A guitar and a bottleneck. Amplifier optional.
November 7, 2013 2:16 PM   Subscribe

There are a couple of scenes in the 1986 Walter Hill film Crossroads in which Eugene's character plays some really bluesy, laid-back, heavily-reverbed slide guitar. I really love this kind of blues guitar. Unaccompanied (by vocals or other instruments), haunting, chilled-out. Can you recommend similar performances?

The first scene is right after Frances ditches Eugene, and he's feeling all forlorn. According to the film credits, this performance is called 'Feelin' Bad Blues', and was performed by Ry Cooder.

The second scene is when Eugene and Willie are at the Crossroads waiting for Scratch to show up. This performance is uncredited, but I assume it, too, was performed by Cooder.
posted by paleyellowwithorange to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Ry Cooder's soundtrack for the film Paris, Texas. WARNING: may induce crushing loneliness
posted by theodolite at 2:19 PM on November 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Ry Cooder has an anthology of his film scores out, called "Music by Ry Cooder" that has a lot more in that mode. I highly recommend it.

"georgia stomps, atlanta struts, and other contemporary dance favorites" by John Fahey is a little more abstract, but it still has that acoustic, airy feel that a lot of the tracks by Ry Cooder have; it's an entire album of just him and his guitar, no vocals or other instruments.

Some of Leo Kottke's songs have that same feel and are unaccompanied.

For something a little heavier (and drone-ier), I'm fond of "Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method" by Earth. Might not fit the blues guitar feel though, and it's definitely not just guitar, although there are no vocals.
posted by hackwolf at 2:37 PM on November 7, 2013

Unaccompanied (by vocals or other instruments), haunting, chilled-out. Can you recommend similar performances?

Mick Turner / Tren Brothers

Unaccompanied (mostly), haunting, chilled-out guitar, similar to but not blues though.
posted by carsonb at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: Who I consider the grandfather of such tracks is Blind Willie Johnson, though most of his numbers have lyrics and some are very gospelly in tone. Here's Dark Was the Night Cold Was the Ground.
posted by LucretiusJones at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify: although I enjoy similar performances in other genres, what I'm specifically looking for in this instance is
  • blues guitar
  • played with a slide
  • unaccompanied
  • with reverb (if amplified)
as in the example I linked to above.

That Blind Willie Johnson track linked by LucretiusJones is almost exactly what I'm after.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:01 PM on November 7, 2013

Dark Was the Night is pretty much one of the two or three major influences on Ry Cooder. There aren't many other (period) blues songs that have that vibe: it seems it might have come from some church-singing tradition.

A previous metafilter discussion of the songmay have more information and some sound-alikes to look at.
posted by LucretiusJones at 3:48 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

This a little off from what you're asking and though this isn't a recommendation for a specific artist or song, The Roadhouse radio show on KEXP.org has some of the eeriest, Blind-Willie Johnson-esque music during their annual halloween show. Here is the archive from this year.

Of course it's not just blues, and I haven't given this year's program a good listen, but it's a fantastic program in general.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 3:51 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: I'm hearing a lot of tremolo in that first clip, too, in addition to the reverb.

I'd say what you're looking for is kind of a variation of the "country slide blues" sub-genre. You might want to include "Mississippi" or "hill country" in your search terms. When I clicked on your link, YouTube suggested Skip James, Robert Johnson, and Blind Willie McTell. Of course, a lot of these tunes also have vocals, and a lot of the original artists never had much recorded, so you might have to do a fair amount of poking around to find particular tunes that push your buttons.

The label Fat Possum got its' start in the 90's recording largely unknown country blues artists, although I think a lot of their stuff isn't solo tracks or necessarily slide. They've expanded their roster a lot since then, but you might find some things you like there.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:16 PM on November 7, 2013

Hey paleyellowwithorange -- I don't have anything to add except that Feelin' Bad Blues is one of my all-time favorite and most-listened-to pieces of music. I've often thought about posting a link to AskMe with the simple request: "More just like this, please!"
posted by Alaska Jack at 8:04 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: Oh! It didn't even occur to me that there would be a full version of 'Feelin' Bad Blues' available. Hey!
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:11 PM on November 7, 2013

Response by poster: More just like this, please!
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:13 PM on November 7, 2013

Best answer: Check out Guy Davis (Ossie Davis's son). He doesn't always play slide, but he does play unaccompanied.
posted by 445supermag at 7:03 AM on November 8, 2013

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