Blind Lemon Jefferson


One way to know how messed-up this world can be sometimes is by hearing the way they talk about Blind Lemon Jefferson. Without ever having known him, without ever having seen him, without ever having felt his breath. You can’t help but wonder if they’ve ever even heard his records when they say what they say, when they write what they write. You wouldn’t want to dignify what they say by repeating it. All you can do is spit off to the side somewhere in the dirt.

Instead, let it be said that in his time he sold more blues records to black folk than anybody else. How did that happen, the way they talk about him? He was blind and black and he sang blues all across Texas, all across the deadly Deep South, all up into places as cold and curious and far-flung as Chicago, where he and plenty other less-famous black folks died of poverty and exposure and race. How dare they say what they say? Can they sing? Can they sing even one of his songs halfways right? Can they sing a single song of their own so strong that people will flip a damn dime at their blind ass? Blind Lemon Jefferson, fat, blind, black, and born and raised in the depths of East Texas, went exactly wherever he wanted in the United States in the 1920s; when next you achieve anything like that, something so great, so bold, so daring and truly courageus, make sure they mark it on your tombstone.

 
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