Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bourgeois Blues

My friend John R., who knows a thing or two about music, recently forwarded to me the “Rules of the Blues” (see below). The rules, I’m afraid, are bound to put a damper on my longstanding dream, which was to form a blues group and make a living singing about my troubles. Some years ago I even went so far as to compose a verse or two. OK, if you are going to insist, I’ll offer you some samples here:

From “Academic Blues”
(copyright pending by Bipolar Bobby Buchanan)

I got the academic blues, my book is hot off the press,
Yeah, my theory is wired and my book is hot off the press,
But the dean just fired my ass,
He don’ like the way I dress

(Impressive guitar riff here)


Back in Pueblo, Colorado, in the 1980s, I played soccer on a city league. I put together a few verses then for which Brother Becker, our most memorable goalie, played the guitar licks in our post-game gatherings. The verse I remember best came after we suffered a 3-0 blowout, and it goes something like this:

Got Stomped Again Blues

Some folks’ll tell ya, they don’ care ‘bout the score,
Yeah, some folks they say, they jus’ don’ care ‘bout the score,
Well, I don’ care either,
As long as my team got more.


I don’t know, but it seems to me that living a middle class life in suburbia shouldn’t rule you out from singing the blues. I mean, even though we may be bourgeois, if you prick us, do we not bleed, and all that? So, how about this, then?


Got No Right to Sing the Blues, Blues

The rules, they be harsh, they say we can’t sing the blues
Yeah, they harsh and they heavy, they say we can’t sing the blues
But I ain’t hiding ‘neath no bushel,
To follow these rules, I refuse.


















The Great and Famous Blues Brothers.
They're from Chicago which makes it OK for them to sing the blues.



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OK, now for some amusing "Rules for the Blues" forwarded to me by John. (He does not claim to have written them!):

If you are new to Blues music, or like it but never really understood the whys and wherefores, here are some very fundamental rules:

1. Most Blues begin with: "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 like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes, sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Dionne Warwick and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch...ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train, usually described simply as "the next thing smokin'." Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is.. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting's wrong. Go outside and sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed (preferably with rocks in it)
d. in a hollow log

11. Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom's
b. Starbucks
c. gallery openings
d. handball courts

12. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

13. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?
Yes, if:
a. you're older than dirt
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied
e. you're fixin' to die

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived
d. you work for Goldman-Sachs

14. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.

15. If you ask for water and she gives you gasoline, it's the Blues.
Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee

The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. Perrier
b. Chardonnay
c. Snapple
d. Slim Fast

16. If death 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 are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during liposuction.

17. These are some Blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

18. These are some Blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

19. Women with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20. Here's a Blues Name Starter Kit. You should have three names:
a. the first name should be the name of a physical infirmity (Blind,
Mute, Lame, etc.)
b. the second name name should be fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc.)
c. the last name should be the same as a U.S. President (Jefferson,
Clinton, Fillmore, etc.)

A proper Blues name would be:
a. Blind Lemon Jefferson
b. Pegleg Lemon Johnson
c. Clubfoot Cumquat Coolidge

A lousy Blues name would be:
a. Hemorrhoid Lemon Jefferson
b. ADT Kiwi Bush
c. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Lime Washington

21. I don't care how tragic your life is: if you own a computer, you
cannot sing the blues, period. Sorry!

[Editor's note: Damn!]