Posts Tagged ‘Big Mama Thorton’


Sitting down by my window
Honey, looking out at the rain
Sitting down by my window, looking out at the rain
All around that I felt it
All I can see was the rain 
Something grabbed a hold of me
Feel to me, oh, like a ball and chain
Hey, you know what I mean that’s exactly what it felt like
But that’s way too heavy for you, you can’t hold them all

Big Mama Thornton, Ball and Chain


Sitting here this morning, watching the rain outside the studio window. Got much to do but find myself just watching the rain and the deer shuffling around the yard. It’s gray and misty with an air of sadness. Brings to mind the opening lines of Ball and Chain, a Big Mama Thornton song that Janis Joplin immortalized with her performances of it, most notably one from Monterey Pop in 1967.

Here’s that performance. There’s a part around 3:28 in that shows the late Mama Cass Elliott in the audience, totally transfixed by the performance. I think she knew that she was witnessing something special.

Take a look, give a listen and have yourself a day. You can choose whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Myself, I’m going to watch the rain a little bit more then get to work.


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Big Mama Thorton at the 1965 American Folk Blues

After writing a short post about Stevie Ray Vaughan  the other day, marking 20 years since his death, I felt like hearing some blues.  Old school stuff.  After listening to a bit in the studio, I went searching for some old Buddy Guy online and came across a great piece of film from the American Folk Blues Festival in 1965. 

 It was a beautifully shot and produced performance by Big Mama Thorton backed by a young, slick Buddy Guy. She rambles out and belts out her best known song, Hound Dog.  Yes, the same song that propelled Elvis to mega-stardom.  There are a lot of purists who throw a lot of hate towards Elvis for taking Big Mama’s song and moving it out of the realm of race records, for making it a big hit on the predominantly white pop charts.  I’m not one of them.  I think Elvis did a great version of the song and in many ways it helped artists such as Big Mama find their way to a wider, more diverse audience.  And Big Mama did a version that was different than Elvis’.  It rocked hard in a bluesier, earthier way.  Big Mama was like a  human earthquake.

Check out this performance.  The sound and camera work is really top notch especially for a performance video of that era.  I’ve also included a video from the same session with Big Mama and several other bluesmen including Big Walter Horton and Doc Ross trading licks on their harps.  Check out John Lee Hooker on his harp, his trademark  guitar nowhere to be seen.  You ever see this one, David?

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