In the Summer or Fall of ’05 (I disremember when), I worked at Starbucks, and a confluence of events compelled me towards Dylan. One of the two Mikes who worked there was a passionate Bob Dylan fan, Starbucks was in peak Dylan promotional mode, and I had been desiring – for a long time – to dig deeper into his catalogue. I told Mike of my desire, and he invited me to his place one night instead of me buying the Bootleg Series album. He recommended we dig into Dylan’s catalogue and, even better, get to know the sounds that inspired him.

We listened to a lot of good music, but the best of it was Mississippi John Hurt. His voice was unlike anything I’d ever heard, but it was closer to what I thought the blues and folk music should sound like. With every pluck of his guitar I felt more and more like I was sitting on a porch in Mississippi, sweat making my shirt stick to my chest, frogs and insects harmonizing somewhere off in the swamp, and my eyes shifting focus between a clear, star-punctuated night and the storyteller before me. Other than the humidity it was alien, and yet so much like home. Mississippi John Hurt helped me understand his definition of home, something that would eventually echo through in Dylan.

As I alluded to in an earlier post, this was a time of redefinition for me. And Hurt’s and Dylan’s definitions of home were foreign to me, exporting me to a time and place I couldn’t possibly have known. To this day they both transport me there, even when other bands tend to lose that sheen. Maybe it was the dream-like, straight-out-of-a-movie way I was introduced to the music, but I think it was something else. I think it was Mississippi John Hurt. And he is just as much a part of who I am today as any other artist is, just as much as he is a primary consideration when I’m making a mixtape.

I hope to find a vinyl record of his one day. When Ashley and I have a baby, I’ll make sure that Mississippi John Hurt is a major part of his musical education (vinyl or not). If we’re still in this house we can even sit on the back porch and listen to the frogs and insects join his ghost and create beautiful, beautiful music, and memories that no one can take away.

(This was my FAVORITE song of that first listening session. I wonder what became of Mike.)