"Dallas Blues", written by Hart Wand, is an early blues song, first published in 1912. It has been called the first true blues tune ever published. However, two other 12-bar blues had been published earlier: Anthony Maggio's "I Got the Blues" in 1908 and "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", a Tin Pan Alley song whose first verse is twelve-bar blues, in 1911. Also, two other songs with "Blues" in their titles were published in 1912: "Baby Seals Blues" (August 1912), a vaudeville tune written by Franklin "Baby" Seals, and "The Memphis Blues", written by W.C. Handy (September 1912). Neither, however, were genuine blues songs.
The blues was originally published as an instrumental. In 1918, Lloyd Garrett added lyrics to express the singer's longing for Dallas:
There's a place I know, folks won't pass me by
Dallas, Texas, that's the town, I cry, oh hear me cry
And I'm going back, going back to stay there 'til I die, until I die
No date is found for the actual composition of "Dallas Blues" but Samuel Charters, who interviewed Wand for his book The Country Blues (1959), states that Wand took the tune to a piano-playing friend, Annabelle Robbins, who arranged the music for him. Charters added that the title came from one of Wand's father's workmen who remarked that the tune gave him the blues to go back to Dallas. Since Wand's father died in 1909, the actual composition must have predated that.
In any case, within weeks of its publication it was heard the length of the Mississippi River, and its influence on all the blues music that followed is well documented.
^Davis, The History of the Blues, p. 59: "But in a sense, the very first blues was the twelve-bar opening verse to the pop song "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," which was published in 1911."
^Davis, The History of the Blues, p. 59: "The composer of the very first copyright 'blues' was Hart Wand, a white Oklahoma violinist and bandleader whose 'Dallas Blues' was so named because its melody gave a black porter who worked for Wand's family 'the blues to go back to Dallas.' This was followed a few months later by 'Baby Seal Blues', a negligible item by the black vaudeville performer Arthur 'Baby' Seals and ragtime pianist Arthur Matthews."
^Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 12. ISBN1-85868-255-X.
^Charters, The Country Blues, pp. 34-35: "The first was Hart Wand's 'Dallas Blues,' published in March; the second was Arthur Seals's 'Baby Seals' Blues,' published in August; Handy finally brought out his blues in September. Both Handy and Arthur Seals were Negroes, but the music that they titled 'blues' is more or less derived from the standard popular musical styles of the 'coon-song' and 'cake-walk' type. It is ironic the first published piece in the Negro "blues idiom, 'Dallas Blues,' was by a white man, Hart Wand."
^Jasen, A Century of American Popular Music, p. 45: "Dallas Blues"; Wand Publishing Co.—Oklahoma City, 1912; Probably the first published blues number. Words were added (by Lloyd Garrett in 1918). Although a favorite of dance and jazz bands, Ted Lewis and His Band had the number 7 hit in 1931, with Fats Waller as vocalist (Columbia 2527-D).