Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where the Blues Came From

"High Water Everywhere" by David Evans (from yesterday's post) is a very cool chronicle of recordings made about the Great 1927 Mississippi Flood and related events. I would argue there are even more related recordings, though perhaps somewhat coded or oblique in their lyrical content. One comes to mind right off the bat, and I'm sure there are more out there waiting to be rediscovered. Evans discusses Luella Miller's "Muddy Stream Blues" and "Tornado Groan." I would add her "East St. Louis Blues" to the list. The lyrics are transcribed here:


Evans discusses not only the great flood and severe weather conditions of 1927, but also an earthquake that occurred along the New Madrid fault at the same time (on May 7, 1927, to be precise). Were the disasters interconnected? He quotes Dr. Arch Johnston, Director of the Center for Earthquake Research and Information: "[E]arthquakes can be induced or triggered by external changes of surface conditions. One of the best examples is earthquakes induced by artificial reservoirs, and they correlate best with sudden changes in the reservoir water level rather than the absolute level itself. The great 1927 flood would qualify as 'sudden.'"* Wow. Of course, we're now used to the idea of earthquakes triggering oceanic tsunamis, but here we're talking about earthquakes and inland waterways!

For the sake of brevity, I'll pick up on the other chapters at some point. "High Water Everywhere" is an exciting slice of detective work, certainly.

*Nobody Knows Where the Blues Come From: Lyrics and History edited by Robert Springer (University Press of Mississippi, 2006), p. 42.  Photo: Barnes, Louisiana, Madison Parish, May 25, 1927, Mississippi Department of Archives & History, 1927 Flood Photograph Collection.

Today's Rune: Journey.


Charles Gramlich said...

If it hadn't been written then, it might have been after Katrina.

Erik Donald France said...

I've come across three songs with the title "Katrina Blues" so far. One's by Curtis "Rooster" Wheeler.