Behind the title: ‘War Cloud’

At our last session at the Garden Gate, we played the number, ‘Fidgety Feet’ but under its original title of ‘War Cloud’.

It is difficult to imagine more difference in ‘mood’ between the two names so it is worth looking behind the title.

‘War Cloud’ was written by Nick La Rocca (trumpet) and Larry Shields (clarinet) of the Original Dixieland Jass Band in 1917. (There was some dispute about authorship with a claim by Edwin ‘Daddy’ Edwards (trombone) of the same band.)

The band went to the studio to record the number on 25thJune 1918 with the Great War still raging and the US involved as combatants. The studio bosses vetoed the title – as detrimental to morale.  The band was very keen to record this popular and engaging number so agreed to a title change.

There is an introduction and three themes – all lively and upbeat; while the instigator of the name change is not known, it is easy to understand how ‘Fidgety Feet’ came into being. What is less easy to appreciate is how the band felt about the substitution – but a great number whatever the name.