The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983

Book Reviews
NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
I Say Me for a Parable: The Life and Music of Mance Lipscomb. By
Mance Lipscomb and A. Glenn Myers. (El Rito, New Mexico:
Possum Heard Diversions, 1981. Introduction, approximately
530 unnumbered pages, photographs. $1oo.)
I Say Me for a Parable is the transcription of hours of taped con-
versations and interviews with the famed Texas blues singer and
guitar player, Mance Lipscomb. Mance's "discovery" in 1961 on his
Navasota farm is the stuff of fairy tales. His accounts of the writing
of his songs and of his friendships with and influence on such per-
formers as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Pete Seeger will be a delight
to students of American folk and popular music. More than a narra-
tive of Lipscomb's musical career, however, this book recreates the
life of a black sharecropper, born in 1895, "on the ninth of April.
Just about plantin time," who lived to see the dawning of the East
Texas version of the Age of Aquarius and to achieve an extraordinary
rapport with thousands of fans of another race, another generation.
Tales of working in the cotton fields at age eleven from "can to
caint," getting religion as a teenager but being excised from the
church rolls for playing the guitar, serving as driver and guide for
legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, and riding the rods to Dallas
to hear Blind Lemon Jefferson singing on the outskirts of town are
narrated in the words of a thoughtful and articulate primitive with a
moral to teach to the generation that adopted him. As Mance saw the
effort of collector Glenn Myers, "y'all trying da find out what happen
da me, in the come-up. What you call background. They call: hisstry.
Go down in history so the young people could catch on, after I'm
gone. An let them see what I went through in life. An that kinda
gives them some kinda idea what my music is based upon."
The less said about the physical construction of the book, the more
charitable. It is a compilation of double-spaced, xeroxed "go-alongs,"
Mance's term for chapters or sessions. The typing is inexpert, the
pages are not numbered sequentially, and there is no index. The

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/. Accessed April 26, 2015.