Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eating The Animal Kingdom: Catfish Blues

David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Catfish Blues


My wife's diet changes in the past year or so have meant that we are eating a lot more fish than we used to. We live on the water, so fish is plentiful and cheap. Where I live, you don't need no fishing license - you can feed yourself for free. Just dangle a line over the edge (if you are brave enough to eat the fish from a waterway that supports 16 million people!)  But we ain't got no catfish in these parts - far as I know.

The catfish has a venerable heritage. They say it can reach impossible proportions: 150 lbs? They say it was once a staple of the folks who played the early blues. They say that Robert Petaway wrote a song that Muddy Waters adapted and that many others heard and copied. It appears it isn't all that clear who took what and who did what with the conceit, but there are many folk who have a song called Catfish Blues.

Lightnin' Hopkins has a version, B.B. King has a version, Canned Heat has a version and so does Jimi Hendrix. Taj Mahal sings Catfish Blues, too.

Of the many versions I have, "Honeyboy" Edwards, whose version is showcased here above, does the best true blues: just the right number of notes. The wait-time between the notes is just what you want from the blues. You've got the harmonica, guitar and vocals that "hit' it just right to give you the feel - 'most like the catfish itself.

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