous for either of us to try to collaborate by mail. (I guess you know how much it costs to send manuscripts back and forth first class.) Then, the other thing is, that with this revue, a number of lectures in January, and the first draft of a new book to finish by March, I am afraid I have enough to do to keep me going at top speed for the rest of the winter. However, when I get back to New York in the spring, if your script is not finished (and produced ! ! !!!), perhaps we could get together on it. I think we could turn out some amusing things together, and when I hit Harlem again, let us hold a conference on the subject. Man, you ought to hear a song I have just written with Elliott Carpenter called: ‘Young Black Joe’ – (I’m comin’, I’m comin’, But my head aint bending low) which is going to be the finale of the show.” In a postscript, Hughes has added in hi hand, “Went out to the theatre and found that my first letter dictated to you hand’t gone off yet – so here it, too, enclosed.”
Dan Burley (1907-1962) started out as a rent-party pianist. Soon after, he joined the staff of the Associated Negro Press and became a theater critic for the New York Amsterdam News in the 1940s. He then moved to Chicago where he worked for Ebony before founding several of his own periodicals, including The Owl. World’s 1st Real Compact Tabloid. He also recorded for Circle in the mod-1940s as well as with Lionel Hampton, but many remember Burley best as the author of the superb Dan Burley’s Original Handbook of Harlem Jive (1944).