Americana artist Grant Maloy Smith premieres track on anniversary of Old Black Roller
On April 14, 1935, the American Great Plains witnessed a devastating natural disaster — the largest dust storm known as Old Black Roller. Today is the 82nd anniversary of that historic day “Old Black Roller” slammed the Midwest, and American roots artist, Grant Maloy Smith, has a song that recounts the tale. The repetitiveness of the title, “O-o-ld Bla-a-ck Roller” in a minor key portrays the heaviness of this grim period. The song speeds up towards the end, giving the impression of a frenzied storm engulfing us.
Smith originally began writing the song after doing some research about the Dust Bowl. After spending days reading more about the history, his fascination grew into a desire to make his whole album about the Dust Bowl. As he recalls, “I tossed out most of the songs I had already written and started over again. I spent the next solid year writing songs about those days, based on my research. My approach was that I was scoring a movie, but the movie was real history.”
After stumbling upon an old Scottish folk song, the words and melody to Smith’s song, “Old Black Roller,” poured out of him in minutes. The lyrics so poignantly give glimpses of this horrific time when drought and the Great Depression plagued Americans for years. And thanks to Smith’s diligent research, we can actually see some of those scenes from that historic time in his music video for the song (watch below).
Smith says, “I wanted my character to be singing to the oncoming storm, as if it were a living monster. At the same time I wanted the listener to feel the resolute bravery in those people. They really were hard as horse shoe nails.”
“Old Black Roller” is from Smith’s upcoming album, Dust Bowl – American Stories, out on June 1, 2017. Fans can pre-order an autographed copy of the album at http://www.grant-maloy-smith.com/