Mississippi John Hurt and Tom Waits

I've noticed this before but today I was listening to Mississippi John Hurt and was once again astonished to hear how much Tom Waits (in his first recordings) borrowed from him. And Tom Waits is my favorite musician of all time (well, tied with John Coltrane) so it's not an attack on the man.

Anybody have recommendations for music in the style of MJH? Preferably something from that time period, especially his "last sessions" recording in the mid 1960s

By the way...MJH had an amazing career...falling totally off the radar around the depression and working as a sharecropper until he was rediscovered 30 years later! Check the link below for a little info on him.

Back in the late 1950's and early 1960's, when I was developing a strong interest in Delta blues and coun try blues, I bought several albums of recordings by MJS and Big Bill Broonzy. During this time period, I lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC, (Kensington, MD), and had the chance to hear MJH at a club appearance in the DC area. He had a wonderful stage presence, with a warm, very human quality -- particularly for someone who had a difficult life. He seemed somewhat nonplussed by his appeal to so many white, middle-class white people, but clearly was having a good time sharing his music.

MJH didn't make many recordings during his lifetime, but the ones he did for Vanguard and Piedmont in the early '60's are probably his best. And for those who like MJH, check out the recordings of Broonzy and Lightnin' Hopkins.
John Lennon even mentioned Hurt as an influence in that famous 1971 interview for Rolling Stone Magazine.
I have a soft spot for Mississippi John Hurt, too. I don't think there are many who combined the grit, sweetness and virtuosity he did. I've always loved listening to him, as well, because everything about his voice, the accent, the lilting rhythm, the words themselves, sounds exactly like my grandparents. They were white but were Mississippi sharecroppers, too.

You might listen to samples of Mance Lipscomb and see what you think. I heard him several times when I lived in Austin in the late 60's and 70's because he lived close by and came into town fairly regularly. His is the only music I can think of that has the simplicity and wry sense of humor as Hurt. He's not quite as polished but another fine example of that same style of playing and singing.
I just got these links. Old footage of Mississippi John Hurt playing. Fantastic! In the first one MJH talks about how he learned how to play the guitar at age 8.




If you like this kind of music, you really owe it to yourself to watch. Very interesting.
Taj Mahal and Alvin Youngblood Hart are both very much disciples of MJH. Also don't miss "Avalon Blues" a MJH tribute album that came out on Vangaurd in 2001. A really great album with tons of cool artists doing MJH tunes. Should be widely available. Happy listening!
Man, you ask a complex question....... When I started playing guitar John Hurt was one of my main influences. I loved country blues and from him I went on and tried to learn as many of the different styles from those old guy's as I could. John Hurt is pretty accessable. It might be hard to get into some of the other blues players of that period at first, but keep listening if this is the case.

Some of my favorites (hopefully you or others might like them too) are: in the Piedmont style, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Bo Carter, and Blind Boy Fuller. Delta blues: Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton (a monster), and Skip James. Texas guy's: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson (another monster), and Muddy Waters (check out the "Plantation Recordings")........ Modern guy's you might like are: Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Paul Geremia, John Hammond Jr. (he made a record recently of all Tom Waits songs, BTW), The Jim Kweskin jug band, and Jourma Koukanen(sp?)..........

John Hurt is everywhere in modern music (or, at least roots variants), but so are a lot of the other old guy's. Listen to some of Beck's records, Wilco, The Rolling Stones, etc.

There was even a lot of cross-pollenation between them and the hillbilly music of that era; check out Jimmy Rodgers (the country one), Bill Monroe, etc.

Sorry to ramble...... hope it's helpful info

Thanks for all the recs guys. I went to amazon and took a listen and bought a bunch of stuff...

Avalon Blues tribute
Mance Lipscomb
blind willie johnson and bill monroe to start.

can't wait.

Once you've digested your current crop of purchases, all of which I second, you might also want to try Bill Morrissey's Songs of Mississippi John Hurt, a 1999 release on Philo. It's an admirable piece of work, and beautifully recorded.