Dusty as a Delta Dream

DATELINE:  April 14, 2001
Richland, Mississippi

Dust My Broom

Elmore James is considered one of the giants of the Post WWII Chicago Blues scene, right along side Muddy Waters.  He was the single most important slide guitarist of that era. 

A now refuted myth says that Lillian McMurray asked Elmore to record his version of Dust My Broom in 1951.  Myth has it he refused because it made him too nervous.  She tricked him into rehearsing the song in the studio with Sonny Boy Williamson II on harmonica and recorded them on the sly.  Dust My Broom was Trumpet's first big hit and became Elmore James' theme song.  Later, his band was known as the "Broomdusters."

It was a rainy day in Jackson, Mississippi.  We were looking for a place to record our version of Elmore James' version of Dust My Broom.  We located the old home of Trumpet Records down on Farrish Street, but since the actual recording of this song was probably made at Scotts Radio Service, Eddie and I decided to go a few miles south of Jackson to the small town of Richland.  Elmore James was born on a farm outside of town there January 27, 1918.

It was threatening rain as we drove into town looking for an out-of-the-way spot to record.  We finally found a field of clover and wildflowers that offered a calm moment.  Stopping on a grownup gravel roadbed, we deployed our equipment with an eye toward the sky.  The rain held off for the first few takes, but in the middle of the third take we could hear the chorus of large droplets pitter pattering down the road.  Eddie played the final note and we scampered to pack our life savings back into the trunk of the car.  You can hear on the recording as we grab things and run for cover, one especially large raindrop hits dead center on the microphone. 

After getting things to safety and realizing that folks might be right when they think we don't have sense enough to stay in out of the rain, we just looked up to the heavens and repeated the words to another of Elmore's famous songs, "The sky is cryin', see the tears roll down the street…"

Copyright 2001 Thomasfilms, Inc.