Leland, MS 1992
A former grave digger and day laborer, James “Sonny Ford” Thomas became known internationally as much for his highly evocative folk art of skulls, corpses and animals as for his talents as a blues artist. In song, Thomas often celebrated “61 Hwy” which runs from Chicago to New Orleans, passing a few hundred feet from the front door of his modest shotgun shack in Leland. Of Thomas’ music, William Ferris wrote in his 1978 book “Blues from the Delta,” “ Rural blues men like [Thomas] describe isolation with stark images like an empty room or a highway in the Mississippi countryside.” Thomas was known for his wavering, falsetto voice with which he sang songs like, “I’m sitting here a thousand miles from nowhere in this one room country shack/ I wake up every night about midnight, I just can’t sleep/ All the crickets keep me company, you know the wind howling round by feet/ Rock is my pillow and cold ground is my bed/ The highway is my home/ Lord I might as well be dead.”
Son Thomas "Beefsteak Blues"