Elmore (Elmo) James ushered in a new era of electric slide guitar with his historic recording of ‘Dust My Broom’ for Trumpet Records of Jackson, Mississippi, in 1951. It was the only release on the Trumpet label to ever reach Billboard‘s national R&B charts (in April 1952) and it was the only record James ever recorded for Trumpet; in fact, he only recorded this one song and so Trumpet had to use another artist (Bobo Thomas) posing as ‘Elmo James’ on the flip side (‘Catfish Blues’). The song ‘Dust My Broom’ can be traced back to Robert Johnson’s ‘I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom’ from 1936, and to even earlier sources. James recorded many versions or variations of the song in the years to follow, and it became a required repertoire number for any slide guitarist playing the blues. In the first year of Hall of Fame balloting for Singles, more votes were cast for ‘Dust My Broom’ than for any other record.
The meaning of the phrase ‘dust my broom’ has been debated, with some interpreting it as a sexual metaphor, but general consensus is that it simply symbolizes moving on and making a new start.
Elmore James, vocal and guitar; Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 (Rice Miller), harmonica; Leonard Ware, bass; Frock Odell, drums. Recorded August 5, 1951, Jackson, Mississippi.
Released as by Elmo James, Trumpet 146.
— Jim O’Neal