Nick Tosches on the till recently all-but-unknown yodeling blues singer Emmett Miller (1900 - 1962):
"The very concept of him -- a white man in blackface, a hillbilly singer and a jazz singer both, a son of the Deep South and a roue of Broadway -- is at once unique, mythic, and a perfect representation of the schizophrenic heart of what this country, with a straight face, calls its culture."
Here's Miller, in 1929, with "Lovesick Blues," a remake of his own original (from 1925) anticipating Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Bob Dylan and so much else by decades....
If you're not familiar with Tosches, he is -- sorry, memory of Lester Bangs -- the greatest writer about rock and its related genres who ever lived; if you doubt it, or if the above clip has piqued your interest in the formerly obscure Miller, hie thee to Amazon and order Tosches' quite profound meditation on Miller's life and work Where Dead Voices Gather.
You should also check out Tosches' Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll (now in its third revised edition), a tome which is at once screamingly funny and historically fascinating about the real pioneers of the music it turns out most of us knew quite little about, actually.
Relevant quote: "The illusion of newness is pop culture's greatest sucker racket."
Amen to that, as the above Miller clip proves rather conclusively.....
And for the rest of Miller's music, go here.
[h/t Kerrin L. Griffith]