Mississippi John Hurt

You’ve probably never heard a blues style that has been compared to chamber music.  You may assume bluesmen are constantly battling demons in their life and song.  Well, meet John Hurt, who brings a gentle peace to whatever he touches.  It’s music that would have soothed King Saul in his darkest mood.

John Hurt took part in some recording sessions in 1928, not the best year to begin a career in music.  Okeh Records went out of business during the Great Depression, and Hurt spent the next thirty-plus years sharecropping while playing for parties and the like.  When brought before a national audience during the Blues Revival his skills and attitude were intact.

From his 1928 recordings:

A video with his biographer.


Filed under Blues

7 responses to “Mississippi John Hurt

  1. MikeInIowa

    Interesting how John Hurt and Fred McDowell were recorded or rediscovered not long before their deaths after leading lives of obscurity. I’m sure there are more as well.

  2. As the story goes, a musicologist just went to Avalon (“Avalon Blues”), knocked on a door, asked if the man knew Hurt, and the man told him Hurt was in the third house on the right.
    The rustic house in the Avalon Blues video was actually his residence.

  3. Good stuff on that interview with the biographer MM. He talks and acts like a Scottish Calvinist. You might find him teaching at a place like Westminster West. I really did enjoy listening to that interview. I liked the story about the folk festival he was invited to (the Newport festival I believe where Dylan and all the good folk musicians of that time were in 1963) where he performed and “wowed” the people (white “hippies”) who were at the festival. Those who invited him to play were worried that the 18,000 people there would be a bit much for him to handle. However, he handled it without batting an eye and after his first song the crowd erupted with applause.

    • Yes, I liked that story.
      I’m really enjoying Hurt’s music. Now, a lot of people don’t know that, long before there were subliminal messages in 60’s and 70’s rock, there were subliminal messages in the Blues. They say “drink whiskey” and “smoke a cigar.” Not many people know this. In contrast, Hurt’s music says “life is good,” so it’s good for a balanced musical diet.

      • God is good, all the time MM. I did not know that about those subliminal messages- you are a fount of interesting tidbits and quirky stories. And well-behaved.

  4. Pingback: Do You Remember Me | Flickr Comments

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