The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Other Side of Jimmie Davis

Some of you may not know of Jimmie Davis. I know Andy does since he drives across a bridge bearing Davis' name frequently. And I'm sure Ed does since he once lived down that way. Davis was the singer who made famous the songs "You Are My Sunshine" and "It Makes No Difference Now." He appeared in a number of movies during the 1940's. He was also a successful politician and was elected governor of Louisiana twice.

But there was another side to Davis. According to Wikipedia
His early work was in the style of early Country Music luminary Jimmie Rodgers, and he was also known for recording energetic and raunchy blues tunes like "Red Nightgown Blues." Some of these records included slide guitar accompaniment by black bluesman Oscar Woods. During his first run for governor, opponents reprinted the lyrics of some of these songs in order to undermine Davis's campaign. In one case, anti-Davis forces played some of the records over an outdoor sound system only to give up after the crowds started dancing, ignoring the double-entendre lyrics. Davis until the end of his life never denied or repudiated those records.
Here's a couple of those old raunchy blues numbers ("High Behind Blues" and "Red Nightgown") followed by Davis' version of a song that became popular with many country music singers in the 40's and 50's.

Being a man of a certain predilection, I do like "High Behind Blues." Wiki calls this lyric "double entendre." Seems pretty straight forward to me.

Red is my favorite lingerie color. Or black. Or white which is nice. But here's "Red Nightgown."

Country singer Moon Mullican had a successful recording of this way back in the day, but this is Jimmie Davis' version of "There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder."

UPDATE: Spelling of Davis' name corrected. Thanks Andy.


  1. Yeah, I heard you were talkin' about me over here, Dan. I do indeed drive over the Jimmie Davis Bridge occasionally.

    Ya' know, I hate a moron that must ALWAYS correct others. But, being such a feller, it is "JIMMIE," not "JIMMY" Davis. Nyuk...

    I always thought it odd that he took on the feminine "Jimmie." But, I guess Jimmie Rodgers did, too...hmmmm...maybe that was common. You can find it spelled both ways on the net, but you can't argue with the bridge, and that's what it says.

    What was I saying? Oh yeah, my Grandma darn near worshiped the ground Jimmie walked on. She and Papaw would always go see his shows whenever he was in the area. She tells stories about people standing in long lines, around the block, in the driving rain...just to wait to vote for the guy.

    Quite a character...and a unique patch in the American quilt.

  2. Its almost as though Jimmie Davis and Earl K. Long just passed the office of Gov between them selves for years. Jimmie was a ladies man for sure and a smooth operator. Every juke box in LA.
    had at least one Davis tune on it for years.

  3. Earl K.! I also drive over the "Long-Allen" Bridge often when I'm forced to enter Shreveport.

    Dang near everything in Louisiana had a "Long" attached to it...bridges, highways, hospitals, etc.

    Interesting, though. I Googled the Long-Allen Bridge to grab a link to a photo of it. I found several photos of it, but discovered that there are many "Long-Allen" bridges across the State.

    I was taught as a child that the "Long-Allen" Bridge was named that because they began construction during the reign of Huey Long, and it was completed when O.K. Allen was goober. I had no idea that those guys were such good bridge builders. They are all over the State.

    Learn something new every day.

  4. Good stuff, Dan, and you've contributed to my on-going musical education. I'm beginning to think YouTube is a National Treasure because of all the great stuff ya can find there.

    I particularly like the simple record label still-shot in the first two videos. That brings back memories... Mom had stacks and stacks of 78 "albums" from her girlhood, with cutouts in the paper sleeves to show the record label. There were lotsa Bluebirds in those sleeves, too.

  5. Andy, as an old English teacher, I don't mind a spelling correction at all. I should've caught that one myself; it's right there on the record labels!

  6. Ed, Louisiana has definitely had a colorful bunch of politicians over the years. Besides Davis, you mention Earl K. Long. And there's always old "Chicken in every pot" Huey Long, the Kingfish.

  7. Buck, Glad you liked the early Jimmie Davis. And I agree wholeheartedly: Youtube is an amazing people's collection of Americana (and other countries' stuff as well). I get lost on there sometimes!

  8. For the best history of that period in Louisiana politics read "The Earl of Louisiana" by A.J.Liebling. Hits all the high notes and his clear analysis of the many factions in the state illuminates why it was impossible for one faction to get elected without 'teaming' up with another.