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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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The Red We Want Is The Red We Got: Elton Britt [1950]

A straight-ahead patriotic chest thumper, this song clearly defines the "right red" as the color in Old Glory and the "wrong red" as, well, one can probably guess.

Elton Britt was born James Baker, the youngest son of James M. and Martella Baker in the tiny town of Zack, Arkansas in 1913. 'Elton' was added to his name in honor of Dr. Elton Wilson, the physician who cared for the sickly child during the first year of his life. Britt was raised primarily in the Osage Hills of Oklahoma where his father James was a well-known fiddler. When Elton was still in grade school he was given a guitar from a mail order catalog and his father taught him to play. The child improved his skills by listening to country and western records, especially those of Jimmie Rodgers. Soon Elton was entertaining at neighborhood parties and dances.

In 1932 talent scouts came to town looking for a country artist who could sing and yodel. The scouts were referred to Elton who was plowing the fields. After listening to the 14-year-old sing, the agents signed him to a one-year contract at radio station KMPC in Los Angeles. While at KMPC, Elton played with a popular group called The Beverly Hill Billies and acquired his new surname of Britt, which was thought to sound more country than his given name.

In 1937 Britt began a long association with RCA Victor Records which produced such hits as Someday (1944), Detour (1946), and Quick Silver (1950). Britt's biggest hit was the supremely patriotic There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere (1942), which he co-wrote. The tune, which by the early '60s had sold more than four million copies, was the first country record to receive a Gold Record Award from the RIAA. Britt was so popular during the World War II era that he received a personal invitation from President Roosevelt to perform at the White House.

In between sporadic retirements from the music business, Britt pursued a variety of occupations, including uranium prospecting which he wrote a song about that is also included on this set. Throughout the '50s and '60s Britt performed on The Grand Ole Opry, WWVA's Wheeling Jamboree and the George Hamilton IV television program. In 1968 Britt had his last hit with The Jimmie Rodgers Blues. Britt died of a heart attack in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania in 1972.

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
The Red We Want Is The Red We Got: Elton Britt [1950]

We know the red we want is the red we've got
In the old red, white and blue
It's the right red, not the wrong red
And the old flag knows it, too

We've got a true blue red flying overhead
Waving free to see us through
The only red we want is the red we've got
In the old red, white and blue

We know the red we want is the red we've got
In the old red, white and blue
It's a brave red, not a slave red
That means liberty to you

We know the time's at hand
To strike up the band
Let us tell the whole world, too
The only red we want is the red we've got
In the old red, white and blue

Elton Britt [1950]
The Red We Want Is The Red We Got
(Jimmy Kennedy-Bickley Reichner)
RCA Victor 21-0381

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