I’m not sure if anyone was able to tune in today, but the show was a doozy. We traveled far and wide from 1927 all the way up to 2000 with some great Blues by some incredible artists and bands.
The show was called Blues Traveling and was part of the Rock History 101 series. The goal of the show was to show just how influential some of the early Bluesmen have been to not only the Blues genre, but to Rock music as a whole.
A lot of the classic songs that we know and love are in fact covers of Blues originals. Many of these originals have grown to be almost standards since they’ve been covered by so many people. Check it out:
- Cream – “Crossroads” (1968)
- Elmore James – “Standing At The Crossroads” (1953)
- Robert Johnson – “Crossroad Blues” (1936)
The original from Robert Johnson is his most famous, as it alludes to the legend of him selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads in exchange for exceptional skill on the guitar. I have a picture of the actual crossroads on the Show Archive page, because looking at pictures is fun. Elmore James turned the song into a wild number with his masterful slide guitar, and then it was Eric Clapton that took the song to a whole new level with the great live version with Cream.
- Bob Dylan – “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (1962)
- Blind Lemon Jefferson – “See That My Grave’s Kept Clean” (1927)
Can you believe Bob Dylan can actually…sing? It came as a shock to me as well when I first listened to his self-titled debut. I’m a much bigger fan of Dylan’s early albums because you can really tell that he was such a dynamic performer and not just a phenomenal songwriter. This track fit his debut so well as it was chosen to close out the album. The song is an old one, and it was Blind Lemon Jefferson’s biggest hit back in 1927. His records sold quite well, leading some to call him the “Father of Texas Blues.”
- Johnny Winter – “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (1969)
- Ten Years After – “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (1969)
- Muddy Waters – “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (1963)
- Junior Wells & Buddy Guy – “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (1965)
- Sonny Boy Williams – “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (1937)
Believe me, I have many more covers of this song than the five I played today. Sonny Boy Williams cut the original back in 1937 (not to be confused with the harmonica great Sonny Boy Williams II, no relation). Then came the great version from Junior Wells, which I think does it the most justice. Muddy Waters does it perfectly, because, well, he’s Muddy Waters. Then Alvin Lee takes it to another planet with the Ten Years After version, and Johnny Winters gives a really wild performance as well.
- Jimi Hendrix – “Killing Floor” (1967)
- Howlin’ Wolf – “Killing Floor” (1964)
- Skip James – “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” (1931)
Yes, I know I play too much Hendrix, but come on, can you deny how amazing his fiery performance of Killing Floor is? It’s hard to believe that you’re listening to the same song once you work back past the great Howlin’ Wolf version to the original from Skip James. Granted it was only a span of 36 years, it’s clear how Hendrix really did take the Blues to the next level. I must also mention that the original version is one of my favorite songs of all time, maybe even my favorite. The emotion, the feeling, the power, the honesty, all add up to an absolutely legendary song.
- The White Stripes – “Death Letter” (2000)
- Son House – “Death Letter” (1965)
I know that The White Stripes are considered leaders in the Garage Rock revival, but they are also a Blues band. Snag either of their first two records and you’ll see a ton of Blues songs on there. I think this cover does the classic from Son House justice, with the added distorted guitars and stomp from the drums really pushing it to a new level.
And there you have it planet earth. That’s how we travel through the years of the Blues and learn stuff. Yay learning! If you missed the show, check out the streaming and download links below. MAke sure to have a rocking Thanksgiving. Until next time…