From US National Park Service:
James dropped out of high school in 1919 and left Bentonia to work and live at a road construction camp near Ruleville. During the next two years he worked in various levee and lumber camps around the Delta. While working in a lumber camp James composed his first song, “Illinois Blues.” On weekends, he would pick his guitar for tips in the nearby towns of Drew, Louise, and Belzoni. In 1921, James moved to Weona, Arkansas, to work as a lumber grader at a sawmill camp. There he met pianist/pimp Will Crabtree. By James's account, Crabtree was a huge man from nearby Marked Tree, Arkansas, who influenced his piano playing and lifestyle. James remained in Weona until 1923, hustling women and working as a pianist. After a dispute with one of the women, James moved to Memphis, where he worked as a pianist at a brothel on North Nichols Street.
Hard time's is here
An ev'rywhere you go
Times are harder
Than th'ever been befo'
You know that people
They are driftin' from do' to do'
But they can't find no heaven
I don't care where they go
Well, you hear me singing this old lonesome song
People, you know these hard times can last us so very long
People, if I ever can get up Off of this old hard killing floor
Lord, I'll never get down this low no more
You know, you'll say you had money you better be sure
But these hard times gonna kill you just drive a lonely soul
More here. (Note: One post throughout February will be dedicated to Black History Month.)