Skip James was one of the original Delta Bluesmen. Like many of these original pioneers, he disappeared into obscurity after his rather obscure debut in the 1930s. The blues rock renaissance in the 1960s rescued him from oblivion, and allowed him one last chance to shine. One of the songs that emerged from his exile was “Devil Got My Woman,” a haunted country blues ballad about love and Satan. It’s a perfect Robert Johnson like tune with a ghostly vibe that just might send shivers down your spine. Here are the lyrics, steeped in blue.
I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man Aw, nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind Was nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind I laid down last night, laid down last night I laid down last night, tried to take my rest My mind got to ramblin’, like a wild geese From the west, from the west The woman I love, woman that I loved Woman I loved, took her from my best friend But he got lucky, stoled her back again But he got lucky, stoled her back again
Hi, its part 63 of my youtube countdown is completely awesome. Big set up I know, but I got “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” a legendary blues song written and performed by delta bluesman Skip James, and Chris Thomas King, who helped make the song famous for its inclusion in the “O Brother Where Art Thou” movie, playing it live. Now Skip was one of the original bluesmen from the delta region in Mississippi who recorded in the 30s, but faded into obscurity because his records didn’t sell. He was rediscovered in the 60s, like many great delta bluesman from his era (think Son House), and appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. He died a few years later in 1969. Skip’s personality was moody and distant, and it was reflected in his music, often featuring a minor guitar key style. “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” is a masterpiece example of this style and resonance; an utterly tortured song about drifting and searching for work door to door. Chris Thomas King, along with the Coen Brothers, revitalized the track for “O Brother Where Art Thou.” Check out these two performances, the first of Skip’s original recording, and the second King playing it live in the present day.