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Time in the Blues$
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Julia Simon

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190666552

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190666552.001.0001

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Objects, Fragments, Scenes, and the Construction of Narrative

Objects, Fragments, Scenes, and the Construction of Narrative

Chapter:
(p.139) 5 Objects, Fragments, Scenes, and the Construction of Narrative
Source:
Time in the Blues
Author(s):

Julia Simon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190666552.003.0005

This chapter interrogates the construction of narrative out of lyrical and musical fragments and scenes. Tracing displacements and condensations in the blues reveals a metonymic structure underpinning narrative articulations. Close examination of the contexts of reception—including the minstrel show, the juke joint, and most especially the print advertising of race record labels—unearths a system that guides listeners to construct narrative cohesion out of fragments and pieces. Analyzing Charley Patton’s “High Water Everywhere,” Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Competition Bed Blues,” and Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on my Trail” uncovers an unstable oscillation between synchronic and diachronic understandings of time that is foregrounded by the blues’ fundamentally fragmentary structure.

Keywords:   temporality, blues, narrative, Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson

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