Son House: Forever on my Mind (Easy Eye Sound)

 |   |  1 min read

Son House: Forever on my Mind (Easy Eye Sound)

When Mississippi-born Son House was rediscovered in the early 1960s, he was 62 when researchers tracked him down, working as a cook, on the skids through alcoholism, didn’t own a guitar and hadn’t played music for years.

But the renewed interest saw him touring again – with medication to control his senile tremors and after having been re-taught his own songs.

He appeared at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival and played many other high-profile dates, recorded again in 1970 but then retired four years later due to ill-health, although lived to 86.

His small but influential catalogue of Delta blues included the extraordinary Death Letter (covered by Cassandra Wilson, White Stripes and others) and the testifying John the Revelator adapted from Blind Willie Johnson (Gillian Welch, Tom Waits).

His music has an earthy honesty won in a hard life: he’d been a preacher, served time for murder, was married many times.

Now a cache of previously unreleased songs has arrived through the blues label Easy Eye Sound run by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys who has restored them from low-key recording sessions which took place shortly before House’s re-emergence. You sense he’s singing and playing for himself rather than the expectation of an audience.

Here mortality stalks his world in an even more lean and haunting Death Letter and the title track, there’s earthy cynicism on Preachin’ Blues(“I wanna be a Baptist preacher so I don’t have to work”) and his aching Levee Camp Moan.

Most of these songs will be familiar to blues aficionados, but these different versions give them new life.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues at Elsewhere articles index

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Singer-guitarist Taylor is nominally posted here under Blues in Elsewhere, but -- as always, see previous reviews here -- he doesn't easily fit into the prescription, broad though it might be.... > Read more

Tony Joe White: Bad Mouthin' (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Tony Joe White: Bad Mouthin' (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Those who go to Tony Joe White concerts are really into his music. They have to be because there is no “act”: He just sits down and plays guitar, often deep in shadow and wearing a head... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Elsewhere Art . . . Douglas Lilburn

Elsewhere Art . . . Douglas Lilburn

The remarkable Douglas Lilburn has appeared a couple of times at Elsewhere because of his musical curiousity and willingness to move from fairly traditional classical music through a specifically... > Read more

GUEST WRITER KEVIN BYRT recalls touring the strangely troubled Townes Van Zandt

GUEST WRITER KEVIN BYRT recalls touring the strangely troubled Townes Van Zandt

I first met Townes Van Zandt at Auckland airport in 1988. He and guitarist Mickey White were waiting on the pavement, Townes sitting on his suitcase and Mickey standing next to him. Even in that... > Read more