The Blues and Leadbelly
To: Carlos Amantea


RE: The Blues

I read with interest the Vol. I page 125, of The Noisiest Book Review in the Known World, dealing with the origin of American Blues [also to be found at In Search of the Blues ]. Leadbelly --- Hudie Ledbetter --- was one of my early heroes when I was in high school in the fifties. I played the guitar from the time I was nine years old, pretty much self-taught with the aid of a Mel Bay guitar chords book. I got hold of a Folkways LP featuring Leadbelly and another with Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. This was my introduction to folk and Southern blues, etc.

I loved it all and still do. One of Leadbelly's stories was of his growing up in his mother's (or grandmother's) whorehouse. He would carry hot towels to the rooms occupied by the girls and their gentlemen customers. The house operated at all hours of the day and night, Leadbelly says he finally asked his mother, "Mamma don't these folks ever go home an get nothin' to eat?"

A modern throwback to country blues are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Two of my favorite songs of theirs are "One More Dollar" and "Knuckleball Catcher." On YouTube you can also find their version of a Townes van Zant song, "Loretta."

    Loretta, she's my bar room girl
    Wears them sevens on her sleeve
    Dances like a diamond shines
    Tells me lies I love to believe
    Her age is only twenty-two
    Her dancing eyes a hazel hue
    Spends my money like water falls
    Loves me like I want her to

Great song. Great review. Carry on.

--- jff
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