DEEP ELM BLUES

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
DEEP ELM BLUES
The first recording of this song is normally credited to the Shelton Brothers in the early
1930s. They started as the Attlesey Brothers, and recorded “Deep Elm Blues” under the
name “Lone Star Cowboys” in 1933. They then changed their name to the Shelton
Brothers (after their mother’s maiden name) and recorded several further versions under
the title “Deep Elem Blues.” It was subsequently covered by a variety of other artists,
including the Prairie Ramblers in 1935, Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1950s, and Frank
Wakefield in the early 1960s and The Grateful Dead in the 1980’s. The title “Deep Elem”
originates from Elm Street, which was the red-light district in Dallas. Several early blues
luminaries spent time in and around Deep Elem. Blind Lemon Jefferson moved there as a
street musician around 1917, and met and played with Leadbelly there. Lightning
Hopkins also played with Blind Lemon there. But it doesn’t seem that any of them had a
hand in writing this song (even though Blind Lemon Jefferson is sometimes cited as the
author).
When you go in Deep Elem, to have a little fun
You better have your fifteen dollars when that policeman comes
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
Once I had a sweetheart, who meant the world to me
But she hung around Deep Elem, now she ain’t what she used to be
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
When you go down in Deep Elem, keep your money in your shoes
‘Cause the women in Deep Elem’s got the Deep Elem blues
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
When you go down in Deep Elem, keep your money in your pants
‘Cause the redheads in Deep Elem never give a man a chance
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
Once I knew a preacher, preached the bible through and through
But he went down in Deep Elem, now his preaching days are through
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
When you go down in Deep Elem, keep your money in your socks
‘Cause the women in Deep Elem will throw you on the rocks
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blues
Oh sweet mama, daddy’s got them Deep Elem blue