365 Days of Album Recommendations – Feb 17

Charley Patton – The Complete Recordings 1929-1934 (Disc 1)


Charley Patton is the grandaddy of us all. He is the original fount from which all water flows. This is the voice. This is the rhythm. These are the songs. This is the guitar.

After Patton, only God.

The early country blues recordings have been remastered many times over in attempts to render them more listenable, less buried in static. Of all who’ve tried, my favorite is generally JSP. Their box sets of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, and more, are simply canonical; the Dead Sea Scrolls of this music.

This collection is a 5-CD set, so I have 4 more opportunities to recommend it. Today, I recommend Disc 1. Reading the track list is like reading the Psalms; how do you pick just one to live by?

1. Pony Blues
2. A Spoonful Blues
3. Down The Dirt Road Blues
4. Prayer Of Death: Part 1
5. Prayer Of Death: Part 2
6. Screamin’ And Hollerin’ The Blues
7. Banty Rooster Blues
8. Tom Rushen Blues
9. It Won’t Be Long
10. Shake It And Break It (But Don’t Let It Fall, Mama)
11. Pea Vine Blues
12. Mississippi Boll Weevil Blues
13. Lord, I’m Discouraged
14. I’m Goin’ Home

No use to hollerin’, no use to screamin’ an cryin’
You know you got a home, mama, long as I got mine

I think that’s one of the most beautiful pieces of lyric poetry ever composed. I honestly don’t give two fucks for anybody who doesn’t get this. Though I feel sorry for writers like Marybeth Hamilton (author of “In Search Of The Blues”) who are too hung up to be able to experience what’s right in front of them.

I think you just have to have a kind of country blues buddha wisdom to understand. This is enlightenment. There is no argument, no discussion, no right, no wrong. There only is. When you are young, when you have Beginner’s Mind, Charley Patton is Charley Patton, and the blues are the blues. Then as you grow, and start to think too much, and get clouded up in the grasping attachments of a clinging mind, Charley Patton is no longer Charley Patton, and the blues are no longer the blues. Then, finally, when you achieve enlightenment, when you have Zen Mind, Charley Patton is Charley Patton, and the blues are the blues.

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