This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bessie Smith and my own good taste

I've started a new job, one which kicks so much ass that I don't even know how to describe it. Part of it involves my own office (which will soon be adorned with Clash posters and a dartboard) where I can kick out whatever jams I want. It's a nice change of pace from where I normally work, where a lot of the stuff I play gets odd looks from co-workers, especially those that regard pre-war music as some kind of novelty warrenting a smirk. Sorry for thinking Charley Patton is more interesting to listen to than the Fray, you soulless freaks. I'm sure I'll see you bopping to Flock of Seagulls at some shithole would-be TGI Fridays months from now.

Huh, whuzzat? Yeah, that most tenuous of intros was my way of introducing Bessie Smith, one of the best singers of any era of recorded music, regardless of genre. Not too many singers can claim to influence people 70 years after they drop dead, but Bessie's a big bright exception. Less bombastic than Aretha, more seductive than Christina, she had the voice that make drunks cry and prudes lust.

Raised by her sister after her preacher father and housewife mother died, Bessie and her brother busked in Chattanooga to bring some many back home. She joined a travelling troupe at age 20, starting as a dancer because they already had Ma Rainey as a singer (what're the fucking odds?). She set out as her own act in Atlanta (shout outs to the dirty dirty!), hitting it relatively big when Okeh Records came calling in 1923. She ended up becoming one of the most successful recording artists of the day, recording more than 160 sides and finding small roles in Broadway and film (unusual for black woman of the period) before succumbing to injuries suffered in an auto accident. (Waitaminnit, that's how Jack Johnson died. Must be a conspiracy! Call Jesse!)

For anyone with a goddamned soul.

Jailhouse Blues:

Take Me For a Buggy Ride:

After You've Gone:

Careless Love:

Empty Bed Blues:

'Tain;t Nobody's Business If I Do:


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