Dallas Blues

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"Dallas Blues"
Sheet music cover
PublishedMarch 1912
Songwriter(s)Hart A. Wand

"Dallas Blues", written by Hart Wand, is an early blues song, first published in 1912. It has been called the first true blues tune ever published.[1] However, two other 12-bar blues had been published earlier: Anthony Maggio's "I Got the Blues" in 1908 and "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", a Tin Pan Alley song whose first verse is twelve-bar blues, in 1911. Also, two other songs with "Blues" in their titles were published in 1912: "Baby Seals Blues" (August 1912), a vaudeville tune written by Franklin "Baby" Seals,[2] and "The Memphis Blues", written by W.C. Handy (September 1912).[3][4][5] Neither, however, were genuine blues songs.[6]

The song, although written in standard blues tempo,[7][8] is often performed in a ragtime or Dixieland style.

The blues was originally published as an instrumental.[9] In 1918, Lloyd Garrett added lyrics[10] to express the singer's longing for Dallas:

There's a place I know, folks won't pass me by
Dallas, Texas, that's the town, I cry, oh hear me cry
And I'm going back, going back to stay there 'til I die, until I die

No date is found for the actual composition of "Dallas Blues" but Samuel Charters, who interviewed Wand for his book The Country Blues (1959), states that Wand took the tune to a piano-playing friend, Annabelle Robbins, who arranged the music for him.[11] Charters added that the title came from one of Wand's father's workmen who remarked that the tune gave him the blues to go back to Dallas. Since Wand's father died in 1909, the actual composition must have predated that.

In any case, within weeks of its publication it was heard the length of the Mississippi River,[12] and its influence on all the blues music that followed is well documented.[citation needed]

Early recordings[edit]

Early recordings
Date Artist Label
1917 Marie Cahill Victor 55081
1918 Wilbur Sweatman's Jazz Band Columbia A-2663
1925 Fred Hall's Sugar Babies Okeh 40437
1925 Lee Morse Perfect 11582
1927 Bob Fuller Brunswick 7006
1929 Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra Okeh 8774
1930 Andy Kirk's 12 Clouds of Joy Brunswick 6129
1931 Ted Lewis & His Band (v. Fats Waller) Oriole 3132
1934 Isham Jones & His Orchestra Victor 24649
1936 Wingy Manone & His Orchestra Bluebird 6375A
1939 Woody Herman & His Orchestra Decca 2629A


  1. ^ Duncan, Blues Fiddling Classics, p. 30: "This tune was the first 12-bar blues to be published (March 1912). It was written by violinist/band leader Hart Wand from Oklahoma."
  2. ^ Erwin Bosman, "How criticism helped the vaudeville: The spotlight on Franklin “Baby” Seals", MyBlues.eu. Retrieved 10 March 2017
  3. ^ Davis, The History of the Blues, p. 59: "But in a sense, the very first blues was the twelve-bar opening verse to the pop song "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," which was published in 1911."
  4. ^ Davis, The History of the Blues, p. 59: "The composer of the very first copyright 'blues' was Hart Wand, a white Oklahoma violinist and bandleader whose 'Dallas Blues' was so named because its melody gave a black porter who worked for Wand's family 'the blues to go back to Dallas.' This was followed a few months later by 'Baby Seal Blues', a negligible item by the black vaudeville performer Arthur 'Baby' Seals and ragtime pianist Arthur Matthews."
  5. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 12. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  6. ^ Charters, The Country Blues, pp. 34–35: "The first was Hart Wand's 'Dallas Blues,' published in March; the second was Arthur Seals's 'Baby Seals' Blues,' published in August; Handy finally brought out his blues in September. Both Handy and Arthur Seals were Negroes, but the music that they titled 'blues' is more or less derived from the standard popular musical styles of the 'coon-song' and 'cake-walk' type. It is ironic the first published piece in the Negro "blues idiom, 'Dallas Blues,' was by a white man, Hart Wand."
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Wand, "Dallas Blues", p. 2.
  9. ^ "Dallas blues :: Charles Templeton Sheet Music Collection". Digital.library.msstate.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-01-23. Retrieved 2015-08-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ Jasen, A Century of American Popular Music, p. 45: "Dallas Blues"; Wand Publishing Co.—Oklahoma City, 1912; Probably the first published blues number. Words were added (by Lloyd Garrett in 1918). Although a favorite of dance and jazz bands, Ted Lewis and His Band had the number 7 hit in 1931, with Fats Waller as vocalist (Columbia 2527-D).
  11. ^ Charters, The Country Blues, p. 35.
  12. ^ Charters, The Country Blues, p. 36: "Twenty bars in all, it was easy to play and whistle, and within a few weeks it was a favorite the length of the Mississippi River."