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Rev. Gary Davis: “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”

The Daily Music Break periodically re-posts older content. This pretty remarkable video originally appeared on April 27, 2012.

This video becomes very interesting soon after the one minute mark.

The Rev. Gary Davis–whose 116th birthday is next Monday–was one of the main bridges that connected the African-American blues performers of the 1930s and 1940s with the mostly white generation of rock and folk performers who now are elder statesmen themselves or already are gone.

Davis had perhaps his greatest influence on Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. His songs also were performed by The Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, David Bromberg, Dave Van Ronk and others.

Here is a bio of Davis, a discography and what seems like a partial list of covers of his work.

His most popular songs include Cocaine Blues, the traditional If I Had My Way, Hesitation Blues and Sally, Where’d You Get Your Liquor From?  This version of Candyman, unfortunately, is an instrumental. Hot Tuna’s version has the lyrics.


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The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.