I must say, this is one of my favorite Robert Johnson songs. It always has been. Robert wrote “Love in Vain” in 1937. He wrote if for Willie Mae Powell, who is mentioned in the song. John Hammond, Jr. (the son of John Hammond, who discovered Bob Dylan) made a documentary on Robert Johnson, called, “The Search for Robert Johnson” in 1991. I would highly recommend this for any fan of the blues. One of the best parts of the documentary was when Hammond interviewed Willie Mae (who was once Robert’s girlfriend) and played for her “Love in Vain”, where Robert calls out her name in the song. She never knew about the recording. She was visibly surprised and filled up with emotion as she remembered Robert in that time.
Here are three recordings…. The original 1937 version from Robert Johnson, a Rolling Stones version from 1995 and an Eric Clapton version from 2004. My favorite version of “Love in Vain” was by the Rolling Stones on the “Let if Bleed” album in 1969.
Matthew Becker Portsmouth, NH
Live from Matt’s House