Anatomy of a Song #3

Tonight’s effort will be a little difficult.  It’s not that I do not know the music or musicians, but we have to go back to when Rock and Roll was first being thought of and the Blues Musicians were just getting started.  Now there is a lot of controversy over just who wrote this next song: Robert Johnson or Elmore James

I know there will be good data to support both sides, I’m just going to sit in the middle. 

The Song is “I believe I’ll Dust My Broom” or just “Dust My Broom

Anatomy of a Song:
“Dust my Broom”

The recording I will focus on will be the 1951 recording by Elmore James (a favourite).  Elmore first played this song, from what I have found, in November 1936. He was greatly influenced by Robert Johnson.  Elmore was a radio repairman by trade and was always re-working guitars and amps and thus he was considered the King of the Slide guitar. 

On August 5, 1951 at Trumpet Records and Lillian McMurry with Sonny Boy Williamson in the studio, the first recording of “Dust My Broom” was made.  The rumour is that Elmore did not even stay around to here the playback, BUT in was a surprise runaway hit on the R&B Chart that year. 

So let’s be clear, Robert Johnson recorded “Dust my Broom” in 1937, but who wrote it?  I think most people will go with Robert Johnson, but who knows. 

Then again there is the Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup (1949) version.  I love the song. I’m not going to get into the debate; I will leave that to Russ, he loves this stuff. 

Just a note, Elmore James died 1963 at the age of 45. He, like many other blues musicians, never received any benefit from their music, but today they are considered the pioneers and truly a great influence on my music, Rock and Roll.


RobertJohnsonRobert Johnson
I believe I’ll Dust My BroomRobert Johnson 1937
ArthurCrudupArthur “Big Boy” Crudup
Dust My Broom / Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup 1949
ElmoreElmore James
Dust My Broom / Elmore James 1951

3 responses to “Anatomy of a Song #3

  1. Cool! I’m teaching myself bottleneck slide and just learned Elmore’s version. But I’d vote RJ as the author.

  2. Enjoy Elmore’s best. Check the Crudup music. Twice it cut out after only three or four lines of blues. Good listening anyway.
    Connie Neil

    • Hi Connie
      I checked the Crudup track and it did not cut out for me. Perhaps there’s a bit of delay on your Internet line.
      So glad you are enjoying Gary’s efforts in writing these posts. I think he missed his calling, and should have been a DJ.

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