Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Blues

Listening to B.B. King's One Shoe Blues, on the Blue Moo CD (it's okay that I put it on my Zune before wrapping it- I bought 2 copies and one will never be MP3'd), reminded me that my friend Jerry (the writer G.M. Ford- check his stuff out, it's great sent me a How To Sing The Blues e-mail, about 10 years ago (lordy, 1o years ago...). It's an oldie, but a goodie:

How To Sing The Blues..

by Lame Mango Washington (attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky)

1. Most blues begin, "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: "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 Thatcher and he weighs 500 pounds.

4. The blues are not about limitless choice.

5. Blues cars are Chevys and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation is a 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 being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota is just depression. Chicago, St. Louis, 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

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. an empty bed
Bad places: a. ashrams b. gallery openings c. weekend in the Hamptons

11. No one will believe it's the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man.

12. 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

13. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbra Streisand can sing the blues.

14. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it's the blues. Other blues beverages are: a. wine b. Irish whiskey c. muddy water. The following are NOT blues beverages: a. any mixed drink b. any wine kosher for Passover c. Yoo Hoo (all flavors)

15. If it 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 is the electric chair, substance abuse, or being denied treatment in an emergency room. It is not a blues death if you die during a liposuction treatment.

16. Some Blues names for Women a. Sadie b. Big Mama c. Bessie

17. Some Blues Names for Men a. Joe b. Willie c. Little Willie d. Big Willie e. Lightning
Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, and Rainbow will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

17b. 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.)

And of course, I took that as a challenge, beings that I'm a middle aged white woman living on the prairie. I can have the blues too. So there.

Herewith, is the 1st song I ever wrote (Leave the Lights Off, Darlin was the 2nd), breaking a few of the above rules on the way:

The Colors of Dakota

Ain’t no blues in South Dakota
Which is where I call my home.
But there’s lots of other colors
Where them bison used to roam.

I got the browns.
Like the grass, her eyes and the ground.
I got the browns.
Oh yeah
I got the browns.

Got a rifle in the gunrack
Of my beat up pickup truck.
Lotto ticket in my pocket,
But I just can’t buy no luck.

I got the reds.
Like the barns and all the sheds.
I got the reds.
Oh yeah
I got the reds.

Oh the women they got big hair
Wearin’ clothes cut tight and low
But they all dream of Mel Gibson
And that guy on the X-Files show.

I got the greens.
Deep down in my genes.
I got the greens.
Oh yeah
I got the greens.

Well the summer sun will broil you,
Can’t bear to wear your shoes.
But the winter wind’ll kill you.
Hot damn, I got the blues.

I got the blues.
Gonna put it on the news.
I got the blues.
Ain’t no damn doubt about it.
I got the blues.
Oh yeah

(p.s. I would have updated the lyrics but John Krasinski didn't fit the rhythm)


Fríða said...

pure genius! I stole it and posted it on my own blog. Just hope you don´t mind too much.
best wishes from Iceland

Kathleen Taylor said...

You bet it's okay, Frida. The original rules still make me laugh.