Week 11 - Survivor Blues History

Week 10: "Goin’ Down To The River"

Originally by Mississippi Fred McDowell

(Fred McDowell January 12, 1906 – July 3, 1972).



Walter Talks About the Song: 


"McDowell was born in Rossville, Tennessee, where he started playing at dances at age 14. Trying to escape the hard farm work he moved to Memphis in 1926 to work at a mill. In 1928, he moved to Mississippi to pick cotton and he finally settled in Como, MS.


He performed music at dances and picnics but continued to work steadily as a farmer. In 1959, he was recorded by Alan Lomax. His 1969 album, I Do Not Play No Rock ‘n Roll, featured him on an electric guitar and became a hit on FM radio.


Fred recorded many different versions of this song, and on my version, I have used two verses from one and one verse from another. Robby Krieger of the Doors joined us on our version playing slide guitar. We arranged the song in more of a Muddy Waters style and we played it live in the studio.


McDowell’s version stays on one chord and is a prime example of the effective drone in blues music that makes old blues so magical."


McDowell's Version:


Our Version:



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