Parchman Farm (3:20)

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Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm” is distinct from earlier blues songs of the same name (all of which were about Mississippi State Penitentiary, a hard-time prison known as Parchman Farm). The song has been covered by a number of artists including Blue Cheer, Jeff Buckley, Cactus, Rick Derringer, Georgie Fame, The Kingston Trio, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers (who released it as a Decca Records single in 1966,) Hot Tuna, and others.

One of the greatest covers of this Mose Allison classic is by Blue Cheer, a pioneering three-piece psychedelic band formed in the late 60s and credited with being the “loudest band ever.”

The inspiration for the earlier blues songs of the same name was summarized by FolkWorld as follows:
Sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm, ain’t ever done no man no harm… From its beginning in 1904 until reform finally came in the 1970s, the main purpose of Mississippi’s state farm was not to rehabilitate or even to punish the convicts, but to make money by growing cotton. It closely resembled an antebellum plantation, with prisoners replacing slaves. Because the prisoners worked in organized gangs, Parchman became a kind of preserve for group work songs, which scholars consider an influence on the blues. Booker T. Washington Bukka White, an older cousin of B.B. King. Robert Palmer, told an interviewer in 1963 that he had been treated better inside Parchman than he often was after his release. As a musician he had avoided much of the hard work in the prison. David Kimbrough told Living Blues, I got down there and I was out there workin’ in the fields, you know, choppin’ grass. And so I was singin’ and a guad said, ‘You need to get in the Parchman band.

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Albums featuring this track (41)

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  • steining

    very good !

    19 Mar 10:38am Reply
  • deBoesselaere

    Totally sweet :)

    22 Oct 2012 Reply
  • gilliananne

    nice

    25 Nov 2011 Reply
  • algenon50

    good sound !!

    17 Nov 2011 Reply
  • bedvelvet

    so sad but heavenly though!

    18 Mar 2011 Reply
  • pjolliffe

    Good stuff!!

    21 Feb 2011 Reply
  • chelseaxoxo

    Loves it! dum dum dum......yeaaaaaaaa.........

    13 Sep 2010 Reply
  • Bopvito

    "You are in a room that is an 8x8x8 perfect cube. Don't ask me how you got in there. All i know is what I already told you." - Hormelle Grey, Esq.

    12 Mar 2010 Reply
  • lossless777

    he's a cool cat

    13 Jan 2010 Reply
  • traubster

    I like the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers version much more than the Blue Cheer version.

    2 Nov 2009 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    This Mose track is interesting in that his vocal style is totally at odds with the really rather grim subject matter. However, he has the talent to pull the trick off. His apparently flippant treatment doesn't actually betray the subject matter. He's a very decent artist.

    6 May 2009 Reply
  • johnmcmahon

    sarcastic ironic amusing blues-jazz. who else does it? the 'last fm similar artist' list doesn't come close to what Mose Allison does.

    24 Feb 2009 Reply
  • arrowe1969

    This track sums-up Cool. Its been covered by so many people but this is still the best version. Mind you he did write it.

    14 Jan 2009 Reply
  • ettaj2

    emergingsynergy parchman farm is in mississippi not louisiana as the "background" suggest. the famous louisiana prison is angola. mose and i both hail from "down the road" from parchman in mississippi. not crazy about the blue cheer rendition. mose can not be topped on this. timeless fusion of blues and jazz. really shows how the two are "kin".

    8 Jul 2008 Reply
  • emergingsynergy

    Also, check out that Blue Cheer misspelled the track!

    6 Jul 2008 Reply
  • emergingsynergy

    Want some intense contrast? Check out how Blue Cheer covered this number. And here is a little background on this classic by Mose Allison.

    6 Jul 2008 Reply
  • ettaj2

    parchman farm was the first mose allison song i ever heard and he, the first jazz artist i followed in college. he is still about the only jazz i listen to today, being a blueshound primarily. he is the direct link between the two, an artist like no other before or after his arrival on the scene.does not hurt that he is a native son of my homestate and that parchman farm is a very real place.

    19 Mar 2008 Reply

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