Monday, February 11, 2008

The Pampered Soulless Honky's Guide To Singing The Blues

Here's an item that has circulated around the web for awhile. I have no clue who started it. Every time it goes around, another latte-swilling honky would-be writer (I plead guilty) tweaks with the copy. I encourage readers to do the same.

by Lame Mango Washington (attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky, revisions by Little Blind Patti D. and Dr. Stevie Franklin, with a few tweaks by Lazy-Eye Raspberry Kennedy and Phat Lemon Johnson)

  1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this mornin'.

  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. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher - and she weigh 500 pound." Well, not that rhyme.

  4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch; ain't no way out. Unless you're the 43rd President Of The United States.

  5. Blues cars: pre-milennium Chevys and cigarette-stained Caddies, broken-down trucks. The Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft? State-sponsored motor pools? Ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in The Blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

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

  7. The Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson? Just depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City? Still the best places to have The Blues. You can't have The Blues in any place that don't get rain.

  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 cuz an alligator - or a scorned lover - chomped it is.

  9. You can't have The Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster. No, make that in the dumpster, way in.

  10. Good places for The Blues:
    a. highway
    b. jailhouse
    c. homeless shelter
    d. empty bed
    e. no bed
    f. bottom of whiskey glass #17

    Bad places for the Blues
    a. ashrams
    b. gallery openings
    c. Ivy League institutions
    d. golf courses
    e. $1000/plate fundraisers

  11. No one will believe it's The Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an older person who remembers the Great Depression, doesn’t resemble Richard Simmons - and you slept in it the past three nights.

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

    No, if:
    a. you have all your teeth
    b. you were once blind but now can see
    c. the man in Memphis lived and makes big bucks via infomercials
    d. you have a retirement plan or trust fund.

  13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

  14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
    a. wine – must cost less than “two-buck Chuck”
    b. whiskey or bourbon – single-malts do not count
    c. muddy water
    d. black coffee – NOT from Starbucks

    The following are NOT Blues beverages:
    a. mixed drinks
    b. Manischevitz
    c. Diet Snapple
    d. Perrier
    e. SlimFast
    f. Decaf latte with soy milk

  15. If it 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 is the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

  16. Some Blues names for women:
    a. Bad Luck Bessie
    b. Fat River Dumpling
    c. Big Bloody Mama
    d. Sadie Da Man Killa

  17. Some Blues names for men:
    a. Joe
    b. Willie
    c. Joe Willie
    d. Little Willie
    e. Big Willie
    f. Joe Bob Willie (country blues)

  18. Your name Sierra, Sequoia, Amber, Rainbow, Heather, Brittany, Muffy or Buffy? You can't sing The Blues - no matter how many men you shot in Memphis.

  19. Make your own Blues Name (starter kit):
    a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.) OR

    b. acceptable first name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon) PLUS

    c. last name of U.S. President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)

    For example, Big Mama Washington, Joe Willie Nixon, Blind Apple Jefferson, Jakeleg Lime Johnson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

  20. I don't care how tragic your life is: you own a computer, you cannot sing The Blues. You best destroy it. . . by spilled fifths of Mad Dog and/or Wild Turkey, a crack pipe-induced fire or a sawed-off shotgun.


Carol L. Skolnick said...

Asked for a double shot of decaf
They give me high test instead.
Woah ya know I asked for a double shot of decaf espresso, baby
They give me high test instead.
So I shot that bad barrista
Now ain't no more lattes for me till I'm dead. (Insert guitar riff here.)

Lazy-eye Raspberry Kennedy

paul etcheverry said...

Shot a man at Nordstrom's,
(insert McKinley Morganfield guitar riff here)
Didn’t have no Gucci shoes
(repeat riff)
And that doctor ran out o' luck
Wouldn't do a tummy tuck

I will choose not to continue that thread, as it’s as embarassingly caucasian as you want to get. . Hey, forget caucasian - this wouldn't pass muster with Johnny Cash, the man with a masters in country and western blues. . . let alone Tom Waits!

My all-time favorite blues recordings are live albums, stuff like John Lee Hooker At The Whisky A Go-Go (1966), where he plays 9 and 11 bar blues, just to watch his bandmates squirm. You can hear the band members collectively groan, say "oh shit" and scramble to make the chord change while John sings in that deep voice, no doubt shooting sly and sardonic glances at the band the whole time.

Phat Lemon Johnson