the Blues

I dunno if this belongs here or in GD. I taped the 7-episodes of the History of the Blues that was on ETV a couple of weeks ago, and just finished watching episode 5 (or was it 6?). This mini-series encompasses a very wide range of music, including some Dylan, Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles, various English rock groups, jazz, etc.

Now to my mind those genre are not part of the Blues, which means to me a song of a particular rhythm (I’m not a musician or versed in music so I can’t describe it, but I know it when I hear it, just as I know rap when I hear it but cannot describe the type of rhythm) concerning a sad topic, such as working in the cotton fields, working on a chain gang, losing a lover, life in general if depressing to the artist, etc.

Granted that Dylan certainly began with Blues roots. His folk songs (which were the only good music he played IMO) contained some very blue topics, especially at that time the Korean war. But Subterranean Blues? Come on, now.

Subterranean Blues may be the way the person Dylan is describing is feeling inside, but the song sure doesn’t have a blues feel to it.

Blues was definitely a big part of early rock and roll though, I think you probably agree. Look at the early Stones albums, early Elvis, Cream, Led Zeplin, Hendrix, and on and on. They all had very heavy blues influences.

Hendrix is definitely blues influenced. In fact, he covered a lot of blues standards. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton are also heavily blues influenced, and much of their catalogs is outright blues.

After all, “Crossroads” was written by Robert Johnson. You can’t get any more blue than that.

BTW, the blues aren’t really defined by rhythms. Their more defined by the ‘blue’ notes in the scales they use, and by chord progressions and song structures. Perhaps you’re thinking of the classic 12-bar song form of the blues as a ‘rhythm’.

Some blues musicians certainly were defined by a certain beat, however. Most popularly, Bo Diddley. The ‘Bo Diddley beat’ is instantly recognizable.

And I would disagree that the blues has to be about sad topics or depressing. There are a lot of blues that are rather trimphant. Listen to “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters for a good example. The attitude in that song has a lot more in common with a rapper than a country crooner.

Other common themes in the blues:

[ul]
[li]I’m the greatest Bluesman around[/li][li]I know how to please a woman[/li][li]The devil can kiss my ass[/li][li]I do a lot of travelling[/li][li]Some food is tasty[/li][li]I sure liked it better a few years ago[/li][li]I love my instrument[/li][li]God’s the man[/li][li]I’m being chased by Satan’s dogs[/li][li]I know how to dress myself[/li][li]My <insert city here> is better than your city[/li][li]There is weather outdoors, and it changes[/li][li]Prison isn’t much fun[/li][li]I engage in habits that I know are bad for me[/li][li]My woman is mean, but I love her anyway[/li][li]The Man[/li][/ul]

Isn’t “Mama” the most common word in blues music though? This is kind of a tongue-in-cheek comment Sam, but it sure seems like you hear a lotta Mama’s in the blues. :slight_smile:

I love that list, Sam! I’m going to forward it to my brother. He’s in a blues band, and their latest CD missed a few of your themes, but just a few…

You forgot: I sure don’t know how to please you, woman! though I guess that could be a subgroup of "My woman is mean, but I love her anyway. "

Getting back to the OP, I taped all 7 movies too. I’d be curious to know what people thought of the series, which was their favourite or least favourite movie, for instance. I just happened to like the one that most blues lovers hated. Hoping for some moral support here, perhaps…

I didn’t hate any episode, just thought a couple of the latter ones were misplaced. I actually like the Doors music, but I no longer adore :slight_smile: it.

By barbitu8:“Granted that Dylan certainly began with Blues roots. His folk songs (which were the only good music he played IMO) contained some very blue topics, especially at that time the Korean war. But Subterranean Blues? Come on, now.”

Not to nit-pick, but it was the war in Vietnam that Dylan referenced so much. Korea was 10+ years in the rear view mirror when Dylan was old enough to make music.

Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” can make a person blue, if the song describes the home you remember.

I agree that while the Beatles, et. al. can make a blues song, they aren’t really blues musicians.

I liked the earlier episodes of the series, the ones that dealt with the older artists and their songs.

Blues:
“I am, a backdoor man
I am, a backdoor man
The men don’t know it
But the little girls understand”

From “Backdoor Man” by Howlin’ Wolf, circa 1962

I meant VietNam, but didn’t both to change it later. Subterranen Homesick Blues may have had a blues motif, but the music isn’t what I always considered “blues.”

I don’t detect any ‘blue’ notes in the scales, chord progressions song structures or the classic 12-bar song form of the blues as a ‘rhythm’

Another common theme is the word phrasing… verse, (same) verse, response. That in a twelve bar format is the CLASSIC form. ex:

ZZ Top - Blue Jean Blues

(I) Done ran into my baby and finally found my old blue jeans
(V) Done ran into my baby and finally found my old blue jeans
(VII 7th)I could tell that they was mine from the oil and gasoline
Sam Stone, you forgot “Woke up dis mo’nin’ blah blah blah…”

Which leads to…

What was the bluesman’s epitaph?

"Di’n’t wake up dis mo’nin’ "