Speaking of Leadbelly, here is one of the weirdest, most awesomely awkward live recordings I’ve ever seen. The crowd, the way they hold their drinks, the fact that he only sings the chorus and hums, the stare he levels at his wife, and the end where he grips her face and the white guy behind him grabs (slaps?) his head. Man, what the fuck?
The story is that two white guys, the Lomax brothers, found Leadbelly in a prison somewhere, doing time for stabbing a white man, in the south, in the 20s. He was playing this song, and they dropped everything they were doing to race back with equipment. He was recorded there in that prison, by these two white fellows, and the rest is history. Decades later, Kurt Cobain is covering “where did you sleep last night,” and Van Morrison is traveling around the world with the guy’s picture, singing obscure lyrics about “hugo ledbetter.” Great musician. Great song. Weird, weird, fucking video.