Geeshie Wylie and Elvie Thomas: Last Kind Word Blues (1930)

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Geeshie Wylie and Elvie Thomas: Last Kind Word Blues (1930)

The mysterious Geeshie Wylie has appeared previously pulled From the Vaults with Skinny Leg Blues, the B-side of Last Kind Word Blues.

As we mentioned then she recorded just six songs (that we know of) and there are few confirmed photographs of her. Seemingly just two at best.

It's believed that she was of the Gullah people in Georgia and South Carolina and it's fairly certain Geeshie wasn't her real name.

So an enigma wrapped in mystery.

But her few recordings have endured where she accompanied by guitarist Elvie Thomas: Rhiannon Giddens recorded this for her Tomorrow is My Turn album in 2015 (as Last Kind Words) and a few years ago Alison Krauss and Robert Plant recorded a version of this for their Raise the Roof album.

Typically death is the theme, Wylie lived at a time when an early grave beckoned for so many.

In this instance it is autobiographical about her father going off to World War I (“If I die in the German war”) and his request that his body would be sent home, probably by train on the last leg.

And then the subject slips to the mother waiting for the train and contemplating her own death, and her words to Geeshie: “I may not see you after I cross the deep blue sea”.

The mystery of Wylie's life only enhances the strange atmosphere of the song and story she tells.

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For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults



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Derek Jacombs - Dec 6, 2023

Damn but I haven't heard that in a while. Fantastic. Love that tune and just wanted to say "Thank You" for posting it. Clearly from the same stable as 'Mine's All Troubled Blues' (Gary Davis / Blind Boy Fuller) and some others where the structure finishes with a major chord and then reverts to a minor for the first line. Bloody wonderful.

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