The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11445   Message #85160
Posted By: Dale Rose
09-Jun-99 - 09:50 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Brown's Ferry Blues
Subject: RE: Brown's ferry blues
That's the right one, Phillippa. It was written by Alton Delmore in 1930, though not recorded until December 6, 1933. I took the following paragraph from the notes to The Delmore Brothers, Brown's Ferry Blues, County CD 116, 1995.

In 1930, the Delmores entered the annual old-time fiddler's contest at Athens, the county seat, and won first prize. They almost lost to a group which sang a comical song, and the judges called both groups back several times before awarding the prize to Alton and Rabon. When they returned home that night Alton remarked that if the public wanted a funny song he would give them one. His contribution was Brown's Ferry Blues, a song he named for the old ferry site near their home on the Tennessee River. (ironically, the spot on the river which provided inspiration for this famous song later became the site for the TVA's Brown's Ferry Nuclear Plant, the largest of it's kind in the world.) While this song is rightly considered a novelty piece, the dark overtones of hard times are unmistakenly heard: "Hard luck papa standin' in the rain, If the world was corn he couldn't buy grain. .." Thinking the song was of interest only to folks around Limestone County, they didn't perform it on their WSM appearances. In fact, they had been playing on WSM a full year before the station manager heard them singing it in a jam session and insisted they include it in their radio programs.

They made their first recordings for Columbia in November of 1931, and joined the Grand Old Opry in 1932.