How To Sing The Blues

 

  1. Most blues begin “woke up this morning.”
  2. “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you write something nasty on the next line“I got a good woman- with the meanest dog in town.”
  3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of.“Got a good woman With the meanest dog in town. He got teeth like Margaret ThatcherAnd he weighs ’bout 500 pounds.
  4. The blues are not about limitless choices.
  5. Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation is the Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Walkin’ plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.
  6. Teenagers can’t sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis or Ann Arbor. But Memphis sounds better.
  7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression. Chicago, St. Louis, Ann Arbor and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.
  8. The following colors do not belong in the blues: a. violet, b. beige, c. mauve, d. taupe, e. flamingo.
  9. You can’t have the blues in an office or a shopping mall, the lighting is wrong.
  10. Good places for the Blues: a. the highway, b. the jailhouse, c. the empty bed.
  11. Bad places: a. The Mall (c’mon, folks!), b. receptions of any kind, c. Kennebunkport, Maine, Crawford, Texas
  12. No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an African American man in his advanced years.
  13. Do you have the right to sing the blues?Yes, if: a. your first name is a southern state-like Georgia b. You’re blind c. You shot a man in Memphis. d. You can’t be satisfied.No, if: a. You were once blind but now can see, b. You’re deaf, c. You have a trust fund, Your baby didn’t leave you.
  14. Neither Pat Boone nor Randy Travis can sing the blues. Somewhat surprisingly, Willie Nelson can sing the blues.
  15. If you ask for water and your baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues.
  16. Other blues beverages are: a. wine (Ripple, MD 20/20) , b. Irish whiskey, c. muddy water.
  17. Blues beverages are NOT: a. Any mixed drink, b. Any wine kosher for Passover, c. Yoo Hoo (all flavors)
  18. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, or being denied treatment in an emergency room.
  19. It is not a blues death, if you die during a facelift, a liposuction treatment, or Botox application.
  20. Some Blues names for Women: a. Sadie, b. Big Mama, c. Bessie, d. Bertha, e. Josephine f. Lucille, g. Stella.
  21. Some Blues Names for Men a. Joe b. Willie c. Little Willie d. Big Willie, e. Willie B., f. Lightning, g. Blackburn, h. Shotgun, i. B.B.Note: Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, or Skye will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.  Nor should juggling comedians.
  22. Other Blues Names (Starter Kit) a. Name of Physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic), b. First name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi), c. Last Name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.).  Or, you could generate your own blues name.
  23. A Blues way to communicate is to dial up the telephone or to “holla.” Blackberrys or iPods are not Blues ways to communicate.
  24. Blues weapons: a. shotgun, b. snub nosed 38, knife, “doing the dozens,”  (probably the most deadly).
  25. People with the Blues eat barbecue, grits, corn bread, beans, and their (they) last meal.
  26.  Good blues instruments: Guitar (Lucille), Slide Trombone, Saxophone, Harmonica, string bass, piano, drums. Bad blues instruments: everything else, particularly inappropriate are  the oboe, french horn, and viola.
  27. You got the blues if you have lumbago or a bad back. You don’t have the blues if you have a mental disorder ending in “syndrome.”
  28. Black Jack is a good blues game. Keno is not a good blues game.
  29. Blues jobs include working on the railroad, picking cotton, musician, just got fired.
  30. Blues animals include the junkyard dog and mule (not donkey).

 

    1. Good blues words and their pronunciations/usage: 
      Word        Blues        Example
      Sing Sang I cain’t sang no more
      Thing Thang That thang ain’t no good
      Can’t Cain’t I cain’t be satisfied
      Is Not Ain’t Commonly used contraction (he ain’t no good)
      Think Thank That boy don’t  thank enough
      Drink Drank Dont drank that drank
      King Kang as in B. B. Kang
      Their They They shoes ain’t no good
      You’re You You deaf, You funny etc

 

Most country songs can be interchanged with blues songs (woman left me, crop didn’t come in, dog died, etc pretty much work in the blues).

 

Finally: Epitaph on a blues musician’s tombstone: “I didn’t wake up this morning”

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