In covering the dismal genre known as the southern death story ballad, inevitably the mysterious B. Barrett comes up in connection with the devastating saga of "Little Marion Parker". The song was processed through a maze-like collection of New York song publishing and recording enterprises in the late '20s. It was an era when all time masterpieces of American music were being recorded by the likes of James P. Johnson, King Oliver and Ethel Waters, just to name a few. It was also a time when some of the worst songs of all time were at least published, if not recorded. Fantastic or vile, a great deal of the material was being purchased at the rate of a buck a song by speculators who sometimes administered a dozen different publishing houses out of one office. Exactly how much the author of "Little Marion Parker", whose real identity will be revealed shortly, was paid for this song is not known. In terms of quality, the song ranked with the best material handled by publishers such as Triangle or Aloha, and because of its southern feel and morbid mountain music philosophy it is sometimes assumed to be of traditional Appalachian ancestry rather than the work of one particular songwriter.
"Little Marion Parker, however, is not a traditional folk song, although it certainly is the type of song composition that is designed in reference or even in tribute to such material. It was also not written by a distant ancestor of Syd Barrett, nor does the composer of the song have anything to do with the multitude of people with the surname Barrett in the gospel music field. The latter assumption can at least be considered logical, since Appalachian death songs and gospel music have much in common. B. Barrett is further not the same person as the equally mysterious Barrett Barrett, although in a sense maybe he actually is. Barrett Barrett is even more of a mystery than B. Barrett, since the latter Barrett is actually no mystery at all. B. Barrett and Barrett Barrett could be considered identical in that neither actually existed as a person, and in that Barrett Barrett's entire existence on the face of the earth is most likely as a misprint in reference to B. Barrett, who on the other hand is a pseudonym, not just a misprint. "Little Marion Parker" was actually written by Carson Robison, a superb historic recording artist whose material included cowboy songs, Tin Pan Alley ditties, some light jazz and enough great songs in the style of traditional Appalachian music to earn him the nickname "the grandaddy of the hillbillies". He also wrote and published the famous "A Mother's Plea" around this time, but used his own name for that.