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Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene

The great guitarist speaks about his earliest recordings on this old clip from Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest show. Hurt had a distinctive three-finger guitar style, in contrast to the two-finger Travis-style picking that most Mississippi players employed. It gave his melodic lines a gentle bounce that complimented his vocal lines beautifully.

By the way, although Leadbelly and Alan Lomax share the copyright on many recordings of Goodnight Irene, neither authored the song. That honor goes to the 19th century African-American composer Gussie L. Davis.