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Mississippi John Hurt playing Stack O Lee Blues

Mississippi John Hurt recorded this in New York City on December 28, 1928, for the OKeh record company. Like Hurt’s other 1928 recordings, it failed to make much of an impact commercially, and the Great Depression obliterated the record industry in short order. Hurt returned to Mississippi and worked as a sharecropper. Though he would occasionally perform at dances and other local events, he never recorded again until his ‘rediscovery’ as part of the 1960s folk revival.

Stack-O-Lee Blues is one of the most frequently recorded ‘bad man’ ballads. That said, I’ve never heard a finer performance. Hurt’s gentle vocal delivery belies the violence of the lyrics, and the wordless vocal in the middle section is a thing of rare, timeless beauty.

Stack O Lee Blues (MP3)
Courtesy of

Previous Mississippi John Hurt Posts:
Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues
Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene
Mississippi John Hurt singing Spike Driver’s Blues

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