Daily Download: "Louis Collins," Mississippi John Hurt, from the 1928 Ok

"Louis Collins"


Salon Staff
February 16, 2005 1:01PM (UTC)

Although Mississippi John Hurt's music fit right into the '60s folk revival that rediscovered him, the 36-year-old farmworker was something of an anomaly when he recorded this song in 1928. His guitar never wept or moaned or stabbed or scratched, and neither did his voice: With Hurt, all was smooth, mellifluous, retiring. He played the guitar with a delicate sense of the rich, orchestral possibilities of ringing, open harmonies, and with a fluidity and resonance quite unlike any other guitar player at the time. "Louis Collins" is a murder ballad, but a particularly oblique one, dwelling on the sorrow of the murdered man's mother, not the event itself. The melody is improbably upbeat, and sung in Hurt's imperturbably gentle voice, a voice that knows no violence, the song becomes an elegiac fairy tale, far removed from any real tragedy.


Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

BROWSE SALON.COM
COMPLETELY AD FREE,
FOR THE NEXT HOUR

Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address

•••





Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •