Muddy Waters


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Interview With Alan Lomax


by McKinley Morganfield a.k.a. Muddy Waters
recording of August 24-31, 1941, Stovall Plantation, Stovall, Mississippi

from The Complete Plantation Recordings (Chess/MCA CHD-9344), copyright notice

Interview no.1, after recording the song, "Country Blues"

Question: I wonder if you'd tell me, if you can remember, ah when it was that you made that blues, Muddy Water?
Answer: I made that Blue up in '38.

Question: Remember the time, the year, the..?
Answer: I made it up 'bout the 8th of October in '38.

Question: Do you remember where you were when you were doin' your singin'? No, I mean, how it happened? No, I mean, where you were sittin', what you were thinkin' about?
Answer: Thinkin' a punchin' on my car. And I'd been mistreated by a girl and it just looked like it run in my mind to sing that song.

Question: Tell me the, tell me a little of the story of it, if you don't mind? I mean if it's not too personal, I mean I wanna know the facts on how you felt and why you felt the way you did, that's a very beautiful song.
Answer: Well, I just felt blue, an the song came into my mind an come to me just like that song and I start to singin' an went on.

Question: Well, when you ah, do you, do you, know is that tune, the tune from any other blues that you know?
Answer: Well, yes, it's been some blues played like that.

Question: What, what tune, other blues do you remember, are like that same tune?
Answer: Well, this song come from the cottonfield and the boy went, put the record out, Robert Young, he put it out, Walking Blues.

Question: What was the title he put it out under?
Answer: He put it out, on as "Man Walking Blues"

Question: Uh-huh, did you know the tune before you heard it on the record?
Answer: Yes, sir, I knew the tune before I heard it on the record.

Question: Uh-huh, who'd you learn it from?
Answer: I learn it from Son House.

Question: Son House, who's that?
Answer: That's a boy, pick a guitar and I don't ...(inaudible)

Question: Oh, and how old, how old is Son House?
Answer: Ah, I'm not even sure his age, he's about forty-two

Question: Did you know Johnson, yourself?
Answer: Robert Johnson? No, I didn't know him, personally

Question: Is a, is a, House a better player than Johnson is, you think?
Answer: I think they both 'bout equal.

Question: Uh-huh, well ah, how did it come to first that you wanted to play the guitar? Why did you decide that you gonna?
Answer: I just loved the music and saw Son singin' an playin' and I just wanted to do it an I took after it.

Question: Well, about how much have you practiced? How many hours when you were first pickin' it up, how long did you have to play everyday to learn how to play?
Answer: An hour and a half to two hours.

Question: Uh-huh, everyday?
Answer: Everyday.

Question: Uh-huh, you remember what the first piece you ever tried to learn was?
Answer: First piece I ever tried to learn was, How Long (Blues) whatever you wanna call it.

Question: Uh-huh, did you learn that from a record or from seein' it?
Answer: I learned that from the record.

Question: How would you do? How would you learn that song?
Answer: We just heard the song, ya know, put out, ah, Leroy Carr (?) put it out.

Question: Would you sit down with the record and play a little of it and then try and play it?
Answer: I just got the song in my ear and then went on and just tried to play it.

Question: Well, how did you learn how to play with this bottle?
Answer: Picked that up from Son House.

Question: Uh-huh, what do you call that?
Answer: Just a bottle-neck. I call it a slide.

Question: You call it a slide?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Wear on your little finger?
Answer: Yes.

Question: And how do you have that guitar tuned? What's the name of that tuning?
Answer: Spanish (strums guitar)

Question: Spanish?
Question: Do you know any other ways to tune the guitar than that?
Answer: Well, I know the natural. Show you the natural.

Question: Do you have another tuning, ah besides that?
Answer: Yes sir, I have another tuning.

Question: What's the name of that other tuning?
Answer: That's just straight E, yes sir.

Question: Straight E? Do you have another name for a straight E?
Answer: Another song for a straight E?

Question: No, I mean no is there any other name for that tuning than straight E?
Answer: Well, we call it, we call it, a "cross noting"

Question: Uh-huh, well can you play that other Country Blues that you played there then while ago that fast one?
Answer: Yes.

Question: In this same tune here?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Well, just a minute, I'll tell you when I'm ready

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