Kids, Don’t Try this at Home! Professional Drivers on Closed Course! 3 Versions of “Cocaine Blues”

December 5, 2009

Another artist who combines historic levels of drug abuse, runs of startling creative energy and great longevity like the subject of my previous post, Anita O’Day is Keith Richards. Here’s Keith — without his famous band mates — performing one of the first blues he learned to play “properly.”

Hey, baby, come here quick / This old cocaine’s making me sick.

Cocaine Blues, a traditional blues classic, was originally recorded in 1927 by Luke Jordan. But perhaps the most influential early version is the one below, by the Reverend Gary Davis. Almost all other modern versions owe a debt to this one.

Cocaine — running all around my brain.

Cocaine’s for horses, it’s not for men / They say it’ll kill you, but they don’t say when.

It takes a full minute of screen time — wait for it — until they get down to playing but when they finally do Jackson Browne and David Lindley knock out an awesome duet version of Cocaine Blues on guitar and violin. Lindley also famously handles the falsetto at the end of Browne’s hit, The Load Out/Stay.


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