Monday, May 28, 2007

Re-discovering Mississippi...Again

"Avalon's my home town / always on my mind"

If Nick Drake were a black farm hand in Mississippi in 1920 his name would be Mississippi John Hurt. I rolled the dice today at the record store and picked a random blues album (I liked the name): Mississippi John Hurt - Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings.

Hurt recorded briefly for OKeh in 1928 before the depression forced them to shut their doors, sending Hurt back to the farm and into obscurity. In 1963, folk musicologist Tom Hoskins tracked down Hurt, then 71, and convinced him to move to DC to pursue his music career. Timely performances and three new records for Vanguard helped Hurt gain new fans and, until his death in 1966, remain extremely popular.

The tracks below are from Avalon Blues (1928), Today! (1966), and The Immortal (1967). It's hard to believe there's almost 40 years between the recordings. Hurt's voice seems more mature and patient on his re-recordings and his unique finger-picking is surpisingly as delicate and powerful as the originals.

Mississippi John Hurt - Frankie [1928]
Mississippi John Hurt - Got the Blues (Can't be Satisfied) [1928]
Mississippi John Hurt - I Got the Blues and I Can't be Satisfied [1967]
Mississippi John Hurt - Pay Day [1966]

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