Check In w/ the Blue Mirror


Ain't No Telling

:: lights cigar ::
:: pours a little liquor on the ground ::

We blew the dust off some John Hurt songs this morning, and were struck over and over by the way Hurt's soft spoken approach to the blues mixes up w/ the gangsta sh*t he sings about.

By the end of "Got the Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)," he's done some damage:

I said, "Baby, what makes you act this a way?"
I said, "Baby, why did you act this a way?"
Says I won't miss a thing she gives away.

Took my gun and I broke the barrel down.
Took my gun and broke the barrel down.
Put my baby six feet in the ground.

I cut that joker so long deep and wide.
Cut that joker so long deep and wide.
Yet got the blues and I can't be satisfied.

When we think dissatisfied, we think the full-throated "I feel like snapping a pistol in your face" hollered by Muddy Waters. John Hurt's soft droning on the guitar and sweet, near whisper make an understated haunt, not the usual volume that cuts a a backdoor man deep and wide. You can make up a catalog of this quiet violence when you dig through the Hurt stacks.

He delivers it the same way he delivers the much more matter of fact.

The way I'm sleepin,' my back and shoulder's tired.
The way I'm sleepin,' Babe, my back and shoulder's tired.
The way I'm sleepin,' my back and shoulder's tired.
Gonna turn over try it on the other side.

Hurt mixes the sweet and everyday in his menace. It sticks in our mind because we can't reconcile it. It's like killing someone because he took your hat. It's also not the voice of someone whose seen trouble all his days. It's the voice of someone who puts trouble after trouble behind, as easy as you can flirt w/a mermaid. But the more we listen, the more we think that's the all about it. It leaves us uneasy in an at ease way. Are you feeling it? Turning around is about the turning, not the next new direction you strike. All directions carry you to your grave. Turning around is the move of the most powerful loa. It's John Hurt's move.

It's in this sense that we understand "Spike Driver Blues."

With that in mind, we turn back and restudy John Hurt. With each turn we find ourselves satisfied. So we're loading the clip with some John Hurt bullets:
  • "Got the Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)," 1928.
  • "Big Leg Blues," 1928. Rambling because he's tired of a leg over his in the morning.
  • "Candy Man," 1928. In anticipation of the candy shop, where you can get a lollipop f/ 50¢. "It don't melt away. It just gets better, so the ladies say."
  • "Blue Harvest Blues," 1928. Dread when there should be none.
  • "Spike Driver Blues," 1928. Turns John Henry into a reason to quit altogether. "Take my hammer and give it to the captain." Jyeah.
Gonna make it to my shanty 'fore day.

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