Boom, boom, boom, boom. John Lee Hooker said that. He sang it in his song, “Boom Boom.” You should listen to John Lee Hooker. Or any old blues musician or singer. Blues is real. It’s down. It’s dirty. It’s truthful.
It's like syrup for your soul...
There’s a lot of old great blues musicians. Robert Johnson. Blind Willie Johnson (no relation to Robert). Muddy Waters (not his real name. His real name was McKinley Morganfield. “Muddy Waters” got more mojo. That’s why he sang, “Got My Mojo Working”).
There’s Koko Taylor. Bessie Smith. Badass women singin’ badass blues. Etta James was a blues singer—even though she also sang ballads, pop, soul, but all with her patented mojo growl.
I’ve heard many people try to sing Etta’s hit, “I’d Rather Go Blind” but no one digs down as deep as dear ol’ Etta. The pretenders are like instant coffee. Etta’s the real rich dark brew…
There’s something about the way a great blues artist will scrape syrup from the bottom of their soul and pour it on the pancakes of your life. And make everything all right, for at least 3 minutes.
It’s good to feel the blues. You might be racking up pinball points in your race from start to ultimate success—but you still gotta take a moment and feel all your emotions.
(Then you can jack yourself up on some joe and ride the bull of accomplishment and money with a shit-eating grin on your big successful face.)
My all-time favorite blues artist has to be Lightnin’ Hopkins. Holy shit. What a magic man of mojo Lightnin’ was. He’s like a theme park ride. He takes you on loop de loops with his guitar playing and rhythms and he sings like a guy you find on the corner asking for quarters for more bourbon. He has this broken-toothed way of letting out the magic in his body, mind, soul. He gets it out so effortlessly. Like wine from a bottle. Pouring out. Blues magic.
Some days I have the blues. And some days I don’t. It’s like one of those rides where you’re right-side up one minute and upside-down the next.
Just moods. Moods come and go. There’s techniques in books to help. High-fiving yourself in the mirror was one I tried. I still high-five myself in the mirror. But if I’m in a bad mood, a shitty mood, or just plain exhausted, I might not give that high-five the most gusto. I’ll just toss my hand in the air. “Yeah…high-five. You’re doing great…Fuck off…”
And sometimes I’m just tired of seeing my bald-ass head and want to see some damn hair.
I might try running around the block in cold weather with nothing but shorts and a t-shirt on. This might shake me out of my blue mood. Or just make my fingers blue from frostbite.
When I’m up and the ride is crankin’ and my mood is skyrocketing through the clouds with positivity and grace, I’ll give myself the best high-five this side of the Mississippi.
I’ll also probably want to listen to some Van Halen or AC/DC.
Other times, I have the blues. And no amount of positive mind-talk or looking in the mirror and saying what an awesome person I am will help. I just feel shitty. Sometimes I think I should be an old blues guy and just play the blues and get this mood glue out of my soul.
Pour it on a wax record and let the world see how blue one can get.
It just takes a lot of energy sometimes to get through life. There’s a lot to do. A lot to take care of. A lot to worry about—if you so choose.
And no matter how green the grass is in your life, there’s some shit going on in other people’s lives that will make you sing the blues like the best blues singer on the planet.
So sometimes it’s good to lay down in the valley of your soul and just play the blues…
But don’t drink too much bourbon.
You’ll wake up feeling blue-green…
©2023 Bruce Palma. All rights reserved.