Born somewhere near Bentonia, Mississippi in 1902, Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James (a.k.a Skip James) was a Delta blues singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Well-known for his otherworldly voice, haunting guitar, and staccato piano playing, James frequently refused offers to be recorded early on in his career, only hesitantly embracing his rediscovery in the 1960’s.
His guitar playing was defined by its dark, minor-key sound, often played in an open D-minor tuning with an intricate fingerpicking technique; a sound that was to earn him the title as “one of the seminal figures of the blues,” as well as the artist who “contributed to some of the greatest blues sides ever recorded!” His songs have played a major role in influencing generations of musicians and have often (very often in fact) been covered and adapted by numerous artists.
James first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931 but, having been released during the Great Depression, these recordings sold poorly and he drifted into obscurity….who would have thought it would take nearly 30 years for him to resurface?!
Devil Got My Woman was one of his first releases, initially coming out as a 78 rpm on Paramount Records in 1931 – later releasing as the title track to his 1968 album which came out on Vanguard Records!
It’s a gorgeous track, demonstrating the distinct pitch to James’s vocals perfectly and has completely mellowed me out after a crazy day! Check it out above.