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Blues Music History Quotes

They Said It

"People keep asking me where the blues started and all I can say is that when I was a boy we always was singing in the fields. Not real singing, you know, just hollerin', but we made up our songs about things that was happening to us at the time, and I think that's where the blues started."

- Delta bluesman Son House, 196533
"White folks hear the blues come out, but they don't know how it got there."

- Classic blues queen Ma Rainey, c. 192934
"A lean, loose-jointed Negro had commenced plunking a guitar beside me while I slept. His clothes were rags; his feet peeped out of his shoes. His face had on it some of the sadness of the ages. As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of the guitar in a manner popularized by Hawaiian guitarists who used steel bars. The effect was unforgettable."

- W.C. Handy recalling his first encounter with the blues in 190335
"I'm standin' at the crossroad, babe, I believe I'm sinkin' down."

- Doomed bluesman Robert Johnson from his "Cross Road Blues," 1936
"In those days, it was 'Kill a mule, buy another; kill a nigger, hire another.' They had to have a license to kill anything but a nigger. We was always in season."

- From a black southerner's recollection of life in the Mississippi Delta region in the 1930s36
"The blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll."

- Muddy Waters, 197737
"If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars."

- Sun Records head Sam Phillips, overheard by co-manager Marion Keisker38

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