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

Bob Dylan: John Brown/Mama You've Been on My Mind (live 1998)

Bob Dylan: John Brown/Mama You've Been on My Mind (live 1998)

At a concert in Birmingham in June '98 Bob Dylan went way back into his scrapbook of obscurities and pulled out this anti-war song which he had written in 1962. There was a demo version of it... > Read more

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Known mostly these days as the writer of Blue Suede Shoes (he sang it before Elvis' chart-topping cover), Carl Perkins was the man who was the most hillbilly cat of them all in the early... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Mick Jagger;The Very Best of Mick Jagger

THE BARGAIN BUY: Mick Jagger;The Very Best of Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger is not the kind of multimillionaire rock star you would ever feel some sympathy for: more money than the Anglican Church, property interests across the globe, a knighthood, fashion... > Read more

IN FROM THE COLD; THE WORLD OF RICHARD BURTON, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint/Triton DVD)

IN FROM THE COLD; THE WORLD OF RICHARD BURTON, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint/Triton DVD)

The great actor Sir John Gielgud used to shake his head in wonder at the towering talent of Richard Burton and say that "he came from nowhere, from nowhere". Which isn't true at all, he... > Read more