In the Delta the land was perfectly flat and level
but it shimmered like the wing of a lighted dragonfly.
It seemed strummed, as though it were an instrument
and something had touched it.
–Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding
Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin’ too.
– BB King
The covered railroad marker in the picture below (in tiny Tutwiler, Mississippi) marks the spot where, in 1903, composer WC Handy heard a plantation boy playing strange repeating music on a guitar using a knife to slide the strings and repeating a tune with no chorus. His later attempts to recreate what he had heard would become the blues.
Main street Tutwiler.
Just down the road from Tutwiler is Indianola, home to the King of the Blues himself.
The story goes that BB heard U2 on Saturday Night Live and liked the band, he sent a note to Bono asking if he would write BB a song.
The video is awesome, it shows them hanging out and recording the song at Sun Studios (Bono using the microphone I was holding the other day).
I stopped in at the very impressive and insanely friendly BB King Museum for a planned half hour stop that became two hours.
BB’s office at the time of his death.
The final version of his tour bus sits in the parking lot like a dog waiting for its master.
After Indianola I kept going southeast to Greenville, another blues centre, and home to the Winters brothers and… Muddy Waters!
Lunch at a local cafe, I asked the owner how old it was, she said she didn’t really know but that her family bought it in 1909.
On her suggestion I had the special, chicken and sausage gumbo with rice.
Followed by catfish, collard greens, coleslaw and corn muffin.
And banana pudding, everything great (collard greens not so much).
After lunch (and another blues museum, can’t write about them all) the GPS decided the road below was a highway and put me on it for 45 minutes of extreme back country driving, serious Children of the Corn vibes.
Eventually supervan rounded a bend to see these old abandoned buildings.
And three or four houses like this.
I pulled over and got out to take some pictures of the ghost town and quickly realized it was not a ghost town at all and these houses were not abandoned.
I drove on, checked the map and no town is listed at that spot.
On to Jackson….