Monday, February 23, 2009

Tangled Up In the Blues

The Blues are the true facts of life expressed in words and song, inspiration, feeling, and understanding
~Willie Dixon
In between procrastinating for my Consumer Behavior test tomorrow and watching the Oscars, I was looking through my iTunes and saw that I had no less than six artists whose names started with the word "Blind," a la Blind Willie McTell. Not sure why everyone wanted to identify themselves as lacking the ability to see, but that's irrelevant. But, this revelation got me to thinking about the blues.

I love blues music. Absolutely dig it. I think it's safe to say that most of the music I listen to would not exist if it wasn't for these old bluesmen. In that music you can hear pain, suffering, loneliness, heartbreak, breakups, loss, and a million other emotions we have come to acknowledge as "emo." Well, these guys did it first, and they did it better. It's cathartic to listen to people sing about being broke and lonely, with only their guitars to keep them company. I don't sing along to songs or hum very often, but blues music always get my foot tappin and my best hummin voice out. And i really, really want to learn the harmonica and pick the guitar back up when I hear something like "my baby left me, ain't got a dollar to my name" come outta the speakers.

Listening to Robert Johnson is like being reborn in the prohibition era. After selling his soul to the devil for the ability to play the blues, this guy belted out only two albums worth of music, and only two actual pictures of the guy have ever surfaced, died at 27 (the founder of the 27 club), yet his influence is as legendary as his life. Eric Clapton wouldn't even be a household name without Johnson, and Bob Dylan has said that Robert Johnson was one of the most influential artists on him. Listen to "Ramblin on My Mind" or "32-20 blues," or stick with "crossroads blues," his story about selling his soul to the devil.

One of my favorite songs right now is one called "Tupelo Blues" by John Lee Hooker. I know a whole lot less about him, but the songs of his I've heard are incredible. Try it here, thank me later.

You become unstuck in time when you listen to blues music. I'm not sure what kinda music we would have nowadays without it. Hip hop/R & B/rap all owe a great deal to these old singers, as does most of the popular music today. Rock and roll is a weird, awkward child of the blues, old jazz (the strange cousin of blues that took a lot of amphetamines and left the words out), and country. we owe a lot to those singers

So, validate my getting a lesser grade in class tomorrow and get yourself some education in the blues

1 comment:

  1. You know what would be totally rad? If you posted something new. Yeah, cool, thanks. Bye.