|Cocaine Blues – The Demagogues
Here’s a video for my band The Demagogues single ‘Cocaine Blues’ -I wrote this arrangement based around the traditional song Bad Lee Brown or Little Sadie. It’s a popular song and the most famous version is probably Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash. Though the title was drawn from the beautiful ragtime version which i first heard on an Arlo Guthrie live recording, the song of course cut by his father, Woody, back in the day.
In this song, our anti-hero murders the woman he loves and attempts to evade the police, whilst in a narcotic-induced stupor. I felt the Cash version lacked the tonality of the songs themes and although i grew up with the Dylan version of Little Sadie (all of them) I always pictured the song in my head more like the end of I Am A Fugative From A Chain Gang:
It should never be an exercise in writing the best version of a song, that is vanity, but it should be an exercise in writing your best version of a song – the one that is truest to you. And this is what I always heard when those lyrics rattled through my head as a kid, or near enough as dammit.
It came together quickly as these things often seem to when they’ve been brewing behind the scenes, here’s roughly what made sense at the time: