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KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has expanded "The Blues Time Machine," which has been a popular segment on his weekend blues shows. The weekly series tracks one great blues song through history - from its earliest recording to its latest and sometimes, with some surprising interpretations. "The Blues Time Machine" airs on KPLU on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. during the "Blue Plate Special," and on All Blues Saturdays and Sundays at 8 and 11 p.m.

'Bring it on Home,' the long way through time

Sonny Boy Williamson was a blues originator who helped shape the sound of modern blues. In his life, he knew the first generation of Delta bluesmen, and would go on to see the birth of modern rock music. He played with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s, and with Eric Clapton in the 1960’s.

He was a major radio star in the 1940’s on King Biscuit Time, America’s first live blues radio show. He wrote dozens of songs that became blues standards, notably “Help Me” and “Eyesight to the Blind." He recorded “Bring It On Home” in 1963, but didn’t release it until 1966.

Sonny Boy Williamson had a unique harmonica style that provided a lot of rhythm. His sound is often brooding and dark. Here’s a film of him performing that shows how much he could do with just his voice and harmonica:

Led Zeppelin were obviously huge fans of the blues, making it a central part of their sound and songlist. Sometimes they gave credit, sometimes they didn’t, and at least one of their most celebrated songs, “Whole Lotta Love” was the subject of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Willie Dixon. Dixon was clearly one of their favorite songwriters, and “Bring It On Home”, another Dixon composition also resulted in a lawsuit, settled out of court, as with “Whole Lotta Love”. Led Zeppelin recorded “Bring It On Home” in 1969, and they perform it live here from 1970:

Joan Osborne has always had an affinity for blues, even her alternative pop tracks from the 1990’s are full of soul and r & b influences. From her work with the Holmes Brothers to a tribute album to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Osborne knows her way around the blues. Her latest release from 2012, Bring It On Home, is her first “blues” record, and features a new version of “Bring It On Home”.  She very well captures Sonny Boy’s moody and laid-back delivery.

Here are the complete versions of “Bring It On Home”, tracked through time:

Sonny Boy Williamson “Bring It On Home” 1963

sonny boy.mp3

Led Zeppelin “Bring It On Home” 1969

led zeppelin.mp3

Joan Osborne “Bring It On Home” 2012

joan osborne.mp3

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.