Standards and Stand-Alones

lule-fig06_004I woke up this mornin’, feelin’ round for my shoes
Know by that I got these old walkin’ blues…

So begins Walkin’ Blues, which later continues:

Well, some people tell me that the worried blues ain’t bad
Worst old feelin’ I most ever had

Walkin Blues is one of a number of blues standards that have been done – and done well – by various bluesmen over the years.  There’s a Son House version and, of course, the Robert Johnson version, both excellent.  Usually older is better when it comes to blues, but my favorite comes much later – during the Blues Revival, and it was performed by Muddy Waters:

But occasionally great songs are so unique to an individual that it’s hazardous to even try a cover.  Robert Johnson’s Hellhound on My Trail is one such song, with supporting evidence being Eric Clapton’s version, an attempt fit for gawking but not enjoyment.

But perhaps the ultimate “stand alone” song is Blind Willie McTell’s Statesboro Blues. This was an early recording while his voice had a youthful and almost “delicate” quality, a word that might also describe his guitar playing that quietly lulls you into a blues frame of mind.

PS: to hear Blind Willie in some up-tempo swagger, check out Atlanta Strut.

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