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Black on White, White and Black Transcript

[RAGTIME MUSIC slowly grows louder]
[Fade in: a shot of two balloons against a black background]
[Pan down: a birthday cake with "Happy Birthday Alex" written on the top]

Title shot: "Black on White/ White and Black" [superimposed over a close up of hands playing a piano]

Credits: a film by/ Alan Govenar/ and/ Bruce Lane

[Pan up: Alex Moore begins singing]

ALEX MOORE - When I was a little boy I used to run out in the back yard chasing rainbows. Yes, when I was a boy I'd go out in the yard, look up in the sky and see rainbows. And after I got to be a man, I'd be downtown on the corner chasing panty hose

[Pan back down to his hands]

SPEAKER [V/O]: From the city of Dallas, a special recognition where it is... on this day we pause to pay tribute to the legendary... one of our oldest and most distinguished musical treasures: [cut to a shot of the speaker standing at a microphone] Mr. Alex Moore and whereas we celebrate the the 89th anniversary of his birth and this assemblage of his contemporaries who collectively represent the product of his illustrious career and whereas we recognize his contribution in six decades of recording, touring, international public performance, and acknowledgment in print, film, radio, and television medium. Now therefore, I, Annette Strauss, mayor of the city of Dallas and on behalf of the Dallas city council do hereby extend special recognition to Mr. Alex Moore.
[OC - Applause]
[Zoom out to show ALEX MOORE receiving the certificate]

[Cut to ALEX MOORE taking a seat at the piano. He begins to play.]

[Cut to a picture of ALEX MOORE [mid-twenties] taped to a wall with his signature ["Alexander H. Moore."] written above it

[Cut back to MOORE at the piano]
[Zoom in to close-up of his hands]
[Pan up to his face]
[Zoom back out to a full-frame shot]

[Cut to a marquis with "MOORE" written across it in red and gold]

MOORE V/O - I don't know what I'm doing. Never did.

[Pan down to MOORE at the piano]

[Cut to another black and white photo of MOORE with "Alexander H." written above it and "MOORE" written below it in purple pen]

[Cut to a different black and white photo]

MOORE V/O - Old cat came up in Dallas, Texas Came out of school in sixth grade [Zoom out to reveal five other pictures taped to the wall] washing dishes and shining shoes.

[Cut back to MOORE at the piano. He stops playing for a moment.]

MOORE - Let me tell you straight how it went [he begins to play a different tune]: "Say man, you can't play with old Alex. He plays to many damn different ways [he laughs and says something unintelligible]"

[Cut to a black and white photo of the Majestic theater]

MOORE V/O - Back in the bootlegging days, of home whiskey, home brew and all that stuff [cut to a photo of BUSTER SMITH playing in a band], Buster Smith got acquainted with me and he played saxophone [cut to a 16 mm footage of MOORE fishing]. But he was like myself. He didn't have no teeth so he changed to bass guitar. He'd say, "Alex, this is in C." I'd say, "What do you mean C?" He'd say, "That's the key you're playing in. That's C." I don't know nothing about no keys, but I found out one thing. [Cut back to a close-up of MOORE'S hands playing the piano] Know what I found out? "Alex, you're playing more damn keys than the average man [mimics BUSTER SMITH instructing him on the different keys]. [Cut back to the footage of him fishing] I didn't know I was doing that, but he told me.

[Cut back to MOORE at the piano]

MOORE [singing] - Alex Moore, age eighty-eight. Playing on the Steinway, eighty-eight notes. Born in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1899. [Zooms in to close-up of his face] North Dallas, called Freedman town. [Cut to a close-up of his hands] I wasn't raised on them old plastic bottles, [Zooms back out] them rubber nipples when I was a little bitty [repeats]. No, no, no, I was raised on the natural titty.

[Cut to a black and white photo of MOORE playing the piano]

MOORE V/O - I washed dishes for Walter E. Wilden. "Now, Alex, proposition. You won't wash no more dishes.

[Cut to MOORE sitting in his living room]

MOORE - You gonna play that piano. You walk around and draw twenty-one dollars a week. Till we fix the lounge upstairs" [Zoom in on his face then cut back to full shot] He said, "I'm going to keep a kitty up there and if you don't bring in thirty dollars a week, Alex, I'll make it up."

[Cut to a black and white photo of MOORE playing the lounge piano]

MOORE V/O - Hell, I was making so much doggone money in that Kitty. What do I care about keeping count?

[Cut back to MOORE in his living room]

MOORE - Well, one night one white girl came up to me. "Alex, I made thirty dollars tonight. What'd you do?" I said, " I ain't never counted mine. I'm gonna count it and see what I got." I counted my money and I said, "I had thirty dollars too. Me and you tied."

[Cut to MOORE playing the piano. Zoom in on hands]

MOORE (singing) - I had so much fun when my daily work was done [zoom back out]. I had so much fun when my daily work was done. I'd take my evening nap and be ready for my midnight run.

[Cut to MOORE flipping through a book of records]

MOORE - My first recording was in 1929.

[Cut back to MOORE at the piano]

MOORE - Standing on Hall and Thomas one day, Chris Strachwitz out of Callifornia and Paul Oliver out of England came through.

[Cut to a black and white photo of STRACHWITZ and OLIVER sitting next to each other]

MOORE V/O - They said, "We're looking for Alex Moore." And they said, "We want to record you," I said, "Well, I don't know where no piano is. How do you like that?"

[Cut back to MOORE at the piano]

MOORE - So we rode around from ten o'clock in the morning till five o'clock that evening trying to locate a piano.

[Cut to the album cover with "alex moore" written across it]

MOORE V/O - I wanted to record so bad. Finally we went to a lady's house. A music teacher.

[Cut back to MOORE at the piano]

Moore - And what was so killing: I'm playing and I don't know what in the world I'm playing so when I'd play a number they'd say, "Alex, what is that?" I'd say, "I don't know, you name it." And they named them numbers too.

[Cut to MOORE and others seated around a table playing dominoes]

[Cut back to a close-up of MOORE'S hands playing piano]

[Cut to a brief montage of men playing dominoes intercut with shots of MOORE playing piano]

[Cut to a close-up of MOORE]

MOORE (singing) - My gal, she wore bad, bad, funny-looking stockings... [unintelligible]. My gal, she wore a wig on her head and had holes in her stockings. My gal, me and her used to play hide and seek. And I'd always find one of them trees where she couldn't find me [he laughs].

[Cut to a shot of MOORE leaving a brick building]

[Cut back to a full-shot of MOORE playing piano]

MOORE V/O - About 1912, 13, 1911, you could get a big

[Cut to a close-up of MOORE standing on a sidewalk]

MOORE - ten pound sack of mixed cookies for a dime. The fun part was all three of us cats when we got there said, "Man, let's get us some cookies." "Yeah, let's do get us some cookies." And I said, "How much you got?" I said, "I got three cents." And they said, "Man, I don't got any." "Man, I ain't got none either. I'll tell you what to do, let's sit down and smell awhile [he laughs]."

[Cut back to a full-shot of MOORE playing piano]

MOORE (singing) - Come live with me, baby. Be my sweet little wife. Come live with me, baby. Be my sweet little wife. You can smoke and drink, pretty mama, if you like that kind of life.

[Zoom in to a close-up of his hands then pan down to his feet. Pan back up to his hands]

[Cut to MOORE standing on the side of a busy street. A bus drives by with "MOORE" written across the destination display. MOORE walks down the sidewalk with a woman. Cut to them seated together on a bus]

[Cut back to a full-shot of MOORE playing piano]

[Cut to MOORE standing with the woman in front of a large window]

MOORE - Sugar is sweet and so is she. The essence from her sweet lips can be my daily nutrition [he kisses her].

[Cut back to a full-shot of MOORE playing piano]

MOORE (singing) - Met a woman in West Texas. She's been living out there all alone. Met a woman in West Texas. She's been living out there all alone. Outside of Hooter Crossing, where it was not even known.

[Cut to a shot of a MOORE waving and dancing]

MOORE V/O (singing) - You said, "I found you, daddy, but I don't know your name."

[The camera zooms out and reveals him sitting with the woman eating lunch]

MOORE V/O (singing) - "I found you, daddy, but I don't know your name." [Zoom in] We left there walking in the hail and rain

[Cut back to a full-shot of MOORE playing piano]

[Cut to MOORE and the woman walking away from the restaurant]

[Cut to a close-up of MOORE playing a different piano from the one in the concert hall]

MOORE - A good man feeling bad that old woman done quit him. He ain't got no where to go and he's staying outdoors. Even got him sleeping on that cotton sack [he laughs].

[Cut to a full-shot, then zoom in to his face and name tag ["ALEX MOORE, SR./ BLUES ARTIST]. Pan down to his hands playing piano then back up to his face]

MOORE - Talking about your woman, talking about women and men. That's barrelhouse blues. Old Robert Shaw [pan back down to hands] played a lot of that barrelhouse blues. [Pan back up to his face] A whole lot of bad stuff. Say anyting you want about them old women.

MOORE (singing) - Mama, mama, mama, meet me with your red dress on. When you make me high, you want to feel my thighs [Pan back down to hands].

[Cut to a shot of Robert Shaw playing piano]

Text: Robert Shaw

ROBERT SHAW (singing) - She used to be my baby, a great, long time ago. She used to be my baby, a great, long time ago.

[Cut to a close-up of MOORE sitting at a different piano from the one in the concert hall]

MOORE - Robert Shaw was out of Austin. He's dead now. He was supposed to go to Chicago with me, but he take sick and he died before we got to go. He gave me a great big dinner in Austin, Texas. I was playing at the Stephan F. Austin Hotel.

[Cut to a shot of ROBERT SHAW playing piano]

SHAW (singing) - Oh, yeah, baby, let me see you do the mess around. Oh, yeah, baby, let me see you do the mess around. I can see you now, baby. Both hips ain't going round and round

SHAW V/O - This king of music ain't no different from nobody; the other kind of music. But it's the real jazzy, the lovin' type of music.

[SHAW stops playing and turns towards the camera]

SHAW - You find that music only on the Gulf Coast.

INTERVIEWER [OC] - Why is that?

SHAW - From the Gulf Coast up along the Brazos and Colorado River and the Guadeloupe River on the Gulf Coast down around in there. Most piano players don't play that. That's something else.

[Cut to a close-up of MOORE sitting at a different piano from the one in the concert hall]

MOORE - A lot of lying goes into the blues, Blues is what people learn about people. That's the most important thing. Yeah, that's what causes trouble. Blues lets people know about people. Hard luck, hard days, hard times.

[Cut to a shot of ROBERT SHAW sitting at his piano]

SHAW - When them sportin' women is getting drunk, late at night, this is all they want to hear and they dance and clown up a breeze, man.

[He turns back to the piano and begins to play]
[Cut to a close-up of his hands playing then pan up to his face]

SHAW (singing) - You wake up in the morning. Baby, how do you do? You wake up in the morning. Baby, tell me how do you do?

[Cut to a black and white photo of a woman reclining in a chair]

SHAW V/O (singing) - It'll be alright, baby. It'll be alright with you.

[Cut back to ROBERT SHAW playing his piano]

SHAW (singing) - It'll be alright, baby. It'll be alright with you. I'm goin' get me another woman who goin' to treat me nice and kind.

[Cut to a black and white photo of a woman dancing]

SHAW V/O (singing) - I'm goin' get me another woman who goin' to treat me nice and kind.

[Cut back to ROBERT SHAW playing his piano]

SHAW (singing) - Because some days now she don't pay me no mind.

[Zoom in to a close-up of his hands]

[Cut to a close-up of MOORE sitting at a different piano from the one in the concert hall]

MOORE - Like I said, I could have been a jazz piano player. That's what I should have been.

INTERVIEWER [OC] - What's the difference between blues and jazz?

MOORE - It's high-class stuff, jazz is, that's right. [Pan down to his hands] I mix up them blues with everything.

[Cut to a shot of MOORE standing at a microphone]

MOORE - I want to say thanks to everybody that has always looked after me. And I mean just what I said from one end of the world to the other. And I've stayed during my touring, I've stayed right in the houses with the main people. After I was in Washington D.C., I came back to Dallas and I went into a lounge downtown. And that girl said, "Listen, will you rest your hat?" I said, "They didn't tell me that when I was in the White House: rest your hat."

[A trumpeter begins to play "Happy Birthday." Cut to MOORE walking from the stage to go cut his birthday cake. A woman begins singing]

WOMAN [OC] - Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Alex. Happy birthday to you. [Repeats twice]

[MOORE steps to the front of the stage and bows. Zoom in to an extreme close-up of MOORE'S face. "Happy Birthday" continues playing in the background]

WOMAN [OC] - Happy birthday to you [she begins the song again].

MAN [OC] - Thank you very much. Thank you very much. You were a beautiful audience.

MOORE and his wife exit the stage into the darkness.

[Cut to a news anchor addressing the camera]

Text: 13 Bob Ray Sanders

SANDERS - There's an old story about a young black woman having a conversation with a young white liberal intellectual. For a long while they discussed the contributions of African-Americans to this country. At one point, the young white liberal notes, "And of course the black man gave the blues to America." And the black woman quickly retorts, "No, honey, you're wrong. America gave the blues to the black man." While some of you debate that one.

[Cross-fade to a color photo of MOORE seated at a piano]

SANDERS V/O - There is no debate that Alex Moore gave the blues to America and particularly to Dallas for about sixty years. Last week at the age of 89, Alex Moore died while riding a [unknown company] bus. [Cross face to a magnification of his face] Reportedly, he died in comfort. On the bus, he simply stopped breathing. Those who saw him as he apparently sat dead assumed he was simply resting.

[Cross-fade back to SANDERS]

SANDERS - And I suppose he was. Alex deserved a rest. After all, he had given a lot to Dallas, to America, to the art of blues. Whenever those of us at KERA Radio or Channel 13 called on him; he was here. In fact, when anybody called on him; he was there, often singing about the days of deep [unknown]. He was always there, he was always giving. It's sad though that he always gave us a lot more than we gave him.

[Cut to MOORE seated at a piano in a bright blue cowboy hat]

MOORE - Whenever I see a piano, [he hits a note with his finger] I go hit a not on it [he hits another note].

[Cut to black]

Credits:

Produced by
Documentary Arts, Inc.

Researches and Directed by
Alan Govenar

Camera and Editing by
Bruce Lane

Sound by
David Lamb and Alan Govenar

Funding by:

National Endowment for the Arts

Texas Commission on the Arts

City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs

Special Thanks to:

National Association of Negro Musicians, Dallas Metroplex Branch

New Arts Six

Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center

Elm Development Company

JCPenny

Reginald Harvey

Flossie May Brooks

Alex Moore, Jr.

Al Rose

Kaleta Doolin

For more information on Alex Moore and Texas blues, read MEETING THE BLUES by Alan Govenar (Taylor Publishing, 1988)

1990
Documentary Arts Inc.

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