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Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle

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pavane 10 Apr 08 - 02:52 AM
pavane 10 Apr 08 - 02:57 AM
Roberto 10 Apr 08 - 03:42 AM
Roberto 10 Apr 08 - 04:13 AM
pavane 10 Apr 08 - 04:24 AM
pavane 10 Apr 08 - 04:26 AM
Folkiedave 10 Apr 08 - 04:41 AM
Acorn4 10 Apr 08 - 05:01 AM
pavane 10 Apr 08 - 05:06 AM
bobad 10 Apr 08 - 06:39 AM
pavane 10 Apr 08 - 08:57 AM
Roberto 10 Apr 08 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 10 Apr 08 - 10:10 AM
Roberto 10 Apr 08 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 10 Apr 08 - 12:36 PM
12-stringer 10 Apr 08 - 01:50 PM
M.Ted 10 Apr 08 - 02:05 PM
M.Ted 10 Apr 08 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,OWEN 10 Apr 08 - 04:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Apr 08 - 09:40 PM
pavane 11 Apr 08 - 02:23 AM
Brian Hoskin 11 Apr 08 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 11 Apr 08 - 09:59 AM
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Subject: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 02:52 AM

I have an old LP which was compiled from very scratchy 78's of Blind Lemon Jefferson (Naturally, as he died around 1930).

All the tracks are recognizable the same person, except one which stands out from the others. To my ears, neither the voice nor the guitar style match the other tracks.

The big problem is that the odd one out is one of his best known songs, See that my grave is kept clean.

Since he refers direclty to himself by name in one of the other songs, they are clearly by him, so is it possible that the compiler mistakenly included someone else's version of the one song?


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 02:57 AM

Hey, when can we have an EDIT button so that we can go back and fix our typing errors?


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Subject: Lyr Add: SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN (Jefferso
From: Roberto
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 03:42 AM

If it can help, this is the transcription from Blind Lemon Jefferson's recording, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean: you can check if it is this what is on the LP. Next is the transcription of a Hobart Smith's recording. Other chances are the recordings by the Two Poor Boys, or maybe Lightnin' Hopkins'...

Well, it's one kind favor I ask of you
Well, it's one kind favor I ask of you
Lord, it's one kind thing I'll ask of you
See that my grave is kept clean

It's a long lane ain't got no end
It's a long lane that's got no end
It's a long lane ain't got no end
It's a bad wind that never change

Lord, it's two white horses in a line
Lord, it's two white horses in a line
Well, it's two white horses in a line
Going take me to my buryin' ground.

My heart stopped beatin' and my hands got cold
My heart stopped beatin' and my hands got cold
Well, my heart stopped beatin', Lord, my hands got cold
It wasn't long 'fore service by the cypress grove

Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Then you know that the poor boy is in the ground

Oh, dig my grave with a silver spade
Oh, dig my grave with a silver spade
Well, dig my grave with a silver spade
You may leave me down with a golden chain.

Have you ever heard a church bell toll?
Have you ever heard a church bell toll?
Have you ever heard a church bell toll?
Then you know that the poor boy's dead and gone

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Hobart Smith

Well, it's one kind favour I asked of you
Well, it's one kind favour I asked of you
Well, it's one kind favour I asked of you
Please, see my grave is kept clean

It's a long long lane, ain't got no end
It's a long lane, ain't got no end
It's a long lane, ain't got no end
It's the longest lane that's ever been

And it's three white horses in a line
Three white horses in a line
Well, it's three white horses in a line
Gonna tale me to my buryin' ground

Oh, dig my grave with a silver spade
Dig my grave with a silver spade
Well, it's dig my grave with a silver spade
You may let me down with a golden chain

It's a long long lane, ain't got no end
It's a long lane, ain't got no end
It's a long lane, ain't got no end
It's the longest lane that's ever been

Oh, dig my grave with a silver spade
Dig my grave with a silver spade
Dig my grave with a silver spade
You may let me down with a golden chain

Did you ever hear a trumpet sound?
ever hear a trumpet sound?
Did you ever hear a trumpet sound?
You will know the poor boy's in the ground

It's a long long lane, ain't got no end
Long lane, ain't got no end
Long lane, ain't got no end
It's the longest lane that's ever been

Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
You will know the poor boy's dead and gone


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Subject: Lyr Add: TWO WHITE HORSES IN A LINE (Two Poor Boys
From: Roberto
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 04:13 AM

Two White Horses - sung by TwoPoor Boys
If I didn't make mistakes, this is what they sing. Next is a 1959 recording by Lightnin' Hopkins. He recorded the song more then once, but I think he always begins singin: You know it's one kind favor etc

It's two white horses in a line
It's two white horses in a line
It's two white horses in a line
Gonna carry me to my buryin' ground

My heart stop beatin' an my hands got cold
My heart stop beatin' an my hands got cold
My heart stop beatin' an my hands got cold
It's a long old lane I have to go

Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
Did you ever hear - church bell tone?
Then you know that the poor boy's dead and gone

It's a long old lane ain't got no end
It's a long old lane ain't got no end
It's a long old lane ain't got no end
It's a bad old wind, don't never change

O dig my grave with a silver spade
O dig my grave with a silver spade
O dig my grave - silver spade
You can lower me down with a golden chain

Did you ever hear a coffin sound?
Did you ever hear a coffin sound?
Did you ever hear - coffin sound?
Then you know that the poor boy's in the ground

Mmm
Mmm



Lightnin' Hopkins. One Kind Favor

You know it's one kind favor, I'll ask to you
You know it's one kind favor, I'll ask to you
You know it's one kind favor, I'll ask to you
See that my grave is kept clean

You know it's two white horses in a line
Two white horses in a line
Two white horses in a line
They gonna take me to the buryin' ground


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 04:24 AM

I will have to listen and report back.

He does imitate a bell on the line, Did you ever hear a church bell tone? with a bass note, but I expect they all do that.

The voice seems much deeper and the guitar part is less ornamented than the others.

How about if I upload MP3s of two songs temporarily to a private area on my site? You could then listen and let me know.


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 04:26 AM

It is definitely TWO white horses


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 04:41 AM

I shall be playing this (coincidentally) from the original Harry Smith recordings in the Anthology of American Folk Music on my radio show on Friday as part of a "Harry Smith" hour.

(I have a thread about it and a competition to win a record - elsewhere)

It should if all goes to plan come on around 10.30 am.

Go to my permathread for details of how to listen.


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: Acorn4
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 05:01 AM

The thing I could never understand about Blind Lemon Jefferson was why he wore glasses!


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 05:06 AM

Every time I put that album into the raffle of the folk nights I ran in Sharjah (c1980), it came back...Some people have no taste.

Yes, he is pictured wearing his glasses on the cover.


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: bobad
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 06:39 AM

"He does imitate a bell on the line, Did you ever hear a church bell tone?"

I always heard that as "Did you ever hear a church bell TOLL."


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 08:57 AM

So did I, I just copied the line from the postings above


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: Roberto
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 09:27 AM

Also in Bob Dylan's recording of this same song we have "toll", not to mention Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, first line: "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day"...


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 10:10 AM

Acorn -- He wore glasses 'cause he was only what today we would call "legally blind," but not totally sightless. He squinted habitually and as I understand it, one of his side men one day told him that he looked like a blind lemon, and it stuck.

Here's an off-the wall thought. Jefferson hung out with Leadbelly at some period in their peripatetic lives. Is it possible that that is who does the other cut? At least there are a lot of Leadbelly recordings to compare the voice to.

To which to compare the voice.
With which to ....

Oh, OK, I'm going to my room now. I said it was an off-the-wall idea.

CC


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: Roberto
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 11:54 AM

I think Lead Belly never recorded See That My Grave Is Kept Clean. R


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 12:36 PM

Could be, Roberto, but proving the negative is always tricky. :)

BTW, one way I heard this song, it started with a numerical build-up through the first three verses:

There's one kind favor I'd ask of you ....
There's two white horses in a line ....

There's three black coaches by the road [x3]
Empty, empty now of their heavy load.

[I.e., the coffin and the mourners have dismounted at the grave site.]

The way I was taught it first was

Got six white horses followin' me... [x3]
Gonna lead, gonna lead me to my buryin' ground.

CC


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: 12-stringer
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 01:50 PM

Of course it's Lemon. He's singing in his Deacon L J Bates voice, which is pitched a little differently from the majority of his blues records -- a bit deeper, since the higher-pitched sexual insinuation of a blues singer was not considered appropriate for religious songs. Three or four of BLJ's records appeared under the Bates name.

Lemon recorded the song twice for Paramount. The first take, 10/1927, was issued under the Bates name (the flip side was "Where Shall I Be?"). NB that the next song in the session was "One Dime Blues," which uses the exact same guitar part. (Lemon also used it for "Prison Cell Blues," cut a few days after the remake of "Grave.")

He recorded "Grave" again, 2/1928, and this time it was released under his own name, with a standard blues on the reverse. I don't know which version is on your album; I'm not even sure which is the one I have, since both my LP versions are transferred from the Folkways Anthology (I don't have it or the notes). The one I have on mp3 sounds like the one from the Anthology. The Bates 78 was Paramount 12585, while the BLJ 78 was Paramount 12608 (also issued on Broadway 5059).


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 02:05 PM

I listened to a couple other BLJ cuts, and then "See That My Grave..." from the "King of the Country Blues" CD set--I even opened them on the computer in two different player programs so I could cut back and forth, and the voice is the same one--

There is an alternate take of this that I came across that is in a lower key, it lacks the high notes, and has a different guitar part, because it is substantially lower, the voice has a different quality, but is still recognizably BLJ--

One thing to remember is that these recordings have been mastered from 78s--some folks do a good job of cleaning them up, others are not so good, so that the same recordings, in different collections, can sound very different.


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 02:50 PM

Well, I cross-posted with 12-stringer--who provided the specifics--thanks!


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: GUEST,OWEN
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 04:00 PM

He squinted habitually and as I understand it, one of his side men one day told him that he looked like a blind lemon, and it stuck.

No, his real first name was either "Lemon" or "Lemmon."


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 09:40 PM

Lemmon B. Jefferson, 1897 Freestone County census, according to one website. A 1894 date is probably more reliable (1900 census at another site).


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: pavane
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 02:23 AM

I don't see the 'of course'. I have listened several times, and it still doesn't sound like the same voice at all to me. A different 'timbre' altogether.

The accompaniment is much simpler than the other tracks, the only resemblence I can see is in the varying tempo.

However, if we have documentary evidence that it really WAS him, then I will have to accept it.


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 04:15 AM

I agree with M. Ted and 12-Stringer, BLJ does sing the song in a lower register, but it is him. I'd also agree that it is easier to hear that this is the same voice in better quality reproductions of the recording.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Blind Lemon Jefferson Puzzle
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 09:59 AM

Documentary evidence? You could check out the Dixon/Godrich Blues Discography, that is if you believe many years of research into the Paramount label..

Hoot


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