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Blind Willie McTell: “Statesboro Blues”

Statesboro Blues, a song that of course is familiar to contemporary music fans, is credited to Blind Willie McTell.

McTell is an interesting figure in the history of blues. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

“Blind Willie” McTell was one of the great blues musicians of the 1920s and 1930s. Displaying an extraordinary range on the twelve-string guitar, this Atlanta-based musician recorded more than 120 titles during fourteen recording sessions. His voice was soft and expressive, and his musical tastes were influenced by southern blues, ragtime, gospel, hillbilly, and popular music.

At a time when most blues musicians were poorly educated and rarely traveled, McTell was an exception. He could read and write music in Braille. He traveled often from Atlanta to New York City, frequently alone. As a person faced with a physical disability and social inequities, he expressed in his music a strong confidence in dealing with the everyday world.

As the bio says, his voice was surprisingly soft. Here are Searching the Desert for the Blues, Lonesome Day Blues and Lord, Send Me an AngelHere, for good measure, are versions of Statesboro Blues by Taj Mahal and The Allman Brothers.