I had exactly 45 minutes at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport to scarf done one ‘Sam I Am’ burger from Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar before I had to make this connection to San Antonio. That may or may not have been the greatest idea since a burger topped with rosemary ham, pesto and a fried egg (never mind the butt load of tater tots it came with) could end up as the catalyst for the next great airline disaster when my bowels explode at 18,000 ft. Thankfully, I have some more easy-going Texas blues to soothe my angry insides, namely the awesome Leadbelly ‘Sings Folk Songs‘ album.
Blues giant Leadbelly was originally born Huddy William Ledbetter in 1888 in Mooringsport, Louisiana but his family later settled in Bowie County, Texas. Similar to Lightnin’ Hopkins, he wrote songs about angry women, alcohol, prison life (having spent 3 terms in prison for carrying a pistol and murder while fighting over a women – go figure), racism, cowboys, cattle, etc. How Leadbelly actually acquired his popular moniker is open to debate. Most likely it was earned in prison and rumors include it was a tribute to his toughness after being stabbed in the neck or shot in the stomach with buckshot, which, are definitely two viable options of mine if the guy beside me doesn’t stop snapping his gum. Some maintain it was due to his ability to drink moonshine. Another theory put forth by other notable bluesman Big Bill Broonzy holds that it came from a supposed tendency to lay about as if “with a stomach weighed down with lead” in the shade when the chain gang was supposed to be working (a strategy I might adopt myself if the temperatures are as hot in San Antonio as I’ve heard). Some just say it’s a corruption of his surname pronounced with a Southern accent.
Exactly one hundred years later in 1988, Leadbelly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the “Early Influence” category and many of his songs have now been added to the Library of Congress. This particular album contains v
I can help but wonder what Leadbelly might have thought had he known back then that these songs would be later enjoyed by a jet-setting, white, fat guy from Canada?