The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8432 Message #2774398
Posted By: GUEST,Patrick Wall
26-Nov-09 - 04:22 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Deep Elem Blues / Deep Ellum / Deep Elm
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Deep Elem Blues / Deep Ellum / Deep Elm
This is definitely an old blues song from the Texas/Louisiana area and then went into Western swing. The Shelton Brothers (the backing band for Moon Mullican and Jimmie Davis in the early 1940s) recorded many varsions of it in the 1930s. Slim Harbert did a sequel to it called "What's the matter with Deep Elem" in 1941 with Moon Mullican on piano (at the same session as Mullican's "Pipeliner blues" and "Lay me down beside my darling"). Harbert's song was cowritten by himself and Moon Mullican and all of the songs from this session were issued as by the Sunshine Boys regardless of who sang them (Moon, Slim and others). The Sunshine Boys would later become a gospel group and its members would go on to back Red Foley, Elvis Presley and - once again - Moon Mullican in later years.
"Deep Elem blues" was a standard in the 1930s and early 1940s but it then went away for a while. However, such 1940s records as Moon Mullican's "Triflin' woman blues" and Arthur Crudup's "My baby left me" and "That's alright Mama" were very close in melody and style to it.
"Deep Elem blues" could as much as any other song be called an early rock 'n' roll record. Rock 'n' roll came from blues and country hybrids and this is the perfect one. Plus, it was in Jerry Lee Lewis' early repertoire and his record collection. He recorded 2 great versions in 1956/57, the rarer one (on the CD "Rare and Rocking") is in my opinion the greatest ever version (and if released JLL's greatest hit of the era). Elvis Presley of course was reviving the 2 Arthur Crudup songs mentioned above in the mid 1950s and "That's alright Mama" is often spoken of as the first rock record. I do a medley of "Deep Elem" (Jerry Lee version) with "Triflin' woman" (Moon), and the two Crudup songs Elvis made famous.
"Deep Elem blues" has gone on to become a bluegrass standard along with "Sitting on top of the world", another blues the Sheltons introduced to country music. The Grateful Dead did both songs so they must have known the Sheltons.