Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee: Screamin' and Cryin' Blues (1964)

 |   |  1 min read

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee: Screamin' and Cryin' Blues (1964)

Although this song didn't appear in wide circulation until the Terry/McGhee 1964 compilation Pawnshop Blues, it seems to date back to the Thirties. Blind Boy Fuller recorded a version late in that decade (very similar, perhaps more considered) and as always with the blues, songs pass from hand to hand and down the decades.

It seems likely however that blind harmonica player Terry picked this up from Fuller direct when he played in a trio with him until the singer/guitarist died in 1941. Terry then hooked up with guitarist/singer McGhee, and the duo began a long-standing and wide traveling relationship (which eventually brought them to New Zealand).

They were in time for the resurgence of American folk in the Fifties, then the blues revival in the Sixties, and in fact became famous and feted. They even appeared in Steve Martin's The Jerk, which was some distance from playing Carnegie Hall admittedly.

Their influence also went wide -- Paul Simon sampled a Terry harmonica part for his terrific So Beautiful So What album -- and the association (rather fraught and tetchy some say) ended when Terry died in '86. McGhee followed a decade later.

But this song and its style, a blues standard which probably lacks an original author, has been handed on to others -- and you can hear where Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and others (Bert Jansch enthralled by McGhee's finger-picking style after seeing him in '60) learned their blues.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Al Stewart: Clarence Frogman Henry, Audrey Hepburn and The Year of the Cat (1980)

Al Stewart: Clarence Frogman Henry, Audrey Hepburn and The Year of the Cat (1980)

He may be a bit of a bore in interviews (see here), but Al Stewart did tell a great shaggy-dog story in concert -- and of course wrote Year of the Cat among many other fine songs. So here you... > Read more

t.A.T.u.: All the Things She Said (2002)

t.A.T.u.: All the Things She Said (2002)

This Russian duo of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova might have been created and marketed by Moscow producer Ivan Shapovalov with all the ruthless and media-savvy smarts of Malcolm McLaren, but at... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . VERNON DALHART: Are you ready for the country?

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . VERNON DALHART: Are you ready for the country?

While it's not uncommon to hear people speak of some kind of "parallel universe" where another and different version of ourselves might exist, few would actually believe it exists.... > Read more

U-THEATRE OF TAIWAN: The sound of one drop dripping

U-THEATRE OF TAIWAN: The sound of one drop dripping

On Laochuan Mountain just 20 minutes drive from the motorcycle-clogged and fume-filled streets of Taipei is a remarkable series of open-sided wooden buildings. Part meditation retreat, part... > Read more