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How To Sing The Blues 101


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How to sing the Blues 101


If you are new to Blues music, or like it but never really understood the why and wherefores, here are some very fundamental rules:


1. Most Blues begin with: "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 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. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound."


4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch...ain't no way out.


5... Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and 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. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.


7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and Nawlins are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot 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 'cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is...


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


10. Good places for the Blues


a. highway

b. jailhouse

c. empty bed

d. bottom of a whiskey glass


11. Bad places for the Blues


a. Nordstrom's

b. gallery openings

c. Ivy League institutions

d. golf courses


12. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.


13. 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 have all your teeth

b. you were once blind but now can see

c. the man in Memphis lived

d. you have a 401K or trust fund


14. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly black and white people also got a leg up on the Blues.


15. If you ask for water and your darlin' gives you gasoline, it's the Blues.

Other acceptable Blues beverages are:


a. cheap wine

b. whiskey or bourbon

c. muddy water

d. black coffee


The following are NOT Blues beverages:


a. Perrier

b. Chardonnay

c. Snapple

d. Slim Fast


16. If death 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 are 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 while getting liposuction.


17. Some Blues names for women:


a. Sadie

b. Big Mama

c. Bessie

d. Fat River Dumpling


18. Some Blues names for men:


a. Joe

b. Willie

c. Little Willie

d. Big Willie


19. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.


20. I don't care how tragic your life is: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period. Sorry.


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"No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit.." Uhm. Tell that one B.B.King

"The following are NOT Blues beverages: champagne" Muddy Waters didnt get the memo. etc


Equal time demands a top ten tips how to making a self-indulgent slacker singer-songwriter lament!!

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I have here the lyrics to "Anaconda Blues". For those who don't know it, it begins thusly:-


I Woke up this morning with an anaconda in mah bed,

I Woke up this morning with an anaconda in mah bed,

He looked at me quite strangely,

And this is what he said.....


Some people sleep in houses, some people sleep in cars,

Some people like to play the blues on rusty strung guitars,

But me..... I just like to play the anaconda blues.


Now the lyrics go on for several pages, and the copyright is down to P.Wielk,

but I was wondering if anybody had ever heard it "in the wild" as it were?

Currently (as in last forty years) I only ever heard him and me singing it.

Which seems only right, since it's our song, well, OK, Pete's song.


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GG. Brilliant.


I seem to tick a fair few of the boxes.


Ugly, can't sing, old, grey unkempt hair, don't drink champagne,


But Volvo - failed!


Hey JT, what's your score?


And no-one has called me "Big Willie" since Julie with the milk bottle bottom spectacles from University. She was a very forgiving sort.

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"No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit.." Uhm. Tell that one B.B.King


B. B. King used to get riled when MC's on package tours would introduce him as the downhome (read old fashioned) part of the show ("get the chitlins ready"). Likewise Muddy Waters ("Im not some bum with a bottle of wine in my pocket. I got my mohair, I got my Chivas").


Bottom line, as a poke against up-scale blues fans (many who are in all probablity upscale heavy guitar geeks), it's cute, but the implicit condescension toward actual blues guys? (rags, no teeth, rotgut, cheap ride--wait, doesnt that sound like Cobain). I'll give B.B. the last word "being a blues singer is like being black twice."

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is something I heard a while back.


To come up with your blues name there is a simple formula:


1: A disease or physical / mental ailment


2: A fruit - gourd - veggie or anything you would buy at a produce stand


3: A dead presidents last name --- I don't know if any living presidents would work but I wouldn't rule it out completely.



Obviously Blind Lemon Jefferson used this formula, but it still stands up today -- Rashy Raspberry Taft or what about Bald Okra Wilson ?


I think you could easily add some of GGirls blues names into the formula and still have it work.


Swineflu Willie Nixon

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This just wont go away, will it?


[Edit: so, what is it about these nicknames? A little marketing of the, er, primitive element? And its not just old blues guys. There's Little Willie John, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Lazy Lester. Easiest way in the world to distance from something uncomfortable is to belittle it. ]

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