I hadn't heard of blues singer/musician Skip James until a few weeks ago, while reading through a friend's story about her own grandmother. You can read both of its parts here and here. An excerpt:
As the train screeched to a halt, Thel stepped off the train and waved good bye. The road of good intentions had turned and stopped at an unexpected destination. But that's another story and we're not quite done with this one yet.
"You are wise beyond your years. Young Lady, it has been a pleasure. That's for you" Skip said as he handed her a nickel.
"What's that for?" Thel questioned as the train started up with a puff.
"It'll keep you honest," he shouted as the train pulled away, "And buy yourself an ice cream."
The next time Thel saw Nehemiah James was on an album cover of a 78 that would get played to scratches and loved to bits. She bought the album in 1932, when the Depression had ravaged the nation, and no one was buying records. Bad timing for Skip, it would be thirty some odd years before anyone would recognize his genius.
I love heartbroken blues songs, and this one just makes you want to reach for a bottle.