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Hobart Smith - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

One of the problems with assembling multiple versions of these old songs is that often the oldest recordings will be of very poor quality. That's the case with the original Blind Lemon Jefferson cut, which I've only ever heard in scratchy and badly muffled form. This 1942 version by Appalachian multi-instrumentalist Hobart Smith suffers from none of that. It was taped by the great American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, and captures an extraordinary performance. I've no idea how Smith did it, but it sounds as if he's constantly increasing the tempo throughout, but he's not. Note after note seems to arrive just that bit too soon, as if the ear is never quite able to catch up with what he's doing. It's a fearsomely clever bit of playing.

Hobart Smith - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
(alternate download)