Category: Chicago Blues

  • Roll and Tumble

    White Tears begins with an epigraph: I rolled and I tumbledCried the whole night longWoke up this morningI didn’t know right from wrong The earliest recorded version of these lyrics are from Hambone Willie Newbern’s “Roll and Tumble Blues,” on a 1929 Okeh Records 78. Alan Lomax recorded Delta blueswoman Rosa Lee Hill singing a […]

  • Authenticity, part V: Tribute or Appropriation?

    As John Lomax was the first to record Lead Belly, so Alan Lomax was the first to record Muddy Waters. Muddy Waters (1915-1983) was born McKinley Morganfield, the son of sharecroppers, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, also the homeplace of blues greats Son House and Robert Johnson. He moved to Chicago as part of the Great Migration in […]

  • North and South: The Great Migration and the Lomaxes’ Southern Journey

    The early twentieth-century white folklorist Dorothy Scarborough once interviewed composer and bandleader W.C. Handy (1873- 1958), known as the Father of the Blues, about the origin of the blues. Handy, of course, was not the inventor of the blues, but he was the first musician to notate the folk music that he heard while traveling […]