Blind Willie McTell is unique among country bluesmen in that he had a 30-year recording career while remaining essentially an itinerant musician, and during his lifetime he was a familiar sight on the streets of Atlanta and other Southern cities as he performed his varied repertoire of blues, rags, and vaudeville pieces on his 12-string guitar. This two-disc set collects McTell’s key songs (whether McTell actually wrote a lot of these songs, or merely adapted them, is unclear, but there is a sharp writer’s eye at work in all of them), including the classics “Statesboro Blues,” “Atlanta Strut,” “Southern Can Is Mine,” “Broke Down Engine Blues,” and “Dying Crapshooter’s Blues,” a thoroughly modern composition in a cut-and-paste narrative style that suggests McTell did have a hand in writing these things.
Born: May 5, 1901 in Thomson, GA
Years Active: ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s
Willie Samuel McTell was one of the blues’ greatest guitarists, and also one of the finest singers ever to work in blues. A major figure with a local following in Atlanta from the…