A Pandemic Rocker from 1929

.Elder Charles Beck is not a well known name, not even to those who like to seek out the first rock and roll song (widely credited to Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 from 1950).

It’s not the point of this post, although here are those who argue for “Memphis Flu” (check out the piano solo at the end and you may hear Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis) recorded in 1929 by pianist Beck along with Elder Curry and Joe Ann Williams on vocals. The point is the chilling lyrics that resonate 90 years later

Nineteen Hundred and twenty nine
men and woman are sure are dying
From a drug many doctors called the flu.
People died everywhere in Memphis
creeping through the air
What’s become of the big USA

It is God’s mighty hand
He is judging this old land
North and South
East and West can be seen.
Yes, He killed the rich and He killed the poor
And He is going to kill more!
If you won’t turn away from your shame!

On the land and on the sea
Doctors said soon would be,
A few days Influenza will be controlled
But God showed He was head
When he sent the doctors to bed
And the nurses broke down with the same.

It is God’s mighty hand
He is judging this old land
North and South
East and West can be seen.
Yes, He killed the rich and He killed the poor
And He is going to kill more!
If you won’t turn away from your shame!
Influenza is a disease
Making weak in your knees
Terrible fever everybody
do do dread!
Putting a pain in your bones
A few days you are gone
To a place in the ground called the grave

It is God’s mighty hand
He is judging this old land
North and South
East and West can be seen.
Yes, He killed the rich and He killed the poor
And He is going to kill more!
If you won’t turn away from your shame!

Lyrics from the excellent Pancocojams blog: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/10/elder-curry-memphis-flu-lyrics-comments.html

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