Today! was the first album of music by Mississippi John Hurt that I owned.
Although I don’t recall where or when I bought it, I do know that Today! introduced me to an artist that remains among the most enjoyable and remarkable of all the musicians I’ve ever heard.
Released in 1966 by Vanguard Records, Today! contains 12 songs featuring just John Hurt’s vocals and fingerstyle guitar accompaniment. In the LP’s liner notes, esteemed music journalist Nat Hentoff describes Mississippi John Hurt’s music as having “an uncommon gentleness,” “finely shaded nuances” and “an unforced, unhurried sensuality.”
Writing in 2003 for the All Music Guide to Blues, David Freedlander says of the music on Today!: “It is still difficult to believe that there is just one man playing on the seemingly effortless guitar work” and “…that sound, along with a mellow and heartfelt voice, wizened here by decades, combine to make Today! an unforgettable whole.”
Mississippi John Hurt once said of his music: “I just make it sound like I think it ought to.”
One of my favorite songs on Today! is the one that starts off the second side of the LP: “Coffee Blues,” a John Hurt original.
Mississippi John Hurt was born John Smith Hurt, in Teoc, Mississippi, on this day, July 3, 1893. (Some sources state his date of birth as being March 8, 1892.) He passed away on November 2, 1966.
If you’d like to read more about Mississippi John Hurt, especially the incredible story of his “rediscovery” in 1963, look into the blog archives for July 2010 and find the July 3 post entitled “On This Day In Music History: Mississippi John Hurt.” If you’d like to listen to some more of his music and see video of the man himself, check out my blog post of July 3, 2012.
One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to do my small part in helping to keep this kind of music alive. If you’ve enjoyed the music as well, and would like to help, please pass a link on to your family and friends.
If someone should ask, just tell them: “Good music doesn’t get old.”