Son House

Why would I direct you to listen to a man who was born in 1902? Surely he couldn’t have anything that today’s youth would want to hear. I mean, we are talking about a man who grew up in the Delta for christ’sake. What could a hostile preacher from the 1930’s possibly offer for anyone to sit down for three or five minutes and listen? Sermons? nope [maybe]. But what if that sermon was to rattle your very soul, would you want to listen then? I would and did. What I found out about this former hostile preacher man is that my soul can be moved by guitar strings.

At 25 years of age Eddie James “Son” House Jr. started lighting up the american music scene. Coming out of the Clarksdale Mississippi region “Son House” had music in his blood. His father played tuba and was active in the church but was also an active drinker who struggled between the two until finally giving up the bottle and becoming a deacon. This had influence on the young Eddie who refused to play instrumental music but did continue to sing being totally against the blues based on religious reasons. Around seven years of age Eddie’s parents separated and Mom took Eddie to Louisiana ending up in Algiers, and by 15 he had started preaching gospel. Fours years later against family wishes Eddie married an older lady from New Orléans and moved down to Centerville to work on her daddy’s farm. After only a couple of years, he left angry and disillusioned on the marriage stating “I left her hanging on the gateposts, she wasn’t nothing but a New Orléans whore”.  Through his younger adult days you could find Eddie floating around from job to job and city to city doing menial work. Following in  his daddy’s footsteps he became a paid preacher but struggled with womanizing and alcohol and after years of conflict he finally left the church. At 25 years of age Eddie House found a new religion and immersed himself completely into the blues.

Within weeks House had learned to play a bottleneck guitar and started incorporating his unique style. Sometime in 28′ or 29′ Eddie was in a juke joint performing when he was shot in the arm and allegedly killed a man in self-defense. He spent two years in “Parchman” the Mississippi State Penitentiary. After his release, Eddie left his hometown and went to Lula Mississippi where it was rumored he hooked up with Delta blues greats Charley Patton and Willie Brown. 1930 found House in Wisconsin recording eight tracks for Paramount records which were all commercial failures. Eddie would not record again for 35 years commercially.

House moved to Rochester New York and retired from music working instead as a porter and chef for the New York Central Railroad. In 1964 after a long and dubious search a trio of men [Nick Perls, Dick Waterman, and Phil Spiro] found him and convinced House to return to “folk blues”. CBS Records began recording him in 1965 and he went on tour in such venues as the Newport Folks Festival. Alan Wilson of Canned Heat fame was a huge fan of Son House and helped ease him back into playing. The two recorded live together on “John the Revelator: The 1970 London Sessions”.  This album is worth checking out as it can lead you into the window of how men like ” Robert Johnson, and Muddy waters” were influenced by Son House’s emotional slide guitar.

Some artists that have paid tribute to “Son House” include

The Derek Trucks Band– Death Letter, on ” Out of the Maddness ”

John Mellencamp – John the revelator, on “Trouble No More”

Gary Moore – Sundown, on “Close As You Get”

Govt. Mule – Grinnin’ in your Face, on “Govt.Mule”

Lynard Skynard– Swamp Music refers to “Son House”

This man taught Robert Johnson to play and was the one who coined the phrase of Robert selling his soul to the devil to learn the guitar. A must listen for anyone who likes to know hoe their favorite musician came to bend the strings the way they do.

ref-wikipeda, music archives

until next time, peace



~ by beibejones on March 26, 2013.

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