“I’ve Got the Dallas Blues and the Main Street Heart Disease”

by Paula Bosse


by Paula Bosse

“Dallas Blues” is an important milestone in the history of blues music. I gather this may be debatable, but it is cited as being the first “true blues song” ever published (at least by sources on Wikipedia). Written sometime before 1909 by Hart A. Wand, a white musician in Oklahoma, “Dallas Blues” was published as an instrumental in 1912; in 1918, lyrics were added by Lloyd Garrett.

I have to admit, when I read the opening lyrics, I assumed it was your typical Dallas-inspired ditty about how Dallas is a cold and heartless city that will chew you up and spit you out:

When your money’s gone, friends have turned you down,
And you wander ’round just like a houn’ (a lonesome houn’),
Then you stop to say, ‘Let me go away
From this old town (this awful town).’

But then the next lines are:

There’s a place I know folks won’t pass me by,
Dallas, Texas, that’s the town I cry! (Oh hear me cry!)
And I’m going back, going back to stay
There till I die (until I die).

Ha! That was unexpected.

Below are a few versions of “Dallas Blues” — fast and slow, some with vocals, and one hot instrumental. Enjoy. I hope those juicy peaches are still hanging on your trees!


Ted Lewis’ version from 1931, with Fats Waller’s first vocal appearance on record and Benny Goodman on clarinet. Most of the lyrics have been left out, but this is great


Louis Armstrong’s recording, from 1929:


George Lewis’ slowed-down version:


And, lastly, Isham Jones’ instrumental version — this one is hopping!


Sources & Notes

Sheet music from an Art & Seek story on Texas Blues (with sound clips) by Jerome Weeks, here.

Wikipedia entry on the song, here.

Complete lyrics to the song, here.

I’ve got the Dallas Blues and the Main Street heart disease
(It’s buzzin’ ’round),
Buzzin’ ’round my head like a swarm of little honey bees
(Of honey bees).

Interested in Dallas-related blues songs? Check out my previous post “Deep Ellum / Deep Elm / Deep Elem Blues,” here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.