Walkin’ Blues (Death Letter)

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Overview

Although this song was intially recorded with the name “Walkin’ Blues” as the main title, it was quickly recognized as an early version of one of Son House’s most famous pieces, Death Letter Blues.

Interestingly though, the guitar arrangement is quite different from what he’d later play underneath these lyrics in the 1960s; for those later recordings, it sounds more like Special Rider Blues, My Black Mama, or Clarksdale Moan. On the other hand, with the double-stops of this 1942 recording, it’s more along the lines of his recordings of American Defence and Am I Right or Wrong.

Workstation

Standard — EADGBE
3rd Fret

Well did you get that letter, I mailed in your back yard?
Oh, that I mailed in your back yard
It’s mighty sad to say that the best friend you had got to part

Well I got a letter this morning, how do you reckon it read?
I got a letter this morning, how do you reckon it read?
Said, hurry, hurry, ’cause the girl you love is dead

You know I got my suitcase and I took out down the road
Mmm, took out down the road
But when I got there, she was laying on the cooling board

You know I walked up close and I looked down in her face
Mmm, I peeped down in her face
You’s a good old girl, but you got delivered to judgement day

You know I turned around and I slowly walked away
Mmm, I slowly walked away
Says you’s a good old girl but I just can’t take your place

Song History

17 July 1942
Robinsonville, Mississippi
Originally unreleased

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