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

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

Recorded live at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles when Crowded House met up with former Byrd Roger McGuinn, this song -- and their versions of Mr Tambourine Man and So You Want to be a... > Read more

Cowboy Junkies: State Trooper (1986)

Cowboy Junkies: State Trooper (1986)

When the world started becoming very noisy around the time of grunge, the Cowboy Junkies out of Canada had the oldest trick in any public speaker's book. When everyone else is shouting, you speak... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GARBAGE; ONE MILE HIGH, a doco by ERICA FERRERO

GARBAGE; ONE MILE HIGH, a doco by ERICA FERRERO

The thing I remember most about interviewing Shirley Manson from Garbage is that I just don't remember much at all. I have recently been told it was probably in '97 and I know that it was in... > Read more

Various: The Roots of Led Zeppelin (Proper/Southbound)

Various: The Roots of Led Zeppelin (Proper/Southbound)

To some small but much lesser degree we've been down this path before with the DVD Down the Tracks: The Roots of Led Zeppelin recently posted here. But as noted, that was interesting enough but... > Read more