I attempted to do this as an image scan for Stefan to use on his page but my copy of the issue is too battered and faded but managed to text scan. I think I've corrected all the character glitches. From Talking Blues 1, April/May/June 1976 (pages 5-6).
SON HOUSE NOW: An Afternoon With The Father Of Country Blues
Reel Image, Inc. began work on the documentary on Son House in March 1974. Producer Ron Mix and I went up to see Mr. House and his wife Evie the other day. He sat and chatted about plans for the film, the money problems we were starting to have with it, and the upcoming negotiations with B.B. King for the narration track. Mr. House said of B B.'s music, "Yeah, I like what he plays ... it gets into my head. "B.B. watched our conversation from his poster on the wall.
We asked how the old man was feeling, for he'd had several seizures in the past few weeks. Evie was concerned about it. Since moving, they hadn't been able to get any of his medication. Some mix up somewhere or other. Evie had called but there had been no response.
On that day he was complaining of yesterday's stiff neck. It was better when we saw him. He's an old man now, and he has old man's problems. Evie put it succinctly. "I raised children, 3 of my own and one that was given to me, and he's more trouble than all of them put together". And then she laughed. For all the trouble, she must still feel it's worth it.
Like other musicians, Son House is a strange man. He's hard to fathom, at once very complex and yet all there on the surface; hiding nothing, seemingly unconcerned about what's happening around him except where it infringes on his personal comfort. If you get him started, he'll warm up and deliver little theoretical bits he's worked out, ways of dealing with life and with people, his little survival tricks.
On one occasion there was an interesting exchange. I was talking to him, asking him about his health, etc., when I suddenly realised that he was only sitting there in his leather chair, nodding his head up and down and agreeing with everything I was saying. Confronting him, I said, "You sure are agreeable, aren't you?" Again he agreed, saying, "Yeah, uh-huh. You see, it doesn't pay to make a fuss. I always try not to stir up any trouble." He leaned forward, as if to confide something to me so that Evie wouldn't overhear from the next room. "Sometimes my old gal starts getting mad at me about something, I don't know what, and I just grab my hat and say, 'I've got to go out now.' I stay away a while and when I come back it's quietened down again and everything is okey-dokey. If I'd stayed around, she'd have said something, and I'd have answered her and before you know it, there's a big fight and everybody's mad. I like to keep things nice and quiet around here. I'm like that with everyone."
On the day Ron and I went up, they talked about the time he'd gotten his hands frozen. You have to understand what it means to a guitar player to freeze his hands. The music is in the fingers, in how limber they are. As a guitar player, you have to be aware of your hands, aware of the damage that can be done by a slammed car door or a misplaced hammer blow. Here was a great musician whose hands had been ruined.
He had gone out late that night in 1967, gone out in sub-zero weather to find a drink. No one knows what happened. Someone found him unconscious in a snow bank, his hands already frozen, and they took him to Emergency at the Genesee Hospital, Evie: "His hands got all black, just like they'd been burned. I didn't know that happened when you got frozen." Mr. House sat contemplating his hands, comparing one to the other. His left pinky stood out from the rest of his fingers, as if it had been broken to the side and healed badly. Son: "You see what the problem is ... this little one here (he held out the left pinky) don't work right. It's not as good as it was."
Evie: "They gave him a little rubber ball, the kind you squeeze, you know ... I don't know what happened to that. My husband did something with it, I just don't know where that got to."
Old Son sat there looking at his mis-shapen hands, wishing things were different. He jammed his copper slider down on his ring finger. "Now this one's not so bad, but I wish I had the other one." MICHAEL F. ROTHMAN
SON HOUSE - "The Real Delta Blues" - Blue Goose 2016
Milkcow's calf blues; I shall not be moved; Rochester blues; Hobo; Lake Cormorant blues; Motherless children have a hard time; Mississippi County Farm blues; Pony blues; Trouble blues; This little light of mine; A down the staff; The D.T. moan; Lord have mercy when I come to die; Soon in the morning.
As film director Michael Rothman implies above, Son House is not in too good shape today, so Blue Goose has released this LP of early sixties private tapes to bring him a little revenue for his last years. It is unnecessary to point out what an important release this is simply by virtue of the artist involved; these tracks give us House at the peak of his 'rediscovery' powers (except on 'D.T. Moan') where he has breathing problems, and 'Motherless Children,, which is imperfectly recalled). All the greatness of Son House is here - the total involvement, the powerful, yet fundamentally introspective vocals, the lyrical creativeness, the rich dialogue between voice and guitar.
Further, the album gives a wide ranging picture of his material. Here are the well known House favourites; 'Pony Blues', 'Lake Cormorant' (= 'Levee Camp Moan'), ''Rochester Blues' ('Louise McGhee'), 'Soon In The Morning' ('Pearline'), all essential performances even if you have the others. 'County Farm' is also a remake, but includes the lyrics of its model, 'See That My Grave Is Kept Clean', complete with toning bell and a rudimentary approximation of a Blind Lemon bass figure. 'Hobo' and 'A Down The Staff' are instrumentals, the first brief and Bukka White-ish, the other long and amazing\y like Blind Willie Johnson's playing. The spirituals are a revelation. 'I Shall Mot Be Moved' and 'This Little Light' with guitar accompaniment are unabashed masterpieces, a world away from the rather pallid CBS acapella renditions. No country blues fan can be without this collection. CHRIS SMITH