In an interview with The Guardian, Jack White has been talking about his desire to make old blues legends heard. White’s Nashville-based Third Man label has teamed-up with Scottish-based archive label Document. This month, White's label begin releasing out-of-print selections from Document’s mammoth back catalog of 1920s and 1930s Mississippi delta blues – what they both call “vital, breathtaking recordings; the building blocks and DNA of American culture. Blues, gospel, R&B, soul, Elvis, teenagerism and punk rock." It’s all being released on vinyl.
White recalls that his peers in his Detroit neighborhood listened to chart music and the grunge/rap music of the early ‘90s. The future White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather musician grew up in a house with six older brothers and three older sisters, and was subjected to country music and rock'n'roll.
"Then someone died, and their family sold their entire blues collection to a Detroit record store," he remembers. "They were all numbered, in the corner. I got there a coupla days late. A lot of the better records had gone, so I got to buy a lot of records I'd never seen before, by Tommy Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell and all these people. I bought as many as I could – 30, 40 of them."
He continues, "I could learn so much about songwriting and the blues from those records. So I did whatever I could to get hold of that stuff."
The first releases on White’s Third Man Label in collaboration with Document’s archive are by Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell and the Mississippi Sheiks.