It’s been awhile since I’ve written on this blog. Been doing some writing about baseball for Laballin.com just to show myself that I can be versatile & not just focus on writing about music. It’s fun, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic about music today listening to Jeff Buckley’s cover of “When the Levee Breaks” & so I sought out the original.
Contrary to popular belief it was not written by Jimmy Page or Robert Plant but instead in 1929 by Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Much like Katrina this flood displaced many families & caused floods all through St. Bernard’s Parish.
The song itself has such a nice melody, it’s upbeat & quite the opposite of what the words convey. From the 1920’s-1950’s the blues were such an important musical movement that when the British invasion came in the 60’s much of their material was taken from those old blues classics & revamped into rock n’ roll hits. It’s a testament to those old Blues Masters that they have endured for so long.
It’s sad too that the blues are a seemingly lost art form, gone the way of the dodo. What bastardized forms of blues that are still out there are not nearly as fundamental as those old masters. Stevie Ray Vaughan was an amazing guitarist, but he played electric blues. I refer to old washboard blues. The type of blues that really come from the soul of a man or woman.
I’ll be going to Ireland, Scotland & England for the next few months & one of my missions will be to write about local music from the counties in which I go to, so that I may gain a more worldwide view of blues & rock n’ roll. Until then here are the three versions of, “When the Levee Breaks” that I enjoy most.
When the Levee Breaks – Kansas Joe & Memphis Minnie
When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin
When the Levee Breaks – Jeff Buckley