The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll - Mercury Blues
K. C. Douglas, (The K and the C do not stand for anything, that was his actual name), was born in Stanton, Mississippi on the 21st of November 1913. K.C. started to play blues guitar and sing when he moved to Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1940's. K. C. counted fellow Jackson blues musician, Tommy Johnson among those that influenced him the most. This influence can be found on K. C.'s 1961 album, Big Road Blues, that was named in honor of Tommy Johnson.
In 1948 K. C. and his band named, "The K.C. Douglas trio" recorded a song that would be released in 1949 as a B-side to the single, "Eclipse of the Sun", that song was originally known as, "Mercury Boogie", but is better known as, "Mercury Blues."
Here is a version of the song that was recorded in 1952 and is very similar to the '48 recording:
The songs subject matter, a '49 Mercury and a less than faithful girlfriend, would qualify it to be a song that's appeal spans across numerous musical genres. This is best demonstrated by the following two videos. The first features music from the Steve Miller Band's 1976 album, "Fly Like an Eagle":
This next video was recorded by notable country music performer, Alan Jackson and premiered on CMT (Country Music Television) and TNN (The Nashville Network) in September of 1993.
The Alan Jackson version peaked on the Hot Country Charts in 1993 at number 2. Country Music fans will be interested to know that the long haired electric guitar player in the Alan Jackson video is Keith Urban. Other performers that have covered the song include: David Lindley (1981), Finn Pave Maijanen (1987), Meatloaf (2003) and Dwight Yoakam (2004). The Maijanen cover changes the car to a BMW, but the band has been known to say Mercury during live shows. The Meatloaf cover was a "hidden" track, (remember those?) on his, "Couldn't have said it better" album.
The fact that the song has caught the attention of so many artists through out the years, just goes to show that interesting story telling about a beautiful car is a universal thing. The influence the '49 to '51 Mercury had on American culture isn't fully appreciated. The car was Mercury's first completely independent design in it's history and it was released in one of the most important years for American automotive design. While the '49 Mercury wasn't as mechanically interesting as the Oldsmobile Rocket 88, it is memorable for it's beautiful design. In fact, I'd say it's the best looking new car introduced in '49!
Keep on Cruisin'!
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Art by: Chris Breeden
About the Author:
"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."