Tox Tunes #76: Cocaine Blues (Dave Van Ronk)

December 30, 2013, 3:21 am

A snippet of “Cocaine Blues” shows up in  Inside Llewyn Davis, a film based partly on Dave Van Ronk’s book The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir. Van Ronk’s memoir is a fiercely intelligent and level-headed reminiscence of the music scene in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 60s — what Van Ronk called the “Great American Folk Scare.” That the Coen Brothers made such a grim and bloodless movie out of it is, to my mind, a cultural tragedy.

“Cocaine Blues” — a song closely associated with Van Ronk — was actually written by the Rev. Gary Davis. As Van Ronk writes in his memoir:

Being a reverend, of the fundamentalist persuasion, [Davis] did not like to sing secular songs in any public situation. He especially would not sing blues, but any song that was not a religious song was the Devil’s music . . .”

Many people still think, mistakenly, the Van Ronk wrote the song.

Related posts:

Tox Tunes #47: cocaine Blues (Nick Drake)

Tox Tunes #43: Cocaine Blues (Townes Van Zandt)

Tox Tunes #25: Cocaine Blues (Luke Jordan, 1927)

Tox Tunes #1: Cocaine Blues (Keith Richards)


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