Jimmy Brown The Blues Boy

Jimmy Brown The Blues Boy

Jimmy Brown The Blues Boy


Jimmy Brown The Blues Boy – Traditional arrangement Tim O’Brien / No Bad Ham
Music / ASCAP

I write some songs and sing them too my name is Jimmy Brown
Everybody knows that I play music in this town
I used to make a decent wage my children all could eat
They all had hats upon their heads and shoes upon their feet

But in the book of history my children turned a page
They don’t read the morning paper sir in this computer age
They still like their music sir but now they get it free
And the morning paper fills the holes in the shoes upon my feet

The Internet’s a wondrous thing with all the tools it brings
I like to use that Google when I write the songs I sing
But the very thing that helps me sir is part of my demise
Peer to peer is eating up my little piece of the pie

Three thousand friends on Facebook sir, but few will have to pay
They rip my disk, compress the file, email it that same day
I’m still makin’ music sir and I’ve still gotta live
You still listen to my songs so somethin’s gotta give

If I had been the guy that wrote the Grand Theft Auto theme
I might still be livin’ that good old American dream
I need to write a hit song that’ll play on your cell phone
I’d have some bacon with my beans if you’d buy my ring tone

America was built upon an interesting idee
It started up in Boston back in 1773
They had a big old party there they made saltwater tea
The party never ended, we still want our stuff for free

We hate our politicians with their evil taxing ways
We want good roads, we want good schools but we don’t want to pay
We all want to have our cake, we want to eat it too
It’s all a grand experiment but now the bill is due

Four stages in a picker’s life, first “Who is Jimmy Brown?”
Next is “Get me Jimmy Brown” followed by “Get me a young Jimmy Brown”
I’ve been through stages one through three and now I’m feeling down
The only stage that’s left for me is “Who is Jimmy Brown?”

Flatt and Scruggs would sing this song but words were not the same
The guy that wrote this music sir, I do not know his name
But I sure know who wrote these words, I swear that I ain’t lyin’
The guy that wrote this parody his name is Tim O’Brien


Recorded May 20th, 2015 at the Butcher Shoppe, Nashville
Engineer David Ferguson
Tim O’Brien – guitar and vocal

Song Notes:

In the mid 1960’s I listened to country music late at night via WWVA in my hometown of Wheeling WV. The late night DJ would do commercials for Jimmy Skinner’s Record Shop and list the titles you could buy through that mail order service. Jimmy Brown The Newsboy was a hit for both Mac Wiseman and Flatt and Scruggs, as adapted from an earlier Carter Family recording, which A.P. Carter himself adapted from an even older version. I try to give some of Earl Scruggs’ wonderful guitar playing flavor on this track.

My version changes the original story of an orphan newsboy to the tale of a struggling songwriter in the new millennium. My Jimmy Brown may not sing blues music per sea but he does have the blues about his situation, so I changed his occupation to “blues boy” in the title. While I have made good pay as a songwriter in years past, the revenue streams are quickly drying up in this age of digital file sharing and subscription music services, and my lyric addresses some of that change.

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by R & T