If Silence Was Golden, You Wouldn't Raise a Dime – The Music of Mose Allison

This past week the Eclectic Vinyl Orchestra added the song “Deed I Do” to our set list.  It’s a 1926 jazz standard written by Fred Rose and Walter Hirsch.  I should note here that Fred Rose also wrote “Roly Poly”, recorded by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” recorded by Willie Nelson and others. These songs and artists will show up in future posts.

“Deed I Do” was recorded by everyone from Lena Horne to Bing Crosby to Dianna Krall.  However, I first heard the song by the singer/ pianist Mose Allison.


When you listen to Mose Allison you are listening to an eclectic mix of styles.  I first thought of him as a jazz artists (he played with Stan Getz and Jerry Mulligan) but he also covers the blues of Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Dixon.  His voice is what captured me.  I borrowed this quote from Wikipedia. It probably captures his style the best.

His performances have been described as “delivered in a casual conversational way with a melodic southern accented tone that has a pitch and range ideally suited to his idiosyncratic phrasing, laconic approach and ironic sense of humour”.

His songs had a profound influence on 60s blues and rock artists like the Rolling Stones, John Mayall, the Yardbirds and the Who.  I mentioned in an earlier post that Whiskey Howl introduced me to his song “I’m Not Talking”.  Here is his version.

The British bands took his songs and would rock them out like the Yardbirds (with Jeff Beck) and their version of “I’m Not Talking”.

I may have first seen Mose Allison’s name on “Young Man Blues” by the Who on their “Live At Leeds” album.

Here is his version:

And here is the Who’s.

There is a story that after the Who recorded his song he thought there was a mistake on his royalty cheque.

As with a lot of songs, it’s the sense of humour that gets to me.  The first album I ever owned by Mose included the song “You Mine is on Vacation”.  It’s a singer’s putdown of loud and mouthy bar patrons.  It includes lines like “if talk was criminal, you’d lead a life of crime” and “if silence was golden, you wouldn’t raise a dime because your mind in on vacation and you mouth’s working overtime’.

  • Stu Peterson

Your Mind is On Vacation

Next Post: Basin Street and Merle Haggard
Previous Post: The songs of Leiber and Stoller