Mississippi Fred McDowell
I wish I could say that when I was growing up in rural Alabama I heard this kind of music alive in its native culture. But I didn't; I heard it on records in the living room of an aunt and uncle who had a great interest, very unusual for white people in that time and place, in the country blues. I was fifteen or so, and the love I soon felt for this music has never slackened. If I remember correctly, the first slide player I heard was Furry Lewis. I do remember feeling the same thing that B.B. King described on hearing the slide guitar of Bukka White: the sound "just went all through me." And beyond that immediate sonic appeal, I recognized the voice and the heart of people I knew, and was beginning to realize that I loved.
I believe this was the first thing I ever heard by Mississippi Fred McDowell. It's among the many field recordings made by Alan Lomax. I think the woman singing with him is his wife.
"Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning":
"You Got To Move":
Don't be misled by the religious themes into thinking that McDowell was a purely religious writer; his work contains the mix of deep religiosity and profligate sexuality that was typical of rural black culture.
I don't know if Dylan had heard this before he wrote his famous song, but if it wasn't this, it was probably another version; it often seems that there are no original songs in the blues. "Highway 61":