The Boll Weevil Song

Album: The Boll Weevil Song and 11 Other Great Hits (1961)
Charted: 30 2

Songfacts®:

  • "The Boll Weevil Song" is a blues standard whose history goes back at least a hundred years. Blues pioneer Charley Patton is credited with writing the first version, then called "Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues"; Ma Rainey ("Mother of the Blues") recorded a version in 1923 as "Bo-Weevil Blues" and Bessie Smith covered it in 1924. There's also Lead Belly, Jaybird Coleman, and Blind Willie McTell in there. Over time the version with the dialog between the farmer and the insect evolved.
  • Brook Benton's version is the one that stands out, having made #2 on the Billboard charts. Brook Benton himself had over fifty hits on the charts to his credit; in fact, he averaged three Top-40 hits per year from 1959 to 1964. If anyone could spin cotton-bug into gold, it was him.
  • The boll weevil is an ugly little black bug which migrated from Mexico at the start of the 20th century to ravage cotton crops of the American South. In fact, by the 1920s it made cotton farming less popular and encouraged farmers to diversify into other crops, like peanuts. To this day, a monument to this bug, erected in 1919, stands in the city of Enterprise, Alabama, as a reminder to not have your economy depend too heavily on one crop. Boll weevils are still a destructive force to cotton crops throughout North and South America.
  • Benton and frequent collaborator Clyde Otis rewrote this version specifically for single release, citing it as a novelty song. The chorus has backing from the Mike Stewart Singers.
  • This song has the unique distinction of being the first #1 song on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1961 {July 10th} Brook Benton's "The Boll Weevil Song"* peaked at #2 {for 4 weeks} on Billboard's Hot R&B Sides chart, for the four weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those four weeks was "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis...
    It also reached #2 {for 3 weeks} on the Billboard's Top 100 chart, and it was "Tossin' and Turnin'" that was at #1 for those three weeks...
    Between 1958 and 1978 the Lugoff, South Carolina native had thirty six records on the Hot R&B Sides chart, twenty made the Top 10 with seven reaching #1...
    Two of his thirty six charted records were duets with Dinah Washington and both peaked at #1, "Baby, You Got What It Takes" for ten weeks in February of 1960 and "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall In Love)" for four non-consecutive weeks in June of 1960...
    Mr. Benton passed away on April 9th, 1988 at the young age of 56 {pneumonia}
    May he R.I.P.
    * "The Boll Weevil Song" was Brook Benton's second of three of his records to peak at #2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart, his other two #2 records were "For You Baby" for one week in April of 1961 and "Hotel Happiness" for one week in December of 1962...
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of Billboard's Hot R&B Sides' Top 10 on July 10th, 1961:
    At #3. "Every Beat of My Heart" by The Pips
    #4. "Quarter To Three" by Gary 'U. S.' Bonds
    #5. "Raindrops" by Dee Clark
    #6. "I Don't Mind" by James Brown and The Famous Flames
    #7. "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King
    #8. "Peace of Mind" by B. B. King
    #9. "I Like It Like That" by Chris Kenner
    #10. "I'm Comin' On Back To You" by Jackie Wilson
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 12th 1959, Brook Benton performed "It's Just A Matter of Time" on the CBS-TV variety program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    At the time "It's Just A Matter of Time" was at #3 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, it was at #3 for 1 week and that was also it's peak position on the chart, the week it was at #3, the #2 record was "Come Softly To Me" by the Fleetwoods and at #1 was "Venus" by Frankie Avalon...
    Between 1958 and 1971 Mr. Benton had forty-eight Top 100 records; eight made the Top 10, his highest charting record was "The Boll Weevil Song", it peaked at #2* {for 3 weeks} on July 10th, 1961...
    * The three weeks "The Boll Weevil Song" was at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis.
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