Saturday Single No. 746

During the summer of 1942, Alan Lomax, representing the U.S. Library of Congress, was traveling in the southern United States, lugging a bulky recording machine and getting on tape music, essentially, of the people. He was accompanied by John Work of Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee.

A year earlier, at Stovall Plantation, just a few miles south of Friars Point, Mississippi, Lomax (accompanied presumably by Work) had recorded a few songs performed by a tractor driver for the plantation, a young Black man named McKinley Morganfield. In July 1942, again at Stovall Plantation and probably in the city of Clarksdale as well, Lomax and Work recorded more tunes by Morganfield. During the Stovall sessions, the duo also recorded some with Morganfield as a member of a string band called the Son Sims Four.

Morganfield, of course, would eventually be one of the millions of Black men and women who would leave the south during the Great Migration of the mid-Twentieth Century, He would end up in Chicago, where he would be known by his childhood nickname, Muddy Waters, and where he would become one of the giants of the blues

Here’s one of the tunes that the young Muddy Waters performed for Lomax, Work, and the recording machine during the 1942 sessions at Stovall Plantation, the first of two takes of “I Be Bound To Write You.” Its sound is very similar to a song Waters would record in 1948 in Chicago that would become his first hit, “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”

“I Be Bound To Write You” was recorded on July 24, 1942, seventy-nine years ago today, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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