Friday, July 31, 2009

Black and white : Black girl

Leadbelly : Black Girl (Where Did You Sleep Last Night ?)


Leadbelly is one of my personal heroes. He was a fantastic performer, and played these simple folk songs with a rare and infectious enthusiasm that is not so common nowadays.

The story of his life reads like a novel (one that I'd love to write), with murders, brothels, prisons, escapes, a pardon from a governor and finally the protection that the Lomax family provided him.

This country boy from Shreveport ended up playing for an audience of New York liberal intellectuals and scholars. Strange destiny.

How this ex-con and criminal spoke with a gentle and almost feminine voice in the interludes between his songs, and how he was said to be kind to children, has never ceased to surprise me.

This song, an adaptation of the folk number "In the Pines", is as dark and threatening as a night in the piney woods of West Louisiana and East Texas where Lead spent the beginning of his life.

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