Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Understanding The Blues

Lot of folks going to be singing the blues before today is over so here is a piece I found some years back that explains who can and how to sing the blues.

Understanding The Blues
If you are new to Blues music, or like it but never really understood the why/wherefore, here are some very fundamental rules.

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch... ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the Blues in any place that doesn't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot and sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
  • a. highway
  • b. jailhouse
  • c. empty bed
  • d. bottom of a whiskey glass
11. Bad places for the Blues:
  • a. Nordstrom's
  • b. gallery openings
  • c. Ivy League institutions
  • d. golf courses
12. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

13. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
  • a. you older than dirt
  • b. you blind
  • c. you shot a man in Memphis
  • d. you can't be satisfied
No, if:
  • a. you have all your teeth
  • b. you once were blind but now can see
  • c. the man in Memphis lived
  • d. you have a 401K or trust fund
14. Blues is not a matter of color, it's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.

15. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues.
Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
  • a. cheap wine
  • b. whiskey or bourbon
  • c. muddy water
  • d. black coffee
The following are NOT Blues beverages:
  • a. Perrier
  • b. Chardonnay
  • c. Snapple
  • d. Slim Fast
16. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot.
You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

17. Some Blues names for women:
  • a. Sadie
  • b. Big Mama
  • c. Bessie
  • d. Fat River Dumpling
18. Some Blues names for men:
  • a. Joe
  • b. Willie
  • c. Little Willie
  • d. Big Willie
19. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shot in Memphis.

20. Make your own Blues name starter kit:
  • a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
  • b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, etc.)
  • c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
  • For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")
21. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues.


  1. Oh contrare on Seattle. Where do you think the term "skid road" came from?

    Maybe we need to start a new blues.

    I'm a 99er with no prospects to be had. Lookin all over the inernet and things just be bad.
    Usin a $10 laptop stealin wifi where I can.
    Mr. Banker got my loan papers and he ain't my dad.

  2. So, we don't get to sing Anne Murray's "Little Good News." Or can we?

    Tough question. Rocky Bear from the backwoods, who grew up eatin' squirrels, 'n possums, 'n berries, has to think about that. Gotta think durn hard, too. Ya know?

  3. Rob, you and I qualify under the ugly white men category so we can sing the blues, d'ya think?

    Demeur, is that where skid road is? Fascinating. I never knew. You have a Blues gift that in that song, now you need a wailing harmonica or old mouth harp for an interlude and lead into the next verse.

  4. There is a Veggie Tales version of this list. Basically- Larry is too happy to sing the blues even when they steal his cookies and icecream so they make him sing polka instead.

    It should be "wail" not "Sing".

  5. Dizzy Melon Joe and Limpin' Lemon HillBelle's been singin' dah blues fo dah longest time evah since Limpin' Lemon HillBelle shot a man in Reno jest ta watch'em die.

    He still be daid. I still be Limpin' and Melon Joe done been dizzy long 'nuff to make another song.

    "I woke up diz mornin'
    And whoa I be cryin'
    Dah law it done found me
    Fo killin' and lyin'

    We ain't got no money
    No bacon be fryin'
    Dah law it cain't kill me
    Fo failin' at tryin'

    But I's done kissed mah baby
    And Lawd he be smilin'

    thank ya. thank ya berry much.

  6. Dana, you and Demeur can team up and sing D-Blues. You gots Pathos (Athos and Aremis too)


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