“The St. Louis Blues” is one of the most recorded songs of all time, in any genre. Few versions of the W.C. Handy tune, however, can compare with Bessie Smith’s. Part of the magic of this 1925 Columbia single is its spare arrangement. The “Empress of the Blues” was accompanied by only Louis Armstrong on cornet, and Fred Longshaw on pump organ (a rare instrument on recordings during that era). The only surviving film footage of Bessie Smith is a 1929 short film St. Louis Blues, which features her singing the song again; this time backed by a larger group.