“Deep Elem Blues”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Cofer Brothers)
Keywords: whore money police theft trick sex warning crime humorous clergy
Found in: US


The listener is advised to be prepared when going to (Deep Elem): "If you go down to Deep Elem just to have a little fun, You'd better have your fifteen dollars when the policeman comes." The singer details his experiences with the women there


"Deep Elem," according to Michael Cooney, refers to Elm Street, the red light district in Dallas, Texas (for the reputation of this area, see also, e.g., "Take a Whiff On Me"). It's not clear whether the Cofer Brothers' "Black Bottom Blues" or the Shelton Brothers' "Deep Elem Blues" is the older form; the latter seems to have inspired more recordings. - RBW

Same tune



  1. BrownIII 501, "Went Down Town"; 502, "Standin' on de Street Doin' No Harm" (2 fragments, consisting of little more than a declaration of innocence and a statement "along came the police and grabbed me by the arm," also found in some versions of this song)
  3. BI, DTdeepel