Freshly-planted cotton stalks emerge from the rich Delta soil on Stovall plantation in Coahoma Co., MS in the spring of 1993, right behind the cabin where McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters, made his first recordings for the Library of Congress in 1941. Born in Rolling Fork, MS in 1913, Waters lived most of his first 30 years at this location, working for Colonel Stovall. He also ran a juke joint out of his home, entertaining other sharecroppers as well as performing at social functions for the Stovall’s. In 1941, John Work of Fisk University and Alan Lomax of the Library of Congress recorded Muddy Waters with a portable lathe-cutting device run by battery power at his home. The attached track, “I Be’s Troubled” is from that session. Lomax returned in 1942 for a second session where Waters recorded with fiddle player Henry “Son” Simms. Upon hearing himself for the first time, Waters realized he was just as good as anyone else he had heard on records, and in 1943 he left Mississippi for Chicago to try and make it as a musician. Working as a truck driver during the day and playing clubs at night, Waters acquired an electric guitar and amplifier in 1944 to be heard in the Chicago jukes, and in 1948 he re-recorded “I Be’s Troubled” for Aristocrat Records (later Chess Records) reptitled “Can’t Be Satisfied,” which became and instant hit, launching one of the most important careers in American music. It was the electrification of the rural blues via Muddy Waters that laid the foundation for the birth of rock and roll a few years later, especially influencing the bands of the British Invasion like the Rolling Stones, which took their name from a Muddy Waters song.
The window box was built from the same wood as the shack in the back of the gallery and the dirt and cotton is from the same field depicted in the photo.
Muddy Waters "I Be's Troubled"