Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Perfect" ~

Mississippi Fred McDowell

"I shall never forget", wrote Shirley Collins," the first sight I had of Fred in his dungarees, carrying his guitar and walking out of the woods toward us in a Mississippi night." Collins traveling companion and recording genius Alan Lomax recorded McDowell over four nights in 1959. Night time, because during the day McDowell was picking cotton. As Tom Piazza describes the bluesmaker in his book The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax ~ McDowell was "a sharecropper who sang and played slide guitar in juke joints and at dances, he embodied a legacy of black work songs and field hollers. When he performed his "61 Highway Blues" for Lomax, the folklorist wrote a single word beside the entry in his field log: "Perfect."


When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

When the roll is called up yonder

And my hunting days are done

Leave me lay out on some hillside

Where the ole red foxes run

Leave me lay back from the hillside

Where the traffic sounds are not

Where the noisy sounds of progress

Cannot reach my resting spot

Make it where no greedy grasping hands

Will reach to grasp their fill

Make it where all greed's a stranger

On some quiet peacefull hill

Make it by a speckled trout stream

On a hill that greets dawn's sun

Where dedicated houdsmen

Will bring their hounds to run

Make it by some hardwood forest

So that in the fall

The colored leaves will caress this spot

Where from the frost they fall

Leave me lay beside the game trail

Where the mightiest whitetail trod

Let it be where just the mightiest

Leave their hoof print in the sod

And make it where the cross winds

Will blow which ever way

It takes to bring the baying sounds

Of the hounds that pass that way

Make it where the warming sunshine

Brings the earliest signs of spring

Leave me lay beside the tallest elm

Where first the robins sing

Make it far back in the country

When to rest you lay me down

Leave me lay there ever after

'Neath the peaceful country sound

- hunter, poet, and songwriter


from John Miller's
(MIT Press 1992)