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Son House: “Death Letter Blues” and “John the Revelator”

Son House is unique, even among the old blues players. The song below — John the Revelator — is like watching history. Death Letter Blues is above.

Here is how his Wikipedia profile starts:

Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. (March 21, 1902 (?) [1][2] – October 19, 1988) near Clarksdale, Mississippi was an American blues singer and guitarist, noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing.

After years of hostility to secular music, as a preacher, and for a few years also as a church pastor, he turned to blues performance at the age of 25. He quickly developed a unique style by applying the rhythmic drive, vocal power and emotional intensity of his preaching to the newly learned idiom. In a short career interrupted by a spell in Parchman Farm penitentiary, he developed to the point that Charley Patton, the foremost blues artist of the Mississippi Delta region, invited him to share engagements, and to accompany him to a 1930 recording session for Paramount Records. (Continue Reading…)

Here is more on House, including a bit about the stay at Parchman — though it offers no details on the murder:

Born near Lyon, Mississippi, March 21, 1902, Son House chopped cotton as a teenager while developing a passion for the Baptist church. He delivered his first sermon at the age of fifteen and within five years was the pastor of a small country church south of Lyon. His fall from the church was a result of an affair with a woman ten years his senior, whom he followed home to Louisiana. By 1926, House had returned to the Lyon area and began playing guitar under the tutelage of an obscure local musician named James McCoy. He developed quickly as a guitarist; within a year he had fallen in with Delta musician Rube Lacy and began emulating his slide guitar style. House shot and killed a man during a house party near Lyon in 1928. He was sentenced to work on Parchman Farm, but was released within two years after a judge in Clarksdale re-examined the case. Having been advised by the judge to leave the Clarksdale vicinity, House relocated to Lula and there met bluesman Charley Patton while playing at the Lula railroad depot for tips.

Here’s What’s Here

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)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

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.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵


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.

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