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Posts Tagged ‘mississippi john hurt’

I remember going with Nicky Perls up a steep and very narrow stairway near Times Square years ago so my brother could buy bootlegged blues 78s. Later Nicky traveled the South buying up old 78s and rediscovering blues singers like Mississippi John Hurt.

Record collecting can become an obsession, as seen in a Brooklyn Magazine excerpt from Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records, by Amanda Petrusi.

Petrusi says, “In the 1940s, 78 collecting meant jazz collecting, and specifically Dixieland or hot jazz, which developed in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century and was defined by its warm, deeply playful polyphony …

“Because of its origins, collecting rare Dixieland records in 1942 was not entirely unlike collecting Robert Johnson records in 1968, or, incidentally, now: deifying indigent, local music was a political act, a passive protest against its sudden co-optation by popular white artists. …

“In January 1944 [collector James] McKune took a routine trip to [the Jazz Record Center operated by Big Joe Clauberg] and began pawing through a crate labeled ‘Miscellany,’ where he found a record with ‘a sleeve so tattered he almost flicked past it.’ It was a … nearly unplayable copy of Paramount 13110, Charley Patton’s ‘Some These Days I’ll Be Gone.’

“Patton … was almost entirely unknown to modern listeners; certainly McKune had never heard him before. He tossed a buck at a snoozing Clauberg and carted the record back to Brooklyn. As [scholar Marybeth] Hamilton wrote, ‘even before he replaced the tone arm and turned up the volume and his neighbor began to pound on the walls, he realized that he had found it, the voice he’d been searching for all along.’ ”

More here on the world of the impassioned music collector.

Photo: Nathan Salsburg

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