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Author: Subject: Blind Willie McTell

Peach Head





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  posted on 3/18/2010 at 06:23 PM
I'm stoked ABB has added 'Blind Willie McTell' to the rotation.

I've always thought it included some of Dylan's finest lyrics. I know, I know, he's got a ton of fine lyrics. But this is right up there with them:

'I heard the hoot owl singin'
As they were taking down the tents
The stars above
The barren trees
Were his only audience'

etc.

Anyway, after listening to this melody over and over, I knew I heard it somewhere before and tonight a local jazz station played 'St. James Infirmary' and I realized it was a similar tune.

From Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._James_Infirmary_Blues


 
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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 3/20/2010 at 11:44 AM
anybody have a link where i can hear it? I have been searching but have had no luck finding the ABB version

 

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  posted on 3/20/2010 at 08:04 PM
No Allmans "Blind Willie" on youtube yet, but here is Mick Taylor doing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IEvS1A9FIw&feature=related

 

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  posted on 3/20/2010 at 09:17 PM
quote:

Anyway, after listening to this melody over and over, I knew I heard it somewhere before and tonight a local jazz station played 'St. James Infirmary' and I realized it was a similar tune.



In a way Dylan credits the tune when he sings about the St. James Hotel.

 

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  posted on 3/20/2010 at 11:33 PM
Great addition to the setlist.
 

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  posted on 3/21/2010 at 01:34 AM
Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Saying, "This land is condemned
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem."
I traveled through East Texas
Where many Martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Well, I heard the hoot owl Singing
As they were taking down the tents
The stars above the barren trees
Were his only audience
Them charcoal gypsy maidens
Can strut their feathers well
But nobody can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

See them big plantations burning
Hear the cracking of the whips
Smell that sweet magnolia blooming
(And) see the ghosts of slavery ships
I can hear them tribes a- moaning
(I can) hear the undertaker's bell
(Yeah), nobody can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

There's a woman by the river
with some fine young handsome man
He's dressed up like a squire
Bootlegged whiskey in his hand
There's a chain gang on the highway
I can hear them rebels yell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Well, God is in heaven
And we all want what's his
But power and greed corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I'm gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 3/21/2010 at 08:10 AM
LOVED this one. I was lucky enough to hear it on the 12th. Bought the show this Friday, and I must've listened to this song 10 times already!


Here's you tube from the 20th:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b94FzRYvVUk

 

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  posted on 3/21/2010 at 10:34 AM
Thanks for putting the YOutube link there!

Now that I listen to the ABB do it, I am reminded that The Band covered this song on one of their later-day CDs. The phrasing in the vocal harmonies of The ABB sounds like they heard The Band's take on it.

 

True Peach



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  posted on 3/21/2010 at 10:47 AM
It was my favorite addition to this years rotation.

 

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  posted on 3/21/2010 at 12:29 PM
also agree

 

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  posted on 4/1/2010 at 08:35 AM
cool Dylan video...Blind Willie McTell

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hpEKDc0oKA

 

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  posted on 4/1/2010 at 01:27 PM
LOL, I found it alittle boring

 

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  posted on 4/1/2010 at 05:48 PM
quote:
LOL, I found it alittle boring

How could it be boring? Great lyrics, 3 part harmonies, a haunting melody. It really is a great song and the ABB did a fantastic version.

 

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  posted on 4/1/2010 at 09:20 PM
I thought y'all would appreciate this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwA8eH5dwAU

 

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  posted on 4/2/2010 at 02:51 PM
Here's some history on the man and the Dylan song:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Willie_McTell

The Man:

Blind Willie McTell

Doing a recording for John Lomax in an Atlanta hotel room, November 1940. Photographed by the archivist's wife, Ruby Lomax
Background information
Birth name William Samuel McTier
Born May 5, 1898(1898-05-05)
Thomson, Georgia, United States
Died August 19, 1959 (aged 61)
Milledgeville, Georgia
Genres Country blues
Piedmont blues
East Coast blues
Songster
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active 19271956
Labels Victor, Columbia, Okeh, Vocalion, Decca, Library of Congress, Atlantic, Regal
Blind Willie McTell (May 5, 1898 August 19, 1959) was an influential American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was a twelve-string finger picking Piedmont blues guitarist, and recorded 149 songs between 1927 and 1956.

Contents [hide]
1 Biography
2 Influence
3 Complete sessionography
4 Partial discography
5 References
6 External links


[edit] Biography
Born William Samuel McTier (or McTear[1]) in Thomson, Georgia, blind in one eye, McTell had lost his remaining vision by late childhood, but became an adept reader of Braille. He showed proficiency in music from an early age and learned to play the six-string guitar as soon as he could. His father left the family when McTell was still young, and when his mother died in the 1920s, he left his hometown and became a wandering busker. He began his recording career in 1927 for Victor Records in Atlanta.[2] .

In the years before World War II, he traveled and performed widely, recording for a number of labels under a different name for each one, including Blind Willie McTell (Victor and Decca), Blind Sammie (Columbia), Georgia Bill (Okeh), Hot Shot Willie (Victor), Blind Willie (Vocalion), Red Hot Willie Glaze (Bluebird), Barrelhouse Sammie (Atlantic) and Pig & Whistle Red (Regal). His style was singular: a form of country blues, bridging the gap between the raw blues of the early part of the 20th Century and the more refined East Coast "Piedmont" sound. He took on the less common and more unwieldy 12-string guitar because of its volume. The style is well documented on John Lomax's 1940 recordings of McTell for the Library of Congress, for which McTell earned ten dollars.[3]

McTell is unusual, if not unique, among country bluesmen in his ability to play the guitar in both a complex, fingerpicking ragtime style similar to Blind Blake or Blind Boy Fuller (see, e.g., his recording of "Georgia Rag," a cover of Blake's "Wabash Rag"), and a heavier bottleneck blues style ("Three Women Blues"). His playing in both idioms is masterful, fluid and inventive; based on multiple recordings of the same song (for example, "Broke Down Engine"), he never played a song the same way twice. His style could almost be called "stream of consciousness," as he would vary the bar pattern and sometimes even the rhythm and chord progression from verse to verse. McTell was also an excellent accompanist, and recorded many songs with his longtime musical companion, Curley Weaver; their recordings are some of the most outstanding examples of country blues guitar duets. See, for example, "It's a Good Little Thing," or "You Were Born to Die."

In 1934, he married Ruthy Kate Williams (now better known as Kate McTell).[4] She accompanied him on stage and on several recordings, before becoming a nurse in 1939. Most of their marriage from 1942 until his death was spent apart, with her living in Fort Gordon near Augusta, and him working around Atlanta.

Post-war, he recorded for Atlantic Records and Regal Records in 1949, but these recordings met with less commercial success than his previous works. He continued to perform around Atlanta, but his career was cut short by ill health, predominantly diabetes and alcoholism.

In 1956, an Atlanta record store manager, Edward Rhodes, discovered McTell playing in the street for quarters and enticed him into his store with a bottle of corn liquor, where he captured a few final performances on a tape recorder. These were released posthumously on Prestige/Bluesville Records as Blind Willie McTell's Last Session.[5]

McTell died in Milledgeville, Georgia, of a stroke in 1959.

He was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1981.[6]

[edit] Influence
One of McTell's most famous songs, "Statesboro Blues", has been covered by artists such as Taj Mahal, David Bromberg, The Allman Brothers Band and Ralph McTell, who changed his name on account of liking the song.[7] Jack White of The White Stripes considers McTell an influence (their 2000 album De Stijl was dedicated to him and featured a cover of his song "Your Southern Can Is Mine"), as did Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Bob Dylan has paid tribute to McTell on at least four occasions: Firstly in his 1965 song "Highway 61 Revisited" in the second verse, which begins, "Georgia Sam he had a bloody nose," referring to one of Blind Willie McTell's many recording names; later in "Blind Willie McTell" (recorded in 1983 but released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 in 1991); then with covers of McTell's "Broke Down Engine" and "Delia" on his 1993 album World Gone Wrong.[8] In his song "Po'Boy", off the 2001 album Love & Theft, Dylan again paid homage to McTell by appropriating the line "had to go to Florida dodging them Georgia laws" directly from the latter's "Kill It Kid".[9]

A blues bar in Atlanta is named after him, and regularly features blues musicians and bands. A blues festival in McTell's honor is held annually in his birthplace, Thomson, Georgia.

The Song:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Willie_McTell_(song)

"Blind Willie McTell" is a song by Bob Dylan, titled after the blues singer Blind Willie McTell. It was recorded in 1983 but left off Dylan's album Infidels and officially released in 1991 on the The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991. The melody is loosely based on "St. James Infirmary Blues". For the song, Dylan, seated at the piano and accompanied by Mark Knopfler on the twelve-string acoustic guitar, sings a series of plaintive, heartbreaking verses depicting allegorical scenes which reflect on the history of American music and slavery. Each verse ends with the same negative refrain: "Nobody can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell."

Following three albums with overt Christian themes, Infidels struck most major rock critics (perhaps erroneously) as dealing largely with secular concerns, and they therefore hailed it as a comeback. Yet contrasted with Dylan's contemporary live performances, the studio album seemed flat and stagnant to many fans. "Blind Willie McTell" confounds the story further. When bootleggers released the outtakes from Infidels, the song was recognized as a composition approaching the quality of such classics as "Tangled Up In Blue", "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower".

According to the Rolling Stone, September 7, 2006 interview "Dylan can't possibly be sorry that the world has had the benefit of hearing, for instance, "Blind Willie McTell", - an outtake from 1983's Infidels that has subsequently risen as high in most people's Dylan pantheon as a song can rise, and that he himself has played live since. Can he? Bob Dylan - "I started playing it live because I heard the Band doing it. Most likely it was a demo, probably showing the musicians how it should go. It was never developed fully, I never got around to completing it. There wouldn't have been any other reason for leaving it off the record. It's like taking a painting by Monet or Picasso - goin' to his house and lookin' at a half-finished painting and grabbing it and selling it to people who are 'Picasso fans.'""

The Michael Gray book "Song and Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan" (2002) includes a highly perceptive chapter about this song and its musical and historical background.

[edit] Covers
This song has been covered by a large number of artists, some of which are:

The Band
Scott Holt
Mick Taylor
Tom Russell
Southside Johnny & Little Steven
Tex, Don and Charlie
Dream Syndicate
Elliott Murphy & Iain Matthews
Peter Mulvey & Jeffrey Foucault
Charlie Parr
The White Stripes
The Allman Brothers Band
Dutch band De Dijk

 

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Peach Head



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  posted on 4/16/2010 at 10:03 PM
It's a great song, but I thought it was kind of a buzzkill at Wanee earlier tonight. I thought it was kind of a mistake putting both that and All My Friends in a 1 set song only 3 songs apart, especially after that WSP set.

[Edited on 4/17/2010 by guitarman8484]

 
 


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