HOW TO SING THE BLUES
(attrib. to Memphis Earlene Gray; with help from Uncle Plunky and
Ric "I've suffered for my music, now it's your turn" Goldman)
1. Most blues begin "woke up this morning" but rainy nights can be
made to work, too.
2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you
stick something nasty in the next line: "I got a good woman - with
the meanest dog in town."
3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it.
Then find something that rhymes, sort of:
"I got a good woman,
with the meanest dog in town.
He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher,
and he weighs about 500 pounds."
4. The blues are not about limitless choice.
5. Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs.
Other acceptable blues
transportation is Greyhound bus or a southbound train.
plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
Foreign cars (especially Japanese) are right out.
6. Teenagers can't sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues
adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a
man in Memphis.
7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or
Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a
Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best
places to have the blues. There are no such things as blues in
8. The following colors do not belong in the blues: violet, beige,
mauvre, teal, or ANY pastel.
9. You can't have the blues in an office or a shopping mall, the
lighting is wrong. Not even a coffee house will do.
10. Good places for the Blues: the highway, the jailhouse, an empty bed.
Bad places: Ashrams, Gallery openings, weekend in the Hamptons.
11. No one will believe it's the blues if you wear a suit, unless you
happen to be an old black man, or the suit came from one.
12. Do you have the right to sing the blues?
Yes, if: your first name
is a southern state-like Georgia, you're blind, you shot a man in
Memphis, you can't be satisfied.
No, if: you were once blind but
now can see, you're deaf, you have a trust fund.
13. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbara Streisand can sing the blues; or
Michael "icky" Bolton - he tries, but we don't believe him.
14. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it's the blues.
Other blues beverages are: cheap wine, Four Roses whiskey, muddy
water, Old English 800.
Blues beverages are NOT: any mixed drink,
any drink with a paper umbrella in it, wine kosher for Passover,
any flavor of Yoo Hoo, or Guinness.
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 a blues way to
die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, or being denied
treatment in an emergency room.
It is not a blues death if you
die during a liposuction treatment.
Lonely highways can make
for a blues death; the four-level interchange downtown does not.
16. Some blues names for Women: Sadie, Big Mama, Bessie, or Ole Lady.
Tiffany, Heather or even Charlotte just don't work.
17. Some Blues Names for Men: Joe, Leroy, Willie, Little Willie, or
Persons with names like Sierra or Sequoia will not be
permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in
Memphis, even if the men done them wrong.
18. Other Blues Names (Select one from each group):
First Name: Name of Physical infirmity, or geophysical/meteorologic
catastrophe, such as Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic, Lock-Jaw,
Shakin', Quakin', Mudslide, Asphalt
Middle Name: Use one of the First Names above or the name of a
fruit, such as Lemon, Lime, or Kiwi. Some kinds of donut
work (Jelly Roll) but be careful here.
Last Name: Name of a President, such as Jefferson, Johnson,
Note: recent presidents like Reagan or Bush
just don't have the right impact. Clinton on the other hand,
has definitely earned the right to be a blues name.
Use discretion and common sense in your blues name:
Jefferson is cool and very blue. Pimples Kiwi Eisenhower is not.
Country western music terms
Musical Terms Misunderstood by Country-Western Musicians:
Diminished Fifth -- An empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
Perfect Fifth -- A full bottle of Jack Daniels.
Relative Major -- An uncle in the Marine Corps.
Relative Minor -- A girlfriend.
Big Band -- When the bar pays enough to bring two banjo players.
Pianissimo -- "Refill this beer bottle."
Repeat -- What you do until they just expel you.
Treble -- Women ain't nothin' but...
Portamento -- A foreign country you've always wanted to see.
Arpeggio -- "Ain't he that storybook kid with the big nose that grows?"
Tempo -- Good choice for a used car.
A 440 -- The highway that runs around Nashville
Transpositions -- Men who wear dresses.
Cut Time -- Parole.
Passing Tone -- Frequently heard near the baked beans at family barbecues.
Middle C -- The only fruit drink you can afford when food stamps are low.
Perfect Pitch -- The smooth coating on a freshly paved road.
Cadenza -- That ugly thing your wife always vacuums dog hair off of when
Whole Note -- What's due after failing to pay the mortgage for a year.
Clef -- What you try never to fall off of.
Altos -- Not to be confused with "Tom's toes," "Bubba's toes," or "Doritos."
Minor Third -- Your approximate age and grade at the completion of formal
Melodic Minor -- Loretta Lynn's singing son.
12-Tone Scale -- The thing the state police weigh your tractor-trailer truck
Quarter Tone -- What most standard pickups can haul.
Sonata -- What you get from a bad cold or hay fever.
Clarinet -- Name used on your second daughter if you've already used Betty
Cello -- The proper way to answer the phone.
Bassoon -- Typical response when asked what you hope to catch, and when.
French Horn -- Your wife says you smell like a cheap one when you come in at
Cymbal -- What they use on deer crossing signs so you know what to sight in
First Inversion -- Grandpa's battle group at Normandy.
Staccato -- How you did all the ceilings in your mobile home.
Aeolian Mode -- How you like Mama's apple pie.
Bach Chorale -- The place behind the barn where you keep the horses.
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