This happened in probably 2000.

Patty and I were in Atlanta visiting my best friend since junior hijinks days, John Klingler. After a great visit, on our way to Savannah, I insisted, much to Patty’s chagrin, that we swerve over to Statesboro. I am a huge (dieting don’t help) fan of Willie McTell.

Mr. McTell had lived in Statesboro, Georgia, having moved there with his mom in about 1907 when he was 9 years old. He had lost his sight a few years before that, and went to a school for the blind in Macon, Georgia.

He was a brilliant guitar player, mostly using inexpensive 12-srings in the Piedmont blues style, and he sang all kinds of tunes. His “Statesboro Blues” was by no means the best of what Willie wrote and sang, but it was covered in spectacular fashion by Taj Mahal.

Here’s Willie’s version from the 1920s:

And here is Taj’s cover from his 1968 album:

The Allman Brothers lucked out when they covered the Mahal version as closely as they could on their 1971 Live at the Fillmore East album.

All good!

We finally rolled into Statesboro, which is an agricultural community; the Ford dealer’s front row of offerings contained as many tractors as cars.

We drove through the little town, which was just about the same as any other Georgia or North Florida (where I’m from) town. We pulled into a breakfast place and I was so excited to be in STATESBORO!!! Patty was less excited, but nice about it.

When our young waitress came to get our order, I was babbling about how great it was to be in Statesboro. She asked why, and I told her that Blind Willie McTell had written a famous song about her town, which was made famous by some others.

She asked me, “Is Willie McTell playing here tonight?”

I replied, “No; he died in 1959.” The waitress looked startled.

We enjoyed our breakfast and continued on our way to Savannah.

Bob Dylan wrote an evocative song about Willie McTell.