On This Day: Charlie Daniels Band Releases ‘Blues Hat’ Album in 1997

by Clayton Edwards

The official Charlie Daniels Band Twitter account reminded fans that today marks twenty-three years since the release of “Blues Hat.” As the title and cover art imply, the tracks on the album are more bluesy than much of the band’s other releases. The blend of the Charlie Daniels Band’s southern rock and hard-driving up-tempo blues seems natural.

The album includes several original tracks written specifically for “Blues Hat” as well as two covers. In the post, the Charlie Daniels Band account mentions the rendition of one of the band’s own songs. A cover of”Long-Haired Country Boy” kicks off the album. Just looking at the tracklist would lead a listener to believe that the album is full of cover songs.

Tracks such as “Birmingham Blues” and “Gone Gone Blues” are original compositions. However, they share titles with songs by Electric Light Orchestra and Townes Van Zandt respectively. The latter of which passed away earlier the same year the album was released.

The other standout cover on “Blues Hat” is the Charlie Daniels Band’s rendition of the traditional tune “Deep Elm Blues.” The track is also known as “Deep Ellum Blues.”

The song was previously recorded by several American roots music acts. It is probably best known as a Grateful Dead song, though.

Charlie Daniels Band Covers ‘Deep Elm Blues’

“Deep Elm Blues” also known as “Deep Ellum Blues” is an American traditional song. It’s lyrics refer to an area in Dallas, Texas that was, historically, an African American neighborhood. The area was also home to blues legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly.

The first recording of the song under its modern name was in the 30s by The Shelton Brothers. In its original form, it was much closer to bluegrass than the boogie style recorded by the Charlie Daniels Band. The most popular version of the song was recorded by The Grateful Dead. The style is more in line with the Dead’s acoustic jam band style than either CDB’s or The Shelton Brother’s version.

Gathering several versions of this song and listening to them together is a great way to see the slow evolution of American music. Over time, more and more elements blend and create new sounds and styles in both vocals and instrumentation.

The Charlie Daniels Band shows that they understand what it is to be part of the musical conversation. They took a traditional tune that had been recorded by some of music’s biggest names and made it their own. While “Blues Hat” is a slight departure in sound for the band, it is an example of why they’re remembered so fondly to this day.