Geeshie Wylie: Skinny Leg Blues (1930)

 |   |  <1 min read

Geeshie Wylie: Skinny Leg Blues (1930)

Blues singer Geeshie Wylie -- probably not her real name, more likely a nickname because she was of the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia -- recorded even fewer songs than Robert Johnson.

Just six known recordings and no photograph of her exists either.

She may have been with a traveling medicine show in the Twenties but, other than her recordings in an 18 month period, not much else is known about her. Not her birthplace, nor when or where she died.

However as critic Don Kent notes, she was around just at the time that black secular music was coalescing into the blues, as you can hear on this scratchy recording lifted from the original 78. (This is taken from the excellent set The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of which comes with fascinating liner notes and Robert Crumb illustrations.)

Interesting too that Wylie recorded with another woman, the guitarist Elvie Thomas.

There is a power to both Thomas' playing -- in the dark swoops and off beat rhythms -- and Wylie's vocal which brings sex and menace to her delivery of lyrics which are about . . . well, sex and menace and murder actually.

"Nick Cave to the operating theatre, please." 

For more one-offs, oddities or song with an interesting backstory check the regular updates From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Pine Top Smith: Pine Top Boogie (1928)

Pine Top Smith: Pine Top Boogie (1928)

Aside from this being considered one of the first, if not the first, reference to "boogie woogie", there are a number of other interesting things about this recording by the pianist... > Read more

The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night (1966)

The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night (1966)

Recorded at the end of 1966 and almost tipping into the US top 10 in January of the following year, this implosion of garageband rock, backwards guitar and tripped out intentions ushered in a year... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

FISTFUL OF VINYL: Records ride back over the horizon

FISTFUL OF VINYL: Records ride back over the horizon

A true coincidence? Within half an hour of speaking with my son in London about some wonderful on-line world which allows streaming access to what seems like a billion songs, a familiarly shaped... > Read more

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI INTERVIEWED (2000): The angry old man

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI INTERVIEWED (2000): The angry old man

Lawrence Ferlinghetti sounds in feisty spirit. Indeed, my call to his famous City Lights bookshop in San Francisco finds the 81-year-old deeply irritated, if not to say downright angry.It's all... > Read more