If music is a universal language, I think of the Blues is its basic vocabulary. Nothing touches me as deeply on a personal and emotional level, not even Beethoven. Here’s a sampling for you of seven numbers that represent the past and hopefully the future of the Blues:
- “Smokestack Lightning” – Howlin’ Wolf Chester Arthur Burnett (a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf) started singing the Blues in his home state of Mississippi before World War II. After the war, he traveled to Chicago and changed its music scene forever. Here’s his best known song, with Hubert Sumlin on guitar:
- “Damn Right I Got the Blues” – Buddy Guy Among those who followed Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters on the Chicago Blues scene was Buddy Guy, who arrived in the Windy City in 1957 and is still going strong to this day. Give a listen:
- “The Thrill Is Gone” – B.B. King I was fortunate to see B.B. do this song at the Fillmore East many years ago. It’s still as powerful today. One of the “Three Kings of the Blues” (along with Albert and Freddy) B.B.’s influence still prevails, he will never be forgotten.
- “Born Under a Bad Sign” – Albert King He played his guitar upside down and left-handed, but his sound was unmistakably the Blues. Listen to Eric Clapton and you hear Albert King, and Freddy King as well. Here’s my favorite song from Albert:
- “If Trouble Was Money” – Albert Collins Speaking of Alberts, Albert Collins, known for his altered tunings and his mastery of the Fender Telecaster, took time out from his career as a painter to lay down this track with the late, great Irish guitarist Gary Moore. Love it:
- “The Worst Is Yet to Come” – Keb’ Mo’ Who says the Blues and humor can’t match? Keb’ Mo’ combines them in many of his songs, never more hilariously then in this Blues song that will leave you laughing:
- “Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should” – Joe Bonamassa I first heard of Joe Bonamassa when he was “Smokin’ Joe” a ten year-old opening act for B.B. King in Upstate New York. Now he’s perhaps the most successful of the modern Blues guitarists and has made it his life’s goal to “Keep the Blues Alive”. Something tells me he’s going to succeed:
There’s seven Blues songs for you. There are seven million more worth listening to, What are you waiting for? Happy Thanksgiving!