And things get just a little bit darker.
My friend James Spence used to see Doc Watson in a little bar in Memphis on weekends. For the past several years I've sort of lazily been planning to take the Amtrak up there and wallow in Watson's genius for a few nights, but I put it off for too long.
Anyhow, Watson's Omie Wise (at right) is I think the best, most haunted, murder ballad ever put to wax, possibly equaled only by Son House's Death Letter Blues, Mance Lipscomb's Ella Speed, or Johny Cash's re-invented version of Ella Speed, Delia. Or perhaps Nick Cave's psychotic rendering of Stagger Lee. . .
And Watson had lots of songs like this, where he just set the standard for a whole genre.
A friend and colleague of mine was at Sartre's funeral and can tell really beautiful stories about it. Tonight, I'm completely weirded out that in the United States we do nothing even remotely comparable when laying to rest our own native geniuses.