New Songs of Blind Lemon Jefferson
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The main purpose of this essay is to examine newly discovered material by one of the great creative forces in the blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson. We will attempt to explain the material’s peculiarities and try to solve certain problems it presents. By placing these new songs in the context of Jefferson’s other known music and his blues in particular, as well as within the broader spectrum of American folk music tradition, we will try to show how they add to, confirm, or modify our understanding of Jefferson’s life, personality, music, and artistic stature. In particular, we will investigate certain themes in the lyrics of these new songs. One of these is the theme of violent attacks and outbursts, either suffered or perpetrated by the blind singer. Another is the theme of blindness itself. As explained in an earlier article by Monge, the many cryptic visual references in Jefferson’s lyrics unveil a psychological preoccupation with his blindness and constitute the sub-theme underlying the whole of his lyrical output. In order to corroborate this theory, a complete list of Jefferson’s visual references in the new songs is provided in the Appendix for statistical comparisons with the results obtained in the earlier article.