Blues Bytes


July 2022

Son House
Forever On My Mind
Easy Eye Sound

Son House

I had been listening to the blues for a couple of years before I ever actually heard Son House. While I had read about him and how he influenced so many other blues artists, “Death Letter” was the first of his songs I ever heard (taken from his 1965 Columbia LP, Father of the Folk Blues) and I don’t think anything has ever moved me like that song did. The sound (and fury) of that metal slide running across the strings combined with House’s intense vocals shook me from my head to my feet.

Over time, it became easier to track down his other recordings, such as his Library of Congress recordings from the early 1940s and, eventually, his earliest recordings for Paramount from 1930 (as part of a group that included Charley Patton and Willie Brown). After House’s 1964 “rediscovery” by Dick Waterman, Nick Perls and Phil Spiro, he hadn’t picked up a guitar in years and had to be coached by Al Wilson (later of Canned Heat) on how to play his own songs.

After rediscovery, House managed to make a few recordings --- the 1965 studio release and a few live recordings compiled at various blues and folk festivals and college appearances --- before his health began to wane in the early/mid ’70s. Prior to the Columbia release, Waterman (who served as House’s manager) booked a Midwest tour, which included a stop at Wabash College in Crawfordville, Indiana on November 23, 1964.

Waterman recorded House’s Wabash performance, as well as for other artists he was handling at the time. The recordings sat on the shelf until recently, when he turned them over Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and Easy Eye Sound. Thanks to their efforts, blues fans now have Forever On My Mind, containing the earliest recordings of Son House, post-discovery.

There are eight tracks featured on the set, five of which were reprised on the Father of the Folk Blues album a few months later (“Preachin’ Blues,” “Empire State Blues,” Death Letter,” “Louise McGhee,” and “Levee Camp Moan”). Two tracks, “The Way Mother Did” (a.k.a. “Motherless Children”) and “Pony Blues,” were outtakes, ater appearing on the expanded 1992 release Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Session. House never recorded the title track in the studio.

The entire session has a spare, intimate and relaxed feel, almost like House is sitting on his front porch playing to himself at times. It’s not quite as intense as his future Columbia session, but the intimacy of the set gives it a different kind of intensity. The sound is excellent, with the crowd barely heard in the background, so the focus is completely on House’s guitar and his vocals. If he was still in the process of learning his songs on guitar (though obviously he was well on the way at this point), his vocals are powerful. His was one of the most powerful blues voices ever, and this shows that he was still a force to be reckoned with some 20 years after his last recordings.

I can’t wait to see what other treasures come from Waterman’s recordings, but Forever On My Mind itself is an excellent companion to Son House’s Father of the Folk Blues album. Both albums make up some of the most exciting music produced during the ’60s blues revival. If you’re not familiar with Son House’s music, this is a fine place to get started. I promise you won’t stop here.

--- Graham Clarke



[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: July 15, 2022 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2022, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.