Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mance Lipscomb - Texas Songster (Arhoolie, 1960)

Much like Lead Belly, Lightnin' Hopkins and the other great song collecting bluesmen before him, Lipscomb remade all of the music heard whether it was blues, folk, country music or anything else until it had his unique stamp on it. Using swift and dexterous guitar playing and strong and gutsy singing he adapted traditional tunes like "Jack o' Diamonds" into songs that reflected his life and times. He seems like an amicable fellow, but the tough times in which he lived are reflected in the lyrics he sings, which aren't short of violence, especially toward the women who do him wrong and then face a shooting or beating in retaliation. Other timeless tunes like "Nobody's Fault But Mine" and "Motherless Children" are spun out effortlessly before a live and appreciative audience, recorded at Lipscomb's own house in Texas. This was a very interesting disc to listen to, not only for the music which is top notch, but to hear how all the different forms of American music are able to be grafted and adapted by a master musician into something special and unique to his time and place. Singing about life, death and love, Lipscomb provides a unique window into the hardscrabble life of a farmer musician in the American south.
Texas Songster -

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