So on Monday, the seemingly impossible happened. Temperatures in New Orleans dipped to an overnight low of 20 degrees, thanks to the aptly named “Polar Vortex”. I understand, for folks up in Chicago and Minneapolis 20 F is bikini weather, but for us down here, any temperature dipping below 50 is hibernation weather.
Our dainty balconies and courtyard fountains froze! I’d tell you it gave me the vapors, but those are really only induced by heat.
In this vein I compiled three tunes to weather (get it) this cold and unexpected “Polar Vortex”, by three fantastic Delta Blues musicians.
Muddy Waters, Cold Weather Blues
Muddy Waters is probably the best known of these three musicians. His song, “Cold Weather Blues” comes right of his 1964 LP Folk Singer. Born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1915, “Muddy Waters” whose actual name was McKinley Morganifield took up the harmonica when he was 13 years old. He moved to Chicago in 1934, spearheading the city’s blues movement. Waters is also known for songs such as “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” and “I Just Can’t Be Satisfied.”
Sonny Boy Williamson, Nine Below Zero
Sonny Boy Williamson also hails from Mississippi. Born in 1912, he made most of his recordings in the 50s and 60s. He may not be as well-known as other blues musicians from the same era, his music however influenced many of his contemporaries. His song “Nine Below Zero” was covered by several artists including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, and rock group Canned Heat. British legends Led Zepplin, who are often panned for allegedly ripping off delta blues musicians, took his composition from “Nine Below Zero” and applied it to their song “Bring it on Home.”
Blind McTell, Cold Winter Day
Georgia-born blues musician Blind Willie McTell pre-dates Williamson and Waters. Born in 1898, he was known in his time as a ragtime blues singer. Like Williamson, he went on to influence many musicians in the 1960s and 70s, including The Allman Brothers who cover his song “Statesboro Blues.” Jack White also lists him as one of his major influences. Cold Winter Day came from the album titled “Statesboro Blues.”