Among the songs Johnson recorded in San Antonio were "Come On In My Kitchen",
"Kind Hearted Woman Blues", "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" and "Cross
Road Blues". The first songs to appear were "Terraplane Blues"
and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", probably the only recordings of his
that he would live to hear. "Terraplane Blues" became a moderate
regional hit, selling 5,000 copies.
His first recorded song, "Kind Hearted Woman Blues", was part of a
cycle of spin-offs and response songs that began with Leroy Carr's
"Mean Mistreater Mama" (1934). According to Wald, it was "the most
musically complex in the cycle" and stood apart from most rural blues as a through-composed lyric,
rather than an arbitrary collection of more-or-less unrelated verses.
In contrast to most Delta players, Johnson had absorbed the idea of
fitting a composed song into the three minutes of a 78 RPM side. Most of
Johnson's "somber and introspective" songs and performances come from
his second recording session.
In 1937, Johnson traveled to Dallas, Texas, to play the blues for another recording session in a makeshift studio at the Brunswick Record Building, 508 Park Avenue.
Eleven records from this session would be released within the following
year. Because Johnson did two takes of most songs during these
sessions, and recordings of those takes survived, more opportunity
exists to compare different performances of a single song by Johnson
than for any other blues guitar player of his time and place.
By the time he died, at least six of his records had been released in the South as race records.
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