THE WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY

(Dorsey Dixon)

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The classic "Wreck on the Highway," written by Dorsey in late 1937 after a serious road accident near Rockingham [NC], was originally recorded under the title "Didn't Hear Nobody Pray" [Charlotte, NC, Jan 25, 1938]. This was eventually recorded by [Chicago radio duo Karl and Harty in 1940 and by] Roy Acuff in 1942 [Hollywood, CA, May 28, 1942] under the title "Wreck On The Highway" (Co 37028 [Okeh 06585]).
Not until 1946 was Dorsey able to convince Fred Rose of Acuff-Rose, who published the song, of his ownership. In May of that year credit was assigned to him but the royalties from the initial sales of the records were lost....

Mike Paris, "The Dixons of North Carolina," Old Time Music 10, Autumn 1973, London, GB, p. 14.
Additional info (in square brackets) by Manfred Helfert, 1978.

Lyrics as performed by Dorsey Dixon, Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI, 1963, transcribed by Manfred Helfert.

I'm gonna give you "The Wreck on the Highway," all the verses -- just like I wrote it...

Who did you say it was, brother?
Who was it fell by the way?
When whiskey and blood run together
Did you hear anyone pray?

Their names I'm not able to tell you,
But here is one thing I can say:
There were whiskey and blood mixed together,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.
When I heard the crash on the highway,
I knew what it was from the start;
I went to the scene of destruction
A picture was stamped on my heart.

Whiskey and glass all together,
Was mixed up with blood where they lay.
Death played her hand in destruction,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.
I wish I could change this sad story
That I am now telling you;
But there is no way I can change it,
Somebody's life is now through.

Their soul has been nursed by the Master,
They died in a crash on their way.
I heard the groans of the dying,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.
Give up the game an' stop drinking,
For Jesus is pleading with you. It cost him a lot in redeeming, Redeeming the promise for you.

Hit'll [sic] be too late if tomorrow
You'll fall by a crash by the way,
With whiskey and blood all around you,
And you can't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

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