Where did this blues stereotype come from?

Back in the 80’s-90’s the most common example of playing the blues was something like

Doot doo duh doo (on a bass-heavy electric guitar)
I got the blues.

Doot doo duh doo
Yeah I got the blues.

Doot doo duh doo
I’ve got the “I’m to happy to sing the blues” blues.

with the last line being more a summary of their complaint, then they’d go into singing about the specifics for a verse or two before being interrupted.

Hi, dstarfire.

Do you have any specific examples? This sounds more like blues parody to me, e.g., The Simpsons Sing the Blues.

What part are you asking about? That’s pretty much the standard 12-bar blues formula.

Sing a line
Sing the same line again (perhaps with minor variation)
Sing a different line closing the thought

(And, furthermore, the first line is sung over the first four bars of the I chord; the second line is sung over two bars of IV and two of I, and the last line is sung over the turnaround [often a V-IV-I-I]).

And in between lines, there’s usually some instrumental fill, be it guitar, harmonica, piano, horns, etc.

By “Doot doo duh doo”, do you mean something like this?

Regarding the lyrics, Wikipedia has this to say:

Here are the lyrics for “Dallas Blues” and “Saint Louis Blues”. Both songs have verses of three lines, with the lines in each verse rhyming with each other, although only in some of the verses is the second line is a repeat of the first line.

Okay, I was able to find the scene I was thinking of on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4TjcXJF58s

Weirdly, I remember the guitar part as slower, simpler, and with just a single iteration between each line.

From the “Doot doo duh doo” part I figured the OP was talking about the riff and cadence of Muddy Waters’ classic Mannish Boy, popularized in the latter part of the 20th century by George Thorogood as Bad to the Bone.

When I heard “Doot doo duh do”, the first thing I thought of was Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy”, which you can listen to here. That formula has been copied repeatedly by other blues artists and by people parodying the blues. The start of the song with the beat is at 0:34.

The Blues often uses a number of standard formats or structures. "Call and Response’ phrasing, 12 bar blues forms, standard chord progressions - these provide a common musical background that then allows the musician to layer on lyrics, solos, etc. So when you hear a blues song it is often instantly recognizable as the blues and will often sound somewhat familiar to other blues songs. The differences can be in the details.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say, what you noticed was the rebirth/repopularization of blues with the explosion of stand up comedy.
Stevie Ray Vaughn and others made the blues very visible in the 80’s and every hack comedian had a bit about “I woke up this morning”.
Boom a cliche is born.:smiley:

Aye; my friend Robert Klein’s I Can’t Stop My Leg dates back to the early 1970s.

Yeah, St. Louis Blues strays around a bit from 12-bar blues (the “St Louis woman, with her diamond rings” part is a B section with a 16-bar format and different chord progression. I assume this is because this was proto-popular blues and the conventions hadn’t gotten established yet.)

Like check out Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie’s “When the Levee Breaks” from 1927. That follows the 12-bar-blues progression and AAB lyric format throughout.

Or Robert Johnson I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom (1936), which has the stereotypical root-fifth, root-sixth, root-fifth, root-sixth accompaniament in the background.

It’s a very old established blues trope.

If you want to hear the origins, you can’t go much further back than Blind Lemon Jefferson and his recordings in the 1920s.Black Snake Moan is a pretty-much-perfect example of the style.

YES!! That’s exactly it. That’s the melody I was thinking of, and the pattern of 5-note melody on guitar - a sentence of lyrics - guitar melody - repeat.

So, was that “I got the blues” - “I got the blues” - " I got the (whatever) blues" pattern used in actual music, or was it just standard joke fodder?

Both, really. Blues has ALWAYS relied on repetition, and on expanded modified repetition, as part of the way the style works. Any characteristic can be overdone. And once you have an overdone characteristic, you are asking for parody.
If you mean these exact words “I got the blues / I got the blues / I got the [something] blues” - I’m not sure. But the idea is there.

The earliest blues were in that format. But there are a million blues parodies.

Here are two by Robert Klein.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWX-FmJaSsw (At 48:30)

This is WC Handy on Ed Sullivans show in 1949, playing his own St Louis Blues, which I think was the first blues ever copyrighted.

I think you can hear the repetition theme.

The form was so well known that Martin Mull was parodying it in 1973 with Ukelele Blues

And one more:

Babysitting Blues

I thought Muddy Waters as well. He was a national treasure, Here he is doing Mannish Boy with The Band. What a stage presence he had.

Muddy Waters.

When I first heard his music, I couldn’t help but think of Adventures in Babysitting and couldn’t take the music seriously.

I haven’t heard any other blues that affected me the same way, despite a lot of it being 12-bar.

Love both the Babysitting Blues (thanks for the link) and the Muddy Waters song.

Deborah Coleman did a great gender switched version.