Behind The Song: White Girl Blues by Paul James

today2 March 2024 39 5

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Who Is This White Girl And Why Is She Blue?

Paul James from Machen, Caerphilly is a singer-songwriter whose material we play often on the Pure Local Show. I asked him to pick one of his songs and tell me about it. He chose this song and here is the story behind it.

‘White Girl Blues’ was written immediately after I watched an episode of ‘Drug Inc’ on television. A no-nonsense documentary series about the trials and tribulations of drug addicts caught up in the production, distribution and use of hard drugs in America. I’d never seen the programme before and I’ve never watched it since. It was harrowing and a sad indictment of present-day America.

I learnt several terms from the programme. ‘White girl’ is a slang term for cocaine. Hence, the title of my song can be translated as ‘Cocaine Blues’ which, in turn, is the name of a very famous song by the Reverend Gary Davies which has subsequently been covered by numerous folk, blues and country luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and John Martyn.

I also learnt that a ‘square’ and an ‘eight ball’ are measures of cocaine whilst a ‘vampire’ is a customer for the drug. I incorporated all these terms into the song.

The programme I watched depicted the squalidness and utter despair of the people caught up in this pernicious world of hard, addictive drugs and their devastating impact on entire families and communities. I hope I have conveyed the sadness of the situation of these people in my song.


Written by: Kym Frederick

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