Deep Elm Blues

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Deep Elm Blues

The Deep Elm Blues is an American traditional song. The title of the tune refers to the "Colored Red Light District" in Dallas, Texas, known as "Elm Street." Sometimes the song's title is also spelled "Deep Elem." The first known recording was made by the Cofer Brothers under the name of The Georgia Black Bottom on OKeh Records. The Shelton Brothers recorded various version of this song, the first being cut in 1933 with Leon Chappelear under the pseudonym of Lone Star Rangers for Bluebird Records. They recorded it again in 1935 for Decca Records followed by Deep Elm No.2 and Deep Elm No.3. The Sheltons also recorded it in the 1940s as Deep Elm Boogie for King Records. Other versions of the song were made between 1957 and 1958 by Jerry Lee Lewis for Sun Records, by Mary McCoy & the Cyclones for Jin Records and by Grateful Dead.

Deep Elm Blues, version by Jerry Lee Lewis 1957/1958

The chorus is repeated after every verse. This is the most famous version of the song used by the Shelton Brothers.

If you go down to Deep Elem
Just to have a little fun,
You'd better have your fifteen dollars
When the policeman come.

Oh, sweet mama, daddy's got the Deep Elem Blues;
Oh, sweet mama, daddy's got the Deep Elem Blues.

If you go down to Deep Elem,
Keep your money in your shoes;
The women in Deep Elem
Got those Deep Elem blues.

If you go down to Deep Elem,
Take your money in your pants;
The women in Deep Elem
Never give the men a chance.

Now I once knew a preacher,
Preached the Bible through and through,
He went down into Deep Elem,
Now his preaching days are through.

Now I once had a sweet gal,
Lord, she meant the world to me;
She went down into Deep Elem;
She ain't what she used to be.

Her papa's a policeman
And her mama walks the street;
Her papa met her mama
When they both were on the beat.