Country Music Reclamation Project: Cocaine Blues

Where did the concept of “outlaw country” come from? I know about Waylon and Willie, but I remember when they smelled more of bourbon and aftershave than leather and weed. When I think about the term, “outlaw country,” I picture big hairy guys in vests, playing pool and listening to weepy tunes about how they used to be tough, but got old. And it’s not a thought I want to think about for very long.

I think “outlaw country” began with the clean-shaven and talented Roy Hogsed and his perky, homicidal song, “Cocaine Blues,” much better known as a hit for Johnny Cash. But I like Hogsed’s version, a propelled but spare version, featuring an accordian solo. Closer in style to Western Swing, Hogsed’s tune is probably the happiest song you’ll ever hear about drug abuse, murder and extradition.

Cocaine Blues (recorded by Roy Hogsed)
Written by T.J. “Red” Arnell

Early one mornin’ while makin’ the rounds
I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down
Went right home and I went to bed
I stuck that lovin’ 44 beneath my head

Woke up next mornin’ grabbed that gun
Took a shot of cocaine and away I run
I made a good run but I went too slow
They overtook me down in Juarez Mexico

Late in the hot joints smokin’ the pill
In walked the sheriff from Jericho Hill
He said Willy Lee your name is not Jack Brown
You’re the dirty hack that shot your woman down

Yes oh yes my name is Willy Lee
If you’ve got a warrant just read it to me
Shot her cold cause she made me sore
I thought I was her daddy but she had five more

Put me on the train I was dressed in black
Came the sheriff and he brought me back
Had no one for to go my bail
They slapped my dried up carcass in that country jail

And next morning along about nine
I spied the sheriff coming down the line
And he coughed as he cleared his throat
He said come on you dirty hack into that district court

Into the courtroom trial began
Where I was panelled by twelve honest men
Just before the jury started out
I saw that little judge commence to look about

In about five minutes in walked the man
Holding the verdict in his right hand
The verdict read in the first degree
I hollered Lordy Lordy have a mercy on me

Judge he smiled as he picked up his pen
Ninety-nine years in that old San Quentin pen
Ninety-nine years underneath that ground
I can’t forget the day I shot my woman down

Come all you hots and listen unto me
Lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be

I don’t know: a cautionary tale or a hardcore criminal bragging about his exploits? Maybe Roy Hogsed is an original gangsta, as well?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *