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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Elder Curry - Memphis Flu (lyrics & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the 1930 song "Memphis Flu" by Elder Curry, Elder Charles Beck, and Jo Ann Williams.

General information about the 1929 influenza epidemic is included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, religious, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE 1929 INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC & THE SONG "MEMPHIS FLU"
Paraphrased from http://www.earlygospel.com/eg-singers-c.htm
This Gospel recording was performed by Elder Curry (guitar),
Elder Charles Beck (piano), and Jo Ann Williams & congregation (vocals). Recorded in December 16 & 18th 1930, the lyrics describe the influenza epidemic that spread through Memphis Tennesee in the years following the first World War & killed some 700,000 Americans.

"Memphis Flu" is sometimes considered to be the first Rock & Roll record ever recorded."
-snip-
According to that earlygospel article, both Elder Curry and Elder Beck were members of the Church Of God In Christ, a Christian denomination whose name is often informally given now COGIC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_(Christianity)#Churches_of_Christ indicates that "In the Church of God in Christ, an elder is an ordained clergy person. This person may serve as a pastor or assistant pastor. Also, if the pastor or bishop finds them worthy, after a few years of being their assistant, the pastor (or bishop) will allow them to be the pastor of their own church and leader of their own congregation."
-snip-
Here's a comment about the 1929 Influenza epidemic that was posted by Bob the Postman, May 14, 2007 in http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=101524 "Lyr Req: Memphis Flu (Elder Curry):
..."the flu season of 1929 was the worst since 1919. The 1929 epidemic killed one out of every 200 cases; the 1919 epidemic killed 3 out of every 200 cases. Death rates were much higher in some districts, particularly the southern part of the Mississippi/Missouri watershed where Memphis is located."
-snip-
That same Mudcat post also has very similar lyrics to those found below of the original recording by Elder Curry. Those 1939 lyrics were sung by Ace Johnson, Clemens state farm, Brazoria, Texas, April 16, 1939. ["state farm" - state prison]

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SHOWCASE EXAMPLE

Memphis Flu with Lyrics



Phillip Chamberlain, Published on Jan 31, 2013

God's mighty hand is judging this old land!
-snip-
[The lyrics from sub-titles in the video]

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!

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Thanks to Elder Curry, Elder Charles Beck, and Jo Ann Williams for their musical legacy. Thanks also to those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

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