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Son House discusses his life and career as a blues musician

BROADCAST: Apr. 19, 1965 | DURATION: 00:40:15

Synopsis

Son House discusses his life and career as a preacher and blues musician. He talks about his family, his religious background as a preacher, and his recent comeback after disappearing from music scene in 1943. He performs several songs during the interview, which have been removed due to copyright.

Transcript

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Studs Terkel The voice is Son House, a legendary blues singer of Mississippi Delta, region of Clarksdale, Son House who disappeared from the scene for some 20 years back in 1943, people thought Son House was dead and he's back. He's not dead. This is not too long after Easter Sunday, and you can -- the resurrection of Son House. [Unintelligible] Son has the song you sang, he's recording now for Columbia. He's one who's been known to blues collectors for many years and in -- during the interim worked as a Pullman porter, before that was a levee camp worker, was a preacher in the Delta of Mississippi. The song you just sang, Son, Son House. The song. "A Death Letter."

Eddie James "Son" House "Death Letter."

Studs Terkel "My Black Mama."

Eddie James "Son" House "Black mama."

Studs Terkel The song, this blues because there was a custom to send those letters with the black borders.

Eddie James "Son" House That's right, exactly, that's right. Sure was. You don't see them around anymore nowadays, but long back in then, the -- that's the way that people would get in touch with the friends or related with one die. They want to write him a letter and then get the envelope with the little black stripe around it, quick as he goes to the mail box and see that, he know is somebody is dead.

Studs Terkel He just shakes his head.

Eddie James "Son" House And he [knows then?].

Studs Terkel There's a line in there, lyric in the blues you just sang, you know, "the blues nothing but a shake and chill," is it, if you never had it I hope you never will."

Eddie James "Son" House "Hope you never will."

Studs Terkel What is the blues to you? The blues.

Eddie James "Son" House Well, now, the blues, well I would just say it, the blues. It's something that you're in love with, something you really love, and care for, and you've been misused maybe, something happened that people didn't treat you [whose and ever it was?] like they should treat you like you treat them. But still you have that love for 'em. Well then, you like to be alone, go off somewhere and get along and think it over yourself, and maybe you'll cry a little about it, then maybe you'll sing a song or something pertaining to the treatment you've got. Well, that's the blues.

Studs Terkel It's

Eddie James "Son" House It is not just a jumpy thing and that jumpy

Studs Terkel Something deep that you feel, or hurt, kind of a hurt.

Eddie James "Son" House Right. Right.

Studs Terkel And then you sing it out.

Eddie James "Son" House That's right. Sing it out of your heart, sing it for fun or [fooshin?], but let it come from the heart.

Studs Terkel This is the blues. It's the way you sing it. I was thinking, Son House, your story, you know, Clark-- the name Son itself is, your real, your full name was James

Eddie James "Son" House Eddie James House.

Studs Terkel Eddie

Eddie James "Son" House But the nickname is "Son."

Studs Terkel Son House. You were with a friend -- when you disappeared, you know, what was the reason? There's, a lot of your friends, blues singers, Charlie Patton, others whom you knew had died.

Eddie James "Son" House That's right.

Studs Terkel And you figured what, that you

Eddie James "Son" House I know well I figured out but just give, give the whole thing up. So I got the idea, which was foolish though, but you know sometime you can think some foolish songs, and foolish things to say. But I looked at it this way: all of them, Robert Johnson, Willie Brown, Charlie Patton all died, we always played together, and they all died, and I got the idea, time I feel any kind of little pain or something, I get the idea so that when we was together maybe it's my time now. I thought I had to go because they was gone, but I'm still around, course I give up playing until he found me.

Studs Terkel See the he is in this instance Dick Waterman, his

Eddie James "Son" House He convinced me, I told him I was too

Studs Terkel His manager

Eddie James "Son" House But he says, "Oh, no. Just come on, try," and so I listened to him, so been a little successful.

Studs Terkel Of course, Dick is right. Of course, John Hammond who for many years has been a friend of blues singers and the first to record the country blues singers, John very excited about the return of Son House and recently has recorded you for Columbia, and of course you're making -- you're going to college now. You're making all the colleges.

Eddie James "Son" House I didn't get it when I was young, now, well I'm young again anywaym you know. The old people say "Once a man, twice that child," well, okay, since I got old and try again, I use the idea, well, I'm an old man but I got young ideas.

Studs Terkel Young ideas, and you've been singing at Harvard, and at the University of California, at various campuses, so Son House made college after all.

Eddie James "Son" House Okay, after

Studs Terkel Think about the early days, the beginnings. You -- your family worked in the field when -- what's your earliest memory? Where was this now? In Clarksdale?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, that was in Clarksdale, out from Clarksdale on plantation, my daddy he was a blacksmith, and so the rest of the family they'd make little, they call them little crops, you know, farming and like that, and then so finally my mother and father they separated, and then my mother takes me with her and we goes to Louisiana. Lake Providence and from there down to New Orleans, like that. And so I'd have to keep up with her, because she never would leave me behind no place.

Studs Terkel How did you take to music, to guitar? Did your mother, father, did -- were they

Eddie James "Son" House Well, my father and his brothers, they were the musicians but they, they didn't, it wasn't guitar, see. They had a little band of their own, and he used to take me around with him, too, and set me on his knee. He's blowing on the big bass horns, and he'd make room enough for the bass horn over there and this knee over here he'd set me on

Studs Terkel You remember sitting on your

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, I remember that just as well as if it was just a while ago.

Studs Terkel Bass horn on one side and you on the other

Eddie James "Son" House -- I'm on the other side. And when he take a drink, this was pure pure whiskey in those days, a little [I.W. Harp?] and all that stuff, he'd go to hell in Arkansas and buy it, you know, by the trunkful. And so he wanted me to have him, I'm a get to talking to the people who excite me, "Come on, let's, this my little buck. Come on, take a bit." I didn't like the stuff. Didn't taste good. Had it been milk or pop or something, I would liked it. In those days.

Studs Terkel And later on your tastes changed, matured, grew.

Eddie James "Son" House I even went to preaching when it changed.

Studs Terkel I want to ask you about the preaching, now I want to come back, go back to the days your father played marching band music.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah yeah yeah. All the [distant?] brothers.

Studs Terkel Well, did you hear blues? You remember your first memories of hearing the blues?

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, I does. Well now, what they were playing, they wasn't blues at that time. They used to play a old song called ["Tie the Rag,"?] you know, so that people could dance by it. ["Tie the Rag!"?] and something like the [de ray?] of blues. No, they didn't played it, I never did hear him play that until they began to break up. And so my daddy he started trying to play a guitar, well, he didn't succeed too much before we joined the church and became a deacon to our Allen Chapel Church. So then he didn't learn to play the guitar and me myself, I hated to see anybody with a guitar, because I was so churchy I didn't believe in no blues or nothing like

Studs Terkel You were very religious.

Eddie James "Son" House I was.

Studs Terkel And the guitar was considered a sinful instrument.

Eddie James "Son" House Sure, yeah, that's the reason I didn't like it, and I fool around in years past in and out, I wind up playing that thing what I used to hate. And the first guy that got my attention to playing a guitar, his name was Ruben Lacey and the other one was named Jay McCoy.

Studs Terkel Where was this?

Eddie James "Son" House This was down in Mississippi, out from Clarksdale.

Studs Terkel Now, this was around Clarksdale.

Eddie James "Son" House Around

Studs Terkel Well, your, the early work you did, the jobs you know. I know that the songs, the blues are connected with your life.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, that's right.

Studs Terkel You worked -- when did you work the -- was the levee camp one of your earliest jobs, working

Eddie James "Son" House Well, I wouldn't, you mean now I was brought up on a farm, you thing like that, do farm work. You cut cane in Louisiana and that's the biggest production we had down there, and rice and stuff like that, and raise cattle. Well now, in Mississippi it's mostly just you know like raising cotton and

Studs Terkel What were the farmers, the sharecroppers singing? What were they singing?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, some of those people sometimes it was just like I was trying to explain to you a while ago. Some of them they get downhearted and been misused and been mistreated. I know [when they plow the old mule on?], that's before tractors came in. Plow the old mule on, and he'd get to thinking about his trouble, and he had a long meter to it so, sometime he'd say something to the old mule, you know. Thing like that called itself singing. "Yeah, get over there, mule. Oh, oh, I'm going away, gee! I won't be back no mo, yea." That kind of [stuff?], see. No music.

Studs Terkel A call like -- there also were field hollers you heard. First, talking to the mule. And [unintelligible]. Is that field holler? could you remember a field holler?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, I used to, but I

Studs Terkel When somebody would call out to someone

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, yeah, then I could remember.

Studs Terkel But the, but this talking to the mule to make the work go less hard.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah. So all this time I sing then they out like that without music. I used to work for the L & N Railroad Company, and it is a custom late in the evening before four o'clock, then we'd have to line track. Think about, it'd be six mens on this side of the rail, and six on the other, and they had little bars, and one guy in the middle he'd start singing, you know, from all the, make the, the move at the same time to move this rail, see. And he'd start to singing real funny songs, you know, "Oh, you can look at the captain," they started clicking the bars, you know, trying to keep up with the marked time. "You can look at the captain, the way he stand, he'd look more like a [farm?] to a railroad man. Hey, hey, hey, ROCK! Hey, hey, hey, ROCK!" See what I mean?

Studs Terkel In time with the work itself, he would lead, and the other fellows would do

Eddie James "Son" House They'd [do it to us?] right.

Studs Terkel Part of the railroad gang [unintelligible].

Eddie James "Son" House That's the railroad days.

Studs Terkel But every song or every holler, everything that was sung was, there was a connection with work or with life, one way or

Eddie James "Son" House Well, it was, yeah, work. The biggest of it was work, because they wasn't, it didn't break too many of 'em's heart between separating you know man and woman. They didn't care too much about that, because you can marry this woman here today. And if you work for some of them guys, you can quit her tomorrow and move out of that house over in this house and then marry again, and she can't say nothing because you's a good worker.

Studs Terkel Yeah. So you mean you

Eddie James "Son" House You didn't have to get no divorce

Studs Terkel You didn't have to because the, as far as the boss was concerned Yeah,

Eddie James "Son" House -- Yeah,

Studs Terkel You did the work, it didn't matter what your life was like one way or the

Eddie James "Son" House That's right. That's right. And fellows who work there are gangs traveled a lot. Chances are they say what do you do in the. Then you worked the levee camp where was this

Studs Terkel where And

Eddie James "Son" House Well, this was that Memphis, Tennessee, go from Memphis down to New Orleans, it's those steamboats you know with the big old propeller behind it, you know. And those are the kind they had, like the old "Harry Lee," and then they had the big "Kate Adam," big "Kate Adam" mostly for passengers. But the other boats, they would haul barrels of molasses and bales of cotton, you know, they'd bale the cotton up in big bales and then they'd ship it and those boats would take it from one port

Studs Terkel You'd be lifting some heavy loads then.

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, wasn't no, wasn't no convenience then but here.

Studs Terkel On your shoulders.

Eddie James "Son" House Had to be a good man.

Studs Terkel Arm and shoulders. They were very heavy, those bales.

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah.

Studs Terkel Barrels.

Eddie James "Son" House That's right.

Studs Terkel You saw the moon, there again work, the levee camp moon was one

Eddie James "Son" House -- Yeah, yeah, that's

Studs Terkel That's one of your favorites. How'd that come in, "The Levee Camp Moon."

Eddie James "Son" House Well, that come in my mind from taking up with the little girl that I thought was most beautiful person in the world to me by being a female, and now I just fell all to pieces to her, you know. Well, I was making a dollar and a quarter a day, 16-hour wage, 16 hours

Studs Terkel Sixteen hours a day.

Eddie James "Son" House Sixteen, that was considered a dollar and a quarter you get

Studs Terkel About six days a week?

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah. Oh, yeah. Six days fully. And I get back, I get my little pay, well I was so crazy about her I just let her have her way with the money. And I come to find out that she wasn't really in love with me, but [time?] was kind of scarce then and that was considered big money. And I come to find out she's just liking my money, not me. And that's why I made that song at the levee camp.

Studs Terkel How's it go? How's it go? [pause in recording] Son House and that true, true levee camp moon. It seems the guitar too was moaning along with the singer.

Eddie James "Son" House There you go, uh-huh.

Studs Terkel Thinking about the guitar you were playing as you remembered that girl and the work, the guitar used in place of the old bottle-neck. You used -- what is that? It's

Eddie James "Son" House Metal

Studs Terkel Copper

Eddie James "Son" House Copper pipe.

Studs Terkel Copper pipe, and the guitar itself is a steel, it's an old-fashioned guitar, steel guitar.

Eddie James "Son" House Yes, it's a National. All steel. National.

Studs Terkel You use that guitar as a weapon, too.

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, sure. If you ain't got a case for it and you hit the streets and it look like it's going to rain, let it rain. It ain't going to do nothing to you. But if it's wood, it'll swell up and [bust?] too, but this won't.

Studs Terkel You get protection for everything else. I'm thinking the levee work you did, the heavy work and these moans and these songs to make the day go

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah.

Studs Terkel Quicker.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah. It goes quicker like that, you forget about what, the work you do and your mind on something else there, something you want to do and you can do a job any time that you go to work and try to do a job that's against your will, if it ain't nothing but break your neck hen eggs on [hathers?], it's a hard job.

Studs Terkel Breaking hen eggs on what?

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, you know, that's an easy, just get up one and just pick it a little bit, you know, that's a easy, of course a baby can do it. But now if you don't have a willing mind to do it, that'll be a hard job.

Studs Terkel And carrying hundreds of pounds of bales

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, it went easy, you know, a dollar and a quarter? Big money in those days, I was a big shot.

Studs Terkel When'd you become a preacher?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, I became a preacher in 1921, and I started off as a licensed preacher. You pay you a dollar and a half to get your license. Well, that don't give you the pleasures of [pastoring?] a church, but it's just like learning, just like a learner's permit, you know. And I

Studs Terkel An apprentice preacher. An apprentice, a learner preacher.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah. And so I soon got over that the next year. Then I was elected to Newsome Chapel Church as a pastor because the old pastor died. See?

Studs Terkel This was where, now, this was where, what?

Eddie James "Son" House This was at -- wait, it's just this side of -- wait, I'll tell you

Studs Terkel Mississippi.

Eddie James "Son" House Roosevelt. No, this is in Louisiana.

Studs Terkel Louisiana.

Eddie James "Son" House Roosevelt, Louisiana. That's where I started to preaching there.

Studs Terkel It's a Baptist church.

Eddie James "Son" House The Baptist is right. So later on a few years, a good many years after that, well I was just [heading on a son turn?] after I learnt, I got it in my mind I want to play guitar. I've been hating guitars. Now I wants to play them, because the first guy I see, he had one of these medicine bottles on his hand to zing with it, you know, and it sounded so good, and I stopped and peaked over the crowd and said, "Jesus, that sounds good." I'm been mad with 'em all the time, you know, except then. And ahen another guy, Willie Wilson and James McCoy, they all played good for Saturday night bowls. And I just got the idea, I say I believe I'll try to learn to play guitar to myself, and so I bought one from a fellow named Frank Hopkin for a dollar and a dollar and half. Thinking what does he want, his is all torn up, it wasn't no good, but I didn't know any better, no, because I didn't know about the guitar.

Studs Terkel You had yourself a problem, though. You were a preacher. You were following the word of the Lord and the guitar is sinful, but at the same something inside you said you liked that guitar.

Eddie James "Son" House Then I, that's where I started slipping that, see.

Studs Terkel When you preached a sermon, what sort of sermon did you preach?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, I tell you the truth. Now, when I first started off as a post pastor and a licensed preacher, while I didn't know too much, I knowed quite a bit in a way because I was brought up in Sunday school, and that's I didn't believe in nothing but the church, and I knowed a good little bit, but after I went to preaching, well then I learned more and more in reading, you know, reading the Bible and finally it worked on up, I got to be pastor, and then worked on up to I turn in later and then I got to be a pastor of the C.M.E. church, that mean Colored Methodist Episcopal church, and I did that for a good while, and I still studied, you know what I mean? And so it wound up that I practically I used to boast about it, that I knowed everything that it was in the King James version of the Bible. I said now, it has 39 books in the Old Testament, 27 in the New. That's 66 books, from the Genesis to the Revelation. I studied hard all the way through, plum on to the back, to the

Studs Terkel You tell the story of Job

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah, all that, everything that dawn and all what happened.

Studs Terkel Seven little fishes, five loaves of bread.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, yeah, and out of those 26 letters in the in the Bible, or the conclusion of this, I even got it down to words. We used to have a thing called Debating Society, who could bring up the most points in the Bible. That is a little place called Rooks, Mississippi, and Reverend Mike Duffy, he was the moderator. Never will forget it. So I had then studied so hard and all the way through, so I got it down pat and I explained it to them, and then outlined it, too. I say, "Well, now, even, not only knowing how many books in the Bible, I say I can tell you how many words that spoken from the Genesis to the Revelation." "Aw, no, no, no, we don't believe that." I said, "Okay, allow me to chance that." Says, "How many, then?" I said, "Seven hundred and seventy three thousand, six hundred and eighty two words are spoken from Genesis to the Revelation."

Studs Terkel Nobody challenged you on that.

Eddie James "Son" House No, they didn't challenge.

Studs Terkel They wouldn't [unintelligible] challenge. Son House, or Reverend Son House now we could say, and what were some of the music, the church music you used to hear then or play that, you remember some of the hymns or the

Eddie James "Son" House Oh yeah, I remember. A lot of them I used to know quite a few, but after I got out the church, quit playing, everything, a lot of this song the verses I forget and lessen I hear somebody say a verse or something in it, I says, "Oh, yeah, that's right, I remember that." [Unintelligible].

Studs Terkel How does one go, say without the guitar? You know.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, well, well one, what they used to love to sing and it's just like they gonna run the revival meeting. Well, they often use this at the first beginning.

Studs Terkel Sort of like a song sermon, in a way,

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah, this slow, you know, and just like

Studs Terkel And the congregation would respond, too.

Eddie James "Son" House Oh yeah, the whole church, they all get together, sounds so good, you know.

Studs Terkel The song heard these days, sung revived, "I shall not be moved," that's what the young people sing.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, we used to sing that.

Studs Terkel That was a church song,

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, that's right, exactly. That

Studs Terkel Could you do one verse from that? Is that too difficult to ask you to [retune?] one verse of that, just?

Eddie James "Son" House Okay.

Studs Terkel The way it was, sounded in church [fades out]. Funny, as you sing that, the guitar is almost saying the words, too, answering. You left the word hang and the guitar picks it up.

Eddie James "Son" House Picks

Studs Terkel Funny, as you hear people sing it today, we know where it came from. That's true. Yeah that's why you had this battle with yourself Son House you had this battle you were a preacher. The guitar was sinful but you liked that guitar. Yeah like. And so what happened then. And you started playing and

Eddie James "Son" House

Studs Terkel

Eddie James "Son" House The voice is Son House, a legendary blues singer of Mississippi Delta, region of Clarksdale, Son House who disappeared from the scene for some 20 years back in 1943, people thought Son House was dead and he's back. He's not dead. This is not too long after Easter Sunday, and you can -- the resurrection of Son House. [Unintelligible] Son has the song you sang, he's recording now for Columbia. He's one who's been known to blues collectors for many years and in -- during the interim worked as a Pullman porter, before that was a levee camp worker, was a preacher in the Delta of Mississippi. The song you just sang, Son, Son House. The song. "A Death Letter." "Death Letter." "My Black Mama." "Black mama." The song, this blues because there was a custom to send those letters with the black borders. That's right, exactly, that's right. Sure was. You don't see them around anymore nowadays, but long back in then, the -- that's the way that people would get in touch with the friends or related with one die. They want to write him a letter and then get the envelope with the little black stripe around it, quick as he goes to the mail box and see that, he know is somebody is dead. He just shakes his head. And he [knows then?]. There's a line in there, lyric in the blues you just sang, you know, "the blues nothing but a shake and chill," is it, if you never had it I hope you never will." "Hope you never will." What is the blues to you? The blues. Well, now, the blues, well I would just say it, the blues. It's something that you're in love with, something you really love, and care for, and you've been misused maybe, something happened that people didn't treat you [whose and ever it was?] like they should treat you like you treat them. But still you have that love for 'em. Well then, you like to be alone, go off somewhere and get along and think it over yourself, and maybe you'll cry a little about it, then maybe you'll sing a song or something pertaining to the treatment you've got. Well, that's the blues. It's It is not just a jumpy thing and that jumpy Something deep that you feel, or hurt, kind of a hurt. Right. Right. And then you sing it out. That's right. Sing it out of your heart, sing it for fun or [fooshin?], but let it come from the heart. This is the blues. It's the way you sing it. I was thinking, Son House, your story, you know, Clark-- the name Son itself is, your real, your full name was James -- Eddie James House. Eddie But the nickname is "Son." Son House. You were with a friend -- when you disappeared, you know, what was the reason? There's, a lot of your friends, blues singers, Charlie Patton, others whom you knew had died. That's right. And you figured what, that you -- I know well I figured out but just give, give the whole thing up. So I got the idea, which was foolish though, but you know sometime you can think some foolish songs, and foolish things to say. But I looked at it this way: all of them, Robert Johnson, Willie Brown, Charlie Patton all died, we always played together, and they all died, and I got the idea, time I feel any kind of little pain or something, I get the idea so that when we was together maybe it's my time now. I thought I had to go because they was gone, but I'm still around, course I give up playing until he found me. See the he is in this instance Dick Waterman, his -- He convinced me, I told him I was too old. His manager But he says, "Oh, no. Just come on, try," and so I listened to him, so been a little successful. Of course, Dick is right. Of course, John Hammond who for many years has been a friend of blues singers and the first to record the country blues singers, John very excited about the return of Son House and recently has recorded you for Columbia, and of course you're making -- you're going to college now. You're making all the colleges. I didn't get it when I was young, now, well I'm young again anywaym you know. The old people say "Once a man, twice that child," well, okay, since I got old and try again, I use the idea, well, I'm an old man but I got young ideas. Young ideas, and you've been singing at Harvard, and at the University of California, at various campuses, so Son House made college after all. Okay, after all. Think about the early days, the beginnings. You -- your family worked in the field when -- what's your earliest memory? Where was this now? In Clarksdale? Well, that was in Clarksdale, out from Clarksdale on plantation, my daddy he was a blacksmith, and so the rest of the family they'd make little, they call them little crops, you know, farming and like that, and then so finally my mother and father they separated, and then my mother takes me with her and we goes to Louisiana. Lake Providence and from there down to New Orleans, like that. And so I'd have to keep up with her, because she never would leave me behind no place. How did you take to music, to guitar? Did your mother, father, did -- were they -- Well, my father and his brothers, they were the musicians but they, they didn't, it wasn't guitar, see. They had a little band of their own, and he used to take me around with him, too, and set me on his knee. He's blowing on the big bass horns, and he'd make room enough for the bass horn over there and this knee over here he'd set me on it. You remember sitting on your father's Oh, I remember that just as well as if it was just a while ago. Bass horn on one side and you on the other -- I'm on the other side. And when he take a drink, this was pure pure whiskey in those days, a little [I.W. Harp?] and all that stuff, he'd go to hell in Arkansas and buy it, you know, by the trunkful. And so he wanted me to have him, I'm a get to talking to the people who excite me, "Come on, let's, this my little buck. Come on, take a bit." I didn't like the stuff. Didn't taste good. Had it been milk or pop or something, I would liked it. In those days. And later on your tastes changed, matured, grew. I even went to preaching when it changed. I want to ask you about the preaching, now I want to come back, go back to the days your father played marching band music. Yeah yeah yeah. All the [distant?] brothers. Well, did you hear blues? You remember your first memories of hearing the blues? Yeah, I does. Well now, what they were playing, they wasn't blues at that time. They used to play a old song called ["Tie the Rag,"?] you know, so that people could dance by it. ["Tie the Rag!"?] and something like the [de ray?] of blues. No, they didn't played it, I never did hear him play that until they began to break up. And so my daddy he started trying to play a guitar, well, he didn't succeed too much before we joined the church and became a deacon to our Allen Chapel Church. So then he didn't learn to play the guitar and me myself, I hated to see anybody with a guitar, because I was so churchy I didn't believe in no blues or nothing like that. You were very religious. I was. And the guitar was considered a sinful instrument. Sure, yeah, that's the reason I didn't like it, and I fool around in years past in and out, I wind up playing that thing what I used to hate. And the first guy that got my attention to playing a guitar, his name was Ruben Lacey and the other one was named Jay McCoy. Where was this? This was down in Mississippi, out from Clarksdale. Now, this was around Clarksdale. Around Well, your, the early work you did, the jobs you know. I know that the songs, the blues are connected with your life. Yeah, that's right. You worked -- when did you work the -- was the levee camp one of your earliest jobs, working [in Well, I wouldn't, you mean now I was brought up on a farm, you thing like that, do farm work. You cut cane in Louisiana and that's the biggest production we had down there, and rice and stuff like that, and raise cattle. Well now, in Mississippi it's mostly just you know like raising cotton and corn. What were the farmers, the sharecroppers singing? What were they singing? Well, some of those people sometimes it was just like I was trying to explain to you a while ago. Some of them they get downhearted and been misused and been mistreated. I know [when they plow the old mule on?], that's before tractors came in. Plow the old mule on, and he'd get to thinking about his trouble, and he had a long meter to it so, sometime he'd say something to the old mule, you know. Thing like that called itself singing. "Yeah, get over there, mule. Oh, oh, I'm going away, gee! I won't be back no mo, yea." That kind of [stuff?], see. No music. A call like -- there also were field hollers you heard. First, talking to the mule. And [unintelligible]. Is that field holler? could you remember a field holler? Well, I used to, but I -- When somebody would call out to someone else. Yeah, yeah, then I could remember. But the, but this talking to the mule to make the work go less hard. Yeah. So all this time I sing then they out like that without music. I used to work for the L & N Railroad Company, and it is a custom late in the evening before four o'clock, then we'd have to line track. Think about, it'd be six mens on this side of the rail, and six on the other, and they had little bars, and one guy in the middle he'd start singing, you know, from all the, make the, the move at the same time to move this rail, see. And he'd start to singing real funny songs, you know, "Oh, you can look at the captain," they started clicking the bars, you know, trying to keep up with the marked time. "You can look at the captain, the way he stand, he'd look more like a [farm?] to a railroad man. Hey, hey, hey, ROCK! Hey, hey, hey, ROCK!" See what I mean? In time with the work itself, he would lead, and the other fellows would do this They'd [do it to us?] right. Part of the railroad gang [unintelligible]. That's the railroad days. But every song or every holler, everything that was sung was, there was a connection with work or with life, one way or another. Well, it was, yeah, work. The biggest of it was work, because they wasn't, it didn't break too many of 'em's heart between separating you know man and woman. They didn't care too much about that, because you can marry this woman here today. And if you work for some of them guys, you can quit her tomorrow and move out of that house over in this house and then marry again, and she can't say nothing because you's a good worker. Yeah. So you mean you -- You didn't have to get no divorce or You didn't have to because the, as far as the boss was concerned -- Yeah, You did the work, it didn't matter what your life was like one way or the other. That's right. That's right. And fellows who work there are gangs traveled a lot. Chances are they say what do you do in the. Then you worked the levee camp where was this where And Well, this was that Memphis, Tennessee, go from Memphis down to New Orleans, it's those steamboats you know with the big old propeller behind it, you know. And those are the kind they had, like the old "Harry Lee," and then they had the big "Kate Adam," big "Kate Adam" mostly for passengers. But the other boats, they would haul barrels of molasses and bales of cotton, you know, they'd bale the cotton up in big bales and then they'd ship it and those boats would take it from one port to You'd be lifting some heavy loads then. Oh, wasn't no, wasn't no convenience then but here. On your shoulders. Had to be a good man. Arm and shoulders. They were very heavy, those bales. Oh, yeah. Sure. Barrels. That's right. You saw the moon, there again work, the levee camp moon was one -- Yeah, yeah, that's it. That's one of your favorites. How'd that come in, "The Levee Camp Moon." Well, that come in my mind from taking up with the little girl that I thought was most beautiful person in the world to me by being a female, and now I just fell all to pieces to her, you know. Well, I was making a dollar and a quarter a day, 16-hour wage, 16 hours -- Sixteen hours a day. Sixteen, that was considered a dollar and a quarter you get -- About six days a week? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Six days fully. And I get back, I get my little pay, well I was so crazy about her I just let her have her way with the money. And I come to find out that she wasn't really in love with me, but [time?] was kind of scarce then and that was considered big money. And I come to find out she's just liking my money, not me. And that's why I made that song at the levee camp. How's it go? How's it go? [pause in recording] Son House and that true, true levee camp moon. It seems the guitar too was moaning along with the singer. There you go, uh-huh. Thinking about the guitar you were playing as you remembered that girl and the work, the guitar used in place of the old bottle-neck. You used -- what is that? It's a Metal Copper Copper pipe. Copper pipe, and the guitar itself is a steel, it's an old-fashioned guitar, steel guitar. Yes, it's a National. All steel. National. You use that guitar as a weapon, too. Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, sure. If you ain't got a case for it and you hit the streets and it look like it's going to rain, let it rain. It ain't going to do nothing to you. But if it's wood, it'll swell up and [bust?] too, but this won't. You get protection for everything else. I'm thinking the levee work you did, the heavy work and these moans and these songs to make the day go -- Yeah. Quicker. Yeah. It goes quicker like that, you forget about what, the work you do and your mind on something else there, something you want to do and you can do a job any time that you go to work and try to do a job that's against your will, if it ain't nothing but break your neck hen eggs on [hathers?], it's a hard job. Breaking hen eggs on what? Yeah, you know, that's an easy, just get up one and just pick it a little bit, you know, that's a easy, of course a baby can do it. But now if you don't have a willing mind to do it, that'll be a hard job. And carrying hundreds of pounds of bales of Oh, it went easy, you know, a dollar and a quarter? Big money in those days, I was a big shot. When'd you become a preacher? Well, I became a preacher in 1921, and I started off as a licensed preacher. You pay you a dollar and a half to get your license. Well, that don't give you the pleasures of [pastoring?] a church, but it's just like learning, just like a learner's permit, you know. And I started An apprentice preacher. An apprentice, a learner preacher. Yeah. And so I soon got over that the next year. Then I was elected to Newsome Chapel Church as a pastor because the old pastor died. See? This was where, now, this was where, what? This was at -- wait, it's just this side of -- wait, I'll tell you in Mississippi. Roosevelt. No, this is in Louisiana. Louisiana. Roosevelt, Louisiana. That's where I started to preaching there. It's a Baptist church. The Baptist is right. So later on a few years, a good many years after that, well I was just [heading on a son turn?] after I learnt, I got it in my mind I want to play guitar. I've been hating guitars. Now I wants to play them, because the first guy I see, he had one of these medicine bottles on his hand to zing with it, you know, and it sounded so good, and I stopped and peaked over the crowd and said, "Jesus, that sounds good." I'm been mad with 'em all the time, you know, except then. And ahen another guy, Willie Wilson and James McCoy, they all played good for Saturday night bowls. And I just got the idea, I say I believe I'll try to learn to play guitar to myself, and so I bought one from a fellow named Frank Hopkin for a dollar and a dollar and half. Thinking what does he want, his is all torn up, it wasn't no good, but I didn't know any better, no, because I didn't know about the guitar. You had yourself a problem, though. You were a preacher. You were following the word of the Lord and the guitar is sinful, but at the same something inside you said you liked that guitar. Then I, that's where I started slipping that, see. When you preached a sermon, what sort of sermon did you preach? Well, I tell you the truth. Now, when I first started off as a post pastor and a licensed preacher, while I didn't know too much, I knowed quite a bit in a way because I was brought up in Sunday school, and that's I didn't believe in nothing but the church, and I knowed a good little bit, but after I went to preaching, well then I learned more and more in reading, you know, reading the Bible and finally it worked on up, I got to be pastor, and then worked on up to I turn in later and then I got to be a pastor of the C.M.E. church, that mean Colored Methodist Episcopal church, and I did that for a good while, and I still studied, you know what I mean? And so it wound up that I practically I used to boast about it, that I knowed everything that it was in the King James version of the Bible. I said now, it has 39 books in the Old Testament, 27 in the New. That's 66 books, from the Genesis to the Revelation. I studied hard all the way through, plum on to the back, to the Revelation. You tell the story of Job and Oh, yeah, all that, everything that dawn and all what happened. Seven little fishes, five loaves of bread. Yeah, yeah, and out of those 26 letters in the in the Bible, or the conclusion of this, I even got it down to words. We used to have a thing called Debating Society, who could bring up the most points in the Bible. That is a little place called Rooks, Mississippi, and Reverend Mike Duffy, he was the moderator. Never will forget it. So I had then studied so hard and all the way through, so I got it down pat and I explained it to them, and then outlined it, too. I say, "Well, now, even, not only knowing how many books in the Bible, I say I can tell you how many words that spoken from the Genesis to the Revelation." "Aw, no, no, no, we don't believe that." I said, "Okay, allow me to chance that." Says, "How many, then?" I said, "Seven hundred and seventy three thousand, six hundred and eighty two words are spoken from Genesis to the Revelation." Nobody challenged you on that. No, they didn't challenge. They wouldn't [unintelligible] challenge. Son House, or Reverend Son House now we could say, and what were some of the music, the church music you used to hear then or play that, you remember some of the hymns or the spirituals? Oh yeah, I remember. A lot of them I used to know quite a few, but after I got out the church, quit playing, everything, a lot of this song the verses I forget and lessen I hear somebody say a verse or something in it, I says, "Oh, yeah, that's right, I remember that." [Unintelligible]. How does one go, say without the guitar? You know. Yeah, well, well one, what they used to love to sing and it's just like they gonna run the revival meeting. Well, they often use this at the first beginning. Sort of like a song sermon, in a way, wouldn't Oh, yeah, this slow, you know, and just like that. And the congregation would respond, too. Oh yeah, the whole church, they all get together, sounds so good, you know. The song heard these days, sung revived, "I shall not be moved," that's what the young people sing. Yeah, we used to sing that. That was a church song, wasn't Yeah, that's right, exactly. That -- Could you do one verse from that? Is that too difficult to ask you to [retune?] one verse of that, just? Okay. The way it was, sounded in church [fades out]. Funny, as you sing that, the guitar is almost saying the words, too, answering. You left the word hang and the guitar picks it up. Picks Funny, as you hear people sing it today, we know where it came from. That's true. Yeah that's why you had this battle with yourself Son House you had this battle you were a preacher. The guitar was sinful but you liked that guitar. Yeah like. And so what happened then. And you started playing and then That's Well, Yeah,

Studs Terkel And so what happened then? Then you started playing in various clubs?

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, yeah, that's what happened, I [showed they? surely then?], it didn't take me too long to play two little tunes, and I say in about two weeks' time I was hitting it good enough 'til they'd even come at me, they'd come to play for Saturday night balls. I said, "Well, geez, I don't know about two songs, I'm just learning." "That's all right. We want to hear that one then." So I'd go and play the Saturday night ball.

Studs Terkel What would you do there? What would you do there, at the, say Saturday night balls, this would be at the, in anywhere, if you ballrooms, halls.

Eddie James "Son" House Well, most of them was way

Studs Terkel In the taverns.

Eddie James "Son" House Plantations, out in the country, you know how

Studs Terkel -- The stores, looking for [common?] [unintelligible]. But they worked all six days a week?

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah, well, some of them would work up until noontime on a Saturday, see, and the rest of the afternoon they'd get their little pay. Then they'd go to a different little town to do their little trading, they do what little money

Studs Terkel And have a little fun?

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, have a little fun, oh, they's very happy, they could have a dollar and a quarter, dollar and a half or two dollars in his pocket, always as happy as a lark.

Studs Terkel Just

Eddie James "Son" House Sure.

Studs Terkel That is for that night, until the buck and a half lasted.

Eddie James "Son" House That's right!

Studs Terkel But what was it, what would you play there? Easy -- I'm thinking when they used to sing and dance in the places, the stores, the taverns, what kind of music would you play there?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, it, it

Studs Terkel would Stomp.

Eddie James "Son" House Most of it would be blues. And then we used to have a lot of guys that'd go around and used to do what they used to call the buck dance, by himself, and then we'd get in that tune in with him, you know, for that particular stroke, well like a buck. Something like that, that's buck dance they call, but when we get to the house or where the party's gonna be, then we go to the straight out old blues down in the [sand?], and you know what [long beat is?] to the words, in fact it'd been in some of this songs. They didn't care what you said, and it didn't make no difference. They's all full of moonshine and all them wasn't full of moonshine was dipping snuff and sometimes they'd get that snuff and moonshine mixed together, and then it would be a mess.

Studs Terkel Everything just to forget those six days.

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, sure, sure.

Studs Terkel You, you spoke of the buck dance,you yourself as you were playing, you'd almost dance yourself, wouldn't

Eddie James "Son" House you? Yeah, yeah, I used to do the old buck my own self. Sometime I'd sit the guitar down a while and let Willie Brown play the buck by himself, see, me and Willie used to play together.

Studs Terkel Willie Brown used to

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah. And I says, "Well, I'm going to set mine down and now you play the buck."

Studs Terkel Could you remember a buck dance? How it went?

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah.

Studs Terkel How'd it going?

Eddie James "Son" House My feet.

Studs Terkel Just feet only, wouldn't

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah. Uh-huh.

Studs Terkel Would use the guitar, too, on that?

Eddie James "Son" House No, no.

Studs Terkel You're just feet only.

Eddie James "Son" House That's

Studs Terkel But you'd play "Shake It and Break It" though, wouldn't you play "Shake It

Eddie James "Son" House Well, yeah, we used to play that quite a bit. Yeah, that's some of Charlie

Studs Terkel Charlie Patton

Eddie James "Son" House [Unintelligible] play that, you know, so then a lot of us, we went to playing it, too, after we went to playing together, then we played the thing,

Studs Terkel Do you remember how it went? Do you remember

Eddie James "Son" House Well, I know, I because I have, I know some verses of it, but I've forgotten all that whole routine of it, and that's the reason I don't play

Studs Terkel But I suppose now, I'm thinking, Son House, as you're talking, suppose since you gave up preaching and you played the guitar, though two lives became one here, because there's a song of yours called "Preaching the Blues."

Eddie James "Son" House That's right! So I learned that the people are sometimes or I'm playing at about this preachin' blues, [and a system?] because I used to didn't believe in nothing but the church and God, and then I turned in after taking this first drink of this old bad corn whiskey, then I got another idea then in watching these guys play the guitar, and they sounding, suit me, I used to didn't like the sound of them. Come and suit me and then I begin to, I want to learn to play the guitar. So that's the way that started.

Studs Terkel Well, you've got that steel guitar on your knee just the way your father used to hold you on your knee

Eddie James "Son" House -- Oh, yeah, over on, on this side.

Studs Terkel How would, how would "Preaching the Blues" go? How would it go?

Eddie James "Son" House "Preaching Blues?"

Studs Terkel I wish I had a heaven of my own, I'd give all my congregation a happy home.

Eddie James "Son" House A long, long happy home.

Studs Terkel A long, long happy home. That's the dream of the Reverend Son House.

Eddie James "Son" House Right. Right.

Studs Terkel Of course, you were kidding. And you're singing this song, you were kidding in a way at certain kinds of preachers.

Eddie James "Son" House Sure, sure, sure. See, there's two different colors, there's God one hand, devil on the other. You know they don't get along too well together, see. 'Cause God don't believe in what he believe in, and he don't believe in what God wants done, but he will try to change around him make out like that God's wrong and he's right. Well, God is not as grouchy as him. He say if he will, he shall, you won't be [ashamed?], He leave it up to you. But the devil ain't [unintelligible]. He gonna try his best to convert you into some of his, he knew it's against you. But that's the way he wants you, see? So he always is on hand. He don't never leave you, hardly. He always nearby somewhere, trying to whisper something in your ear to do. [Unintelligible]

Studs Terkel So man, where is man, he's in between the two.

Eddie James "Son" House He's between

Studs Terkel So he gets a touch

Eddie James "Son" House Just like the [sap in the bar?], see? Well, you take you all right. You say, Job for it. The trouble he had. He was a rich man. And then he consulted with God about making Job cuss him to his face. He had so much faith in Job, said, "Oh, no, I bet he won't cuss me." He said, "All right." Said, "Turn him over to me. I'll show you." Now, this is all this is Bible. And he did it and so he asked him, asked saving him to save him, save his soul, he meant don't kill him now. But all of this stuff, [purge?] and stuff, you can put on him, just try and see if he curse me. So he did it. He [unintelligible] out the wilderness, killed up all his cattle, killed up everything he had, so he thought about, now in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, well, now he crawled into the Garden of Eden as a serpent, but he didn't have the nerve to talk to Adam to break this law by don't eat of this tree in the [mitt?]. 'Cause he figured out that Adam was too strong, he went to Eve, while he was aways, and he told her, said, "Why don't you cuss God and die?" See, now he done told God he'd make him cuss and now he tell her but he won't tell Adam to do that, the man, and finally he kept on talking with him, he convinced her to eat of the unforbidden fruit. She did it, so directly here come Adam. He comes up, and Adam, he knows what done happen, 'cause he said, "Oh, my gosh, she done broke God's law." He said, "Now what am I gonna do?" He done got attached to Eve, he began to love her. She's made of one rib from him, see. And so he just decided, said, "Well, I reckon I just [unintelligible] and eat of the unforbidden fruit too, because I know He gone put her out. And then if I eat with 'em, then He put me and her both out, and we can still be together." See what I mean? So they did it, and so God come down to [call it a day?] and called him by his name. He refused to answer 'cause he's naked and ashamed. He put him out in the dark wood with the [accents?] of death, because He told me he should surely die if you violate this law. And then he lived 930 years with the expectation of death. So they got their first two kids, Cain and Abel. So one killed Cain -- Abel. Over jealousy. So that's why I brought in another point, I'll make it as snappy as I can about at [Roxie? Rucks?], Mississippi, we'd have these little meetings on Wednesday night, and the Reverend [Mike Duffy?], he was the, he was the moderator. And I said, "Moderator, just a minute." He says, "Okay, get it?" I stood up. "What is it?" I says, "I want to see if anybody in the audience believe in this." I said, "Now, I'll tell you straight before I start. I say I don't mean kids being born in hospitals or at home and like that. I said, I'm telling you now at the start with. I say do anybody in here believe that a child can be born before their mother? Or their parents?" He says, "Oh, geez you plumb, you plumb out of reason. I, no, that's impossible." I said, "No," I said "Let me have a chance to prove it." "All right, go ahead, go ahead if you can prove that, that we want to hear, because we all know it's impossible." I said, "No, it's a simple thing. I said, now God made man, on the sixth day, M-A-D-E, made him, and then after that he put him back to sleep, he put him another operation on him and split him open and took one rib out his side and then he made a woman. This is already M-A-N, but just a W and an O added on to it, spell woman," I said, "and he did that." I said, "All right now. And he woke him up and say what you gonna call that?" And he looked at her, says she's bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. She should be called a woman. Well, God let him do the naming of these things. So then after the violation they was driven out and she got her sentence and Adam got his sentence, just [unintelligible], okay, then she comes up with two kids named Cain and Abel. Well, she birthed them, but now Eve, she wasn't birthed at all, she was M-A-D-E, made, it's different in birth than made, see. M-A-D-E, made from one rib from his side. She wasn't birthed at all, but she birthed Cain and Abel." I said, "Now that, ain't that, children born before their mother because their mother wasn't

Studs Terkel So you did it.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah.

Studs Terkel You caught 'em.

Eddie James "Son" House Oh, yeah.

Studs Terkel This is fan-- how to crack an egg, you know, how to make an egg stand on its end.

Eddie James "Son" House That's right.

Studs Terkel You just did it, you just cracked that egg. See, Reverend, I'm going call your Reverend, because you must've preached a very good sermon because you make those stories all come to life.

Eddie James "Son" House Yes.

Studs Terkel You make them now.

Eddie James "Son" House Yes.

Studs Terkel You know, since you mentioned Adam and Eve it occurred to me that you're Adam and there was an Eve somewhere in your life.

Eddie James "Son" House Right.

Studs Terkel You mentioned someone called Louise, way back, ask you before we went on, what your favorite blues was, and you spoke there was a certain Eve that you knew and her name was Louise.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, uh-huh.

Studs Terkel Kind of a woman blues, you might say, and that's it, that slow, that -- I'm thinking we, we coming, almost, almost got the full story of of Son House, except for one thing, comes -- a time that you disappeared back in 1943 and came back, you were discovered by Dick Waterman, here your friend, your manager, we might come back to 1963, '64, and you worked the trains then. We didn't know what you worked.

Eddie James "Son" House Well, I had quit the railroad. Got a little bit before then, before he come.

Studs Terkel But after, but after 40 you'd gone up to New York to Rochester?

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, Rochester, New York.

Studs Terkel Who'd you work -- New York Central Railroad?

Eddie James "Son" House New York Central, right. That's right.

Studs Terkel And what was your experience there? Just as

Eddie James "Son" House what? Well, when I first got hired to the New York Central, it was out, they got another part they call East Rochester, and it belonged to, all that belonged

Studs Terkel to He

Eddie James "Son" House Brrrrr, Brrrrr, we's building car boxes and things like that. Coal tenders and so forth. So after I got tired of that and it -- I thought it was a little too dangerous. Guys would get hurt. Something happened to 'em every day, so I went geez, I believe I let this go. So then when I quit that, then I'd taken a job at the train station in New York Central as just a [library porter? lob reporter?], you know. Clean up around like that. I went from that, so then I got a break to go over to Buffalo, talk with the head executives and so they give me a little copy of "How to be a train porter," you know, what this duties was and what supposed to do. It was quite easy along there. Think I gave him, think I paid twelve twelve dollars for the thing. So about the next two weeks then I was on the road, and come from, go from Rochester down to New York City and back. So I kept that in with them for 11 years.

Studs Terkel You worked on that famous train, the Empire, Empire State Express.

Eddie James "Son" House It used to be the Wolverine, used to be the Silver Bullet in front of the engine and made just like a pistol bullet, but it looked like everybody, they'd rather right the other train, the Empire State Express, because it didn't stop at every little [pee pad?]. So that most of the people who'd ride that, then the guys, the red caps and things around the station, that's the way they made the most money, you know, for 25 cents a bag they'd tote, and the company'd get 10 cents and they'd get the

Studs Terkel Oh, is that it? The company get 10 cents and red get cap get 20 times

Eddie James "Son" House Ten percent, that's right. Sure, that's the way it happened.

Studs Terkel But you, I know the songs came again always songs in your life. You wrote the song called "The Empire

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, I write all my songs. I just sit down and concentrate and think of words that go together, that rhyme.

Studs Terkel How did you, how would you write a song? What, what's the way you wrote the song? How would you

Eddie James "Son" House -- Well, the way I would go at it, just like, for an incident, this is a pack here of

Studs Terkel Cigarettes.

Eddie James "Son" House Cigarettes, yeah. Well, and they -- what is it? Luckies?

Studs Terkel Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Eddie James "Son" House Lucky Strike. Then I just take that one word like that and think of something else that'll rhyme with the word "strike." See? Then I would either say like. I just, you know, go over

Studs Terkel And after that one word, from a to another?

Eddie James "Son" House And see do they kind of sound there

Studs Terkel Before you know it, you've got yourself a verse.

Eddie James "Son" House Yeah, that

Studs Terkel Five verses and you've got a blues.

Eddie James "Son" House And then I sit down as I think of [my open?] I write it down. I think of another and I write them down, and then I won't bother to get there 'til I get all the songs written down, you know. And then after then I get them all [unintelligible]. Then after I do that, then I go get [unintelligible], and then get a certain motion, I learn how to play it in a foxtrot or a slow piece or a fast piece, then I get the music and put to it I think will fit.

Studs Terkel Out of it came the Empire State Express. How's that go? Say as sort of a farewell, well as a full song. "Empire State," how does it go? "The Empire State Express" that you wrote. Could you do that?

Eddie James "Son" House Let's see.

Studs Terkel Everything happened, you have the engineer and one- one that wanted to ride the blinds, there's your story just as you wrote it. Well, Son House I think it's quite marvelous that you've been rediscovered again, but you're very much with us and your recording for Columbia, and you'll be singing at the New York Folk Festival. Carnegie Hall. And Newport Festival in, outside Providence. July. [Unintelligible] festival. Heading now, Dick, we're heading to California. Dick Waterman is here with him for the University of California Festival.

Dick Waterman We'll be in Berkeley on the weekend of April 30th, May 1st, May 2nd, then it goes down for a week at the Ashgrove in Los Angeles, and then May 14 through 16 at the UCLA Folk Festival.

Studs Terkel So now very much alive. I haven't asked you, even as we're say -- about to say goodbye now, perhaps you can even play "Pearline" as we're saying goodbye, but before that, you light your cigarette, we'll take a puff, and I didn't ask about your memories of, you knew Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, too, when you worked Memphis, the levees there, too. We could say goodbye now as you're strumming "Pearline."

Eddie James "Son" House It's nice meeting you. But you'd rather have any and have a church song? Which one?

Studs Terkel Well, it's a church song? Let's do a church song and then "Pearline." Which is the church song that comes to your mind?

Eddie James "Son" House Well, don't mind people playing in any place.