This was one of two tracks cut at Hurt’s first session, in Memphis, on Valentine’s Day, 1928. The song shifts in pitch over the course of the track. It starts in ‘B’, and drifts noticeably sharp. Likely the machine used to cut the recording was moving at an uneven speed. Permanent studios used systems such as a weight lowered slowly from a high place to get the platter to rotate at a constant speed (much as a grandfather clock works), but the mobile recording studios set up in hotels and warehouses on trips like this were likely hand-cranked. The same thing happens on Hurt’s recording of Ain’t Nobody’s Dirty Business, recorded on the same equipment at the same session.
Frankie is a variation on Frankie and Johnnie, one of the classic songs in American folk music, in which woman kills her cheating lover. Incidentally, if one were to adjust for inflation the $100 Frankie paid 1n 1928 for Albert’s suit of clothes, you would be looking at a $1124.36 suit of clothes. Not too shabby.
Previous Mississippi John Hurt Posts:
Mississippi John Hurt playing Nobodyâ€™s Dirty Business
Mississippi John Hurt playing Stack O Lee Blues
Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues
Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene
Mississippi John Hurt singing Spike Driverâ€™s Blues