Saturday, June 11, 2005

"First, poke out eyes..."

(Inspired by an article in Mojo Magazine; September, 1999)

Despite the bright, sunshiny, zipadee-fucking-doodah day that is it outside at the moment, I am still in a blues kind of mood - and I’m not just talking about being merely moody, I’m talking about the real gritty worn out shoes kind of blues.

Charlie Patton, Lead Belly, Son House, Muddy Waters, Sleepy John Estes, Lightning Hopkins, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, John Mayall, Robert Johnson, “Mississippi” John Hurt, “Blind” Lemon Jefferson, and anyone else who sounds like they might be found sitting around in a boxcar betting on the hobo fights.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been tripping out on Tylenol 3’s and Crown Royal for the past 48 hours while laid up with a bad foot…maybe, it’s the fact that’s so hot outside right now that you could fry an egg on your forehead. Regardless, today I just feel this incessant need to hear the soulful twang of plucked guitars and a guttural moan that sounds like the vibrations being emitted from a sighing dog laying in the shade.

I always crave the blues when the weather is sticky. What better to listen to when you’re hot and irritable?

However, I have decided that no everybody can sing or play the blues. You’d think it would be pretty simple; find something to gripe about, strum a guitar out of key, stomp your foot, and moan like a wounded wildebeest. Simple, huh?

Not so.

I have compiled for the curious blues beginner, a set guide of “20 Rules For the Blues” that can be referred to by any aspiring firebrands who think that they can sing and play the blues, and determine whether in fact they have what it takes, or if they’re just experiencing a pre-midlife crisis.

1) Every good blues song starts with “woke up this morning”. Just accept it, deal with it, and don’t fuck with the formula. Nobody will care when you start a song with “brushed my teeth after dinner”.

2) “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line. Such as, “I got a good woman…if you don’t pay her she’ll bite your leg.”

3) The blues are not about limitless choice. Nobody will identify with someone singing the blues about being served chilled grapes on the poolside deck by a topless handmaiden. I suggest burning everything you own, quit your job, shoot your dog, take to living under bridges. THEN, you’ll have something to sing about.

4) Blues cars are rusted Chevies, Cadillacs, Jalopies, as well as old tractors and farming equipment. Other acceptable blues modes of transport include a Greyhound bus, the back of a flatbed truck, or a southbound train. Walkin’ also plays an integral part in transportation in the blues. Who doesn’t get cranky after getting blisters in old uncomfortable blues?

5) Teenagers and really young men usually can’t sing the blues. They haven’t been beaten down enough by life in order to be completely blues-worthy. Blues adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair for stealing an apple. Teenagers can only sing the blues in those states whose laws allow execution of people under the age of 18. Or in those states where one’s sister might have been one’s wife, etc.

6) You can have the blues in New York City, or Los Angeles, but not in Aspen or Beverly Hills. Likewise, hard times in places such as Vermont, North Dakota are merely just a temporary recession. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.

7) The following colors have NO place in the blues: violet, mauve, ochre, chartreuse, puce.

8) You can’t have the blues in an office place, shopping center or public mall. The lighting is all wrong.

9) Good places for the blues: a highway, the jailhouse, a smoky bar or pool hall, an empty bed, on a bus or southbound train.

10) Bad places to have the blues: gallery openings, ribbon cutting ceremonies, baby showers, the Hamptons, and Bar Mitzvahs.

11) No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless you’re an old black man.

12) Do you have a right to sing the blues? YES, if: your first name is a Southern state – like Mississippi or Alabama, you’re blind or in some other way disabled or impaired, you have ever shot anybody in Memphis, or you can’t be satisfied. NO, if: you once were blind but now can see, you’re only impairment is that you’re tone deaf, you have a trust fund, or you have a Lapso Apso for a dog.

13) Julio Iglesias, Barbara Streisand, and Yanni DO NOT have the right to sing the blues!

14) If you ask for water and your baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues. Other acceptable blues beverages: wine, moonshine, shoe polish, cheap-ass whiskey, and muddy pond water.

15) Blues beverages are NOT: any mixed drink (particularly those including fruit), kosher wine, herbal tea, or fashionable small micro-brews.

16) If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s a blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous whore is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair, a drug overdose, or being denied treatment in an emergency room.

17) It’s not a blues death if you die during liposuction or while Alpine skiing in Gstaad, Switzerland.

18) Acceptable blues names. For women: Sadie, Big Mama, Bessie, Lucille, and Earlene. For men: Joe, Willie, Big Willie, Little Willie, Blind Willie, and Lightnin’.

19) Persons with names like sierra, Sequoia, or Muffy will NOT be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20) Other acceptable blues names can be determined by following the accepted blues name formula: a. name of a physical infirmity (blind, crippled, one-eyed, snaggle-toothed) b. first name (see above) or name of favorite breakfast fruit (lemon, kiwi, mango) c. last name of a dead president (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, Polk).

2 Comments:

Blogger STP said...

1) you had too much free time this weekend
2) you thought all of this out a bit too much
3) you are one funny fuck!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Reverend Dan said...

This shit is true. Please people take heed. Read the rules! Oh yeah, I drive a rusted Linoln. And I must add another rule. Please don't show up to one of my gigs and request Mustang Sally while I'm in a slide-guitar, delta blues induced, trance. I will hit you over the head with my resonator. And if you go blind, then you can sing the blues.

Rev. Dan (The Legendary Porch Pounders)

12:20 PM  

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