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

Toni Basil: Nobody (1982)

Toni Basil: Nobody (1982)

Is there a more annoying song than Toni Basil's inanely catchy Mickey ("Oh Mickey you're so fine . . . hey Mickey" etc)? It's the kind of song you wake up with banging around inside... > Read more

Teleclere: Steal Your Love (1983)

Teleclere: Steal Your Love (1983)

Say, "Seattle" and music people will say some variation of grunge or Nirvana. Pity. That's like thinking that Liverpool in the 21st century is still those black'n'white... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

PHILIP DADSON: SONICS FROM SCRATCH, a doco by SIMON OGSTON and ORLANDO STEWART

PHILIP DADSON: SONICS FROM SCRATCH, a doco by SIMON OGSTON and ORLANDO STEWART

Even if Philip Dadson's name is not as well known as it should be outside of academic and sonic art music areas, many New Zealanders would respond to just two words: From Scratch. The... > Read more

DANNY CLICK INTERVIEWED (2004): Jimi beating up Buck

DANNY CLICK INTERVIEWED (2004): Jimi beating up Buck

Singer-guitarist Danny Click, from Austin, the capital of live music in America, laughs about a description he heard of his playing style: "I'm not really country and I'm not really total... > Read more