Blues All The Time: 20 Essential Songs from the Blues’ First Century

11. “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters (1955) As many African Americans left the South and moved north to Chicago, the blues shifted from rural and acoustic to urban and electric. One of the first stars of the South Side was McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, whose “Mannish Boy” is three minutes of swaggering badassery set to the genre’s most infamous start-stop riff. 12. “Smokestack Lightning” by Howlin’ Wolf (1956) Chester Arthur Burnett’s biggest hit remains one of the greatest full-band blues ever set down on tape, with its slow-motion groove courtesy of guitarist Hubert Sumlin and pianist Hosea Lee Kennard. Howlin’ Wolf’s vocals, however, are the song’s centerpiece, and you can hear the whole history of America in his howls. 13. “Freight Train” by Elizabeth Cotten (1958) Cotten wrote this gentle train song when she was a teenager in the 1910s, but her career didn’t take off until four decades later, when a new generation of folkies discovered her unique picking style (which she developed by flipping a right-handed guitar and playing it left-handed, a technique known as “Cotten picking”).  14. “Mojo Hand” by Lightnin’ Hopkins (1960) Romantic betrayal is one of the great blues themes, and Lightnin’…

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