Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

 |   |  1 min read

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Known mostly these days as the writer of Blue Suede Shoes (he sang it before Elvis' chart-topping cover), Carl Perkins was the man who was the most hillbilly cat of them all in the early rock'n'roll era.

Looking like a cadaver with his sunken cheeks, and a heroic drinker, the married Carl was the Hank Williams of rockabilly . . . and Sam Phillips knew Perkins could be his next big star after Elvis.

The flipside of Blue Suede Shoes was Honey Don't (which Ringo later covered in the Beatles) and he also wrote Everybody's Trying to be My Baby (Harrison's turn on Beatles for Sale) and Matchbox (the Beatles again, in their early career).

But all that came later, at the time his career faltered after Blue Suede Shoes and a car accident.

Out of hospital and recovering, he wrote and recorded the bare Dixie Fried which, as writer Peter Doggett notes in Are You Ready for the Country, "ran on a heady brew of alcohol, violence and Southern pride".

"At a time when rock'n'roll concerts were being banned because they attracted juvenile delinquents, here was the newly crowned king of the genre spitting out lines like these: 'Now Dan got happy and he started ravin', jerked out his razor but he wasn't shavin'. . . . Carl hollered out his war cry in each chorus: 'Rave on children, I'm with ya . . . Let's all get Dixie fried'."

But that was it for Perkins, he's used up everything he could (although Matchbox did come shortly after) and he turned down the chance to record Great Balls of Fire. His piano player on Matchbox, Jerry Lee Lewis, picked it up and it became his career-defining hit.

Perkins retreated, drank, then abandoned the bottle to play guitar for Johnny Cash. It wasn't until the Beatles came along -- Harrison a huge fan and adopting Perkins' guitar style at an early age -- that he started to get his rewards.

When he died in 1998 at the age of 65 he'd been inducted into just about every music Hall of Fame going.

But the taut Dixie Fried remains one of his least known but best songs.

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Johnny Cash: The Chicken in Black (1984)

Johnny Cash: The Chicken in Black (1984)

Fortunately for Johnny Cash he didn't die around the time he hit rock bottom in the mid Eighties. If he'd gone then -- before his career resurrection through the American Recordings and the Walk... > Read more

Lou Christie: Lightnin' Strikes (1966)

Lou Christie: Lightnin' Strikes (1966)

Few people can say they celebrated their 23rd birthday in quite the same way as Lou Christie, this single was number one the US -- and just starting to go global. It was quite a comeback for... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: University of Auckland songwriter finalist Emily Rice

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: University of Auckland songwriter finalist Emily Rice

Every year Auckland University hosts a showcase for their talented music students. This year in addition to the five finalists for songwriter of the year there are also categories for best... > Read more

NGATAHI: KNOW THE LINKS, a documentary series by DEAN HAPETA (Kaha DVD)

NGATAHI: KNOW THE LINKS, a documentary series by DEAN HAPETA (Kaha DVD)

Technology may have made the world smaller, but it has also divided it. Consider this: if you are a Satan-worshipping death-metal band in Sweden (and there are an alarming number) you can now have... > Read more