I've become obsessed with blues music this past year, and this obsession has fostered an interest in American roots music in general, including folk, bluegrass, and old-time. I hardly listen to anything else now, except for jazz when I'm using my iPod, but mainly because I've been too lazy to update it with my blues collection. I can imagine that in a year or two, I'll be back to my musical base, listening to jazz and soul, but I think blues is now part of that base. Almost everything that is good about American music has some of its roots in the blues, and this is doubly true for people like me who have a particular interest in Black music traditions.
There are a lot of artists I didn't include below. For example, all the Skip James music I have is from his early days, and not as alluring as his later material. I also don't have mp3 albums of some of my favorite artists, such as T-Bone Walker, and I'm too lazy to convert my vinyl just for a blog post (you can't listen to that T-Bone Walker song though without feeling your heart get ten times heavier). Lastly, I'm learning how to play blues harmonica, and I suspect I like artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Terry largely because of how they play the blues harp. Thus, I decided not to bore people with a harmonica heavy post. I did include Little Walter though, who was an incredible innovator on the blues harp, but unfortunately I don't have an album that features his most famous song (which was played in one of my favorite movie scenes this year). Thus, the albums below aren't a real introduction to the best of blues, but they're some good albums.
Another few caveats: I don't have a good version of Big Joe Williams' most famous song, but you can view a wonderful performance of it here. Also, the first album I've listed is obviously not blues, but I'm including it here anyway because I don't know when I'll do my next music post. The Roscoe album is also not blues, but I'm hoping it will introduce you to the amazing traditions of Appalachian music, if you're not already familiar with it.
In a funny way, I think the links I've provided above give you a better sense of the beauty of the blues, but at least the links below will give you something you can put on your iPod.
As always, the password for these albums is Chasing.Red. That's two words, two capitalizations, and two periods. Enjoy.
Song: Tonight You Belong To Me by Patience and Prudence
Song: Born Too Late by The Poni-Tails
Album: Great Ladies of Rock & Roll, the '50s by Various Artists
Song: Down in the Bottoms by Big Joe Williams
Song: Poor Beggar by Big Joe Williams
Album: Blues on Highway 49 by Big Joe Williams
Song: Baby Please Don't Go by Big Joe Williams
Song: '56 Plymouth by Big Joe Williams
Album: These Are My Blues by Big Joe Williams
Song: House in New Orleans by Roscoe Holcomb
Song: Boat's Up The River by Roscoe Holcomb
Album: The High Lonesome Sound by Roscoe Holcomb
Song: I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow by Roscoe Holcomb
Song: Mississippi Heavy Water Blues by Roscoe Holcomb
Album: An Untamed Sense of Control by Roscoe Holcomb
Song: Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotten
Song: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad by Elizabeth Cotten
Album: Concert at Euphoria Tavern in Portland, Oregon by Elizabeth Cotten
Song: Nervous by Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim
Album: Willie's Blues by Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim
Song: Smokestack Lightnin' by Howlin' Wolf
Song: Spoonful by Howlin' Wolf
Album: The Very Best of Howlin' Wolf by Howlin' Wolf
Song: Ground Hog Blues by John Lee Hooker
Song: Leave My Wife Alone by John Lee Hooker
Album: His Best Chess Sides by John Lee Hooker
Song: I Got To Find My Baby by Little Walter
Song: Just a Feelin' by Little Walter
Album: Confessin' the Blues by Little Walter