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Thursday, June 10, 2010

84. "Has Anyone Seen My Man" by Memphis Minnie

Recorded this after the longest (albeit invisible to readers because I'd gotten well ahead of myself) break between sessions since beginning 39-40. Just hit a bit of a wall.

Happenstance and free association play big roles in how I decide to treat each song thrown at me by The Machine. This one turned out to be all about a guitar. After deciding to do this tune even more stripped-down than Minnie's original and what to do about the title gender (and I hope I came up with a semi-novel approach), I got to staring at that nice archtop our girl's playing in the photo. I have a similar-looking guitar (see photo), although it's a tenor (4-string) and a bit of an oddity... it's the oldest guitar I have, with more than 50 years on it, and I grew up thinking it was my grandfather's because it was at his house. In reality, it was one of the earlier guitars my dad owned. When trying to piece together its history he guessed that he may or may not have picked it up in San Antonio in the mid-'50s; most Harmony guitars were sold through the Sears Catalog, so that's a possibility, too.

What we do know is that by 1958 it was being used in promotional photos for one of Dad's early bands, and in the past decade I used it for the same purposes with The Chiggers (whose frontwoman Nigel actually did play a tenor). And that it is and always has been virtually unplayable. As far as I know, it's never been recorded, probably for that very reason. But given its family history, I decided to give it an airing on this track, and so, not for the first time, I set about rehabbing it to the best of my abilities, and, subsequently, trying to keep it in tune for the duration of the setting (which was very difficult without plyers). It may very well be seen again, but this is in all likelihood the last time it'll be heard by the general public as well as the first.

Personnel: Rex

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