On our way to Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the Blues, we had a real moment, passing over Choctaw Ridge. You know the place, where Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Going over the Tallahatchie River was a real thrill. Who has thought of Bobbie Gentry in all these years?
Well, this is her country. Miles of cotton fields – and the cotton is now in bloom. Can’t imagine what it took to get all of that picked. The icing on the cake was seeing a revival tent, which must have been rocking on Monday night.
We pulled into Clarksdale, at the legendary intersection of Routes 49 and 61 known as “the Crossroads,” where the story has it that bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in order to be able to play the guitar. Talk about a sleepy, dusty Delta town. We had some great barbecue, and headed for the Delta Blues Museum. No photos allowed there of the shrines to the famous, particularly Muddy Waters, who was discovered on a plantation near here. Recordings, instruments, clothing, and general memorabilia from the greats, including BB King.
The museum sits at the corner of Delta Avenue and Blues Alley, right across the alley from the Ground Zero Blues Club. This is owned by local resident Morgan Freeman, and we went there in the evening to hear some blues,
The town is full of clubs and blues-legend wanna-be’s, so it’s not as dusty as it appears. The hospital where Bessie Smith died is now a hotel you wouldn’t want to stay in, but it was a favorite of JFK, Jr.
Once you get the rhythm of the place, it all makes sense and you start to hear the music.