By Stephen Calt
<P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Skip James (1902–1969) used to be probably the main inventive and idiosyncratic of all blues musicians. Drawing on enormous quantities of hours of conversations with James himself, Stephen Calt right here paints a gloomy and unforgettable portrait of a guy untroubled by way of his personal murderous dispositions, a guy who accomplished one second of transcendent greatness in a existence haunted by way of failure. And in doing so, Calt bargains new insights into the character of the blues, the realm during which it thrived, and its destiny whilst that international vanished.
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Extra resources for I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues
However, he made passing mention of a youthful interlude that probably foreshadowed his blues career: at the age of thirteen or fourteen, he ran away from home and spent a year on the road, traveling as far as Florida and Georgia. James never discussed what he did during this period, but he could not have supported himself with honest toil. It may have been during this mysterious period in his life that James acquired the attachment to weapons he was to display as a teenager in Bentonia. Though his mother taught him Skip James and the Blues 49 Biblical precept "blessed are the meek," he made it a practice to carry a switch-blade knife for "protection," and prided himself on his willingness to use it.
Usually none of the parents did... " In later years, James would represent himself as a high school graduate, a claim that brought a snicker from his blues-playing mentor, Henry Stuckey. To compensate for his lack of formal knowledge, he acquired a pretentious vocabulary, and brandished it at every opportunity. A word like "speed" was too humble for him; in its place he would say "velocity," even if the plantation blacks who heard him speak listened uncomprehendingly. 28 I'D RATHER BE THE DEVIL At the same time, his mother's superstitiousness readily rubbed off on him, and he acquired an enduring belief in magic.
You can take a peach or pear... that is hangin' on the tree... After a while, it gonna ripen, after which it has reached its perfection [full growth]. . my step-daddy... he told 'im: '... ' . . when he bust that bottle open there was a pure [absoutely] dead jaybird in there. it tossed its tail around... like a fish in the water, make a flounce [twisting motion] or somethin' like that. . if I'll contain [take up] with you... and see that you don't take heed to what I say, well then... . This gentleman ...