Blues musicians have been writing and singing songs about catastrophes of all kinds since the genre got its start. This has been a common thing in the blues, and other genres, since the beginning of time. Back before there were newspapers, televisions, the internet, and even radio for some families, songs like these were sometimes the only way that many people got to hear about current events, good and bad, all over the world, from floods to earthquakes to tornadoes to the assassinations of U.S. Presidents and Civil Rights leaders. This week, Friday Blues Fix will take a look at a few of these songs......one from the early recording days and a couple of modern blues tunes that have helped keep the tradition alive. We will revisit this topic more extensively at a later date.
Katrina. The title track was very much in the tradition of earlier songs about catastrophic weather events. An event as bad as Hurricane Katrina was bound to inspire some music. About fifteen years earlier, Johnson had penned "Ice Storm Blues (Parts 1 & 2)," a vivid tune about the Great Ice Storm of 1994, which really hit the Mississippi Delta hard. Though Johnson's music never stopped evolving, he always kept an eye on the traditions of the past, so he recorded several songs about current events and tragic happenings during his career.
Hopefully, this is a tradition that will continue in the blues. While it's not as necessary for listeners today, information-wise, the descriptiveness and imagery of these types of songs sometimes gives us the feeling of actually being there.