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.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I hope John Hurt really went to live with Jesus

Like my purchase of the incredible Son House album Father of the Delta Blues, my purchase of The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt was a random purchase at Fantasyland Records that ended up netting me one of my favorite artists. Sunday mornings when I was in school and my roommate was away, I would tie up the hammock on the porch, bring out a six pack of Mickey's, and listen to it on endless loop. Like Nick Drake, Astrud Gilberto, or the Shins, Mississippi John Hurt made perfect Sunday morning albums - the kind that make the perfect soundtrack for reflective showers, egg cooking, paper reading, hammock swinging Sundays, which is how they're meant to be spent.

His voice and relaxed picking style is gentle and soothing. Not to sound like some douchebag new age hippie retard, but it centers me. It's the kind of music you simultaneously can't ignore and can't help but think of everything else. Even when he sings "took my gun and broke the bough down/Put that joker six feet in the ground," it feels like a nursery lullaby.

One of the things that strikes me the most about Hurt is the fact that when you compare his early 20's recordings and his later 60's recordings (common for many of the folkies/bluesmen "rediscovered" during the roots music revival of the 60's) and they sound basically the same. With the evolution of the blues over the course of the WWII and post-war era, such as the introduction of electric guitars and adoption of Texas-style band-based blues as a more standard motif, many early bluesmen had changed with the times in order to continue to appeal to the juke joint and country barroom crowds. When his records bombed in the 20's, Hurt went back to sharecropping and playing the occasional party, essentially preserving his approach from prevailing trends.

After Tom Hoskins tracked him down in the 60's (and got him to play a now-renowned set at the Newport Folk Festival), Hurt actually became something of a cause celebre amongst the collegiate folkie set, playing colleges, concert halls, and even the Tonight Show.

I can't encourage you enough to check Hurt out, especially his later output (including the killer live album he put out on Vanguard). Listen to "Ain't No Tellin'" and "Louis Collins" and tell me if you can hear a difference besides sound quality to later songs like "I Can't Be Satisfied," "Keep On Knocking" (later played by Little Richard and the Sonics) and "Since I've Laid My Burden Down," which is one of my favorites songs of all time, bar none.

Ain't No Tellin':

Louis Collins:

Since I've Laid My Burden Down:

I Can't Be Satisfied:

Keep on Knocking:


Blogger Jallen said...

The sixties trend of digging up obscure blues dudes and putting 'em in a fancy recording studio produced some gems, like the electric Muddy stuff...course, it didn't do a lot of the guys justice.

It's kind of like what's going on with the free folk stuff these days. Guys like Devendra Banhart Animal Collective, Ben Chasny, and the whole Drag City bunch are digging up old weird-folk people like Vashti Bunyun, Bert Jansch, Gary Higgins, Bill Fay and Karen Dalton (albeit posthumously in her case) and exposing their influences to a whole new generation).

Righteous post duder, and boy are you right about Nick Drake being good for Sunday mornings! If "Fly" doesn't do it for you, what will?

12:40 AM

Anonymous Vangie said...

Interesting to know.

8:10 AM


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