Basin Street Blues

1928© Music and Lyrics by Spencer Williams

Spencer Williams * New Orleans, La Oct 14,1889
† New York City, NY Jul 14, 1965

Basin Street Blues, Spencer Williams’ 1928 song, celebrates the center of New Orleans’ nightlife, which took its name from the “basin” formed back of town from the excavation of building materials by the city’s early inhabitants. Basin Street was originally known as Ferry Street. Spencer Williams believed he was a nephew of Lulu White, who operated Mahogany Hall, one of the best-known brothels in New Orleans (Basin Street).

Basin Street Blues has a curious history. Composed in 1928, it was popularized through a recording made late the following year by Louis Armstrong but gained a foot hold on full jazz-standard status a little over a year later when, on a Benny Goodman Charleston Chasers record date, arranger Glenn Miller decided to dress it up with a verse, whose Iyrics (Won’t you come along with me…) were sung by Jack Teagarden. In all subsequent versions this strain was incorporated as if it had been part of the original composition.
By Leonard Feather on

Won’t you come along with me,
To the Mississippi,
We’ll take the boat to the land of dreams,
Steam down the river to New Orleans.
The band’s there to greet us,
Old friends there to meet us.
Where the rich and the poor folks meet,
Let me take you down to Basin Street.

Basin Street,
That’s the street,
Where the elite,
Always meet,
In New Orleans,
The land of dreams,
You’ll never know how nice it seems or,
just how much it really means,
I’m glad to be,
Yes siree,
Where the welcome’s free,
They’re so good to me,
That’s where I can lose,
My Basin Street blues.