1001 Songs Challenge,  1950s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #46: Dust My Broom (1952)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)

Dust My Broom

” Dust My Broom” is a blues song originally recorded as ” I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. It is a solo performance in the Delta blues-style with Johnson’s vocal accompanied by his acoustic guitar.

Lyrics (via Genius)
Learn more about this song (via Genius)


We extend our stay in the US today and make a welcome return to the Blues for our next song – Dust My Broom. This one has a complicated history with Robert Johnson, who previously appeared twice on this list, playing one version of the song back in the 1930s. A young Elmore James also performed the song and there are suggestions that Johnson may have taught it to him. In the 1950s Elmore James recorded what became the definitive version.

Dust My Broom has been interpreted by some analysts as a euphemism, something of a sexual nature, but this remains open to debate. Looking through the lyrics, James sings of his desire to leave behind the woman he is with and to hit the road. The term “Dust My Broom” can then be considered as casting off an old life and moving onto another. Out on the road James sings of searching for another woman and wonders just where he will find her.

I was blown away by the opening slide guitar riff to this song, which is considered one of the most famous from Blues music, and would later influence some rock guitarists. It isn’t long before James belts out the lyrics that complement that melody beautifully. From the opening seconds Dust My Broom had me hooked and I will have to delve further into Elmore James’ back catalogue to see what other gems may be waiting there.


Favourite songs so far:

Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)

Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

One Comment

  • Pat Conolly

    I’d say it’s definitely a sexual innuendo. It’s not dusting WITH a broom; it’s dusting the broom itself. Take a small washcloth, start wiping a broom handle with it, and see if it reminds you of anything. And since it’s in the context of not having a woman (for the time being), well …

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