Her jaw quivering, she said that James had disappeared. Gene Rosenthal, a young latecomer to the blues cult, hosted the session in his parents’ basement. A former grocery store in Adams Morgan, the Ontario attracted a nearly all-white crowd of college students, professionals, and beatniks. The Ontario audience had adopted Hurt as its “patriarchal hippie,” and he responded with enthusiasm, playfully bantering with his new white audience. (Fahey disagrees with Spottswood on this matter; Fahey says that James cynically “crooned” the blues in the ’60s, fearful that a heartfelt commitment to the “devil’s music” would damn him to hell.  In July 1964, James and other rediscovered musicians appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. Accordingly, Duck is called the "last of the Bentonia Bluesmen.". View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 1931 Shellac release of Cherry Ball Blues / Hard Time Killing Floor Blues on Discogs. One of the legendary blues songs that has been covered many times is Skip James - "Hard Time Killing Floor" (Blues)... Hard time here and everywhere you go Times is harder than ever been before And the people are driftin' from door to door Can't find no heaven, I don't care where they go Hear me tell you people, just before I go In 1952, a high-school student named Dick Spottswood flipped through a stack of jazz records at an Adams Morgan music store. One accurate version. “The rawer, the better” became their motto, and the rawest of all was the Mississippi Delta blues by such masters as Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy and Robert Johnson, Bukka White, John Hurt, and of course, Skip James. “Skip would play harder music to show that he was a better artist than John, or to try to show John up,” recalls Talbot. For a while, he rarely left the apartment. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues Tab by Soggy Bottom Boys. The young men would knock on doors, ready with their pitch: “Buying up old gramophone records, paying a dime apiece for ’em, cash money!” An elderly voice might shout back, “We used to have ’em, but the children took ’em out in the cornfield and made flying saucers out of ’em.” But sometimes the searchers would strike gold. The Ontario audience was unprepared for James’ spectral presence, for his falsetto wailing and intricate, jazzlike instrumental breaks. Spottswood found James fascinating and enigmatic, and judged that his very presence was historic: “It was like the second coming having Skip here.”, James was more than an atypical bluesman; he was atypical, period. In the District, he held court at the Ontario Place, a folkie coffeehouse in Adams Morgan. Washington D.C. Hospital Center Blues #4. All three met with critical acclaim, and all three logged disappointing sales. Stream ad-free with Amazon Music Unlimited on mobile, desktop, and tablet. But before moving into their new abode, the couple spent an idyllic week at the Maryland farm—more a commune, really—where Talbot lived. I’ll take my 22-20—I’ll cut her half in two. Brown played the part of the young James in the documentary. Louisa Spottswood and her whippet often visited the ailing bluesman. Intrigued by a macabre title—Hard Time Killing Floor Blues—he asked the shop’s owner to play a nearly pristine 78 with a Paramount label. It was the summer of 1964, and three California college students—led by Washington-born John Fahey—had ventured into the Deep South not as civil rights activists, but as blues fanatics in search of their hero. The taciturn James exuded no such showman’s charm. This year, Spin magazine rediscovered Fahey in an article called “The Persecutions and Resurrections of Blind Joe Death,” a reference to Fahey’s nom de guitar. Our goal is to end the year with 1,800. The old man waited, then asked again—but too late. James was born near Bentonia, Mississippi. “He pissed all over me trying to get out of the car,” remembers Fahey. Where Johnson supposedly cut a single, grand deal with the devil—trading his soul for mastery of his form—Skip James seems to have struck deal after deal and never come out ahead. The blues standards of the day struck him as frivolous party music; he saw his own songs, and his idiosyncratic style, as something much darker. Like rabid jazz collectors before them, some of the younger blues converts road-tripped throughout the South, canvassing black neighborhoods for old 78s. HARD TIME KILLING FLOOR BLUES FROM "O' BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? “He gave me a jar with a dark brown liquid in it.”. As a young man, James had written songs full of swaggering machismo, songs about women and violence. On a winter night in 1931, he’d boarded a segregated train to Grafton, Wis. This item: Hard Time Killing Floor Blues by Skip James Audio CD $9.98. (Genes, Rosenthal’s label, has just released this session on a new CD, She Lyin’.) Never a full-time musician, he found other ways to survive: as a laborer, dynamite blaster, gambler, pimp, and bootlegger. In fact, he admired his first musical mentor, a whorehouse pianist, as much for his fancy clothes and stable of prostitutes as for his keyboard mastery. The householders would rummage about excitedly, then announce, “We got a gang of ’em.”. He didn’t tell feel-good stories between feel-good songs; instead, James performed without patter, distilling his life’s miseries into his music. But residents, if they remembered James at all, said he’d left years ago. “I don’t think he had a lot more use for git-along Southern blacks than he did for the white oppressors,” says Spottswood. Download original Guitar Pro tab. However, the British rock band Cream recorded "I'm So Glad", providing James with $10,000 in royalties, the only windfall of his career. He’d even rehash standards such as “Chicken,” and lead the audience in asingalong. Theirs was our finest and oldest native-born music, the blues, country-style, pure and personal, always one Negro and a guitar lamenting misery, injustice, but still saying yes to life.”. James's biographer Stephen Calt, echoing the opinion of several music critics, considered the finished product totally original, "one of the most extraordinary examples of fingerpicking found in guitar music". “They both had big egos,” remembers one member of Spottswood’s blues cult. Nehemiah Curtis "Skip" James (June 9, 1902 – October 3, 1969) was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter. Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues #1. He sang of death and betrayal to a crowd weaned on Cub Scout campfire stories. It was covered by Noah Preminger, The â¦ Soon after making them, he quit music for good, thinking himself a failure. She followed directions to a row house near Union Station, where the man lived in a second-floor apartment. Key Variations. Haunted by a verse, Spottswood played the record again and again. And if she gets unruly and gets so she won’t do. One night at the Ontario, he caused a scene when he saw her dancing with one of the beatniks, Ed Denson. The slow, mournful dirge hooked Spottswood. As it turned out, Mable was right to worry. When the pandemic came, our readers stepped up. Fahey and two companions chased a lead turned up by a Southerner: that James’ hometown was Bentonia. His guitar playing is noted for its dark, minor-key sound, played in an open D-minor tuning with an intricate fingerpicking technique. Now, though, he found himself listening to one of James’ ’60s gospel songs—one of the few spirituals James had recorded. James drew his baroque vocabulary from the Old Testament, and peppered his speech with jargon from his father’s collection of theological books. Books Returning on Sunday, Hoskins was amazed that Hurt had retained much of his finger picking ability. But what about the other masters of the genre? Freelancers Guide Louisa remembers that when she first visited James in the hospital, she found him lying on his bed, the white sheet pulled over his head like a funeral shroud. James left behind no rosy memories of the South, and except for his wife (who would soon join him up North), no family to speak of. ‘Cause nothing but the devil changed my baby’s mind. For example, "I'm So Glad" was derived from a 1927 song, "So Tired", by Art Sizemore and George A. At the barbershop, Fahey received directions to a nearby shack where an old woman—after feigning ignorance—told them that her husband, Skip James, was in the hospital. Guitarist Eric Clapton made sure that the dying blues singer got his payments, which mostly went to pay his hospital bills. Louisa Spottswood, now divorced and living in Philadelphia, recalls the almost Victorian manner in which James explained his problem. Page Three Coronavirus Sickbed Blues #3. The Lord and Satan were constantly at battle within that complicated psyche.”. If a mere party picker like John Hurt could find fortune in the big city, how could a genius like Skip James be denied his proper deserts? “If he had been raised in different circumstances and had some level of academic training, he could have been an original thinker in any number of fields. Baseball BY CHRIS THOMAS KING GUITAR TUNING Dm (LOW TO HIGH) D A D F A D Dm7 Am F Dm F/C Dm 1. Friends? Previously unreleased performances continue to be found and released but have been left largely unexplained, sometimes hours' worth at a time. “We stopped off to get some gas,” remembers Fahey, “and I saw this black teen-ager sitting around, and I asked him—I used to ask everybody, everywhere we went—if they’d heard of Skip James. He says, in a mock brag, “I bought Skip James for $200.”. And recently, Rhino Records released Return of the Repressed, a compilation of his work. During the late summer, James logged his first recording session since the ’30s. Hoskins tried to strum along to the records of Mississippi John Hurt, a laid-back, melodic, finger picker. So she got him alone with her and put an ice pick in him….She said, “You know, Mr. Lee, when you stick somebody with an ice pick, the hole close up and it bleed on the inside.’…They never did figure out that there was foul play.” James himself rarely broached the subject of his murky past in the Deep South; his admirers soon stopped asking. Calt’s book traces the next three decades of James’ “lost years,” an extraordinary odyssey throughout the Deep South. In the apartment, he often played the piano the Spottswoods had loaned him. Few can resist the legend that he sold his soul to the devil, was poisoned by a jealous lover, and died a young genius’s death. Find album credit information for Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Skip James on AllMusic “At the time, I didn’t have a very good car,” he remembers. The couple moved to Bentonia, near James’ birthplace, where he cut timber and eked out a living. District Line Daily: Our news, politics, arts, food, and sports coverage in one email every weekday. I said, “I’d be happy to take you to Mardi Gras, and after that, I want to go up to Mississippi and see if I can find somebody.’ ”, After the pair made it to New Orleans, Hoskins phoned a friend back east and discovered that police had posted a 26-state alarm for him on charges of kidnapping, grand theft auto, and violating the Mann Act: His companion, he found out, was only 17, and the Dodge belonged to her father. Skip James was able to write this song and make you feel his pain and the pain of others. , More of James's recordings have been available since his death than were available during his lifetime. Guitar Tabs Universe And then there was James’ eerie voice, sliding back and forth between a keening falsetto and heart-slain soprano. Other commentators have groped to describe James’ music. “It put you in mind of sitting in a corner on the backs of your heels, rocking back and forth, moaning,” says Talbot. Even journalist Edward R. Murrow took time off from the Cold War to nod his approval. The Great Depression struck just as James's recordings were hitting the market. The summer before, Fahey had located Bukka White simply by mailing a postcard to the bluesman’s hometown. The driver soon realized that this was how the old man was accustomed to traveling, that Nehemiah “Skip” James gauged his location using bodies of water, just as sailors navigate by the stars. Learn to play guitar by chord / tabs using chord diagrams, transpose the key, watch video lessons and much more. “He was a middle-aged man with a rather unfriendly appearance, quite stern, and on the wall was a chart which had a map with astrological symbols,” she remembers. “ “I’m sick,’ she blubbered. City Lights: Your weekly guide to artsy goings-on, hitting your inbox Thursdays and Sundays. James is, of course, overshadowed by the most famous bluesman of them all: Robert Johnson. Except for Fahey, the pilgrims worshiped James; the young discoverer’s relationship to James stood in stark contrast to that of Hoskins and Hurt. He wanted to learn the technique from the master. In 1991, the song was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classics of Blues Recordings" category. “He didn’t suffer fools or take no kind of shit.”, James stood in stark contrast to Hurt, Washington’s—and the nation’s—most famous rediscovered bluesman. James subsequently recorded for Takoma Records, Melodeon Records, and Vanguard Records and performed at various engagements until his death from cancer in 1969. He mostly practiced the guitar, and often spent time in the kitchen, hunched over a small antique piano handed down by Spottswood’s grandmother. Skip James lived to a ripe old age. Skip James’ mythos is less compact than Johnson’s. Learn & play tab for lead guitar with free online tab player, speed control and loop. He packed a shabby old suitcase, and donned a dark suit and preacher’s hat. In early 1931, James auditioned for the record shop owner and talent scout H. C. Speir in Jackson, Mississippi. That summer, he charmed the crowd at the Newport Folk Festival. He now seeks used classical albums, which he trades for cash. He’d heard about the “International Man,” a root doctor in Washington who could break the evil spell. But instead of groveling or complaining, James cast himself as Satan, as a figure of darkness and power. âHard Time Killing Floor Bluesâ speaks so much to me in itâs simplicity and emotion. But the wanna-be guitarist hungered for more than the record: He wanted to see Hurt play. It’s Louisa.’ And he’d pull off the sheet and be friendly and chat.”, James slowly came to accept his condition, and even began to joke about it. The accompanying photo showed a haggard, grim James in his hospital bed, solemnly reading a pamphlet from his father’s collection of theology tracts. “If I got caught, I’d just have to depend on her to explain that I was deceived.” (She later did.). Will you join them? Speir placed blues performers with various record labels, including Paramount Records. After Mardi Gras, the fugitives drove to Mississippi, arriving in Avalon one Friday at dusk. “Skip was kind of an appealing rascal,” she remembers. This song is a cover of "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" by Skip James. He said, “No, but one night I was over at Benny Simmons’ barbershop, and this crazy old man came in drunk and claimed he used to make records with piano and guitar up North’….That had to be him.”. When most blues singers wailed about a scheming woman, they either cursed her or begged her to come back. Now an author, researcher, and musicologist, Spottswood is best known for his WAMU-FM show of music made before World War II. Despite poor health, James recorded several LPs from 1964 to 1969, mostly revisiting his 1931 sides, traditional music, and spirituals, but also including a handful of newly written blues meditating on his illness and convalescence. That winter, Mable was evicted from the Dupont Circle apartment, and the furniture was piled outside the building. James had courted his new girlfriend, a Philadelphia widow named Lorenzo Meeks, during his frequent stopovers in that city. Postal Service, which airbrushed the stamp portrait of Johnson to eradicate the cigarette that hung defiantly from his mouth. He hung out with the musicians who congregated there from all over Mississippi, and came to see himself as more than a mere entertainer. And I’d Rather Be the Devil, a new full-length biography by blues researcher Stephen Calt, recounts the bluesman’s harrowing life and times. During this period, James appeared at folk and blues festivals, gave concerts around the country, and recorded several albums for various record labels. It was a bad career move. Esquire headlined an Oct. 1990 article on the Johnson cult “SATAN, NOW ON CD.”.  His style of playing had more in common with the Piedmont blues of the East Coast than with the Delta blues of his native Mississippi. Hurt met such spiteful behavior with an almost Christlike acceptance. The students assured James that if he accompanied them back to Washington, D.C., capital of the so-called “blues revival,” he’d soon be as famous as Mississippi John Hurt, who’d been rediscovered the summer before and now ruled the local coffeehouse scene. Museums/Galleries An unreleased session tape reveals James angrily pounding the piano to drown out Hurt’s earnest—if ludicrously out-of-sync—accompaniment. After a long absence from the public eye, James was rediscovered in 1964 by blues enthusiasts including John Fahey, helping further the blues and folk music revival of the 1950s and early 1960s. James’ intricate guitar work was rivaled only by his near-surreal piano playing, and no other major bluesman had mastered two instruments. Read about Hard Times Killing Floor Blues by Little Albert and see the artwork, lyrics and similar artists. He gleaned a clue from a bootleg tape that Spottswood had acquired from an Australian enthusiast. “It made me think of some dark bayou with Spanish moss hanging off the trees, an eerie voodoo atmosphere….Skip’s music evoked thoughts in people that maybe they didn’t want to be thinking when they were out on the town trying to have a good time. I gathered that it was related to the illness that he had when he was found in [Mississippi]. There, the first song he performed was “Devil Got My Woman,” partly inspired by a girlfriend who’d deserted James for his best friend. “I didn’t like him,” says Fahey bluntly, “and he didn’t like me.” Their animosity was perhaps a collision of artists: Fahey was an accomplished guitarist, and had already released several albums on his own Takoma label. In Washington, though, James acquired plenty of friends, and strangers called him a genius. There, the 28-year-old recorded the songs that made him a legend and eventually spurred these young strangers to search him out—music so haunting and hallucinatory that a critic would later compare him to Poe and Van Gogh. And then the old man left Mississippi behind forever, crossing so many bodies of water that he eventually stopped asking. Hoskins, a novice guitar player, preferred sweeter, more polished music than that of James and Johnson. I could have easily seen him teaching physics or philosophy.”, According to Spottswood, the preacher’s son harbored “some contempt for religion, but he certainly believed in God. The song Hard Time Killing Floor Blues was written by Skip James and was first released by Skip James in 1931. The bedridden James seemed to expect the sudden appearance of these fans; in fact, he seemed perturbed that they hadn’t come sooner to pay him homage. James first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931, but these recordings sold poorly, having been released during the Great Depression, and he drifted into obscurity. In the late ’30s, Johnson bestowed on James the sincerest form of flattery: He covered both songs, re-casting them as “32-20 Blues” and “Hellhound on My Trail.” The latter eventually became Johnson’s most famous recording.  One of the last living links to the original Bentonia school is Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, the owner of the famous Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi. Only 8 left in stock - order soon. Genes, a Silver Spring label, issued the first in a series of James’ previously unreleased sessions from the ’60s, the decade when the bluesman was rediscovered. Distrustful of the diagnosis back in the Mississippi hospital—the word “cancer” was whispered in a hushed tone—James had his own ideas about the bad mojo that was ailing him. The blues revival was launched. Spottswood believes that James felt no qualms about returning to the blues, unlike the Rev. Even that remedy didn’t work enough magic. No one would tell her where he was. The Sleigher: The Marías, “We’re The Lucky Ones”, City Lights: Watch Black-and-White Thriller, Wilson High School’s Student Newspaper Endorses Edna B. Jackson for School’s New Name, Phil Mendelson on Not Extending Utility Shutoff Protections, The Hospitality Industry Was There for Furloughed Feds During Government Shutdowns, Proudly powered by Newspack by Automattic. He worked on road construction and levee-building crews in Mississippi in the early 1920s and wrote what is perhaps his earliest song, "Illinois Blues", about his experiences as a laborer. , James is sometimes associated with the Bentonia School, which is either a subgenre of blues music or a style of playing it. Hurt’s floppy fedora and foot-tapping music won over people who’d never even heard of the Mississippi Delta, and who would have gasped to know that the Hurt lyric “lovin’ spoonful” referred to semen. Liz at Large James at first refused, vowing to endure the agony though the doctors told him he couldn’t imagine the torment ahead if he postponed the procedure. "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" Hard times are here and everywhere you go Times are harder than ever been before Ohh ohhh ahhh Ohh ohhh ahhh People are driftin' from door to door Can't find no heaven, I don't care where they go Ohh ohhh ahhh Ohh ohhh â¦ Hard Time Killing Floor Blues by Skip James Chords Different Versions Chords, Tab, Tabs. When it began to bother him again and he was in considerable pain, he went to a man he called a “witch doctor’ in Washington. Catfish Blues.  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