Bessie Smith: Back Water Blues

February 9, 2014 at 5:52 pm (jazz, Jim D, music, New Orleans, song, The blues, tragedy)

Extreme weather and flooding having become a highly-charged political issue in the UK. So I thought Bessie Smith’s blues (superbly accompanied by pianist James P. Johnson) about the flooding of New Orleans in 1927 might be appropriate:

This is dedicated to all the people of the ‘Somerset Levels’ who’ve had to suffer so much over the past weeks. I’d also like to dedicate it to Lord Chris Smith of the Environmental Agency, a decent man whose monumentally inept handling of the situation and lack of PR skills are making it increasingly likely that he’s going to be made the scapegoat for this fiasco.

But, for now, let’s just enjoy Bessie’s incredible voice…


  1. Bessie Smith: Back Water Blues | OzHouse said,

    […] Feb 09 2014 by admin […]

  2. Keith Tanner said,

    I live and learn. Although, I have this recording and not only by Bessie but I never realised it was related to New Orleans. Thanks for the link.

  3. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    1927 flood also inspired Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie – When the Levee Breaks:

    (While I love the Led Zeppelin version you do kind of lose the lyrics).

    Which reminds me its been far too long since I last read the superb Faulkner short story Old Man which covers this very same flood (which BTW inundated the whole lower Mississippi valley and not just New Orleans).

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