You may not recognize the name Son House, but if you are a fan of blues rock or the Delta blues that inspired it, or if you happen to be a fan of Jack White, then you are at least indirectly aware of Son House.
Eddie James “Son” House and his contemporaries Charley Patton and Willie Brown formed the nucleus of the first generation of the Mississippi Delta bluesmen. Among their many disciples were the legendary Muddy Waters and the incomparable Robert Johnson. In fact, House is one of the few people who heard Johnson before and after the fabled trip to the Crossroads, and his description of the “before” is priceless, and it will be included in the Robert Johnson episode of FNWGG a few weeks from now.
House’s most notable song is “Death Letter Blues”, famously covered by White Stripes on their De Stijl album. A White Stripes live performance of the song can be seen here. The insertion of a thirty second sampler of “Grinning in Your Face” from 5:25 to 5:55 is Jack and Meg’s tribute to Son House, as it was another of his original songs.
If you want the full dose of Son House (audio only) check out this anthology recorded in 1964. But if you want House distilled down to six minutes of soul-moving guitar and vocals, tonight’s featured video is for you—a 1967 recording of Son performing the aforementioned “Death Letter Blues”. Please take note of his voice and facial expressions from 1:49 to 2:15 and let me know if you can think of any words in the English language that could properly describe that. Maybe @ohkiv knows of a German expression for it.
Speaking of @ohkiv, in his June 2 Beyond the 500 column, he prompted George to do a feature on Gram Parsons, whose classic Grievous Angel album was discussed by @garland_angst and @KylesLife27 in the May 28 installment of The 500. Thus, next week we will take a look at Parsons’ troubled and tragically brief, yet important, chapter in music history.