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Information Page: Great Music Through History; Why I Chose These Songs, Listen To The Music



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Pre-Blues








Po'Lazurus
Performed By: James Carter and The Chain Gang
Recorded: 1959
General Information, Signifigance:

This is an actual recording of a Chain Gang singing while splitting wood in 1959, made by one James Carter. Significant because chain gang songs date back to the beginning of Jim Crowe laws in 1867, and the music they make is nearly identical to the sharecroppers songs of the 1900. This is one of the only examples of this very important progenitor of blues and later rock and rap.

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Lonesome Valley
Performed By: The Fairfield Four
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

This is a modern rendition of a very old soul song that has been remade several times. The reason I chose this version because the performers really give the feeling that you are hearing it as it was sung 100 years ago, very moving. It is related to the sharecroppers' music discussed before.

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Go To Sleep
Performed By: Alison Krauss, Gillian Welsch, Emylou Harris
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

A modern rendition of a very old african-american lullaby. The girls' performance is truly inspired, again relates to sharecroppers' soul music.

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Down To The River To Pray
Performed By: Alison Krauss and The First Baptist Choir of White House
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

This old southern religous tunes has definite african-american soul influences, one line that goes 'don't you want to go down' you may notice has a pre-rock n' roll importance.

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Jazz/Swing Guitar (I'll See You In My Dreams)
Performed By: Emmet Raye(?)
Recorded: 1999
General Information, Signifigance:

This is an excellent example of 1920-1930 swing and jazz guitar, it's not hard to see the influence that this music had on rock. This is an awesome song and is very authentic, simlar to the great guitarist Jengo Reinhart.

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O Death
Performed By: Ralph Stanley
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

A great marrying of soul music from the turn of the century and bluegrass, performed by bluegrass genius Ralph Stanley. Compare this song to "O Lord Won't You By Me a Mercedes Bendz" By Janis Joplin. See any similarities?

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Angel Band
Performed By: The Stanley Brothers
Recorded: 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

This beautiful, authentic rendition of this old southern payer/song is truly unique. Mandolins, banjos, guitars all add to this unique song. But the real interest is in the Stanley Bros' haunting voices. This kind of music was a signifcant influence on Rock n' Roll

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I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)
Performed By: The Cox Family
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

Another example of a modern rendition of a southern classic. This is a very old song, and the Cox' Family rendition of this bluegrass classic is a great example of early country rock influence.

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Robert Johnson








Come On In My Kitchen
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936
General Information, Signifigance:

This is one of Johnson's greatest 'pure blues' songs, it is the classic 'guitar/person duet' meaning the guitar's sound exactly mimics the person's words. Recently redone by Chris Thomas King (See, entry, Page, Music Concerning C T King). This is the sound Johnson marries with Jazz and Folk to produce the first rock sounds ever.

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Red Hot
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936
General Information, Signifigance:

This was Johnson's only Swing/Jazz song. It was very important just because it shows Johnson's mastery of this form of guitar player, compare with "I'll See You In My Dreams". This is the sound that Johnson marries with Blues and Folk to create the first rock sounds ever.

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Love In Vain
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936-37
General Information, Signifigance:

An example of Johnson's mastery of folk music, however, this song marries it with the blues to create one of Johnson's most beautiful songs. Compare this song with Hendrix's "Hear My Trains A-coming", they are a little similar. This sound was married with Jazz/Swing sounds to create some of the earliest rock sounds ever.

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Me and The Devil Blues
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936-37
General Information, Signifigance:

Perfect combination of blues and folk music, more blues than folk, however. The subject and words added to the myth of Johnson's deal with the devil.

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Crossroads Blues (Link Soon)
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936-37
General Information, Signifigance:

This may be one of the most important songs ever written. Remade many, many times in whole or in part, this is a choppy but important marrying of Jazz, Blues, and Folk/Early Country music. One can see Johnson's movement from more classic sounds to a new sound combining these older sounds. Some identify this as one of the progenitors of modern rock. Truly a classic, this and 'Traveling Riverside Blues' were the source for Eric Clapton's 'Crossroads'.

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Sweet Home Chicago
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936-37
General Information, Signifigance:

This was one of the first rock songs ever written. Based on an earlier folk song, this has been remade many, many times, and this is wonderfully-written song is known by many. Another enduring classic written by this genius

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Traveling Riverside Blues
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded:1936-37
General Information, Signifigance:

Second perhaps only to Crossroad Blues in importance, this song has been an inpiration to many, has been remade in whole or in part by many artists. Like "Sweet Home.." it is a true rock song, but has a slightly stronger blues influence. This and "Crossroad Blues" are the basis for Eric Clapton's hit "Crossroads"

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Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Performed By: Robert Johnson
Recorded: 1936-37
General Information, Signifigance:

A more blues and jazz heavy rock song. It's very good, but not quite as memorable as "Traveling Riverside..", "Sweet Home.." or "Crossroads.."

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Leadbelly








Goodnight Irene
Performed By: Leadbelly
Recorded: 1935-37
General Information, Signifigance:

This was one of Leadbelly's more blues oriented songs, but it still mostly contains country/folk elements. I've often felt that Leadbelly played too much to his white audiences, often concentrating on simulating swing, jazz and country/folk sounds. He always seemed on the edge of the revolution Johnson's music crated, but afraid to cross that edge. This song, "Jean Harlow" and "In The Pines" probably come closest to that new sound

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Gallow's Pole
Performed By: Leadbelly
Recorded: 1935-37
General Information, Signifigance:

This song shows Leadbelly's blending of folk and jazz tunes, and southern balladry. He often concentrated more on his skill with the guitar, and less on his voice, unlike Johnson, who often used his voice as a multi-purpose instrument. Compare this song with "I'll See You In My Dreams, and Red Hot."

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Jean Harlow
Performed By: Leadbelly
Recorded: 1935-37
General Information, Signifigance:

Like "In The Pines" and "Goodnight Irene", this song comes close to incorporating southern black blues music into the folk/jazz sounds, but like those this is not sufficient to truly call it a rock song or even a precursor. Good song, one of Leadbelly's best.

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This Morning
Performed By: Leadbelly & Woody Guthrie
Recorded: 1935-37
General Information, Signifigance:

This was a classic Leadbelly Folk/Country song. Woody Guthrie does back up intrumentals, they worked together often, as Leadbelly did with many country/folk singers of his time (see Leadbelly Pg.)

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In The Pines (Link Soon)
Performed By: Leadbelly
Recorded: 1935-37
General Information, Signifigance:

Perhaps Leadbelly's greatest song, it like "Goodnight Irene" and "Jean Harlow" were on the verge of something greater. Kurt Cobain remade this song in 1993, adding extra blues elements to create an excellent blues/rock sound that leadbelly failed to fully realize. Both versions are awesome (see Cobain et al)

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Hobo's Lullaby
Performed By: Emylou Harris
Recorded: 1990(s)
General Information, Signifigance:

I added this cover of Leadbelly's 'Hobo's Lullaby' to demonstrate that while Leadbelly's influence on rock and blues could be argued to be less than Johnson's, it could also be argued that his Leadbelly's reach was wider, into more musical areas, than Johnson's

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Recorded:UD
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Muddy Waters & BB King








Hoochie Coochie Man
Performed By: Muddy Waters
Recorded: ca 1943
General Information, Signifigance:

One of Waters' most famous and popular songs, illustrates waters mastery of the blues sound and his interest in African-American 'Hoodoo' Folklore.

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3 O'Clock Blues
Performed By: BB King
Recorded: Ca 1950
General Information, Signifigance:

One of King's most famous songs. A real classic.

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You Don't Know Me
Performed By: BB King
Recorded: Ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

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Thrill is Gone
Performed By: BB King
Recorded: ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

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Help The Poor (Link Soon)
Performed By: BB King
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

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Ridin With The King
Performed By: BB King
Recorded: 2000
General Information, Signifigance:

A great song recently released by BB King and long time friend and collaberator Eric Clapton. An excellent piece showing King's blues and rock talents, his awesome voice and guitar skills. Also proves that he is still making great music, even at 74.

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Can't Be Satisfied
Performed By: Muddy Waters
Recorded:ca 1945
General Information, Signifigance:

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I Feel Like Going Home
Performed By: Muddy Waters
Recorded: ca 1945
General Information, Signifigance:

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50s Rock








Johnny B Goode
Performed By: Chuck Berry
Recorded: ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

Without a doubt Berry's greatest work, a real rock masterpeice. Many say that Chuck Berry, rather than Elvis Presley was the 50s true king of rock, probably because he was popular, made popular music , but many blues elements remain in his work. Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest rock songs ever written, and perhaps the greatest written in the 50s. If Berry was the king, this was his crown!

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Little Queenie
Performed By: Chuck Berry
Recorded: Ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

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Almost Grown
Performed By: Chuck Berry
Recorded: Ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

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Wooden Heart
Performed By: Elvis Presley
Recorded: ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

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Puppet on a String (Link Soon)
Performed By: Elvis Presley
Recorded: ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

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Jailhouse Rock
Performed By: Elvis Presley
Recorded: ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

One of Elvis's greatest and most popular songs, this had heavy country influences, especially dealing with subject matter. (Alot of bluegrass deals with jail and incarceration) However, the blues influences are also evident, especially in his singing. An excellent example of 50s commercialized rock n roll.

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Great Balls of Fire
Performed By: Jerry Lee Lewis
Recorded:ca 1955
General Information, Signifigance:

Perhaps one of the greatest rock songs written in the 50s, Jerry Lee Lewis shows his veristility in this classic. Important that his music was centered around the piano rather than the guitar, showing that blues influences were spreading like (pardon the pun) great balls of fire.

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In The Ghetto
Performed By: Elvis Presley
Recorded: ca 1969
General Information, Signifigance:

In my opinion Elvis' greatest song, 'In The Ghetto' shows him throwing all expectations to the wind and embracing the blues roots that inspired him throughout his career. Sad that this masterpiece had to come so close to his final failure and death

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Eric Clapton et al








Black
Performed By: Rolling Stones
Recorded: ca 1965
General Information, Signifigance:

After the beetles and a few others began a change in rock back to it's more blues roots, the stones steped it up a notch, naming themselves after a Muddy Waters' song, this song, black shows how subject matter in rock was reverting to it's primary beginnings. A classic.

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What Condition
Performed By: Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
Recorded: Ca 1964
General Information, Signifigance:

Again showing the relationship between rock's various roots, Kenny Rogers, most famous as a country song, made this excellent example of early counter-culture blues-heavy rock n roll. A truly excellent tune

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Crossroads
Performed By: Eric Clapton (Cream)
Recorded: Ca 1966
General Information, Signifigance:

While with Cream, Clapton got to realize his full potential by fully evolving the emerging blues/rock marriage to it's ultimate electrified conclusion. In many ways the father of the modern sound, Clapton showed his desire to fully reinfuse blues and rock by writing this trbute to blues master and father of rock, Robert Johnson. This is a combination of his songs 'Crossroad Blues' and 'Traveling Riverside Blues'.

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White Room
Performed By: Eric Clapton (Cream)
Recorded: ca 1966
General Information, Signifigance:

Showing Clapton's versatility this song, along with 'Crossroads' sealed Clapton's fame and ensured him a long and fruitful career. The two songs, as different as night and day, both evoke strong emotions and are true rock masterpieces. White room, to me, like Crossroads, shows Clapton taking center stage, moving beyond his companions in the band, his voice and guitar dominate both songs.

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Bell Bottom Blues (Link Soon)
Performed By: Eric Clapton (Derek and the Dominoes)
Recorded: ca 1968
General Information, Signifigance:

My personal favorite Clapton song, I see this as perfection in the everlasting relationship between rock and blues. The music is a perfect example of classic rock, but the subject and words are pure blues.

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Tears in Heaven
Performed By: Eric Clapton
Recorded: ca 1985
General Information, Signifigance:

Proving that Clapton is and ever growing artist, this is one of his best-known and most popular songs, written nearly 20 or so years after he began his career. Moving, emotional, another example of his mastery of rock sound and blues subject matter.

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Riding With the King
Performed By: BB King and Eric Clapton
Recorded:2000
General Information, Signifigance:

An excellent example of Clapton's many collaberative with blues great BB King, 'Ridin with the King' is a pure rock song, with some blues guitar riffs. The only question in this effort is whose the king? Clapton or BB?

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All Along The Watchtower
Performed By: Bob Dylan
Recorded: ca 1966
General Information, Signifigance:

This was a great way to end this section, because next to Clapton, Hendrix's biggest influence was Dylan,and it's great to see how he took Dylan's rock/blues mixes and expanded on them. This song has been redone many times (see Hendrix section) I know Dylan was a genius, but I often find his music a little...restricted.

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