I Want You to Know (Bo Carter)

A quirk of the blues reissue situation was that, as a record buyer, I ended up following the lead of the folks who managed the reissue projects, which were very different from the tastes of black record buyers in the twenties and thirties, and also from what I would have heard if Ibo carter lp had just followed my own inclinations. For example, I ended up with three Bo Carter albums, though I was never a huge fan of his music. I liked his playing and singing, and some of his songs, but he was the master of double-entendre  novelty blues lyrics, which got tiresome after a while. All things being equal, I would have been more likely to gravitate toward Walter Davis or Roosevelt Sykes… but all things weren’t equal: he was a guitarist and they were pianists, and the reissue market was very guitar-centric.

So I ended up with several albums of his recordings, and listened to them, and found a couple of songs and some guitar parts I liked, and this was one of them. I gather from friends who know more about his work that he played it in a semi-open tuning, with his lowest strings tuned down to D and G, but I worked it out the way it sounded to me, and ended up in normal tuning, key of D…

… and, honestly, I don’t have more to say about this one. It’s just a song I liked, and learned, and remember. But I should add that Carter was born Bo Chatmon, brother of Lonnie and Sam Chatmon, with whom he played in the Mississippi Sheiks, the most popular Mississippi-based recording artists of the first rural blues boom. He also played very effective vaudeville violin on a record by an older singer named Alec Johnson called “The Mysterious Coon,” which has typically offensive minstrel-show lyrics, but is a fascinating example of what some of these guys could play when they weren’t being paid to record blues.