“Death Letter”

Click “Death Letter” below to play video, daddy-o.

"Death Letter"
I’ve recorded this song lots of times. One of the better versions was me and solo upright bass. It’s not like I think I’m particularly good at this tune, but I’m not bad, if you aren’t expecting a verified faithful version of the Son House classic. In fact, he tended to play all his songs differently, and I’ve heard at least 3 very different versions by him.

So, anyway, it’s been a summer with a lot of blues in it, and I like to rerecord this song as a sort of post card of where I am at a particular time. As you can hear, my throat has taken a beating this summer from all the infections I’ve had. Whatever, a gravelly voice is what I have right now. Maybe in a few weeks it will be clear again and I can do my high wolf howl.

All the verses to this song are crystalline in their power (and I’ve just selected my own favorite collection of them, as there are more, as with any Son House song, the verses tend to be interchangeable with lots of other songs of his). One of my favorites, other than the first two, is the one I usually save for last:

Woke up this morning
about the break of day
just hugging the pillow
where my baby used to lay her head

It’s all in there. Not just being alone, but being abandoned. You finally had something, and it’s been taken away from you. Forever. If you’ve ever lost a lover, you know what I mean. That first night, lying in bed, the other half of the bed empty because your lover is lying in the morgue, you know what I mean. This is not some bullshit blues thing, a song that’s a vehicle for a bunch of poseurs to get their rocks off trying to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan, rest his soul. This is pure emotion. This is an epic of hard knocks in 3 minutes.

You want the Great American Novel? Try some music like this.

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