See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

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Overview

As one of Jefferson’s most renowned songs, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (also known an One Kind Favor or One Kind Favour) is a truly harrowing recording, filled with lyrics of meaning. As many will say, ironically Jefferson’s grave was not kept clean until 1997, when a beautiful headstone marked his Freestone County, Texas burial site.

Perhaps surprisingly, this song is one of Jefferson’s more accessible songs, technically-speaking. Unlike many of his other works which incorporated improvised lines, rapid-tempo tremelo picking, or irregular jumps in positioning on the guitar neck, this song largely stays quite disciplined in open position. For the most part, it is mainly the way he strums the I and IV chords as well as plays his bassline riffs which are notable.

In the context of pre-war blues, this song is certainly an essential classic, and a great song to learn more about.

Workstation

Standard — EADGBE

Well, it’s one kind favor I ask of you
Well, it’s one kind favor I ask of you
Lord, it’s one kind favor I’ll ask of you
See that my grave is kept clean

It’s a long lane, ain’t got no end
It’s a long lane that’s got no end
It’s a long lane ain’t got no end
And it’s a bad wind that never change

Lord, it’s two white horses in a line
Well, it’s two white horses in a line
Well, it’s two white horses in a line
Gonna take me to my buryin’ ground

My heart stopped beatin’ and my hands got cold
My heart stopped beatin’ and my hands got cold
Well, my heart stopped beatin’, Lord, my hands got cold
It wasn’t long ‘fore they took me to the cypress grove

Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Then you know that the poor boy is in the ground

Oh, dig my grave with a silver spade
Well, dig my grave with a silver spade
Well, dig my grave with a silver spade
You may lead me down with a golden chain

Have you ever heard a church bell’s tone?
Have you ever heard a church bell’s tone?
Have you ever heard a church bell tone?
Then you know that the poor boy’s dead and gone

Song History

October 1927
Chicago, IL
Paramount 12585

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