Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shimmy she wobble / Shimmy she break

Shimmy she done do all night long / and Shimmy she done do all damn day / then one day she Shimmy / and goddamn Shimmy she died.

"The Blues ain't nothing but a good man feeling bad." - Leon Redbone

Maybe it's my romantic situation. Maybe it's my musical appreciation. Maybe it's just because I've always felt like an older soul than I seem, but I'll be damned if the Blues don't hold some sort of special place in myself.

What is it? What gives this music such power? Is it the simplicity? Is it the raw emotive power? Is it some mystery that nobody can articulate but everyone feels?

I've been listening to a lot of Blues music lately, and the one thing I've noticed that always seems to be the same is that no matter how the song's being played it always has some sort of sadness to it. A hot-tempo melody, major key, happy lyrics, and still the fucking thing will sound like somebody's mourning in the background.

For those of you who don't know too much about this music, I suggest you educate yourself. These songs are good for your soul - really. Artists like: The Black Keys, Ry Cooder, North Mississippi Allstars, Lay Low, Corey Harris, Joe Bonamassa, Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James, Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, Leadbelly; these guys just suck whatever emotion you're feeling with a single chord and replace it with something better, something easier to sit in your stomach.

Junior Kimbrough has this song, Meet Me in the City, about a man meeting his woman in the big city when she comes up from the south. It's about lovers reuniting in a new place with a better hope for the future. But the singer isn't sure she'll come. He doesn't know if she can leave everything behind to start fresh with him. That's why he sings.

Or how about Ry Cooder's, Feelin' Bad Blues, the single saddest song I have EVER heard. You listen to that screaming slide-guitar, lonesome like I don't even know what. But it's a song that doesn't make you feel worse - if anything, you feel better. Because how can things be so bad when there's still music like this in the world?

Put on The Black Keys', Have Love Will Travel, for a rockin' tune. It's about the singer, who's got so much love in him that he feels like he can do anything. I mean, who HASN'T felt that, at least a little?

You know what I want to do? Actually, this is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. There's this place, called Chulahoma, in Mississippi, right at the heart of the hill-country there. A lot of great bluesmen have come from this place.

But I don't want to go there for a history lesson. I want to go to a real juke joint and rock my fucking ass off to some gut-bucket Blues played by the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids of the people who wrote the shit in the first place.

Yep. That's pretty much all I had in mind. Go. Listen. Come back and feel like I'm really living.

Sometimes you've gotta have a destination, if only so you can have a journey; but in the end, what matters more: the journey or the destination? I think you need them both. I think you have to have somewhere to go, somewhere worth going. And I think you need be happy with getting there, because otherwise why'd you go in the first place? But if all you want to do is just get there, then you're really missing out on everything in-between. There's more to life than just living, and more to travelling than just getting from destination to destination. You've gotta want to be wherever you're at, even when it's not where you're going. Why? Call me cheesy, but because then you'll never be happy. That's why we do the things we do. If you want to be happy then be it. If you don't, then don't. In the end, it's your life.

I think the Blues really helps with that. You feel sad when you need to, happy when you can, and the rest of the time you're on your way.

0 footnotes: