You all have been wonderin',
Wonderin' why I sing the blues (2x)
Yeah you just listen
And say you're me instead of you
Ah you won't to or you do get married
To someone for the rest of your life (2x)
Yes and there is always someone else
Whenever you out of sight
You get the affection of a servant
The kindness of a slave (2x)
Yeah you get the love of a dog
That can't even hear a word you say
I try to say something people
Something just to pacify (2x)
I might not have lived right all of my life
But people please believe me I've tried
-- BB King, Do The Boogie! (Ace Records 1956) - B.B. King's Early 50s Classics
Been havin with much personal woes lately … gotten sick, tough time to make a livin’, frickin’ oil rise, hustle and harassment from bankers, betrayals … many betrayals, and “trouble all the way I see”.
Having downloaded a 5-CD compilation by Martin Scorcese entitled “the Blues - A Musical Journey” and listening it repeatedly, got me the Bluesy mood. I decide to dedicate April to the music genre that was the root of the popular Rock and Roll.
The word the blues was traced by Musicologist to the phrase “for having a fit of the blue devils”, meaning low spirits, depression and sadness as found in George Colman’s farce Blues devils, a farce in one act (1798).
The Blues could be traced much earlier in African American music but the first recording was Memphis Blues in 1912 by WC handy, today honoured as Father of the Blues.
Blues music is a vocal and instrumental music evolved from spirituals, praise songs, field hollers, shouts, and chants in the communities of former African slaves in the US. Its an expression to life’s hardship and injustices - lost love, cruelty of police officers, oppression at the hands of white folk, hard times, etc.
Gut bucket blues have a more raunchier lyrics to describe man-woman relationships. The term gut bucket is derived from the metal bucket used to clean pig intestines for chitterlings, a soul food dish associated with slavery and deprivation.
The Blues earned an unsavory reputation amongst upstanding church goers for gut bucket blues and its rowdy juke-joint venues. Preachers rallied against it as sinful.
Ironically, bluesmen such as Joshus White, Son House, Skip James, or Reverend Gary Davis are expressing seminal messages through the Blues.
The Blues has evolved into mainstream music and attracted the white crowd. Much is attributed to white British “Bluesmen” like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and John Mayall. Their foray into Blues made a major impact in contemporary Rock.
Lest not forget, Elvis Priestly and Bill Haley.
The Blues have been written and recorded not only by Rock musicians but also other genre - Folk, Country, Jazz, Classical and not forgeting … sambal belacan eating Malay musicians like Blues Gang.
Emulating the successful music-theme restaurant Hard Rock Café, there is a chain paying tribute to (or exploiting) the Blues, House of Blues. In fact, Norah Jones recorded a Live album there.
The late comedian George Carling had this cynical joke on the House of Blues - “White got no business singing the Blues. You are supposed to give people the Blues.”
Perhaps read this humourous observation of the Blues in this posting “How to sing the blues” on the blog Musical Perceptions.
And, the same message of “You gotta to suffer just to sing the blues …” could be found in the movie Crossroad.
I guess I’m ready to sing the Blues. And, I’ve got the Blues alright that I’ve bottled up stress symptoms in my feet and body muscle, so I was told by my recently turned reflexologist buddy.
My path have been a frustating journey. Yeah yeah I know … don’t think about it. Just keep goin’ and place yourself in the hands of the Lord.
But people please believe me I've tried.
April 1st, 2006 10:00 a.m.
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