Black Snake Moan

Album: Black Snake Moan (1927)
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  • This song was originally recorded as "Black Snake Blues" by Vistoria Spivey in 1926 on Okeh records. In 1927, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the same song as "Black Snake Moan," also on Okeh. His version sold much better than Spivey's, and therefore his recording is more widely known to this day. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Eli - Toronto, ON
  • This Blues song provided the name for the Hollywood film Black Snake Moan starring Samuel L. Jackson, who performs the song in a key scene where he plays it to Christina Ricci. As explained in the bonus features on the DVD, the "Black Snake Moan" represents personal demons - the "voice that won't go away." For Jefferson, it was his blindness. In the movie, Jackson is tormented because his wife aborted their child and subsequently left him. Ricci's character is still dealing with abuse she suffered as a child. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kevin - Arlington, TX
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Comments: 5

  • Big B from The UniverseNot about sex? You decide with this one phrase:
    “That must have been a bedbug, you know a chinch don’t bite that hard...”

    The double entendre here is chinch. It’s a common bug that bites but it’s like a black fly, in its forward meaning in the song. But it’s also short for chinchilla which is slang for a woman’s fluffy nether regions, and used here as a metaphor for sex.
    So why would it be like a bedbug bite? Itchy red bumps? Well the two metaphors black snake and chinch (bite) together mean poor Lemon is singing the blues that he’s caught the herp, or another std that’s causing pain.
    Oh and mama would you be sticking around wanting the black snake if your man got bit by the chinch?
    Poor Lemons...
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InPeople, PLEASE get a clue.
    This has nothing to do with sex or sexual innuendo.
    And I am no pollyanna, as I am fully aware that blues often has sexual themes, as in Robert Johnson's "From Four Till Late," with the lyric about a man "ramblin through its drawers."
    This is about Lemon's blindness giving him a particularly strong fear of the unknown menaces that exist, with a snake as a metaphor for the strongest of those fears.
    Consider just how fearful you would be if you had been blind from birth, told about a snake that can bite, but you have no idea what it looks like, or what it could do to you.
    I simply cannot imagine how scary the world would be, but I am certain that a blind man would have particularly powerful fears when it comes to that!
  • Blog from London, United Kingdom"That must have been a bedbug, you know I just can't bite that hard - Asked my baby for fifty cents, she said 'Lemon, ain't a child in the yard'."

    Personal demons? Hmmm. The song skirts around intimate personal details in a knowing way, the same way most popular songs of the time traditionally did, usually for a comic effect. What's great and modern about BLJ - who was a successful, if ripped off, recording artist, don't forget - is that he expresses all the pain and misery of being broke and lonely beyond the comedy of lying in bed alone(or not) feeling horny - which IMHO is the immediate subject of the song.
  • Tom from Marble Falls, ArMost old school blues songs were either written abot sex, drinking, or religion: The Trinity of the Blues. I agree with Eli that BSM was about sex, but it also was about personal demons, since Lemon had several in his life. Sad to think he was found dead, froze to death in Chicago after a snowstorm.
  • Eli from Toronto, OnThis song is about sex!!!
    There have been whole doctoral papers and books written about the sexual imagery and subtexts in Blues and related music...
    Do I have to spell it out for you?
    The snake represents the male sex organ, the singer is moaning because he/she is lonely for a partner, a lover...

    Except for the title, which was obviously used for it's strong sexual connotations to promise something that it never delivers, this B-level Hollywood movie has little to do with the song or with Victoria Spivey or Blind Lemon Jefferson (the first two artists to record this song in 1926 and 1927 respectively).
    The interpretations in the movie regarding demons and other bad memories are strictly those that the director imposed on the plot, and have nothing to do with 80 years of tradition of sexual imagery in songs like this one.
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