Thursday, July 25, 2013

Standard of the Week - 'Sweet Home Chicago'

This week, I'm jumping into one of the most famous and covered blues standards ever, called 'Sweet Home Chicago'. It was written in 1936 by Robert Johnson, which was a combination of several older songs, such as 'Kokomo Blues' by Scrapper Blackwell in the late 20's.

It features a straight 12 bar blues shuffle rhythm, and features a homage to Chicago, but also to California. This still is a bit controversial, as many were wondering why he asked his lady to go "back to the land of California". In most new versions, "California" is replaced with "that same old place". When played with amplified, this song gets pretty powerful.

This is the original Robert Johnson recording:

One of the earliest well received covers was by Junior Parker in 1958, where it reached #13 on the Billboard R&B charts:

The late great Magic Sam covered this song in 1967 on his album 'West Side Soul' : 

From 1980, this sweet version with extensive solo sections was recorded by The Blues Brothers, and is featured in the movie: 

A more recent, kick-ass version was performed live in the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival, featuring Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray and Hubert Sumlin:

And finally,


This is just a handful of the hundred and thousands of aspiring artists, and the best musicians perform.

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