Blues Traveling: The Holy Sites of Delta Blues

Blues Traveling: The Holy Sites of Delta Blues

Blues Traveling: The Holy Sites of Delta Blues

Blues Traveling: The Holy Sites of Delta Blues

Synopsis

Updated and expanded, this indispensable guidebook maps out the blues birthplaces, juke joints and crossroads of the Mississippi Delta.

Excerpt

Perhaps the first “blues traveler” in Mississippi was the Harvard archaeologist Charles Peabody, who dug up an Indian mound near Clarksdale in 1901–1902. He looked up from the ground and took careful note of the local black workers' songs.

As Peabody reported in an article he wrote for a folklore journal, the workers sang almost constantly during the day and as they relaxed in the evening. They sang hymns, ragtime pieces, and (what most interested Peabody) “improvisations in rhythm more or less phrased, sung to an intoning more or less approaching melody.” the lyrics of those songs were “'hard luck' tales (very often), love themes, suggestions anticipative and reminiscent of favorite occupations and amusements.” If that wasn't the blues, it certainly was close. Among the verses he recorded in his notes are some that have become familiar blues lines:

They had me arrested for murder and I never harmed a man

The reason I loves my baby so 'Cause when she gets five dollars she give me fo'.

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