Clarion Ledger story
Like a lot of folks, my introduction to the magic of R.L. was through that badmotherfucker of an album, A Ass Pocket of Whiskey. That combination of a bluesman I had never heard of and my favorite band in the world (the Blues Explosion) is one of the best albums I've heard in my short time on this planet. It isn't a collaboration, it's a collision. That album is the embodiement of the blues to me.
Shortly after that, Mr. Wizard was released. "Over the Hill" and "You Gotta Move" are the most soulful moments on that album, and they get pretty regular rotation on my iTunes (yo...that's about as far away from the Delta as you can get).
After that, several albums followed that needlessly combined R.L.'s country blues with beats. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't (I couldn't keep Wish I Were in Heaven Sitting Down; it dissapointed me greatly. The rawness was missing.). To get a real feel for the man, you gotta pick up those previously-mentioned albums and his early stuff, which Fat Possum has re-issued.
A few years ago, R.L. and his band (Cedric Burnside and Kenny Brown) were scheduled to appear at a riverside concert in St. Boniface (Winnipeg's French neighbourhood). Only Kenny and Cedric made it, as R.L. fell ill. I missed most of their set, but getting to meet Cedric afterwards totally made up for it (that, and watching Alejandro Escovedo later).
I'm really saddened by this. Katrina killed New Orleans and Biloxi, and now we've lost the last of the Mississippi bluesmen. Sometimes, it doesnt pay to get out of bed.