Tag Archives: Blind Willie McTell

365 Days of Album Recommendations – Dec 8

Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3


Dylan’s peculiar genius is maddening, and possibly never more so than on this collection. Whether it’s his preternatural ability—at such a young age—to deliver a masterpiece performance like “He Was A Friend Of Mine,” or the fact that it turns out he was recording incredible work like “Blind Willie McTell” at a time when we despaired that he’d ever write anything good again (i STILL can’t fathom why he’d leave the recording on the cutting room floor), Dylan has been confounding and delighting us for so many decades it’s virtually impossible to remember he’s actually just another mortal like the rest of us. Admittedly, as these recordings make clear, a bizarrely talented mortal, but a mortal all the same.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Aug 2

Blind Willie McTell – Classic Years: 1927-1940 (Disc 1)


Bob Dylan said it. I agree with it. That settles it.

No one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell

And, no one can remaster the blues like JSP.

I think I own every single country blues remaster project that JSP has ever done. I love ’em that much.

And yes, I’m reviewing the set a disc at a time, cuz there’s just too much good stuff on each one.

Disc: 1
1. Writin’ Paper Blues
2. Stole Rider Blues
3. Mama, ‘Tain’t Long Fo’ Day
4. Mr. McTell Got The Blues
5. Mr. McTell Got The Blues
6. Three Women Blues
7. Dark Night Blues
8. Statesboro Blues
9. Loving Talking Blues
10. Atlanta Strut
11. Travelin’ Blues
12. Come On Around To My House Mama
13. Kind Mama
14. Teasing Brown
15. Drive Away Blues
16. This Is Not The Stove To Brown Your Bread
17. Love Changing Blues
18. Talkin’ To Myself
19. Razor Ball
20. Southern Can Is Mine
21. Broke Down Engine Blues
22. Stomp Down Rider
23. Scarey Day Blues

Yeah, everybody knows Statesboro Blues, because of the version by The Allman Brothers. But that version sucks. At least, as a “version” it does. On its own, it’s a personally reasonable song. But as a “version” of the Willie McTell song, it sucks. If you get my drift.

And anyhow, what about Mama, ‘Tain’t Long Fo’ Day? If that song don’t break your heart, your heart must be dead.

365 Days of Album Recommendations – Feb 5 [Super Bowl Edition]

Blind Willie McTell – Last Sessions


Super Bowl edition? Yeah, that’s right. A lot of you out there think you’re going to be rooting for the “underdog” from Atlanta today, right?

Well, you can tell yourself that’s what you’re doing, but you’re not.

If you REALLY want to show some love for the truly talented underdog from Atlanta, turn the fucking TV off and go listen to Blind WillieMcTell.

The fact that, as a nation, we allowed a man of this much talent, beauty, grace, skill, and power to disappear into the rotten mists of a racist, classist time is literally a sin.

For my money, Blind Willie McTell should be required listening for every schoolkid in the country. Aspiring songwriters should be forced to live with his compositions as aspiring monks do with Koans—until they can show they understand. You shouldn’t be allowed to step foot on a blues club stage if you can’t express something in honor of Blind Willie McTell.

But that’s not the case. Instead, the performances collected here were recorded by a record store owner who saw Willie McTell playing on the street for change, and thought he recognized him as the legendary country blues singer whose songs he so prized, from a heyday that never materialized.

These aren’t the best recordings of Blind Willie McTell. But if you have a heart, these recordings will break it. He’d be dead in three years, but you wouldn’t know it. The man’s talent is just bone-chillingly real, so clear, so magic.  Atlanta’s forgotten genius. He wasn’t actually born there, but it’s where he spent most of his years. Atlanta’s forgotten genius.

He died just a few short years before the “folk revival” of the 60s began. If he’d have made it to 1964, maybe he, like Mississippi John Hurt, could have had a new chance in the coffee houses. But alas, it wasn’t to be. He’d been too poor, too sick, too disadvantaged, too long.

So today, if you really want to be a patriot, or if you really want to root for an underdog from Atlanta, skip the capitalist charade, and pay tribute instead to a real American hero.


Rollin’ the PreachSongs Dice


Tonight, Virgil and I, we gon’ jus’ roll the dice, and see what songs come up. Recent “set lists” (in quotes of course, cuz they’re not exactly planned!) have included songs from just about every Preacher Boy album over the last 20 years (including some I’ve NEVER played live before), plus a whole slew of groovy ol’ country blues gems and other Preachorum Obscurata. Here’s just a sampling:


The Cross Must Move & Dead, Boy (from Preacher Boy and the Natural Blues, Blind Pig Records)

Ugly & In The Darkened Night (from Gutters & Pews, Blind Pig Records)

Old Jim Granger & Rollin’ Stone (from The Tenderloin EP, Blind Pig Records, Wah Tup Records)

Black Crow & Coal Black Dirt Sky (from Crow, Wah Tup Records)

The Dogs & At The Corner Of The Top And The Bottom (from The Devil’s Buttermilk, Manifesto Records)

A Little Better When It Rains & One-Way Turnstile (from Demanding To Be Next, Coast Road Records)

A Person’s Mind & A Little More Evil (from The National Blues, Coast Road Records)




Mama, Let Me Play With Your Yo-Yo (Blind Willie McTell)

Stagolee (Mississippi John Hurt)

Levee Camp Blues (Mississippi Fred McDowell)

Milk Cow Blues (Kokomo Arnold)

I Just Hang Down My Head And I Cry (Mance Lipscomb)

Diving Duck Blues (Sleepy John Estes)

Fixin’ To Die (Bukka White)

Preachin’ Blues (Son House)

Spoonful (Charley Patton)

Maggie Campbell (Tommy Johnson)


And more, and more, and more!




You Gonna Need Me Some Ol’ Cold Winter Day


Boots to the floor, national in my hands, and my good friend Dr. Virgil Thrasher on my right side. That’s how the night began, and that’s how the evenin’ ended…

And I put the slide to brass, I said I put the slide to brass, and Virgil put them reeds to lips, and Virgil put them reeds to lips and that’s how the night began, and that’s how the evenin’ ended…

Some nights you work your favorites, try and turn ’em inside out, upside down, shake ’em out, to see what secrets they might hold for you that evenin…

Other nights you pull deep into the fedora, see what’s down there in that cavern, see what songs are rattlin’ roundin your sonic sound spelunk for that evenin’

This night was one of the latter sort of evenin’… lots a songs was rattlin’ round the caverns…

So here’s some fresh, raw recordin’ of some live tracks from the evenin… this was Thursday, three September, at the ‘Q…  Aptos St BBQ, that is…

First up, a lil’ somethin’ called:

Cornbread (never yet been released: lyrics at the conclusion of this post)

Then, quite the lil’ rarity for a Preacher Boy set, an arrangement of:

Cold Winter Day (learned from a recording by Blind Willie McTell)

followed by a fine performance from Virgil on a poppin lil’ rendo of There Go John

And finally, a new live performance of a never been released PB song that actually was debuted at ASBBQ back in September of 2014, a lil’ thing called:

Blister & A Bottle Cap (never yet been released)


Here’s them lyrics I promised ya:


peggie sat cross-legged in her tri-cornered hat
with a barbie and a gi joe, playin ball and jacks
and the sun went from touchin’ ground to straddlin’ north and south
to settlin’ on the roof of mr. beckman’s house

and when the sun went down, janie’s mother put her hands
in the shape of a megaphone and she yelled hard as she can

she yelled “come on honey, come home now, i got a big surprise
there’s fresh butter from the dairy, and the cornbread’s on the rise

now, maxwell ran lap after lap around the ol back-stop
with a baseball glove in one hand, in the other soda pop
autumn sunshine and moonlight shared a dusky place
and there were shadows and a tan competin over maxwell’s face

and when the clock hit seven maxwells papa pulled his pipe
from tween his yella teeth so he could holler into the night

he hollered “come on sonny, come home now, i got a big surprise
there’s fresh butter from the dairy, and the cornbread’s on the rise

i like a little bit of butter, on my cornbread…

jake drew orphan jenny motorcycle pictures everyday
and he passed em to her during class when the teacher turned away
at recess and after school and all the week-end long
they’d sit up together on the beckman’s fence and pretend they was ridin on

and jake’s ma would come around to fetch her son for supper
and she’d tell that orphan jenny she was welcome to come over

she’d say “come on honey, come home now, i got a big surprise
there’s fresh butter from the dairy, and the cornbread’s on the rise

I like a lil’ bit of butter, on my cornbread…

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