November 14, 2010

If I die, please don't bury my soul...

Synchronicity never fails to blow me away.   Through my exploration of Dex Romweber's music, I just yesterday found a new favorite song--  Last Kind Word Blues, which Dex and his sister Sara recorded with Jack White for release through Third Man Records in 2009.  I had picked up the 7" single when I was at TMR in September and listened to it as soon as I got home, but didn't rip and burn it onto a cd for the car until this weekend.  Much as I enjoy listening to vinyl at home, in the car is where music really sinks into my head.   So, anyway, after a couple of listens, this song had its hooks into me.

"If I die, please don't bury my soul... just leave me out and let the buzzards come and eat me whole" That line was the second of the hooks. The first is the crazy contrast of the vocals. Who on earth would expect Dex's bourbon-soaked croon to work with Jack's manic wail? But it does work, to electrifying effect. Throw in some filthy guitar work and smooth piano and you've got one of the quirkiest blues covers going.

According to the TMR website, the original artist is one Geechie Wiley.  I googled the song last night just to find the lyrics, but didn't go any further than that.  So today, I'm sitting at lunch, reading Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music, and I turn the page and find a chapter headed "let the buzzards eat me whole" (there's that synchronicity).  Sure enough, it contained what little biography there is for Geechie.  One of the few female blues artists of note, she apparently only recorded six songs and left not much more of herself behind.  Damned shame, that, as it sounds as if she had the potential to be on a par with any of the known blues men.

Fortunately, she left a bit of her soul with us before she went.


the gardeners cottage said...

hey t,

i feel the same way about my ipod and walking as you do about driving and listening to cd's in your car.

thank you for the research into this song. i love it too. it makes more sense to me now knowing a woman wrote it b/c the line that always got me was the one saying...when i die send my body to my mother-in-law.

i also love the contrast between their 2 voices too.


KaliDurga said...

Hey J-

Actually, I think that Jack &/or Dex tweaked the lyrics a bit. It seems there's some question about some of the words she sings-- One site I went to had half of them in parentheses, indicating that those sections were guessed at. To me, it sounds as if Geeshie's singing "send my body to my mother, Lord". But another site shows "mother-in-law", as in the Jack/Dex cover.

Interestingly, too, at a message board discussion I found, someone mentioned that her use of "kind" was more in the little-used sense of something supernatural, rather than something nice.

Yet another blues tune that's like a little puzzle.

Peromyscus said...

Here is a 2009 interview/DJ session with the Dead Weather (minus Jack). LJ talks about Jack recording this with Dex and presents the Geeshie Wiley track, among several other ones.

Word verification is "jigrate".

birds fly said...

Glad you enjoyed the post. How are things over here?