Covered by many, yet understood by few, “Midnight Special” was traditionally a folk song which originated among prisoners. The country-blues version, sung by Bill Cox, hums along like a freight train, encouraging the light of the powerful locomotive to inspire those out of their destitution.
When you read the words “Slave to the blues,” it doesn’t compare to how it sounds and feels when Ma Rainey sings this song. You can imagine her holding her heart in chains during this dreary memory. It’s another way to say endless heart ache.