I pontificate on this man for more than one reason. Here lately I have been reading Sweet Showers of Rain by Samuel Charters who documented a great amount of blues culture and in an eloquent fashion I might add. I was enamored with John Estes upon first hearing his mournful cry of a voice. He had me in the first few lines and then to realize he was only a few miles from my childhood home even made it a bonus. It helped me realize the fertile ground from which I come was a literal hotbed of American music.
Guaranteed if you hear some hipster band aping the blues in some way it was originally inspired by some black sharecropper or field hand or roustabout lurking within a hundred mile radius of where I type this from. I go back and forth with the blues as a musical form and do not want to get into any arguments about what does or does not constitute blues or if there even really such a thing. Not my purpose. It is more leaned towards the reasons why.
The “blues” in some respects, and definitely in the case of John Estes and others (Yank Rachell and Hammie Nixon), was the only option for some men. And when you hear their mournful cry it is not for dramatic effect, often it all they usually possessed, the will to make a noise in the dark bleakness of this life. I am not trying to wax poetic. Don’t mis-take me on this essential point. The music they created is great for lack of so much else. When you hear them they are truly giving you all they had. And we are blessed for it. There is something very deep in that, that inside the struggle, where many men or women simply give up there is that spark of human spirit which allows a person to balm their misery with song.
If you get the chance I suggest you try some out for yourself.