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How to Sing the Blues

How to sing the blues
Blues and Routes

A distillation of rare and authentic blues folk-lore collected by ernest and respected ethnomusiciologists during field trips to Southern Baptist Churches, back porches and cottonfields during the Great Depression.

1. Most blues begin "woke up dis morning." And certainly the earlier in the week, the worse for the blues.

2. The blues is essentially a sublimated form of complaining, so it is important to keep things slanted to their downside for maximum dramatic effect, e.g. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line: e.g. I got a good woman -- with the meanest dog, or face, in town.

3. Blues are simple. After you are sure you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of. e.g.:

Got a good woman with the meanest dog in town.

Got a good woman with the meanest dog in town.

He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and he weighs `bout 500 pounds.

4. The blues are NOT about limitless choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch - ain't no way out. Because, rest assured, the tow-truck driver he gonna run off with your girlfriend.

5. Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs. Blues don't travel in no Volvos, Beamers, Soccer-Mum 4-wheel drives or Sport Utility Vehicles. Other acceptable blues transportation is Greyhound bus, hearse, or a southbound train. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die - although the latter does not always involve transport.

6. Teenagers simply cannot sing the blues and should be taken aside and whipsered to sternly if they break out. Adults sing the blues. (Blues adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis, or at very least get the clap). Possible exception - you are a precocious, drop-dead beautiful teenage junky with a huge voice, who has recently killed your billionaire sugar-daddy with a pistol, mistaking him for a burglar.

7. While it's cool to have the blues in New York City, it is not possible in Hawaii or any place in Canada. In Europe hard times only progress into a form of neurotic depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the quintessential places to have the blues. Metaphorically you cannot have the blues in any place that don't get no rain fallin' down, so. therefore, as an aside , you can't really have the blues in Australia, unless you've been to gaol more than once for a crime you didn't commit, you're an aborigine, or both).

8. The following colours do not belong in the blues: a. violet b. beige c. mauve d. peuce

9. You can't have the blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. At least go outside to the parking lot, or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:

    a. the highway

    b. the jailhouse

    c. an empty bed

    d. bottom of a whiskey glass

Bad places:

    a. Ashrams

    b. Gallery openings

    c. Golf courses

    c. weekends in Bali

20 rules for singing the blues

11. No one will believe it's the blues if you are wearing a suit, unless :

    a) You happen to be an old man of ethnic origin who has paid his dues, and

    b) You slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the blues? Yes, if:

a. You older than dirt

b. your first name is a southern US state, like Georgia

c. you're blind

d. you shot a man in Memphis.

e. you can't be satisfied.

f). you owned a faithful dog but she got run over by a train

No, if:

a. you were once blind but now can see.

b. you have all your teeth

c. the man in Memphis lived

d. you have a superannuation policy or trust fund.

e. you own goldfish

13. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbra Streisand can even pretend to sing the blues. And, - no matter how tragic your life or how many men you killed in Memphis - if you own a computer, you also simply have to give up any rights to attempt singing the blues. Set it on fire, pour a bottle of Mad Dog on it, use your shotgun, or maybe your big mean ol' mama can just sit on it. I don't care. Just do it. Now! go on! Now!

14. If you is parched with thirst, and beg for water.... and then your baby gives you gasoline, it's the blues. Other blues beverages are:

a. cask wine

b. Irish whiskey or any kind of bourbon

c. muddy water

d. Nasty black coffee in a cracked cup

Blues beverages are NOT:

a. Any pre-mixed drink

b. Any wine kosher for Passover

c. Perrier

d. boutique Chardonnay

15. A man with male pattern baldness ain't got no blues. A woman with male pattern baldness - maybe. 'Breaking your leg 'cause you wuz skiing' is not the blues. 'Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it' is ok.

16. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, sure enuff it's a blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, being denied treatment in an emergency room or dying lonely on a broken down cot. It is not a blues death if you die during a tennis match or liposuction treatment.

Blues Club

17. Blues is not a matter of colour. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Eddie Murphy can, but only because he's good at impressions. In severe cases ugly white people can apply for special blues status.

18) There are few acceptable blues names for women apart from: a) Minnie; b) Big Mama; c) Bessie; d) Smokey and e) Fat River Dumpling

19) Persons named Michelle, Kimberley, Amber, Debbie, Heather, Rainbow, and Free can't sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20) 'Make-your-own-blues-name' starter Kit:

a) As a blues title or prefix, choose the name of a colourful or defining physical infirmity (e.g. Blind is eternally popular, but don't overlook other salubrious afflictions or weaknesses like Big, Cripple, Lazy, Lame, Mangy, Skinny, Jugsy, Nervous, Ugly, Poxy, Cross-eyed, Nosy, Pimple-faced, Gatemouth, etc. with one exception - Deaf obviously should be avoided);

b) Add an alternate first name, traditionally the name of a fruit : Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, Passion, Papaya, Lychee, Melon, Pear-face, Two Fruits, etc. (It is particularly auspicious when the fruit name is combined with prefixes derived from entry a)., above) ;

c) The last name of a dead or nearly dead US President is popular (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, Cleveland, Madison, Ford, Bush etc.);

d) Working examples: Cross-eyed Melon Kennedy, Jugsy 'the Grape' Fillmore, Clubfoot Garfield, Nervous Stawberry Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Coolidge, etc. (Well, ok maybe not "Kiwi.")

e) Ministers of religion or disgraced former Doctors have a special blues advantage, perhaps on the account of them managing such a contradiction e.g the Reverend Big Banana Lincoln

Now that you have established your stage name and bona fides for singing the blues, you can progress to improvising blues lyrics. Here is the short hand guide to kosher blues themes:

Blues Suede Shoes

1. Do not trust any levee to function as intended, especially in Louisiana.
2. If you can’t find your baby, do a check on your best friend.
3. Trusting slick talking strangers that you meet at the Crossroads may have consequences.
4. While sex with Stagger Lee's woman might appear to be an attractive proposition, again, the consequences are dire.
5. Knocking on doors like a nice guy rarely works, run around back to see who’s slippin’ out.
6. While you may try to share your troubles, no one will want to know them, or actually give a shit.
7. The preacher man is of little comfort, unless you are dead.
8. Moderate consumption of liquor is statistically improbable.
9. Don't call her 'baby', twit, she'll then inevitably break your heart.
10. Your right to happiness is a relative to the day of the week.
11. You cannot write down blues music or learn it from a book.
12. Your only possible choice of pet is a dog, and the dog must be old, blind or be called tripod.
13. A blues death rarely happens by accident. It requires some fair amount of fixin'.
14. No blues artist is ever happily married.
15. Policemen can't be trusted.
18. Your mama is rarely cold, and your daddy is never hot.
17. A moderate case of the blues has never been recorded.
18. A good title is often enough and an infinite number of blues song titles can be created by the application of random nouns before the actual word "blues" itself (e.g. "Roadhouse," "Milk Cow," "Highway," "Killing floor," "Summertime," "Bell Bottom", "Mexicali," "Folsom Prison", etc. ).
Use a Thesaurus if lacking in talent.

19. Blues with too many lyrics is really folk.

20. Repeat things a lot and mumble if you feel embarrassed at the stupidity of what you are singing.

Slim Pickens and Docotr Baz \

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