Here’s another YouTube find from the ‘they just don’t make ’em like they used to’ bin.
My ears perked right up; the guitar playing is sooo good here. I normaly don’t think of Huddie as a bottleneck player, but he has this one nailed down tight. Huddie learned to play by busking with Blind Lemon Jefferson in Dallas and later performed with Josh White, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and it really shows in this performance.
I can only reflect on how different this version is from the one Carl Perkins popularized from his rockabilly sessions at the Sun Studio.
Huddie made his reputation with popular melodies like Good Night Irene and folk songs and I sometimes forget that he was in fact a real-deal bluesman. John Lomax first recorded Huddie when he was serving hard time at Louisiana’s notorius Angola Prison Farm. Huddie’s first recordings were hundreds of blues tunes recorded there in Angola.
John Lomax described Huddie as ’emotionaly volitale’. There is a real visceral anger to In the Pines and Bourgeois Blues. Huddie had killed one man, had tried to kill at least four others and threatened to kill Alan Lomax (John Lomax’s son and Huddie’s touring manager) several times.
The process whereby this all gets turned into compelling, beautiful music is still a great mystery to me.