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Negros must stop the deluge of filth, which makers of records are marketing among them. The music of the 'Blues' is one thing, but whether good or bad, it is indefensible to put to it all the stench which ingenuity can drag out the under-world and camouflage with words of double meaning. Don't buy them! Don't go to people's houses who do buy them! Don't permit your race newspaper to bear that name and at the same time advertise flagrant immorality set to music. Do anything, do everything, filthy records must go. - Roy Wilkins, (attrib.) editorial in the December 31 1926 edition of the Kansas City Call, probably written by the man who ironically went on to head up the NAACP

Author Topic: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson  (Read 14115 times)

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Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2011, 07:39:21 AM »
Another interesting question is how many early blues songs refer to Blind Lemon in the lyrics and/or are dedicated to him. I know of these:

Lead Belly - My Friend Blind Lemon
Lead Belly - Silver City Bound
King Solomon Hill - My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon
Rev. Emmet Dickenson - The Death of Blind Lemon



There's also Washboard Walter & John Byrd's "Wasn't it sad about Lemon?"

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2011, 07:54:40 AM »
...goin back to influence, Texas Alexanders' 1934 Easy Rider has a cool "intro" bit where accompanyist Carl Davis plays Lemon's run - he does it only the once at the 15 second mark:

...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline jostber

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2011, 05:12:34 AM »
Why was King Solomon Hill called "Blind Lemon's Buddy" and why did Will Ezell accompany Lemon's coffin on the train to his burying place? Were they very close with Blind Lemon?


Offline misterjones

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2011, 07:48:48 PM »
According to Jefferson biographer Robert Uzzel at least, Will Ezell was hired by Paramount to accompany the body back to Texas.  I assume Ezell was (like Jefferson) a Paramount recording artist in Chicago on business or to record.  (Jefferson reportedly left the Paramount studios earlier in the day, though it is assumed he was there on business since he did not record that day.)

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2011, 08:35:33 PM »
It's such an obvious cover but I have to mention Larry Hensley's Matchbox Blues since he does such a good job with it. Cops a lot of licks from the boss but the feel is a lot different, and there are a couple of really nice guitar ideas in there that Lemon, to my knowledge, never expressed, on record anyway. It's on White County Blues, 1926-1938 A Whiter Shade of Pale, Columbia Legacy.

While we're at it, on the same record, check out My Good Gal Has Thrown Me Down, Homer Callahan. He's no Lemon but the influence is clear and I can't help liking it. From a pure documentary aspect it does throw some light on JM's original thought, how did Lemon influence the musicians who were hooked on his music back then, whether they be one-session-wonders, long career artists, black or white?

[later] Check out the brazen Lemon lick, mixed with brazen Frank McGee licks, who probably stole them from Son House & Lemon. Complicated unraveling this stuff. It should be incongruous but somehow it works beautifully, on the Anglin Bros' Southern Whoopee Blues, on the same record.[/later]
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 08:59:24 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2011, 11:00:15 PM »
Hi all,
Dr. Ross's "Going to The River" is a cover of Lemon's "Wartime Blues", though Dr. Ross plays the song as a one-chord shuffle in Vestapol.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2011, 08:43:28 AM »
Seems to me I can sense a BLJ influence in Kid Prince Moore's Bite Back Blues. Anyone else see this?

This just came round in iTunes. I agree, LD50, definitely a "Lemon in A position" feel to a lot of this song.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2011, 09:17:10 AM »
Lemon's influence certainly extended to hillbilly blues and white music, as Rivers notes.

Two quotes I had added to one of the Quote Drive threads a couple years ago, from Tony Russell's Blacks, Whites and Blues.

Up 'til then, the blues were only inside me. Blind Lemon was the first to 'let out' the blues. - Roscoe Holcomb

It was along about that time that Blind Lemon Jefferson came through, and he stayed around there about a month. He stayed with the other colored fellows and they worked on the railroad there; he'd just sing and play to entertain the men in the work camp. I think that right about there I started on the guitar. - Hobart Smith recalls Lemon in Virginia, c. WWI.

Hobart Smith did a cover of See That My Grave is Kept Clean. And his Brown Skin Blues, according to the dialogue that concludes the recording, comes from Lemon ("That was one of Blind Lemon's, right?" "Yeah, uh-huh.") I don't hear the source song clearly myself, curious what others think. All that came to mind was Hot Dogs because of the footwork. The notes to the In Sacred Trust disc this is found on say perhaps Smith actually learned it from Bob "Shad" Campbell, a Caucasian albino who played with Smith.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 08:57:17 AM by uncle bud »

Offline dj

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2011, 10:27:33 AM »
Lemon's influence didn't extend only to musicians.  Recording directors were also influenced by Lemon and, hoping for a hit, influenced the repertoire of the musicians they were recording.  The most famous example is probably Art Laibley's asking Son House, Charley Patton, and Willie Brown if any of them could play See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.  Patton and Brown may have passed - at any rate any attempt from them has not survived.  But House went back to his room with Louise Johnson, worked half the night adding his own words to Lemon's melody, and the next day recorded Mississippi County Farm.  The song became a mainstay of House's repertoire, but would not have existed without Laibley's prodding. 

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2011, 10:48:02 AM »
...you got to take sick and die is to the same arrangement, as is motherless children

Also Tom Shaw did a tonnes of lemon songs

Big Joe Williams did peach orchard mama

Skip James and Blind Willie McTell did (superior renditions of) one dime blues, as did Oscar and Newton Nelson

and of course everyone who did two/six white horses, like Joe Evans and Aruthur McClain  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6Xa9ecX0rI
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline banjochris

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2011, 05:26:14 PM »
Dr. Ross's "Going to The River" is a cover of Lemon's "Wartime Blues", though Dr. Ross plays the song as a one-chord shuffle in Vestapol.

Mance Lipscomb's "Evil Blues" bears more than a passing resemblance to "Wartime" as well, at least musically.

Offline misterjones

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #26 on: June 29, 2011, 11:16:15 AM »
I recall reading awhile back that Robert Johnson (or at least some aspects of his guitar playing) was originally (we're talking many decades ago) thought to have been influenced by Jefferson.  That notion seems to have been lost over the years in favor of the more obvious Carr, House, etc. influences.  At the time I read this, I recall thinking there was something to it, but I'd have to listen to Johnson again with this notion in mind to re-assess the possibility.  Of course, any influence would have had to have been via record.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 11:20:06 AM by misterjones »

Offline jostber

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2011, 12:31:03 PM »
For those who have not seen this great article by Jas Obrecht on Blind Lemon:

http://jasobrecht.com/blind-lemon-jefferson-star-blues-guitar/


Offline Rivers

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #28 on: June 29, 2011, 05:04:27 PM »
I often think Jimmie Rodgers must have had Lemon in head. Not in the same league, or universe, vocally or on guitar, but that off-timing feel thing he has that drove his accompanists crazy yet works perfectly for the listener and by the way is very hard to copy, often reminds me of Lemon.

Chris Albertson describes it very well in his bio on Rodgers, seems he was incapable of keeping it 'straight' and had to play it out the way he felt it. A good example is Blue Yodel No 4 (California Blues), the steel player in particular barely seeming, to me, to make it to the end without a having musical nervous breakdown. Stressful stuff, which is why we love it.

If this theory is correct Rodgers may have channeled Lemon's influence into that generation of 'country', whatever we understand that term to mean. I have nothing to back this up, except for my ears and the timeline. I can't imagine a parallel universe where JR does not break the same timing rules (end of measure sneaky syncopated stuff going on, and unpredictable resolution) that Lemon broke and still remains as interesting. I think he was listening to him.

Looking at the timeline, Lemon became huge in race records commencing his recording run in 1926. Rodgers started 1927. Rodgers hung out with blues players, and liked to hang in the black parts of town. Final point, Blue Yodel, various 'Numbers'. I find it easy to imagine Rodgers developing his falsetto yodel in an attempt to get somewhere near the dynamic intensity Lemon creates with his glorious crescendo tenor hollering, and accidentally inventing something entirely distinctive in its own right. God I would love to have seen both of them.

My next project is listening to the earliest recordings of the both of them. Need B&GR on my iPod though or it will have to wait til the weekend.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 09:30:48 PM by Rivers »

Offline harvey

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Re: The Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2011, 01:19:13 AM »
I might be wide of the mark on this one, I am no way near an expert like most of you people. I always thought that Peg Leg Howell sounded like he was influneced by Lemon on his standard tuned songs, New Prison Blues for example... why I am doubting myself is because he was older and first recorded roughly the sametime, maybe it is the other way round, maybe Lemon was influnced by him.





 


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