13 March 1936 / Humphreys County, Mississippi

(note: this is a continuation of an account started here.)
I came here to find "the blues," and I did. Not in some "juke joint" as I expected, but in the very soil of this god forsaken land. It’s as if a numbing despair creeps from the black earth and into the drinking water. Squalor abounds. According to Mississippi's last census figures around 40% of the population has sold its soul to the devil. But why would they still live like this? It seemed unlikely.

Within hours of arriving in Mississippi, I had forgotten about the music that brought me here. My movements were slowed to a crawl by the oppressive heat. Nothing helped, not even unbuckling one of my overall straps. My mind was equally impaired by malnutrition. The only food option, clumps of fried mud, is delicious but deficient in all nutrients except for zinc. And having nothing but that to eat, I soon lost most of my memory and cognitive function. It was not dissimilar to the effect of the low-protein (and hallucinogenic root heavy) gruel I was served during the week I spent with a cult in Ghana.

I initially struggled against the stupor, but the weight of the ambient crushed my spirit. I spent most of my time lying in a ditch. I thought of nothing except the bugs attempting to land on my eyes. My mood darkened, I blamed everything on being "born under a bad sign." The depression led me to act self-destructively… I drank "whiskey" out of jars, started fistfights, and at my nadir, traded my watch to a soda jerk. He gave me a spoon for it. I didn’t even need a spoon. That’s how bad it got.

With little else to do, I passed time by rhythmically banging my spoon on a hubcap. Oddly, I found this helped lesson the burden of sorrow that my life had become. While it didn't quite make me happy, there was a feeling of catharsis as I banged out the doleful beat of my soul. Then it hit me. I had not abandoned my quest for the blues… I, myself, had become the blues!

The type of blues-player I had become, the Spoonman, is one of the most revered. The musical hierarchy is as follows, in order: Spoonman, Harmonicist, Hamboner, Guitarist, Drummer, and Bassist. I was at the top of the food chain, literally, and townspeople brought me plates of steaming swamp meats. I am ashamed to say that I accepted their offerings. I glutted myself, even though the more that I ate meant the less they could. The meal reawakened my mental facilities, and allowed me to appreciate the events that had changed me so profoundly. A report from the local time-shouter confirmed it: I had been in Mississippi for just over 30 hours.