Old Ned?
December 6, 2006 3:27 PM   Subscribe

In "What Did I Do to Feel So Black and Blue," what does Louis Armstrong mean when he sings, "Cold empty bed / Springs hurt my head / Feels like old Ned"?

Here are the lyrics to the whole song:

Cold empty bed...springs hurt my head
Feels like ole ned...wished I was dead
What did I do...to be so black and blue

Even the mouse...ran from my house
They laugh at you...and all that you do
What did I do...to be so black and blue

I'm white...inside...but, that don't help my case
That's life...can't hide...what is in my face

How would it end...ain't got a friend
My only sin...is in my skin
What did I do...to be so black and blue

I'd like to play this song for a class I'm teaching on Invisible Man tomorrow, and it'd be great if I knew what "old Ned" meant beforehand!
posted by josh to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know, but just for the record, the lyrics were written by Andy Razaf.
posted by allelopath at 3:36 PM on December 6, 2006

I can't swear to it, but I think it's a reference to a song called "Old Uncle Ned" by Stephen Foster.
posted by OmieWise at 3:49 PM on December 6, 2006

Best answer: "Old Ned" is a nickname for the devil. Perhaps it's a clever way of saying he feels like hell?
posted by cosmicbandito at 4:56 PM on December 6, 2006

cosmicbandito has it: "Old Ned" is an old-fashioned euphemism for the devil ("Old Nick" is probably more familiar). See list here. In other words, it's a more evocative way of saying "I feel like hell."
posted by languagehat at 5:16 PM on December 6, 2006

Response by poster: Wonderful, thank you everyone--and that is some fascinating material, allelopath.
posted by josh at 5:20 PM on December 6, 2006

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