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This world is not made to suit no one man's order - Roosevelt Sykes, from Blues Collection 46, Orbis Publishing pg 550)

Author Topic: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics  (Read 9758 times)

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Offline doctorpep

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How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« on: August 04, 2008, 10:30:56 AM »
I was just lying in bed, talking to myself about this, and I thought I'd share it all with you. You may find my opinions to be narrow-minded or too conservative, but here goes. I will try to explain what I think the key is to writing Country Blues lyrics. When we look at a song like "Them Fair Weather Friends", by Alvin Youngblood Hart, we hear lyrics that are original, and were recorded in 1996, but sound like they could have come from a song recorded in 1928 in Mississippi. This is similar to a painter today who is able to master Monet's style but also has something original to bring to the painting he works on. One can then sit back and say, "Ah! That's a Jack Jones painting. We can see the Monet influence, but Jack has really added his own special thing to this work. It's amazing how he's mastered what's thought of as a lost art, and also added something entirely modern to it, that isn't in conflict with the Monet-esque style". I think it's impossible for a Country Blues artist today, whether he or she is Hart, Corey Harris, Samuel James, John Hammond, or Rory Block, to create something as singular as the records Skip James recorded in 1931, but that doesn't mean that I feel Country Blues is a completely lost, untouchable artform that is dead, and that people should purposely try to sing about levees and chain gangs and big leg women. However, at the same time, an artist like Toby Walker, who is an amazing guitar player, fails to craft lyrics that strike me as being Blues-related (again, this is all a matter of perspective) when he sings about AOL (America Online). Do you Weenies think that the Internet, Viagra, and the I-Pod have a place in Country Blues lyrics, do you think that the lyrics should sound like they're literally straight out of Crystal Springs, Mississippi in 1929, or do you take a more moderate viewpoint, which I believe I do? Samuel James' "Love & Mumbly Peg" has completely original lyrics that sound like they could have arisen around the same time as "Frankie & Johnny" or "Delia", and when I hear songs such as the aforementioned or Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Big Mama's Door" and "Sallie, Queen Of The Pines", I believe that Country Blues truly does have a lyrical future. Please let me know what you think! Thank you.
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline Mike McLaren

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2008, 12:01:46 AM »
There will always be room for anything in Country Blues. In 1929 we were singing about trains and chain gangs, then Lightnin' Hopkins sang about Cadillacs.

I write most of the stuff I play, and I still write about trains; I love 'em, and they make for a good "journey" metaphor. I still write about waking up in the morning, 'cause I do. I still write about hard times, 'cause they are. I write about floods and levees and the failure of FEMA, 'cause it's true. I write about junkies, 'cause they are my friends and neighbors. I write about gambling, 'cause there are three casino's in my county. I write about soldier's, 'cause we use 'em too often. I write about big box companies taking over my little town, 'cause they are. I write about politicians mucking up the works, 'cause they do. I write about husbands leaving wives and wives leaving husbands, 'cause they do... with their best friends, even. I write about death, 'cause it's a-comin'.

The blues is the blues, no matter when, where or who you are. The world will always dig the blues, 'cause from outer space, the earth appears predominantly as one color... blue.
Woke up this morning... I think.

Offline doctorpep

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2008, 09:29:28 AM »
That last sentence is really something. Did you come up with that? That's a fantastic quote about the earth being blue. So, do you think that if I write a song about Japanese cars with mp3s players or my I-Pod or Obama it can fit the Country Blues mold? Johnny Shines managed to make the Vietnam War appropriate for the Country Blues in "Blood Ran Like Wine". Is it anything goes, in terms of lyrical territory? Sorry if I'm being too vague.
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline dj

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2008, 10:09:07 AM »
It's your song, write it the way you please.  If you write it well, people will like it.

Offline Mike McLaren

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2008, 12:14:27 AM »
Hi Doc.

I gotta go with DJ on that. It's your song, and you can make anything go if you want. iPods, Guitar Hero III, American Idol... there's tons of stuff that gives me the blues... tons of stuff that Robert Wilkins would never have imagined coming into existence to give us the blues, so he couldn't sing about it. (I'll bet he's singin' about it now.)

(Yeah... I made up that last line above... just had a ramblin' mind.)

 :P
Woke up this morning... I think.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2008, 03:17:23 AM »
This is an interesting subject actually.  There are two points I think- one being the extent to which it is possible to write new lyrics very much in the old style without sounding ridiculous and the second being that it is difficult to get modern ideas and imagery into old style blues without it seeming incongruous.

On the first- Alvin Hart and others certainly manage it (albeit I should say that Big Mama's door is essential Going down to Brownsville rather than being new).

On the latter- Paul Geremia is perhaps the most obvious exponent.  His songs are full of modern political references which largely work, but do to my ears sound slightly incongruous at times.  (Thats not to say I dont like the songs- because theyre great).

One of the best examples I've heard is David Jacobs-Strain's second album.  2 self penned tracks in particular happen to be (imo) the best on the cd, and have modern ideas in the lyrics which somehow sound absolutely "right" and in step with old time blues.  Those tracks are River was Green- a fantastic piece which deals with pollution.

"You know it tasted like a cherry wine, now it tastes like turpentine.  Baby's dont swim there no more" etc  That song works lyrically for me because of the connection with the land, and the people who have used it before.  Somehow is doesn't sound like a protest song, but has the soul of a blues.

The other is Dark Horse blues- using the classic blues image of a black horse as a metaphor for evil in the world, simultaneously making comment on political interference and subterfuge in other nations- "Uncle Sam's in Venezuela, just to keep the dark horses down"  Again is works 100% for me as a blues rather than a political song because at its heart is the angst and sorrow at the subject matter.

Great album by the way if anyone is looking for something new to sample!

Offline Mike McLaren

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2008, 11:04:11 AM »
This is a great subject, actually... 'cause I deal with it every time I write a song, and every time I play a song in public.

I have to wonder how many folks in the audience simply miss the train when I use the phrase "Yellow Dog" or "B&O Line." Everybody loves the blues, but not everybody sits around and studies it like the guys and gals who want to play it. Thus, not everyone is familiar with the meanings or metaphors that are often standard in the blues tunes we love.

On the flip side:

"Sittin' on the couch with an X-box in my hand (x2),
my girlfriend loves my best friend, so I'm goin' to Mario Land... "

That just doesn't cut it.

I don't want my songs to sound like something off a Hallmark greeting card, but I want to relate to the audience. Granted, some people have lived in as many places, and have had many of the same or similar life experiences as me. Just as many haven't. Shoot... I live just a mile from the Pacific ocean, and I constantly meet folks around here who haven't been to the beach in over two years. But then, we have no idea who's been to the beach and who hasn't when we're playing in front of people... so every song we sing is just a chance we take. We can only sing and play songs we like that mean something to us. If we like it and we have a good time playing it, folks don't even need to get it to like it.

Case in Point: Neil Young's "After the Goldrush." What do those lyrics mean, really?

One of my students is just 15 years old, and he's taken a big liking to Furry Lewis. After I convinced him that you don't have to be old as dirt, have a prison record, and be fixin' t' die to sing the blues, the kid took "Judge Harsh" and wrote:

Sittin' here at the office, wonderin' what went wrong;
sittin' here at the office, wonderin' what went wrong.
Please, Mr. Principal, please don't tell my ma.

If you tell my ma, she's gonna tell my pa;
if you tell my ma, she's gonna tell my pa.
Once he knows about it, that's gonna end it all.

Gonna keep my skateboard rollin', headed down the road;
I'll keep my skateboard rollin', headed down the road.
I'll keep my skateboard rollin', even when I'm dead and gone.

(Gosh, I love his forced rhyme!)
Woke up this morning... I think.

Offline doctorpep

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2008, 03:03:21 PM »
I like the kid's lyrics! Very good! And, yes, THAT is the challenge: to try to fit in 21st century ideas and images and product and people names, etc., without it sounding forced or in opposition to the style of music we're singing. Ten years ago, I was really naive and thought I couldn't fit the the word "apologize" or "sympathize" into a Blues song, and then I heard Robert Johnson use both in "When You Got A Good Friend", and more recently, heard the Johnny Shines' songs, "May I Apologize". I wonder why it sounds more genuine when it's coming from them than when it comes from me. It can't simply be because they are black, because, as I often think, and perhaps this will land me in a bit of hot water, Keb' Mo sounds more like James Taylor to me than Big Joe Williams, and Keb' is certainly a black American. The Country Blues is indeed a very tricky genre for all songwriters of all colors nowadays, I believe.
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline Mike McLaren

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2008, 11:47:49 PM »
White. It took me a long time to get over my whiteness. I'm Scottish white, and I sound white. I play the guitar white... and yet I play blues and jug band. Who am I foolin'!

Doug MacLeod is white, and he ain't foolin' nobody. He sounds good. Harry Manx is white, sounds white, and even throws Hindu ragas into the middle of a tune, and I dig his stuff more than Keb Mo's. But then, for me, there's Robert Wilkins, Henry Thomas, Bukka White, and Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues." Black.

So we get a double-edged sword: trying to make 21st Century ideas fit a country blues "motif," while also trying to cross a cultural line. But that presupposes that there is a specific thing called "Country Blues" and that it requires crossing a culture idea.

The first page of this web site declares country blues to be "... whatever we collectively perceive that to be."

Perfect. It is my perception. I don't play Chicago or jump blues, 'cause I don't own an electric guitar. I don't play the form we call Piedmont blues, because I've never taken the time to practice the alternating thumb to match Mississippi John Hurt's style. When I let down my guard, the old Texas drawl from my early youth returns, but I don't play Texas blues. So what do I play? I live in the country, and I play metal resonators... ergo, I play country blues. Sometimes I play it solo, with a bit of kazoo for spice. Sometimes I play it with a band, in which case I jump back and forth between resonator and banjo; we add washtub bass, washboard, and harmonica to the kazoo.

But I'm still left with my affliction... whiteness in a genre that I perceive as black. But, there are two parts to the music: 1) Country, 2) Blues. I figured out the country part. Blues... hard times, heartbreak, floods, fixin'-to-die... .

The Greek tragedy by Sophocles hits its climax when Oedipus reaches the crossroads. I consider this to be the first blues tune ever written down on paper. The first doctrine of Gotama's Buddhist thought is "life is suffering." Now we've got a Hindu fella who's got a line on the blues. Then Jesus says that we are sinners and must seek salvation in heaven... and his book is loaded with floods, famine, pestilence, even an apocalypse. There's some blues. And neither Sophocles, Buddha or Jesus was from Mississippi, Louisiana, or Alabama. Not one of them ever heard of Memphis, Tennessee or Rosedale, Mississippi. But there is a connection.

The guys I look up to as great country blues players were copying stories and ideas from guys who were writing two thousand years ago—the same stories we know. There are only three plots possible for any story: 1) I wake up in the morning and I feel good; 2) I wake up in the morning and I feel bad; 3) I wake up in the morning... and right now that's good enough. The narrative of the song explains what makes me feel good, bad, or just willing to get by.

Nothin' in the books says I have to be black to play what I call Country Blues. Nothing in the books says I can't write a blues tune about a Styrofoam cup. The book isn't completely written, yet. We're still writing it. All we have to do is wake up in the morning and feel something (besides arthritis in my fingers and a kink in my hip).

The real key, I think, is the performance. I gotta play it like I mean it, so that folks will like what I play.
Woke up this morning... I think.

Offline Slack

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2008, 07:06:29 AM »
We'll have one man's take on writing CB around the end of August or beginning of September.  John Miller has been in the recording studio and is going to release a CD of original Country Blues.  How cool is that?

Offline doctorpep

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2008, 08:33:09 AM »
I've known about the connection between Blues and Buddhism for a very long time now, but was reluctant to bring it up on the forums. Your comments are very insightful. I was an Asian Studies major in my undergraduate years, specializing in East Asian religions and Korea. In Buddhism, the first of the Four Noble Truths is that "all life is unsatisfactory". Yes, we can also translate it as "suffering"; that's fine, too. All of the great Bluesmen knew the first Noble Truth very, very, very well. They knew it much better than any of us PROBABLY ever will, because their parents were sharecroppers, and their grandparents were slaves. They lived in the bizarre world known as the American south, where there's more than blatant racism to be spoken about, ad nauseum. In Bill Broonzy's autobiography, he talks about hiding in a boxcar or a freight yard or something to sleep for a night, I believe. The white worker tells him it's okay if he does it for one night, because Broonzy somehow reminds the worker of his son. He then calls Broonzy a "nigger". My point is that, yes, there were vehemently racist KKK members, and there were also white people who were perplexed by the institution that they were born into. Blacks were not the only ones born into this institution called racism, though they obviously were the ones who got the short end of the stick, to put it VERY mildly. In this white worker's words, I could feel his confusion, and his desire to reach out to his fellow Christian. We have to remember that 99% of the people down south, black or white, were Christian, minus Jewish and Chinese merchants. However, the white worker must have thought, "Broonzy's black! So what if he's Christian? He doesn't qualify as a human (does he?)". Anyway, we can see a similar dynamic between Lomax and Willie McTell on the 1940 Library of Congress sessions, though much more understated, where Lomax pesters Willie for a song like "ain't it hard to be a nigger". We know that Lomax is rather progressive for his time, because he's recording rural black Blues music to begin with, and he's in a hotel room with his wife and a black man, but he's obviously not as enlightened as we are today, if he's throwing the term "nigger" around like it means nothing! So, the whites suffered too; just in a different way. They struggled with trying to apply (or not apply) their Christian morals and values to their black neighbors. The story's even more filled with suffering, grief and confusion in McTell's life, as his great-grandfather was white, and was living down the street from Willie when he was born, according to McTell's biography. This is the way that race and slavery in America need to be re-evaluated. We need to stop bashing people over the head with pictures of lynchings (which were real, and horrific) and go deeper, and discuss how complex race in America was. The lynchings and KKK are the beginning of the discussion. Anyway, I'm sorry that my point drifted off! As long as someone genuinely suffers, loves or is confused, and has some sort of musical ability (even if it's writing lyrics and singing, and not being able to play the guitar like a pro, like in the case of "Sleepy" John Estes) he/she will come across as an effective Country Blues performer, and the material will not sound laughable like Blueshammer's "Been Pickin' Cotton All Day" in the film, "Ghost World". I don't buy that song from them or from Keb' Mo, because it doesn't feel real from either one of them. Lastly, EVERYTHING is perception, according to the Buddha. The second most important figure in the history of Buddhism, Nagarjuna, said, indeed, that Samsara (the world of impermanence and suffering and displeasure) and Nirvana (the extinguishing of the flame of suffering) have not the slightest difference between them. All is perception, and thus it is also so with the Country Blues! It's impossible to define the genre. When I hear "Country Blues", I think of Son house. That's all I can say about that.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 08:35:42 AM by doctorpep »
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline Slack

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2008, 09:06:46 AM »
Gee, I just had a flash back of Gabriel, expounding in 16.   :D

How can I say this kindly... DP, you views are stereotypical - e.g. you must "suffer" to sing or play the blues, when nothing could be further from the truth.  Blues was originally dance music - something (like life) to celebrate and be happy about.  You need to listen to more Pink Anderson or something.  Or maybe switch from Buddhism to the Baptist Church.  >:D

I may have to break this off to a new topic "Eastern Philosophy of Suffering as it Applies to 1920's and 30's Country Blues" <sigh>

Offline doctorpep

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2008, 09:44:44 AM »
I also said that besides suffering, great love and confusion can create great Blues music. Sorry for talking about "suffering" too much. I was trying to connect it with the Buddhism. Your point was well made, though! I love Pink Anderson and John Hurt; very pleasant artists!

Also, a lot of black civil rights writers and workers and black Blues historians tend to harp on the suffering thing ten times more than I do! haha
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 09:46:08 AM by doctorpep »
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline Mike McLaren

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2008, 09:57:29 AM »
And I appreciate what you say about that.

The Zen priest who signed my kesa when I took the refuges has been a folk singer nearly all his life. My practice is my music, and my music is my practice. Since life is suffering, I'll choose how I suffer, and I'll keep suffering until all suffering is gone. The most effective way for me to connect with living is music. Because of the situation, I think Country Blues was the means by which a rural black American could connect with living. They sang spirituals, but most often their songs rang with the spirituality of finding a way to get by until it was time to reach the golden shore.

I spent the first five years of my life in rural Texas. My dad was attending college on the G.I. Bill and a football scholarship. Because of sports, most of his friends were black. We attended the black church in our little town, because Dad loved to sing, and because that's the church his friends attended. In the evenings, folks were on the front porch of our house playing guitar, harmonica, washboards, the boards of the porch, the railings... and they were singing. It was blues and jug band. Every once in awhile someone from town would walk into the yard and point a shotgun toward the porch, telling my dad that he needed to "stop letting niggers into his house."

Throughout my youth I tried to escape what I knew and my southern background. Eventually, I learned to love it. I went back to singing blues, because for me "Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhisvaha" can be translated as "Gone yeah, gone yeah, everybody on the train... let's ride."

A long time ago I took a David Bromberg line to heart: "You got to suffer if you wanna sing the blues." That's why I keep trying to write a country blues song about a Styrofoam cup that doesn't sound like something written by Brittany Spears.

I'm going to the river, get me an old rocking chair
I'm going to the river, get me an old rocking chair
If the blues overtake me, going to rock on away from here
          — Barbecue Bob, 1927 Cotillion
Woke up this morning... I think.

Offline waxwing

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2008, 10:31:00 AM »
I've known about the connection between Blues and Buddhism for a very long time now, but was reluctant to bring it up on the forums.

I think you are being a little over zealous here. Perhaps you could make a case for a parallel between buddhism and blues, but calling it a connection (except maybe in the simplistic sense of "everything is connected" which would make the statement redundant) is misleading and misinformed.

The rhetorical question of whether whites can sing the blues has been bantered to death on this board and others and, if you feel it needs to be answered at all, I think it is something that you need to answer for yourself, privately. Your audience will let you know if you've found the right answer. Discussing the matter intellectually, with a bunch of online blues geeks, most of whom probably don't play out to a substantial degree and therefore also have little real feedback for their position, is not really going to reveal your own heart to you. I think you can only find that in the music.

Your reluctance to bring it up is the inner voice I would follow.-G-

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 10:32:50 AM by waxwing »
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Offline Mike McLaren

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2008, 01:27:43 PM »
Hi John.

For me, trying to figure it out for myself is why I'm glad I rediscovered the Weenie web site. I can't have these discussions with folks around my town, 'cause they don't understand the blues language or the ideas some of us have about writing a good blues tune.

In my neck of the woods, it's "Wagon Wheel" this and "Old Crow" that, or " how many different ways do you think A.P. Carter strummed the G7 on an autoharp." If it's not that, it's something screaming out of a Line6 amp, with so much distortion I can't distinguish one chord from another. Folks around here love hearing blues, but only three of us in the county play acoustically; the rest of what little remains of blues around here is played electric.

Don't get me wrong. "Wagon Wheel" is a great tune. A few years back I even rewrote the lyrics to be about Humboldt County and my wife instead of goin' south out of Roanoke to Philly to North Carolina. Occasionally I'll listen to Motorhead. But 99.99% of the time I'm thinkin' and playing blues.

It's nice to chat with folks who know what I mean by "ridin' the blinds" and "biscuit roller." Whether I'm gigging or just sitting around with friends (which I prefer), I still have to consider what I'm doing. "99-year Blues" is a great tune, but I'm obsessively committed to non-violent thinking, so I'm not gonna sing "give me my pistol, said three rounds balls / gonna shoot everybody I don't like at all."

I wrote a song about a female checker at Winn-Dixie, and I loved playing that song... but fifteen years ago I moved to Northern California, where only 5-in-128,000 folks in the whole county have ever heard of Winn-Dixie. That song just doesn't fly around here.

On top of that, I never want to disrespect the music that I love, or the folks who played it before me. I owe what I do to what they did.

So whether I play publicly, with a student, or with friends, I want to make sure that I'm choosing the right words, because in anybody's mind I am nothing more than what they see and what they hear... and in my mind I want them to see and hear only what makes them happy.

What I'm finding out on Weenie is that there's a lot of folks doing the same thing I am. Cool! And to me it doesn't matter whether it's an intellectual discussion or bantering among online geeks. Every one of us has to do the exact same thing: pick up the guitar and play it... and we have to figure out how to do that every time we pick up the guitar... even if we're Eric Clapton.
Woke up this morning... I think.

Offline dj

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2008, 01:52:32 PM »
As someone who next week will enter my rolled buttermilk biscuits in the baking contest at the county fair, I can assure you that I know exactly what "biscuit roller" means.    >:D

Offline waxwing

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2008, 03:55:49 PM »
Mike, I was referring to the question of how white folks could sing the blues, which seemed to be where the discussion was headed, and in my opinion is a moot and unanswerable rhetorical question. But they can, 'cause they do.

Personally, I don't care if my audience doesn't understand what all the words mean. If you substitute Safeway for Winn-Dixie today, what are you gonna sing when you get a gig at a festival in Japan? Trying to find a word that everyone will get leads sooner or later to the dreaded Lowest Common Denominator and that makes for way less interesting lyrics to me.

If there's an interesting lyric that my audience may not get right off, I might explain it to them before the song. I think that makes for more interest, not less. And often folks will ask me what a word means. Like when I sing Future Blues I will often be asked what "mamlish" means. Discussing it's use as an "intensifier" similar in use to the adjective "f*ckin" makes people appreciate the lyrics more. If I were to just sing "Woman I love now, lightnin' when she, lightnin' when she, f*ckin' smiles." I think the song would actually be diminished in its impact. Maybe if I was in England I'd sing "bloody smiles"? I don't think so.

I think one has to realize that this is an historical music form. It is not a contemporary form. I think most audiences realize this and place the performance of it in a historical context. That doesn't mean they can't get the artistic thrust of the song.

Personally, I don't think the way to make it timely is to change the language of the blues to fit modern sensibilities, I think that dilutes the music. To many audiences it renders the music virtually comical. Hundred year old music with modern words? I think it is more important to fully understand the lyrics oneself and to draw a personal parallel to the emotional view of the narrative. If one can fully invest in the emotional content of the song, that will be passed directly to the audience. They need not understand every word or even every image presented in the lyrics. If something makes them ask the meaning, that opens the possibility for more interplay, leading them to a deeper understanding of the music. But if they feel the artist's honest connection to the content, they very well may feel the parallel between the way the issue was addressed then and how the same issue may exist in their own lives today. Often they will get the meaning of those unfamiliar words from that context.

I like to treat my audience with respect and give them credit for some understanding and intelligence. Your words above seem to indicate a rather low opinion of your audience. A sad fate for a performer, but perhaps a self fulfilling prophesy?

Sure, if you want to write blues from your own life, you are going to have to use words from your own life, but for me it is important to stay within the historical context as much as possible, to borrow phrases from the pool of "floating" lines and verses, just as you do with the music.

As always, these are just my views and my approach to the music and I think there is room for every approach here. Every artist finds his own way and fortunately, the differences are what make them all worthwhile.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline doctorpep

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Re: How To Write/View Country Blues Lyrics
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2008, 06:31:52 AM »
I enjoy preserving the original lyrics to these songs when singing them. For instance, what would Ed Bell's "Mamlish Blues" be if we removed the word, "mamlish", as you just mentioned? It's always fun to research old, southern, black Bluesman vocabulary. There are even books that are essentially Blues dictionaries!=)
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