When The Levee Breaks
Posted in 1920s,Country Blues,Honey on 08.23.06

I’ve been so wrapped up in Spike Lee’s Katrina Documentary, that I forgot that PBS’ had an hour long documentary about Alan Lomax as part of their POV series premiere last night. Did anyone catch it? Hopefully my local PBS station will be replaying this soon, or a quick turnaround to dvd.

Not to point any fingers at those in governmental positions who dealt with the Katrina disaster, but Kansas Joe and Memphis predicted the Levee’s breaking way back in 1929 (the basis of this song is of the “Great Mississippi Flood of 1927“). Kansas Joe, Minnie’s husband sings lead on this track which is a shame because Minnie has that great voice, but Joe is perfectly fine and the track features Minnie’s wonderful guitar work. To show how out of touch I am with blues rock, I didn’t know until today that Led Zep covered this song, though I can’t imagine it being very good. Though I could be wrong about that.
Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie – When The Levee Breaks (1929)


6 Comments so far
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By The Doorkeeper on 08.23.06 6:21 pm

I quite like Led Zeppelins version but then .. that was before I knew about country blues. This is some nice playin altogether

By Josefritz on 08.23.06 10:29 pm

The original is better, but the zep verion is a fair tribute. …and the Lomax documentary was truly great. and about Katerina. Allow me to repeat a question a friend asked me: “Why is it that we can evacuate all the Americans in Lebanon in 48 hours, but not all the poor people in New Orleans in two weeks?” Or as Kanye West once said “George Bush dosen’t like black People.”

By Christopher Sofsky on 08.24.06 2:52 pm

Love the blog, been looking for something like this for a long time. Followed a link per the suggesting of Tin Men. I’ll be checking this one often. I don’t imagine you’d be much interested in my site, but I’d appreciate a link if you’d do it. I’ll be checking this one often, love the material.

By sleepybomb on 08.25.06 2:05 pm

we are moving back to ‘ground below zero’ next month, what happened to new orleans should never happen again anywhere in the states. the govt just ignored the whole thing and still does. it breaks my heart to see what has become of that beautiful city. don’t think to yourself that it can’t happen where you are.
but what i really wanted to say was that the zeppelin version is a complete rip-off of the original, just electrified and over-dramatized, kinda like all the blues stuff they did was. page and plant put their moniker on a slew of blues tunes, too long to list here.
by the way… god, i love this site!

By abdusalam on 08.25.06 11:25 pm

i wish to intertaine by yahoo music. there is not else comment.

By Ludwig on 08.27.06 7:34 pm

Fabulous post.

I cannot wait for Lee’s Katrina. Only Spike, it would seem, is brave enough to find the truth about the LA disaster.

This song is such a great find. Maybe Lee will find his way to your website and use it in the movie.



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