Record of the Day: Alberta Hunter – Amtrak Blues

“I love him, yes I love him, and I don’t mind dyin’
If I ever run across him
I’m gonna crack his head
and drink his blood like wine”

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If those lyrics don’t convince you to listen to Alberta Hunter’s 1980 comeback record “Amtrak Blues,” then maybe these will:

“He shakes my ashes
Greases my griddle,
Churns my butter
And he strokes my fiddle”

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Whether you want to murder your man or spend the day in bed with him, Alberta’s got you covered.

Born into poverty in Memphis, young Alberta moved to Chicago to make it as a singer. And then she spent years working her ass off to make her dreams of stardom come true. She was a known jazz vocalist in the 20s, 30s, 40s and early 50s, touring around the world, before her mother’s death knocked her for a loop and drove her from the business.

In 1978, at 82 years old, Alberta made a mighty comeback, recording Amtrak Blues and showing the world the enduring power of her talent, her passion and her artistry.

Don’t sleep on early Alberta, or her comeback … but not just for the novelty of hearing a woman your grandmother’s age singing things like “it’s amazing the way he handles my machine.” Give it a listen for the joyful, inspiring piece of art that it is. Let it be a reminder that no matter how old you are, and no matter what you’ve been through, there is always a good time out there waiting for you. Or, as Alberta puts it: “I’m having a good time, please don’t blame me. I’m knocking myself out, don’t try to tame me. Let me have my fun.”

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Dacia lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes, drinks & listens to records.

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