Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who is that guy under `About Me?'

Charlie Patton (1891-1935) is a canonized unknown. If you've heard of him, chances are someone has tried to persuade you that he was great. The guitar and the voice scrape and rail against desperation. If you claim not to have heard of Charlie Patton, chances are you have no trace of awareness of him in your unconscious. There is no middle ground.
In 1900, Patton moved with his family to Dockery Farms in Mississippi, and he lived there at the same time with early Delta blues musicians -- Willie Brown, Tommy Johnson and Eddie James ``Son'' House. According to myth the Delta blues originated at Dockery. We know that Son House taught Muddy Waters slide guitar.
An image from Dockery is in the first video below.
I identify with Charlie Patton. Why? That's too personal a tale.
Here is Patton's ``Rattlesnake Blues:''
video
Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis and Howlin' Wolf took on the notion of a blues spoonful. Patton's ``Spoonful of Blues:''
video
Here are two wonderful Patton videos by SchwarzHee on YouTube. To make up for the existence of the only known photograph of Patton, SchwarzHee curated slide shows of Americans taken during about Patton's time. That many of them portray poverty suffered by black and white folks is significant.
``It Won't Be Long:''
video
``High Water Everywhere:''
video
I recommend ``Complete Recordings: 1929-1934.''

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