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Monday, 2 May 2011

Son House Music

This floored me when I first heard it, many years ago now- Son House, Mississippi bluesman, singing John the Revelator, just his hollering voice and handclaps. A track where you can hear the spit against the microphone and he could be in the room with you. Since then I've seen Wild Billy Childish perform this song live, his estuary English vowels shifting the song from the Mississipppi Delta to the Thames Delta. I've sometimes wondered whether a machine version could work- electronic handclaps and robotic voice- but never tried it. My idea that incidentally, if a version goes top 40 this summer.

Son House began recording in the 1920s and when The Great Depression scuppered his career he drifted into obscurity, only to be rediscovered decades later. In between he spent two years in prison after killing a man who had gone on a shooting spree in a juke joint. Son had been wounded in the leg, and shot the gunman. He was sentenced to fifteen years and served two. In 1941 he was recorded by John and Alan Lomax during their field recordings for the Library of Congress road trip, but he went undiscovered until the mid 60s when he became part of the blues boom sparked off by the British Invasion bands (he was working as a railroad porter in New York State at the time). Married five times, he died in 1988.

14 John the Revelator.wma

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