I Will Turn Your Money Green

Album: Furry Lewis (1928)
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Songfacts®:

  • "I Will Turn Your Money Green" is about girl troubles. In it, Memphis bluesman Furry Lewis sings about being separated from the woman he loves while being trapped with a woman he hates ("Lord, woman I hate, I see her every day"). The hated woman blows all of Lewis' money. The lyrics are straightforward, except for the chorus:

    If you follow me baby, I'll turn your money green
    If you follow me baby, I'll turn your money green
    I show you more money Rockefeller ever seen


    We don't know what, if anything, "turn your money green" actually means. It has something to do with making his desired woman wealthy, obviously, but how exactly that translates into "turning money green" is unclear. Most likely, it's just a clever turn of phrase used for amusement.

    The Rockefeller family is one of the wealthiest families in the world. John Davison Rockefeller Sr. (usually called John D. Rockefeller) made the family's fortune in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. In inflation-adjusted value, he was in his life the wealthiest American of all time.
  • Lewis originally recorded the song on August 28, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, during part of a three-session stretch that famed Memphis guitar player Jim Jackson hooked up. These sessions occurred from 1927 to 1929.

    Jackson disappeared without a trace in 1930 (as in, permanently) and Lewis went 31 years without ever recording again.

    On October 3, 1959, Samuel B. Charters of Folksways Records got Lewis on tape again. One of the songs they did was "I Will Turn Your Money Green." This led to a resurgence in Lewis' career. Playboy magazine even featured him in a piece in April 1970, and the Rolling Stones invited Lewis to open for them twice.

    On April 13, 2010, an Italian record label named Monk released the first recorded take of the song (from way back in 1928), along with many other Lewis recordings, on an album called I Will Turn Your Money Green.
  • "I Will Turn Your Money Green" has an interesting distinction in that two of its lyrics appear in original songs done by prominent musicians.

    In "Down So Long," The Doors borrow the lyric "I been down so long, it seem like up to me."

    In "Tryin' To Get To Heaven," Bob Dylan borrows the line, "When I was in Missouri, would not let me be."

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