Worried Life Blues’ was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in the first year of balloting in the Classics of Blues Recordings category. It was also the first song ever recorded by singer-pianist Major ‘Big Maceo’ Merriweather, in 1941, proving he had made the right move by relocating from Detroit to Chicago not long before with the intention of furthering his musical career. While Detroit was a growing blues center, at the time it lacked the recording industry that was making Chicago a destination point for blues musicians. In Chicago, Maceo met Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red, the leading lights of producer Lester Melrose’s stable of artists, and Melrose recorded Maceo from 1941 to 1947. Tampa Red and Maceo backed each other in the studio and teamed up for nightclub jobs as well. ‘Worried Life Blues’ eclipsed the song that inspired it, Sleepy John Estes’ ‘Someday Baby Blues,’ as Maceo emotively immortalized the refrain ‘Some day, baby, I ain’t gonna worry my life no more.’

Big Maceo Merriweather, vocal and piano; Tampa Red, guitar. Recorded June 24, 1941, Chicago. Released on Bluebird B8827 (78 rpm) and rereleased on RCA Victor 20-2133 (78 rpm) and Groove G5001 (78rpm and 45rpm).

Discographical details from Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943.

— Jim O’Neal