Shellac Spotlight: Fats Waller, “My Feelin’s Are Hurt” / “Smashing Thirds” (Victor 38613)

  • Original 1930 pressing


  • Fats Waller, piano

Recorded September 11 and September 24, 1929 in New York City

While I still haven’t delved all too deeply into ‘pre-bop’ jazz, I managed to find another great 78 from that era. For a stretch in 2019 I was accustomed to seeing the silly grin on Fats Waller’s pudgy face regularly while volunteering at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Footage of Waller performing was part of a video on loop there, and I was regularly reminded what a natural entertainer he was.

It was enough to make this “serious” jazz fan (who sometimes takes himself too seriously) avoid Waller’s records whenever they came up. But trying to be more open-minded about older jazz, I figured I would give Fats a chance if I could find an instrumental record of his. Then I found this. Despite knowing how influential all the stride pianists were on my favorite bop pianists including Thelonious Monk, I’m still not decided on how I feel about boogie/stride piano numbers like “Smashing Thirds”, the B-side here (pretty awesome title, though). For this 78, it was the “A” that caught my attention.

The first thing that stood out about “My Feelin’s Are Hurt” was that it is not an uptempo stride tune. More of a brisk walk, it reminds me of Monk’s tendency to avoid faster paces. Fats starts the tune off by playing with numerous ideas and finally settles on a rhythmic romp halfway through the side. Like the Louis Armstrong sides I reviewed recently, his super-steady playing here makes me move every time. Toward the end Waller breaks out into stride for a brief spell, then slows things back down to return home with a beautiful cadence.

For many collectors including myself, exclusivity ultimately plays a role in the extent to which a particular record is desired. Very rarely is a recording unavailable via streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. That being the case for the A-side here, don’t say I never did anything for you. This is a fun tune you’re not gonna hear anywhere else on internet, so enjoy and I’ll see you for the next installment of Shellac Spotlight!