What kinda blues you got?

by mikeconklinmusic

The blues, which I consider to be an extension of the field holler and work song, was an immensely popular genre throughout the 1910s and 1920s. Many historians divide the style into two categories: country blues and classic (vaudeville) blues.

The earliest style, the country blues, was performed primarily by male musicians throughout the rural South (from the Mississippi Delta to the Carolinas). The form was loose, elastic, and improvisatory — suitable for creating a melodic line that carried the emotion of the performer.

W. C. Handy, known as the “Father of the Blues,” wrote in his autobiography of the experience of sleeping on a train while traveling through Mississippi and being awakened by:

… a lean, loose-jointed Negro [who] had commenced plucking a guitar beside me while I slept. His clothes were rags; his feet peeped out of his shoes. His face had on it some of the sadness of the ages. As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings in a manner popularised by Hawaiian guitarists who used steel bars. … The effect was unforgettable. His song, too, struck me instantly… The singer repeated the line (“Goin’ where the Southern cross’ the Dog”) three times, accompanying himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard.

A fine example of the country blues is Blind Lemon Jefferson and “Black Snake Moan.”

“Black Snake Moan”

I ain’t got no mama now
I ain’t got no mama now
She told me late last night, “You don’t need no mama no how”

Mmm, mmm, black snake crawlin’ in my room
Mmm, mmm, black snake crawlin’ in my room
Some pretty mama better come and get this black snake soon

Ohh-oh, that must have been a bed bug, baby a chinch can’t bite that hard
Ohh-oh, that must have been a bed bug, honey a chinch can’t bite that hard
Ask my sugar for fifty cents, she said “Lemon, ain’t a child in the yard”

Mama, that’s all right, mama that’s all right for you
Mama, that’s all right, mama that’s all right for you
Mama, that’s all right, most seen all you do

Mmm, mmm, what’s the matter now?
Mmm, mmm, honey what’s the matter now?
Sugar, what’s the matter, don’t like no black snake no how

Mmm, mmm, wonder where my black snake gone?
Mmm, mmm, wonder where this black snake gone?
Black snake mama done run my darlin’ home

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