Today is September 25, 2014 and a breath taking hot Summer day. The kind of weather that cries for an “inside” activity. Therefore I drive to the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Lafayette County. I should like to see “The land where the blues began” by Alan Lomax and “Deep Blues” there, the two DVD’s of my wish list. And I have -just in this particular place- a special request.
After prolonged consultation (by phone) the reception girl says, that I have to go to the third floor: “Just ask again for direction when you get there”. She points and friendly nods her head towards the stairs I should climb, to get to the level I need. There I lose track. Here are students everywhere, with headphones on or earplugs in, behind computer screens or with lap tops. And or they read in (study) books they gathered out of this immense archive, filed in endless rows about all kinds of subjects, in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Her “Just ask again for direction” is not even that simple, because everywhere you see “silence” and “no speaking allowed” signs. In order to get out of this impasse, I have to give it a try anyhow. A friendly book reading student thinks that it is not a big deal. “I’ll walk you there”, she whispers.
“Let me blow the dust of this DVD”, says the friendly administrator, before pushing Alan Lomax’s DVD in the slot of the video recorder and: “Give me a call when it all of the sudden stops!”
It is only ten minutes later and now I am wearing a headphone myself. In an audio room in front of a large TV screen, a medium sized paper cup of Sprite within reach!
After lunch (In one of the refectories with Starbucks sandwiches and -coffee and hundreds of students, I find the “Deep Blues” DVD on the table in “my” room, ready to be played.
ithout a second thought I would step in a time machine to go back to those years and have a look around. Well, closer than the sound and pictures of these videos I will never get. They got jammed twice, both of them.
The administrator asks, when I hand in the DVD’s after the performance, if he can do anything else for me yet. So here is my special request: “Yes sir, you can. If I am right, you have got the complete “Document” Blues C.D.’s collection in here, from its beginning until about World War II.” “Yes”, he says, “but you can only listen to them here or borrow copies as a student; They are most certainly not for sale!” It reassures him, when I tell him that none of this is my intention: “But …. can I SEE them?”He looks at me kind of surprised, but then says: “Sure you can!” When he has found the key after a relatively long search, he leads the way over two different corridors and opens the door to a dimly lit room for me: “Go ahead!” And: “When you are finished, would you mind locking the door behind you and leave the key on my desk?” He almost apologizes: “I have the rest of the day off, you see?”
I go inside. Yet deeply impressed, because all of a sudden I am surrounded by all blues music from my favorite period of 1920 to say 1940/45! All blues singers! Harmonica players, guitarists, violinists, banjo players, pianists, drummers, players of wind instruments. Solo, duos, trios, combos, bands. From other and irrevocably bygone time. Here I am in the middle of twenty-five years musical blues legacy:
About one third of the Document-C.D’s archives.
A wish comes true: For ten minutes I am in Blues Heaven: In the library of “Ole Miss”, Oxford, U.S.A., third floor. It’s rather dark in here.