That whole dry winter, I listened to Skip James.
Imagined him arriving at Newport after
Elvis, wearing a simple black suit: those
high top shoes and felt
hat tipped over his eyes.
Thought of him shy on stage with Bukka
and Son, hidden for thirty-three years
chasing Jesus, until his worn fingers picked
out an old song. Then Skip’s voice
rose ethereal, sweet notes and phrases
invented in church halls and lumber
camps, using all the sinews
of his face and muscle of tongue.
And what thrills me now
is when he grinned to thank
the crowd that sat in awe, and saw
slyly from the corner of his eye
those two blues giants
sitting motionless, their tribute
simply, an astonished sigh.
About Skip James:
The Music of Skip James: