Now some of y’all never been down South too much
I’m gonna tell you a little bit about this
So that you’ll understand what I’m talking about
“Polk Salad Annie,” was originally recorded by Tony Joe White in 1968 at RCA studio B in Nashville. The single was released in June 1969. Tony Joe White’s version of the song fit a genre commonly known as Swamp Music. The song was a vivid picture of Tony Joe’s life while growing up in the swamplands of Louisiana.
Elvis Presley would later record the song which is now considered a classic. The song was a staple at Elvis Presley’s concerts.
In a 2014 Interview with music journalist Ray Shasho, White told about the inspirations of how the song about Polk salad came to be.
“Well I know about polk because I had ate a bunch of it…. I was real lucky with my first tries to write something that was not only real and hit pretty close to the bone, but lasted that long. So it was kind of a guide for me then on through life to always try to write what I know about.”Tony Joe White
Tony Joe White “The Swamp Fox” was born July 23rd 1943. He grew up in Oak Grove Louisiana. Oak Grove was a town in West Carroll Parish Louisiana. In White’s song, “Old Man Willis,” The setting of the song takes place in Oak Grove, the place where Tony Joe grew up on a cotton farm, the youngest of seven children. In the late 1960’s white signed with Monument Records. He recorded his first three albums all produced by the well known musician Billy Swan. White’s first full length album, Black and White, was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The album featured the song “Polk Salad Annie” as wellas a cover of “Witchita Lineman.”
White toured across the U.S. and throughout France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and England with major rock acts of the 1970s, Steppenwolf, Anne Murray, Sly & the Family Stone, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. In 1973, “The Swamp Fox” sat in on the sessions that would become Jerry Lee Lewis Southern Roots album.
In the 1990’s, Tony Joe White began a comeback by Producing and Performing with Tina Turner. Turner recorded the song, “Steamy Windows,” which was written by White. She also recorded 3 more songs by White on her album, Foreign Affair. White would spend the 90’s touring with Eric Clapton, and Joe Cocker. He also toured with Waylon Jennings.
Tina Turner recorded the song “On Silent Wings” in 1996 also written by White.
White died of a heart attack on October 24, 2018, at the age of 75.
“He wasn’t ill or nothing,” said his son Jody White, “ He just died of a heart attack.”
The posthumous album Smoke from the Chimney will be released May 7, 2021 on Easy Eye Sound. The album features nine vocal and guitar demo recordings of White, fully realized and arranged by producer Dan Auerbach. The tracks feature many top Nashville session players, including drummer Gene Chrisman, keyboardist Bobby Wood, bassist Dave Roe, guitarist Marcus King, and others.
The gators got your granny, woo hoo
Everybody said it was a shame
‘Cause her mama was a-working on a chain gang
Polk salad Annie….
Polk Salad Annie,