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I’m a Southern Man  and Mule Ridin’, Talking Blues by Big Bill Broonzy

William Lee Conley Broonzy was born in Scott, Mississippi in 1893, moved with his family to Arkansas and became a plough-hand at the age of 8.  The first blues player he said he ever heard was See-See Ryder, playing a one string cigar box fiddle.  Bill made his own fiddle, and at age 14 began playing picnics.  At 19 he became a preacher for 4 years, then joined the armed services. During WWI he was stationed in France, where as a supply officer he taught himself to read and write by looking at the boxes and cans.  After returning from the war, Bill caught a freight train north leaving the south forever.  6ft. 6in. “Big” Bill Broonzy became an outstanding guitar player, mentoring many a musician while in Chicago.  He recorded over 260 songs of his own, wrote another 100 or so for other people and replaced the deceased Robert Johnson in John Hammond's famous Bessie Smith tribute "Spirituals to Swing" at Carnegie Hall on December 23, 1938.  Big Bill then took the blues on a tour of Europe.  In an interview with Studs Turkel, Bill said that before folks learned to sing the blues they talked the blues.  He played Mule Ridin’, Talking Blues as an example.

Hard Hat Blues... We have come to Scott, Mississippi to record two tunes, Mule Ridin’, Talking Blues and a song that speaks to Bill’s southern heritage, I’m a Southern Man.  Scott is now home to the Delta & Pine Land Company. To get in out of the wind, D&PL lets us record inside an empty seed bin.  The one stipulation is that we wear hard hats while we’re here.  The way we were brought up makes us never question the request.  Hey, the man told us to wear them.  Perspiration pours down out of these plastic turtles on our heads, and the seed bend is hot and sticky.  It has a nice sound however.  Upon some reflection, it would have been hard enough without the hats.