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I Got A Mind To Give Up Living

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Paul Butterfield had a profound influence on the development of contemporary blues and rock music. Unfortunately he died young – only 44 – in 1987.

In the late fifties, while still in high school, he linked up with the older Nick Gravenites, and began playing some acoustic blues & folk together. They also started hanging around the blues clubs on Chicago’s South Side, an area avoided by most whites. There they were listening to and befriending some blues’ legends – often they would be the only two whites in the audience.

Butterfield’s short stint at the University of Illinois and Gravenite’s regular commutes (and eventual move) west to San Francisco interrupted the partnership.

Elvin Bishop had moved to Chicago to study Physics at the University of Illinois but dropped out to focus on an education in blues guitar. It wasn’t long before he stumbled across Paul Butterfield and they started playing together and with people like Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson (both of them – I & II), Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, & Howlin’ Wolf.

Invited to play a regular spot at Big John’s on Chicago’s North Side, they nicked a couple of members of Howlin’ Wolf’s backing band – Jerome Arnold & Sam Lay – and thus the core of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was formed. Just before they went into the studio to record their first album, Michael Bloomfield joined as a second lead guitar & Mark Naftalin on keyboards joined during those sessions.

… and there you have it. Possibly the first multi-racial blues band in Chicago and certainly one of the most influential bands of the era.

I Got A Mind  To Give Up Living is from their second album East-West Sam Lay had been replaced on drums by Billy Davenport.

The connection with The Super-Natural?

It’s the guitar … Peter Green (The Super-Natural) and Michael Bloomfield (I Got A Mind To Give Up Living) had very unique & individual styles but both were piercing, eloquent, and emotive. Whenever I listen to either … I always think that I should next listen to the other.

Paul Butterfield also had an appearance with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and released a 4 song EP in 1967, the same year that Hard Road, the album with The Super-Natural, was released.

I gotta mind to give up living
And go shopping instead ..

This is the version from the album (East-West)

Other Stuff You Might Enjoy.

* Live version of I Got A Mind To Give Up Living recorded in 1996 when the Butterfield Blues Band played The Unicorn in Boston. 

* Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green) performing the same song at The Warehouse in New Orleans.

* Paul Butterfield appeared as a guest on the 1960’s TV show To Tell The Truth, where a panel aims to pick the guest from amongst a line-up. The panel’s questioning and judgement is followed by a sloppy performance of Born in Chicago a song from their first album written by Nick Gravenites.

* Short 10 minute teaser for video documentary created by Paul Butterfield’s son Gabriel. Includes short interviews with Sam Lay, Al Kooper, Happy Traum to name a few. Part 1 : Part 2

* An 11 minute video produced to try and help generate votes for Paul Butterfield’s nomination to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

* Another blog article about I Got A Mind To Give Up Living. This is from the website www.nodepression.com which concerns itself with the roots of american music.

Bloomfield, Arnold, & Lay were part of the band behind Dylan when he controversially plugged into the electric sound at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Al Kooper & Barry Goldberg were the other two members of that illustrious troupe.

* Dylan on Paul Butterfield: While watching The Butterfield Blues Band at the Village Gate in NYC in early 1965, Robert Shelton commented to Bob Dylan that Paul Butterfield’s harp playing was sounding like a Sonny Boy Williamson the Third or Little Walter the Second. Bob’s retort was along the lines of “No. He’s Paul Butterfield the First.” (from Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home. p220)

Where to Next?

While sitting at the junction with a mind to give up living, I’m contemplating the signposts that read:

North:    Back Door Man by Howlin’ Wolf
East:       That is where we just came from: The Super-Natural
South:    The 59th Street Bridge Song by M. Bloomfield & Al Kooper
West:      Everybody Needs Somebody To Love by The Blues Brothers

crossroads 3

Your Choice For The Next Stop?