Woke up this morning, feel ’round for my shoes
You know ’bout that babe, had them old walkin’ blues
Woke up this morning, I feel ’round for my shoes
You know ’bout that babe
Lord, I had them old walkin’ blues
Leavin’ this morning, I had to go ride the blinds
I’ve been mistreated, don’t mind dying
This morning, I had to go ride the blinds
I’ve been mistreated
Lord, I don’t mind
People tell me walkin’ blues ain’t bad
Worst old feeling I most ever had
People tell me the old walkin’ blues ain’t bad
Well, it’s the worst old feeling
Lord, I most ever had
—- R.L. Burnside – Walkin’ Blues
Sometimes, when I’m driving my car… and I’m driving more than I like, because of COVID changes it’s impossible for me to ride my bike to work… I listen to podcasts from my phone. That takes too much fiddling and setup though – and I’m late in the morning and lazy in the afternoon. So I listen to a local radio station – KXT91.7 (you can listen online no matter where you live) – it’s a great station: no commercials, the DJs pick their own music and don’t talk (I hate the cackling stupid jokes of regular radio) and they sometimes they play your favorite music. Sometimes, best of all, they play stuff you’ve never heard before.
On my way in to work yesterday I heard some music I had never heard before and thought it was great. At my desk I looked up their playlist and found what I had heard was a North Mississippi blues master R. L. Burnside. The song on the radio was It’s Bad You Know from the album Come On In.
In this album, released in 1998, Burnside’s classic acoustic blues is mixed with modern electronic beats into a sort of hybrid dance music. From the wikipedia notes:
The album was expected to alienate purist fans of blues, but sold strongly, and peaked at number 20 on the Core Radio Chart. In addition to significant airplay, an ensuing music clip was slotted in MTV’s 120 Minutes. By March 1999, it had become Epitaph’s best-selling record, despite the label being, at its core, an outlet for punk rock. Burnside said that fans loved the album, feeling that both it and Ass Pocket “brought more crowds to the blues. They love it.” He reckoned that this was due to “trying to make people dance to the blues again.”
I had never heard of this album or R. L. Burnside… which is not surprising – in 1998 I had a couple of young kids running around the house and was isolated from the real world. I did have at least one song of his – doing Dylan’s Everything is Broken from Tangled Up In Blues but had never really followed down that particular rabbit hole.
Thanks to Spotify I now have ready access to R. L. Burnside and his catalog. Great stuff.
From my comments – check this out – Livin’ the Blues
I never met R.L., but his grandson Cedric is a drummer who plays with all the greats in Mississippi — both around the Delta and in the North Mississippi hills. I’ve been to the big yearly festival in Clarksdale and wrote about it here. If you use ‘blues’ as a search term in my blog you’ll turn up other posts, including my own version of a walkin’ blues.
Cool! I’ll have to check it out. I’m ashamed that I had not followed Burnside before – I’ve been a big fan of Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson and the others that came out of Deep Ellum, but never followed the trail to Burnside or the other North Mississippi blues musicians.
It may be a bit of a “sacrilege” – but I like the mixture of blues and electronic beats. It seems to fit, somehow.
Don’t miss T-Model Ford, either. His “Red’s Houseparty is the best morning music in the world!
Lived in them parts yrs ago & hung out w blus band The Ladies’ Choice, one night in Indianola a tornado liked to whipped the roof of the club indianola while AsaPayton sâng, o them days long gone, the club ind’ too.
That’s quite a story – wild!