The Greatest Song Ever Written
Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:49 AM
Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:05 PM
Posted 19 May 2012 - 06:46 PM
The last kind word I heard my daddy say
Lord, the last kind word I heard my daddy say
"If I die, if I die in the German War
I want you to send my money, send it to my mother-in-law."
"If I get killed, if I get killed, please don't bury my soul
I cry, just leave me out, let the buzzards eat me whole."
When you see me comin', look 'cross the rich man's field
If I don't bring you flour, I'll bring you bolted meal.
I went to the depot, I looked up at the sun.
Cried, "Some train don't come, Gon' be some walkin' done."
My momma told me, just before she died
"Lord, blessed daughter, don't you be so wild."
The Mississippi River, you know it's deep and wide
I can stand right here,
See my baby from the other side.
What you do to me baby, it never gets out of me
I mean I'll see ya, after I cross the deep blue sea.
John Jeremiah Sullivan, from Pulphead -
Not many ciphers have left as large and beguiling a presence as Geeshie Wiley's. Three of the six songs Wiley and Elvie Thomas recorded are among the greatest country-blues performances ever etched into shellac, and one of them, "Last Kind Words Blues," is an essential work of American art, sans qualifiers, a blues that isn't a blues, that is something other, but is at the same time a perfect blues, a pinnacle ...
Greil Marcus, the writer of the piece I was fact-checking, mentioned the extraordinary "tenderness" of the "What you do to me, baby" line. It can't be denied. There's a tremendous weariness, too. "It never gets out of me," and part of her wishes it would, this long disease, your memory. ("The blues is a low down achin' heart disease," sang Robert Johnson, echoing Kokomo Arnold echoing Clara Smith echoing a 1913 sheet music number written by a white minstrel performer ...) There's nothing to look forward to but the reunion death may bring. That's the narrow, haunted cosmos of the song, which one hears as a kind of reverberation, and which keeps people up at night.
Edited by Persiflage, 19 May 2012 - 06:46 PM.
Posted 20 May 2012 - 02:53 AM
Every time this topic surfaces, I get the surreal feeling that it's a Tenacious D thread....
I have to say that sometimes when I start a thread, years later I have no idea what my opinion even was and I like to look to see if I hold that opinion. Ever in flux, I usually run about 50/50 on that experiment. However, when this thread resurfaces, I always remember what song started it, and I still agree with my old position.
I do realize that no one song could ever take the trophy. There are simply too many greatest songs ever written. But for me, that particular song still holds the top spot, and I think it will always remain somewhere near the top.