Singing poetry: Jim Dickinson reads "The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay


Birdman Records’ David Katznelson writes:

World Boogie Is Coming: If you were ever fortunate enough to get a letter or package from legendary record man Jim Dickinson (November 15, 1941 – August 15, 2009), it would end with those four words.

 It is the way he ended his first note to me, which contained the recording plans for the Texas Tornadoes (the project that facilitated our meeting). It is the way he ended his last words to his constituency as a mortal on this planet (see his message at

World Boogie Is Coming: It was his motto, his mantra, his mission — something he’d developed through the decades, from when he was a young boy, witnessing Elvis and the merging of music cultures in 1950s Memphis; to his years as a working musician, blowing away boundaries with his jug bands and session work with The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder and the Flaming Groovies; to his work as a producer for artists as varied as Big Star, Toots and the Maytalls, The Replacements, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, The Sugar Cube Blues Band, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Mudhoney.

Jim Dickinson saw sound as the vibration that would and could bring us all together. He believed that some of the finest music is that which we cannot hear. He believed some of his best production was done in absentia. He talked about the red and dark green sounds that vibrated the warmest through the soul. Jim Dickinson literally saw music… smelled music, and created his own world—a studio in Independence, Mississippi—where he could capture the music….if only for a brief second….and revel in its piety. Over the past few years, as he felt the burden of his own finite time on this planet, he would weigh heavily every time he punched the RED button—that magic portal to recording the molecules vibrating in the room—because he had but a limited number of punches left, and each one had to count. Jim lived his life ferociously fighting for the truth and purity that well-intentioned music promotes; he did not have patience for anyone or any sound that did not fall in line with his mission.

In Jim’s final note, he wrote: “I will not be gone as long as the music lingers.” And with that, he has left an amazing body of work, a family that is continuing his pursuit of world boogie, wonderful stories (many of which can be found in Robert Gordon’s book It Came From Memphis) and the extensive memoirs that his wife Mary Lindsey, his son Luther and I will be compiling.

I became a disciple of James Luther Dickinson a long time ago, believing wholeheartedly that there would be FREE BEER TOMORROW and that world boogie was just around the corner. Working with him on records was such an incredible experience for me that I would contrive projects for us to do together, whether it was sending ex-Spacemen 3er Sonic Boom to Mississippi to collaborate (cf. Spectrum Meets Captain Memphis—”Indian Giver”)…or having him do a spoken word record where he read from passages written by his favorite Southern writers. And while the latter experiment might seem the most eclectic, check out the following track, a reading of American singing poet Vachel Lindsay‘s “The Congo,” and hear the might of the man they called DICKINSON.

World Boogie IS coming, and when it does come, the mountains WILL come together and Jim will be the first soul to be flying towards the party…

Stream: [audio:

Download: Jim Dickinson — “The Congo” (mp3)

Purchase mp3:

From Fishing with Charlie & Other Selected Readings by Jim Dickinson, available on cd direct from Birdman Records and Amazon