Nobody Knows You When Your Down & Out


Bessie Smith


Composed by Jimmy Cox 1923


Blind Bobby Baker (Bobby Leecan) 1927

Pinetop Smith 1929

Bessie Smith 1929


When Smith's record was released on September 13, 1929 (a Friday), the lyrics turned out to be oddly prophetic. The New York stock market had reached an all-time high less than two weeks earlier, only to go into its biggest decline two weeks later in the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which signaled the beginning of the ten-year Great Depression.

Bessie Smith's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" became one of her biggest hits more than any other, is the song that most people associate with Bessie Smith.


Once I lived the life of a millionaire

Spent all my money I didn't care

Taking my friend out for a might time

Bough boot leg liquor champagne and wine


Then I began to fall so low

I didn't have no friends no place to go

If I ever get my hands on a dollar again

Going to hold on to it till that eagle grins


No noboby knows you when your down and out

In your pocket not one penny

As for friends you don't have any


But as soon as you get back on your feet again

Everybody wants to be your long lost friend

It's might strange without a doubt

Nobody know you when your down and out