Bessie Smith


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Muddy Water (A Mississippi Moan)


by P. DeRose / Harry Richman / Jo Trent
recording of March 2, 1927
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy C2K-47474),
copyright notice

Dixie1 moonlight, Swanee shore
Headed homebound just once more
To my Mississippi delta home
Southland has that grand garden spot
Although you believe or not
I hear those breeze a-whispering:
"Come on back to me"
Muddy water 'round my feet
Muddy water in the street
Just God don't shelter
Down on the delta
Muddy water in my shoes
Reeling and rocking to them lowdown blues
They live in ease and comfort down there
I do declare
Been away a year today
To wander and roam
I don't care it's muddy there
But see it is my home
Got my toes turned Dixie way
'Round the delta let me lay
My heart cries out for muddy water

Note: " "Muddy Water" is a great record despite the puerility of its lyrics – it's a pop tune that, of all things, sentimentalizes the recurrent Mississippi floods! Compare the guff about "Dixie moonlight, Swanee shore" with the honest and compelling imagery of Bessie's personal reaction to the great Mississippi flood of the same year (1927), which she experienced while on tour (see – or rather hear – Bessie's "Back Water Blues")". George Avakian;
Note 1: Dixie, name for the Southern states of the U.S. First used in the song Dixie (1859) by Daniel D. Emmett;
Note 2: Swanee, or Suwannee, a 250 miles (400 kilometers) long river that flows from South-East Georgia & North Florida South-West into the Gulf of Mexico.

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