This is the recent installment of ours weekly collection The Language the the Blues, in i m sorry author and rock musician Debra Devi explores the definition of a native or phrase found in the blues.

You are watching: Who wrote the “taraplane blues”?

Grab a signed copy that Devi’s award-winning nottard The Language of the Blues: native Alcorub to Zuzu (Foreword through Dr. John) in ~ Also obtainable as an eBook.

Robert Johnson was only twenty-seven when he passed away in 1938, but he left behind twenty-nine remarkable songs. Throughout his lifetime, though, Johnson had actually only one boy hit, “Terraplane Blues.” Johnson tape-recorded that song together with the more enduring “Sweet residence Chicago,” “I believe I’ll Dust my Broom,” and also “Come top top In mine Kitchen” in a san Antonio, Texas, hotel top top November 23, 1936.

Although “Terraplane Blues” was no the sort of uptempo song that was popular in Johnson’s day, it marketed modestly well, due to the fact that it referenced a very popular car made through the Hudson motor Company. Produced in between 1932 and also 1938, an initial as the Essex-Terraplane and also then simply as the Terraplane, it was affordable, however sleek and powerful.

Johnson’s recordings scarcely do a dent in the sales of the far an ext popular blues artists of the day, such together hokum star Tampa Red, Leroy Carr, and also Lonnie Johnson. Nonetheless, it’s Johnson’s songs that have come to be not just enduring blues standards, however formidable absent songs. “Cross roadway Blues,” “Sweet residence Chicago,” “I think I’ll Dust mine Broom,” “Rambling on mine Mind,” “They’re Red Hot” and “Come top top In my Kitchen” are simply a few Johnson classics interpreted by major recording artists like Cream, The rojo Stones, Led Zeppelin and also the Red warm Chili Peppers.

Fifty-eight year after the relax of “Terraplane Blues,” the excellent composer/multi-instrumentalist Elliott sharp released his crucial blues album Terraplane.

“When I an initial heard the Robert Johnson song ‘Terraplane Blues’ back in 1969,” sharp told me, “the mix of the strength of the music and the strange title compelled me to discover out what a Terraplane was. This name additionally appealed to mine longstanding interest in scientific research fiction. The mix was unbeatable: fast car, futuristic vibe, sexual metaphor, and a killing song. I hosted the surname in my psychological reserve for years because that the time as soon as I would finally type a blues band.”

Although sharp is known for a wildly creative and intellectual strategy to music that has experiments like tuning his guitars come Fibonacci sequences, he has actually listened closely to blues greats favor Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Sonny boy Williamson. “The blues is a global feeling,” sharp observed. “I find that even if I’m functioning on a computer-processed string quartet, I favor it to have actually some of that feeling. I’ve been playing guitar for an ext than thirty years, now, and also I played blues since I an initial began play the guitar.”

Elliott Sharp and also Hubert Sumlin (photo by Toni Ann Mamary)

After publication Terraplane, Sharp included blues/gospel singer Queen Esther come the group. As soon as Sharp learned the she had sung with legendary blues guitarist hubert Sumlin in Texas, spicy arranged because that Sumlin to perform with the Terraplane band at the Knitting factory in new York City. This started a fruitful cooperation that led to Sumlin playing on added Terraplane CDs, and being introduced to a slew that admirers among NYC’s downtown music scene.

See more: Obituary: Henry E. I. Du Pont, Henry E I Dupont (@Henryeidupont)

I an initial met Mr. Sumlin in ~ a benefit for injured rock and also jazz drummer sim Cain in ~ the downtown jazz society Tonic on new York’s Lower east Side. Sumln was 73, and also told me: “That feels great to me . I favor to play with other people. Music has actually no bars. Every music sound good. Ns listen come every sort of music in the world and I excellent been all over the world.

“I done played with everybody in this nation that beat an instrument,” Sumlin continued. “We collection down and also get this ingredient together. The blues go this ’cause it’s speak something. What civilization talk about in that is true. Muddy Waters and Wolf–lemme tell girlfriend something, them men lived what lock sung about. They lived the life, and told it choose it was. Lengthy as that true, human being can obtain it.”

Get a signed copy of The Language of the Blues today!

Songs:“Terraplane Blues”- Robert Johnson

Videos:Robert Johnson – “Terraplane Blues”Elliott Sharp’s Terraplane feat. Hobtration Sumlin – “They Say we Is”Elliott spicy & Terraplane v Hubert Sumlin – “Live in Milan”