The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 June 2006

Once removed

Can you relate to the blues if you're, well, not all that blue? Manitoba's Mutt-Man contemplates the matter:

As much as I like harmonica and electric guitar, I am finding it difficult to really take in the full Blues experience. My problem is ... no problem. How do you relate to the pain and sorrow of a Blues artist when your life is actually pretty good? Should I take up smoking? I have considered causing myself pain while listening, by, say, squeezing the flesh between my thumb and forefinger with pliers, but this seems rather superficial compared to the heartfelt angst of someone like Etta James.

I'm just cynical enough to say "Just you wait, Bunky," but as Darcey explains in a comment:

[T]he key to the blues is that there is always someone else who feels worse than you do, hence you feel better. The blues is about joy over sorrow.

And even the most minor sorrows demand some sort of response, as Martin Mull demonstrated in "Ukulele Blues":

I woke up this morning
Saw both cars were gone
I said I woke up this morning
I saw both cars were gone
I felt so low down deep inside
I threw my drink across the lawn

It's not something you have to be from the Delta to understand.

Posted at 8:38 AM to Almost Yogurt


Wifey-ki-yay likes the blues a lot, but I suspect I am too top-40-ified to really appreciate the roughness of the "real" blues tracks -- like every version of "Leavin' Trunk" other than the one that was played by a local band called Blue Healer, to which a WKY then-co-worker (and her now-husband Thor) belonged. Vocals and harmonica work by Thor.

They recorded a demo CD that included that song, and when I went looking for other samples of the song I couldn't find a single one that appealed to me within a thousand miles -- but man do I love Blue Healer's version.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:56 AM on 11 June 2006

heh heh - and then the turnaround!

Posted by: Darcey at 10:36 AM on 11 June 2006

I am partial to Couch Flambeau's "White Boy Blues":

My BMW needs a new starter,
And my IRA Accounts are a mess.
If I get over these white boy blues,
I'm going to start wearin' me a dress.
And then I'll have the white girl blues.
Lord, help me now, help!

But that's only available on vinyl, and you damn kids wouldn't know anything about them now.

Posted by: Brian J. at 11:24 AM on 11 June 2006

"Just you wait, Bunky"

After rushing out to the garage this morning, I was relieved to find both vehicles intact, but who knows about tomorrow, or the next day? Since reading your article, I have been driving even more slowly than usual, and I find myself checking over my shoulder every few minutes.

Seriously, thanks for the link and write-up.

You have been blogging since 1996? It must have been a real pain sending your posts out to be key-punched...:-)

Posted by: Mutt-Man at 4:35 PM on 11 June 2006

The earliest ones were done in Babylonian cuneiform; I still have scars on my knuckles from typographical errors.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:45 PM on 11 June 2006