Monday, June 09, 2008

The 3 Nails - 101 year old Gov. Jimmie Davis


"The Three Nails" is one of those story songs that have the ability to appeal and appall. You might recall "The Deck of Cards," which massaged a Christian message into a story about getting caught playing solitaire. Here, the twice-elected governor of Louisiana imagines himself as the guy who fatefully sold three rusty nails to a Roman soldier:
"This is a story of long ago...it was some two thousand years ago, as I recall..."
Pretty good memory. Soldier and store owner:
"I wanna buy some big, big nails."
"Three ol' rusty spikes is all I have...what can you do with just three nails?"
"Did you ever hear of a man called Jesus the Nazarene?"
"You mean the one who goes about doing good?"
"Yes, that's the man. Well, today I intend to show the world that I am boss, for with these three ol' rusty spikes, I'm going to nail Jesus to the cross."
"Please sir, don't do that."
Let's not spoil the ending.
Do you know the story of Davis? Of his poverty-stricken childhood he once recalled, "The first Christmas present I ever got was a dried hog's bladder and a plucked blackbird. We ate the blackbird and played ball with the bladder, and I thought we were pretty well off."
He eventually got off the farm and into Louisiana State University, and as Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves would later do, jelled his home corn and urban smarts into a smooth succatash that most anyone might swallow. After signing with RCA Victor in 1928, Davis was known for dirty country ditties like "Tom Cat and Pussy Blues" and "Organ Grinder Blues." It was with Decca in 1934 that he had his first real hit, the sad "Nobody's Darling But Mine." In 1940, he copyrighted the uptempo "You Are My Sunshine" which made him a pile of money and helped him become the state's governor. It became Louisiana's State Song.
Typical of a politician, he took credit for writing the song, a claim long disputed. Odd for a governor, he simultaneously served in office and had a Top 10 hit ("There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder" on the country charts) and even made movies, including "Louisiana" in 1947. Term limits ended him after one term and in the 50's and early 60's he made over 20 Decca albums, most of them heavy with Gospel tunes such as: "When Jesus Knocks Let Him In," "Shake The Nail Scarred Hands Of Jesus," and "I'd Hate To Be The Man Who Drove The Nails In Jesus' Hands," the latter two (plus our "The Three Nails") from the 1970 album "Songs of Consolation."
In 1960, Davis was re-elected governor, pledging segregation and earning praise from George Wallace. Like Wallace, in old age he changed his mind about segregation. His old fashioned style of music was still popular in rural locales, and though he was long retired by the time he hit 100, he sang a tune at his birthday party. Wouldn't you like to think he rests upstairs with the Lord? And you, you heathen, are downloading here below...
THE THREE NAILS Instant download. No rapidshare, porn ads, or pop-ups.

2 comments:

Duke Ellington said...

Would you please post this entire album I can not locate a download for it anywhere!

Ill Folks said...

Hiya Duke,

I'll try and re-visit Jimmie for you. I understand that not everyone has a turntable anymore, so saying "Check eBay" isn't always the answer.

The main reason I don't post a lot of full albums is bandwidth, and using up my storage space. I like to give some attention to as many deserving artists as I can. But yeah, the album does have some other really memorable songs.