Genre: Biography + Autobiography
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Street Date: November 14, 2007
Item Number (DPCI): 247-17-6760
There has in recent years been an explosion of interest in blues music and its brilliant creators. No other form of music is more deeply rooted in the realities of American life or more expressive of its joys and sorrows. Mance Lipscomb (1895-1976), the son of a former slave, lived almost his whole life in Navasota, Texas, supporting himself and his family by tenant farming cotton, plowing, and picking "from caint ta caint" (can't see to can't see) for a meager return. But he was also a superb "gittah" player, singer, and songwriter who played the blues at countless "Satiddy Night Suppas", where rural blacks celebrated the end of the hard workweek and blew off steam. Theirs was a life beset with racism and brutality, but redeemed by an indomitable spirit and a resilient sense of humor, of which Mance's was a sterling example. In 1960 Mance Lipscomb was "discovered" by Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records, who taped his songs in his own home and issued a record. This led to a debut appearance before 41,000 people at the Berkeley Folk Festival in 1961 - and instant musical celebrity. Mance traveled all over the country playing his music and influencing such musicians as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Ry Cooder, and Taj Mahal. But he always remained rooted in the life of Navasota. "I say me for a parable" means, roughly, "I use myself as an example". In this book Mance tells his own story in his own authentic language, as a representative of a hard yet rich way of rural African-American life and as a creator and purveyor of a music that has conquered the globe. Of special note are the "go-alongs" (or chapters) that relate Mance's adventures with the legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, who ridNavasota of its virulent violence against blacks before he went on to capture Bonnie and Clyde, and that tell of his times in "this music bizness", including a command performance for Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow on their yacht. I Say Me for a Parable is a major document in Southern folk-lore, a monument to a vanished way of life, a touching extended self-portrait by a world-class storyteller and word spinner, and probably the most authentic account of the real roots of the blues ever put to paper. What All God's Dangers is to sharecropping, I Say Me for a Parable is for country blues.