Sunday, November 29, 2009

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 stick something nasty in the next line: “I got a good woman/with the meanest face in town”.

3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes—sort of: “I got a good woman/with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. She got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound.”

4. The blues are not about limitless choice. If you stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch—ain’t no way out. Blues cars are Chevys and Cadillacs. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain’t even in the running. Other acceptable blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or southbound train. Walkin’ plays a major part in the blues lifestyle, as does fixin’ to die.

5. 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.

6. Blues is not a matter of color—it’s a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues. That having been said, the following colors should be nowhere near the blues: (a) violet, (b) beige, and (c) mauve.

7. Blues can take place in New York City, but not in Hawaii or Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle are probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best cities for having the blues. You can’t have the blues in any place that don’t get rain. Other good places for the blues are: (a) the highway, (b) jailhouse, (c) empty bed, and (d) the bottom of a whiskey glass. Bad places: (a) golf courses, (b) gallery openings, (c) Ivy League institutions, and (d) Macy’s. You can’t have the blues in an office or shopping mall--the lighting is wrong. Go out to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain’t the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg ‘cause an alligator be chomping on it is.

9. No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an elderly ethnic person who slept in it.

10. 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.

No, if (a) you were once blind but now can see; (b) you have all your teeth; (c) the man in Memphis lived; or (d) you have a trust fund.

11. If you ask for water and your baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues. Other acceptable blues beverages include (a) cheap wine; (b) whiskey or bourbon; (c) muddy water; (d) nasty black coffee. The following are NOT blues beverages: (a) Perrier; (b) Chardonnay; (c) Snapple; (d) Slim Fast.

12. If death occurs in a cheap motel or 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, chronic substance abuse, and dying alone on a broken-down cot. It is not a blues death if you die playing a tennis match or getting liposuction.

13. Some blues names for women: (a) Sadie; (b) Big Mama; (c) Bessie; (d) Fat River Dumpling. Some blues names for men: (a) Joe; (b) Willie; (c) Little Willie; (d) Big Willie. People with names like Michelle, Debbie, Amber or Heather can’t sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

Making your own blues name is simple. Take (a) name of physical infirmity (Blind, Lame), (b) a fruit (Lemon, Lime), and (c) last name of a President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore) and combine them—for example, Blind Lemon Fillmore.

14. No matter how tragic your life, if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues.

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