Sunday, 16 June 2013

Thing 11 - Blind Lemon Jefferson

My two lovely children gave me the album Black Snake Moan by Blind Lemon Jefferson as part of my Father's Day gifts. I'm listening to it on my laptop right now and it is awesome.

Jefferson was born blind in Texas in 1893, the same year as my Polish grandfather, and died in 1929 aged only 36. Yet in that brief life he had written and recorded some hundred classic acoustic blues songs, most famously See That My Grave Is Kept Clean which was covered by Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead.

I love his lyrics, his unique emotional high-pitched singing style and his great guitar work. The songs seem to be played live in this room, like he's giving a concert to me as a one man audience for Father's Day. Along with Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell, Jefferson created the roots of the most common forms of music in history, and we're still listening today to new music based on their astonishing works.

Unlike many of the first recorded blues artists he was commercially successful and had a fairly prosperous life for the last few years of his brief life. He died of a heart attack so managed to avoid the stereotype stories of blues singers dying through heroin addiction or a pact with the devil.

The picture above is the only known photo of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Happy Father's Day everyone.