Monday, September 12, 2005

The Obituary Column...

The Telegraph's obituary column is usually worth a look. Otherwise I'd never have heard of blues artist RL Burnside:
Described by Fat Possum's founder, Matthew Johnson, as "a happy-go-lucky nihilist", Burnside became the label's best-selling artist. He also found an enthusiastic following among young rock fans, thanks to his association with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, with which he collaborated on an album - A Ass Pocket of Whiskey - in 1996. (When Burnside's wife heard it she asked him: "You mean you do that stuff in public?")
After Burnside returned to Mississippi, he shot a man who, he claimed, had been attempting to run him out of his home. Although he was convicted of murder, the story goes that he had served only three months in jail when a plantation owner persuaded a judge to release him, saying he needed Burnside to work during the cotton-planting season.
"I didn't mean to kill nobody," Burnside later said of the murder. "I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head. Him dying was between him and the Lord."
RL Burnside is survived by his wife, Alice Mae, and 12 children. In later life he was nostalgic for the old days, before civil rights improved the circumstances of black people in the Deep South. "The biggest change I've seen in my life is more crime," he said in 1999. "A 15-year-old chopped up his grandmother here so he could pawn her TV set. That don't look like progress to me."

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