At the Library with the Blues

At the library I get to judge albums by their covers and ask strangers for recommendations. Then I get to tell you all about it here on the Paper Crane Collective.  The library is my treasure trove for music I wouldn’t normally listen to, hopefully you’ll enjoy the discoveries or be persuaded to make your own library discoveries. Find me on twitter.

Broke, Black & Blue: An Anthology of Blues Classics and Rarities



The description on the back read: “The enclosed 100 tracks depict the first 20 years of recorded blues history. From cast iron classics to the rarest of the rare tracks, here are some blues you need.” I never knew I needed to hear 100 blues songs until I picked up this worn compilation box set. I was sold when I perused some of the track titles; “Dead Drunk Blues”, “Broke and Hungry Blues”, “Heavy Suitcase Blues”,  “Ashes in my Whiskey”, and “That Woman’s a Pearl Diver” (yes it is dirty),  just to name a few. Play a few while you read on.
Broke, Black, & Blue by NewMusicCo

The booklet that comes with the box set is full of the kind of stories that NPR’s Music Interviews are made of. I read it cover to cover unable to put it down for a second. With modern music I rarely care for the background story, but these blues singers stories were riveting, often concluding with their varied and overly tragic deaths. Some of the featured blues musicians were blind, crippled, born on plantations, professional bootleggers during prohibition painting a believable story that not only did they sing the blues, but they lived them till the day they died of congenital syphilis, car accidents, acute alcoholism, sclerosis, blood poisoning, accidental gunshot wounds and the list goes on and on.

I never thought I’d like this compilation as much as I did, but it was truly an education in a box. When listening to the early blues you really can hear the early makings of everything from hip-hop—they throw down rhymes unbelievably fast—to the more obvious country, jazz, folk and americana. I’ve always heard and read about these early influences but never took the time to actually listen for an extended period. Luckily, the library has afforded me that ability and I feel slightly more musically complete having done so. You can buy this anthology here, I highly suggest checking it out.

1 comment for “At the Library with the Blues

  1. March 26, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    What a treasure to find tracks from the era with such clear sound. Much of what I’ve come across from the period is mucked up or poorly mastered. Wow, just a terrific find. Though my love for the blues first started with an old family friend who introduced me to some of the legends as a child, I really got into the old (with a capital OH) stuff during college. Took a two or three week J-term class on the history of the blues with some friends. It was a bullshit course in terms of impacting our grade point so we brought travel mugs in with us filled to the brim with booze and just did our thing during each 3-hour session. Lomax’s field recordings stand as some of the most important pieces of music in the history of modern civilization as far as I’m concerned.

    Yada yada yada, we all got A’s, and the blues were given a piece of land in my heart where it will forever reside.

    Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *