Mississippi John Hurt: The New, Old Nick Drake

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Seeing how there's a great compilation called "Avalon Songs" featuring all of today's fine young artists performing old MJH songs, I figure it's just a matter of time before all the kids are talkin' 'bout the great Mr. Hurt. Or, at least, it will sell as many records as that Carpenters comp did half a decade back. For the record, I love it and Beck did a good job, too. Can't beat the real deal, though. He delivers what a few of the more uplifting Nick Drake songs promise: easy, brainless, acoustic background flow. Nick Drake gets complicated and sad. Look for an Avalon song in a new Volkswagen commercial sometime soon! ;-)

Nude spock, Saturday, 8 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

new, old answers

Nude spock, Saturday, 8 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Gotta say, that Beck version of "Stagolee" is terrific in unexpected ways--deliberately sung in opposition to its content, if you see what I mean. I love it when Beck does acoustic stuff, and I wish that sequel to _One Foot in the Grave_ had come out...

Douglas, Saturday, 8 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"MJH songs" -- did he actually write any hisself? I agree about not beating the real deal that is MJH though. He was such a tender musician.

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 9 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

John Fahey's 'Requiem for Mississippi John Hurt' (the version on 'Requia') is one of his v. best.

Andrew L, Sunday, 9 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I know nothing about this man, but would like to mention that using the initials MJH really does make me think you're discussing the merits of Mark Hibbett.

emil.y, Monday, 10 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

He was good in 'I, Claudius'.

DG, Monday, 10 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

why "brainless"?

fritz, Monday, 10 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Brainless wasn't meant to be offensive. It was more a condition of the listener than the MJH, I guess (me). The songs are certainly intricate and have a lot of depth, but it seems like music's primary concern is to entertain. So, after a while I'll suddenly find myself singing the Chicken song after sort of not realizing the music's been playing. It's like a bar band, almost.

Nude Spock, Monday, 10 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

five years pass...

"Good to the last drop, just like it says on the can."

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Saturday, 1 September 2007 06:07 (twelve years ago) link

"i canna believe there's no thread on..." averted

tremendoid, Saturday, 1 September 2007 06:33 (twelve years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Surprised no one mentioned that Hurt's last album, THE IMMORTAL MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT, was a surprise entry on the recent Rolling Stone "Best LP's of 1967" list.

Rev. Hoodoo, Saturday, 29 September 2007 23:35 (twelve years ago) link

Not much of a surprise really; Christgau is a huge MJH fan!

JN$OT, Sunday, 30 September 2007 08:08 (twelve years ago) link

Wait a minute. I thought this would be a thread about the great British actor John Hurt and Nick Drake. Instead you're speaking disparagingly about the latter and I won't have it. Not at all.

That said, I will try to figure out this MJH thing.

Bimble, Sunday, 30 September 2007 18:25 (twelve years ago) link

"MJH songs" -- did he actually write any hisself? I agree about not beating the real deal that is MJH though. He was such a tender musician.

-- Tracer Hand, Saturday, December 8, 2001 8:00 PM (5 years ago) Bookmark Link

All Music credits him as writer of a good number of the songs, and I'd never heard otherwise. He was quite a lyricist too. These are probably my favorite original (as far as I know) Hurt lyrics:

Blues all on the ocean, blues all in the air.
Can't stay here no longer, I have no steamship fare.
When my earthly trials are over, carry my body out in the sea.
Save all the undertaker bills, let the mermaids flirt with me.

I do not work for pleasure, earthly peace I'll see no more.
The only reason I work at all, is drive the world from my door.
When my earthly trials are over, carry my body out in the sea.
Save all the undertaker bills, let the mermaids flirt with me.

My wife controls our happy home, a sweetheart I can not find.
The only thing I can call my own, is a troubled and a worried mind.
When my earthly trials are over, carry my body out in the sea.
Save all the undertaker bills, let the mermaids flirt with me.

Blues all in my body, my darling has forsaken me.
If I ever see her face again, I have to swim across the sea.
When my earthly trials are over, carry my body out in the sea.
Save all the undertaker bills, let the mermaids flirt with me.

Blues all on the ocean, blues all in the air.
Can't stay here no longer, I have no steamship fare.
When my earthly trials are over, carry my body out in the sea.
Save all the undertaker bills, let the mermaids flirt with me.

Hurting 2, Sunday, 30 September 2007 19:27 (twelve years ago) link

That song's great. I like Hurt's combo of being so modest and understated on one hand and a ridiculous virtuoso on the other. Doesn't really fit in with other bluesmen and he's the only one of them with any detectable influence over Takoma style stuff.

ogmor, Sunday, 30 September 2007 23:44 (twelve years ago) link

FWIW, he did not consider himself a bluesman

Hurting 2, Sunday, 30 September 2007 23:58 (twelve years ago) link

Even that song, as much as it mentions blues, is more like a rag.

Hurting 2, Monday, 1 October 2007 00:13 (twelve years ago) link

I first heard him on one of those Scorcese comps and he didn't sound anything like I'd expected--the sweetness of the voice is total.

mulla atari, Monday, 1 October 2007 03:20 (twelve years ago) link

he's the only one of them with any detectable influence over Takoma style stuff.

:-O

Stormy Davis, Monday, 1 October 2007 13:29 (twelve years ago) link

I was being provocative. Obviously Fahey covers Blind Blake and quotes Skip James and Charlie Patton but in terms of technique and overall sound he's way closer to Hurt.

ogmor, Monday, 1 October 2007 18:10 (twelve years ago) link

my grandpappy wasn't exactly a bluesman. for an eloquent look at John Hurt's legacy re blooze and authenticity, see Barker and Taylor's "Faking It" and chapter on the musician.

whisperineddhurt, Monday, 1 October 2007 19:27 (twelve years ago) link

four years pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr_VUEITbjY

am0n, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 15:40 (eight years ago) link

He could be the star of the Anthology of American Folk Music box set, which is saying quite a bit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gytJemzNTM

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:35 (eight years ago) link

yeah i'd say either him or dock boggs maybe?

wack nerd zinging in the dead of night (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:36 (eight years ago) link

They're both right at the top. Clarence Ashley too

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:38 (eight years ago) link

i'm learning fingerpicking guitar right now and i swear i try to get tabs and listen to hurt stuff and i can't figure it out, it sounds like there are 2 players -- one strumming regular chords and one finger picking a pattern! it sounds so simple until you sit down and try to learn

wack nerd zinging in the dead of night (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:50 (eight years ago) link

yeah i feel like hurt had some weird combo of being ultra precise, but also had super loose-jointed fingers. there should be a scientific study of his hands.

tylerw, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:54 (eight years ago) link

yeah his shit feels way more precise and put together than some of the other real old school dudes like robert johnson and charley patton and stuff

wack nerd zinging in the dead of night (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 17:56 (eight years ago) link

probably goes back to the idea mentioned upthread that "did not consider himself a bluesman" -- i imagine that he listened to piano players (ragtime/jazz/stride) more than guitar music? don't know if he ever commented on that.

tylerw, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 18:00 (eight years ago) link

They show his hands on that video above. His left hand isn't doing anything that complex, but his right hand is fairly ninja-like

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 18:02 (eight years ago) link

yeah his shit feels way more precise and put together

Yes. With the name Mississippi John Hurt you expect a raw howler. But he's so smooth, especially the stuff he did in the 1920s.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 18:04 (eight years ago) link

two years pass...

It's been nearly 3 years so it's once again time to proclaim the greatness of Mississippi John Hurt.

kornrulez6969, Friday, 5 June 2015 01:15 (five years ago) link

Mississippi John Hurt sounds better the older I get.

banjoboy, Friday, 5 June 2015 03:05 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

Avalon blues is as classic as it gets

Week of Wonders (Ross), Sunday, 20 August 2017 01:18 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Still the greatest. An absolute giant.

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:40 (two weeks ago) link

we should change this thread title

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:49 (two weeks ago) link

srsly what a completely inapt comparison

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:50 (two weeks ago) link

Ugh

Barry "Fatha" Hines (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 24 June 2020 13:54 (two weeks ago) link


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