Song of the Day: Scrapper Blackwell – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Scrapper Blackwell – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

 Most people know the classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” from the Eric Clapton cover performed on his Unplugged album. But this blues standard written by Jimmy Cox in 1923 is performed by a whole lot of people including Josh White, Sammy Price, Bessie Smith, Lavern Baker and Louis Jordan. But for the last few day I listened to the Scrapper Blackwell version.

Song about a one-time millionaire

Scrapper Blackwell recorded this song at a session in Chicago on August 15, 1928.  According to ‘Blues By Dick Weissman‘ : ” Its lyric, told from the point of view of a one-time millionaire during the Prohibition era, reflects on the fleeting nature of material wealth and the friendships that come and go with it” .

Who is Scrapper Blackwell?

All though nowaday he might be a bit unknown Francis Hillman aka “Scrapper” Blackwell was a well known guitarist back in the day. He made quite fame alongside Blues pianist Leroy Carr and recorded several albums with Carr. Scrapper Blackwell and  Leroy Carr met during a house party in Indianapolis  in 1927.

In that period Blackwell was an inveterate drinker and was selling Moonshine. They started recording together in 1928 with the classic blues song “How Long How Long Blues”. Learn more about the collaboration between Carr and Blackwell in Country Blues Guitar By Stefan Grossman.

Bessie Smith Version

photo credit: The Radio via photopin (license)

Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out LaVERN BAKER

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