Posted on 11.18.2022

That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 25: Blues Hat

In 1997, fed up with trying to please record labels who didn’t understand him or his creative vision anymore, dad and longtime manager, David Corlew, formed their own label, Blue Hat Records.

Distribution for this album was exclusively through Anderson Merchandisers which services all the Walmart stores around the country.

Named for the first release on the label, Blues Hat, this would be the first time that the official name, The Charlie Daniels Band, would once again grace the cover of an album, and once again, the band would be performing on the record as well.

Ron Griffin, who produced ‘The Door’, ‘Steel Witness’ and several other one-off recordings - like “One More Time” for the ‘Skynyrd Frynds’ tribute album – returned as producer.

For his first project that he was in complete control of since probably back in the Kama Sutra era, dad chose to do something different. He decided to do a straightforward blues album and called it ‘Blues Hat,’ which is what inspired the name of the record label he co-founded.

For the cover, he drew inspiration from Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi’s SNL and movie characters, The Blues Brothers. The cover had a photograph of the band wearing sunglasses and wearing dark suits and hats which echoed the ‘pork pie’ hats made famous by Jake and Elwood Blues, except for dad who was decked out in a blue suit and matching Fedora hat, and Taz who wore a tan one.

Fittingly, dad dedicated ‘Blues Hat’ to “The Kid From Dallas”, Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the late 20th Century’s greatest blues artists.

That’s the setup, so now let’s delve into the music.

The album kicks off with a cover of “Long Haired Country Boy” with a slightly different arrangement, the acoustic guitar and dobro are replaced with an electric guitar and heavy B3 from Taz on the intro.

And it had a couple of guest stars the help out. I think part of the idea was to try to get a vocal event nomination for CMA or ACM awards, but Hal Ketchum and John Berry were also included on this version.

This one also included a couple of lyric tweaks. For several years, dad stopped performing “Long Haired Country Boy.” Dad had changed his life, and didn’t feel right advocating some of the things in the song anymore. So, he changed the lyrics, and those changes ended up on the album.

It’s not a bad arrangement, but vocally, there are some issues for me. Dad sounds great, Hal sounds great, both of them both have lower registers vocally, but John Berry’s higher vocal register doesn’t feel like it fits as well as Hal's does.

No slight to John, he’s a great singer, but in my opinion, his voice is better suited for songs like “Your Love Amazes Me."

Next up is “Boogie Woogie Baltimore,” which is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s rockin’ with lots of honkin’ keyboards, both B3 and piano by Taz and screamin’ background singers. 

Dad spent some time in Baltimore in his early days when he performed in the general vicinity at a place called Rose’s Casino in North Beach, and Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, VA.

But basically, the song is about how there’s no place to party like Baltimore, MD.

“If It Would Satisfy You” is somewhat akin to “Bottom Line” at least in theme, but definitely not in style.

It’s got a pounding blues riff going on, while he describes what he would to satisfy his woman from fighting a grizzly bear with one hand tied behind his back to paddling across the ocean in a coffee cup to saddling up a hurricane to take a ride.

It’s a fun song.

“Hard Headed Woman” brings us deep into the blues, the kind of blues described in Ralph Macchio’s movie “Crossroads” as “the blues ain’t nothing but a good man feelin' bad.”

The character in the song finds himself in a frustrating relationship, full of fussing and fighting with a woman so petty and spiteful that when she asks him if she likes her new hairdo, and he doesn’t give it a glowing review, she shaves her head.

I’m pretty sure the working title on this was “Bald Headed Woman,” but I don’t know that with 100% certainty. I’d have to look through some old work cassettes to confirm.

He even tries to please her by buying a Cadillac, but she rejects it because it’s not the right color to please her.

But it’s pure blues with some great guitar work along the way. 

Curiously, many online sources attribute the song to songwriter Claude Demetrius whose “Mean Woman Blues” was covered by Elvis Presley as “Hard Headed Woman" from the movie, “King Creole,” but they are completely different songs.

“New Orleans Parish Blues” is a rockin’ uptempo number, pure vintage CDB style. 

It’s a warning about staying out of trouble in New Orleans or you’ll get 3 days in the parish jail if you can’t come up with the fine.

In typical blues fashion, the woman of the song’s character burns down his house with a cigarette and then takes off for Baton Rouge, and according to him, the devil most likely resides in New Orleans.

“Birmingham Blues” is a cover of the song which was on the ‘Nightrider’ album.

It’s a pretty faithful cover of the original, the only thing different really is the more contemporary digital production.

It’s about a man who is down on his luck and homesick for his home in Birmingham, AL. He’s stuck in the big city of Los Angeles, and he misses the good woman he left behind, and “let a false-hearted woman make a fool out of me.” 

Presumably, he left Birmingham – and possibly his good woman – for what he thought were greener pastures – only to now have a bad case of the Birmingham Blues.

One more thing to clarify, as was the case with “Hard Headed Woman,” many sources online list this song as being co-written by dad and Jeff Lynne from Electric Light Orchestra because they both had songs with the same name. Lynne is from the UK, so ELO’s song is about Birmingham, England, where he was born. The two songs are completely unrelated aside from the titles.

“No Fool Like An Old Fool” is another slower blues in the “Hard Headed Woman” vein. 

The song’s character has made a mess of his relationship with his woman, and realizes how foolish he was, and swears he’s had a change of heart.

He pleads with her to give him one more chance, “cause there ain’t no fool like an old fool,” and he just wants “to be your fool again.”

We don’t know how the story ends, so it’s up to the listener to decide if he makes a convincing case for taking him back.

The album’s title track, “Blues Hat,” is a bouncing blues riff song about a man who’s having a really long stretch of back luck, losing his job, his car, was bitten by his dog, getting divorced from his woman who flirts with the judge to get more alimony out of him, the IRS is sending him nasty letters, etc… all this is making him put his blues hat on, again… a good man feeling bad.

Everything ends up being too much for him, so he says he’s going to hop a Greyhound bus to leave his many problems behind him.

“Deep Elm Blues” is an old traditional blues song, with “elm” being pronounced “ellum” and some versions of the song have been released as “Deep Ellum Blues” or “Deep Elem Blues.”

Deep Ellum is a section of East Dallas off of Elm Street which is known for producing blues legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lead Belly, and Blind Willie Johnson among others.

According to the song, Deep Ellum is a pretty rough part of town, the women will “give a man the blues” and they all “carry a switchblade and a gun,” and it’s best to hide your money from them because they will take it all.

“Looking For Mary Jane” is another cover of an older CDB song, but this one has undergone some significant revisions.

In the original, “Mary Jane” is a double entendre (double meaning) referring to marijuana, while in the original he’s looking for his woman, Mary Jane, the implication is that possibly she’s got his stash as well.

This version removes that element and strictly makes it about looking for his woman, and changes a few other lines here and there.

The album ends – appropriately – with “Gone Gone Blues.” Which is another blues riff uptempo with a slight “Call Me the Breeze” or Merle Haggard's "Workin' Man Blues" feel.

The song’s main character is going to Louisiana with a gun and a frying pan. A lawyer stole his land, and he plans on catching up a bunch of catfish, frying it up before he goes to shoot the lawyer.

He gets delayed because he spends two nights in a Biloxi jail on some undisclosed charges, and none of his friends would bail him out.

He also plans on “putting a bullet in his gun” in Indianola Mississippi, so he must have had more grievances than just a shady lawyer in Louisiana.

That covers the music. It’s a great album, and definitely worth a listen – or several – if you’re not familiar with it.

One thing that is obvious about the album is that dad had a lot of fun making it. It comes through loud and clear that dad was having a great time being creative, free from major label interference.

It was a great album, but Anderson was disappointed in the sales which were exclusively at Walmart. Like I said earlier, I think they were looking for something more mainstream – like Garth Brooks would later bring to the table – and a CDB blues album didn’t have as wide an appeal as they hoped which led to Blue Hat and Anderson parting ways.

One last note on the Anderson arrangement, the disappointing sales of ‘Blues Hat’ would affect another potential deal years later. In 2014, after many years of working on his kids project, we approached Big Idea, the creators of the VeggieTales series with the project. The people we met with in Franklin, TN loved the project and everyone was excited about moving forward. 

The story has a definite moral, and it seemed tailor-made for the studio, but there ended up being a snag. Just a few months before, Big Idea signed with Anderson Merchandisers as their exclusive distributor for the Big Idea/VeggieTales DVDs.

Whoever was still in charge at Anderson must have still had a bad taste in their mouths over the ‘Blues Hat’ album, and killed the deal, despite this being a completely different project and different target audience. It would not have been a CDB project anyway, it would have had voice actors and animation with dad possibly doing only a voice or two, and a few new songs, but unfortunately, it was not to be.

Don't get me wrong, Anderson still orders a lot of Blue Hat CDs for their stock in Walmart stores, and that has been working extremely well in the last 6 years or so, so the relationship is good, but unfortunately, the Blues Hat album was a stumbling block for the Big Idea deal.

We’re still optimistic that we can get something happening with the kids project. Some doors are opening up now with regard to some adaptations of dad’s material, so we might be able to finally see it realized. I’d love to share it with you.

Next time, dad causes a 'Fiddle Fire!'

What do you think?

Let’s all make the day count!

Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.

God Bless America!

Check out 'Blues Hat' HERE


#BenghaziAintGoingAway #End22


—  Charlie Daniels, Jr.



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Check Out The Charlie Daniels Podcast!

Check out "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'




Another Classic
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie Jr, another CDB classic, it don't matter if Charlie played, rock, country, blues, children's, or gospel he nailed it every time. Never heard of Anderson Merchandisers before, but it's just one more example of a corporation missing the boat. Walmart founder Sam Walton was a true American and supported Made In America, we need more Sam's and Charlie's around today. As usual Charlie Jr, you shed light to what really goes on behind the scenes, for which I'm eternally greatful for. keep up the good work.........nuff said, God Bless and enjoy a bodacious Thanksgiving sir , Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy
Blues Hat
Another thread to follow, for the Soap Box readers, to peek our curiosity. It makes sense that Charlie would want to do more "kids" projects after writing one of his favorite songs "Little Folks". Too bad that the "Big Idea" project never materialized. I enjoyed the few compilation projects that he was able to do for the young people. "Brothers & Old Boots" from Chipmunks in Low Places and "Can't Keep A Country Boy Down" from Tom Sawyer. A couple of fun tunes. Then promoting education and recycling. "Lets Open Up Our Hearts" from Project H.O.S.S (kids from Sam Houston Elementary Lebanon,Tn) "Yakety Yak" (Take It Back Foundation).About the need fro recycling,back in 1991. Even did a TV special, American Music Shop,featuring "Songs for kids and parents too". Nicolette Larson and Mark O'Conner with Charlie. I am sure the "Big Idea" project would have been a big hit with the kids at that time. Thanks again Charlie Jr. for :Keeping Charlie's Legavy Alive:.
Posted by RaccoonMan