Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Blues

I like a lot of music. Including music that people would think I wouldn't be into.

Country is one.

Blues is the other.

I especially like the blues.

I think this fits in with writing really well. I think country and blues singers tell really great stories. And if you listen closely, you'll find pieces of yourself and people you know in their stories.

Stories that compel. That resonate. That pull you in, make you feel, and help you think a little more about what life has done... but more importantly, what possibilities life can hold.

I'm particularly fond of women country and blues singers. The women pictured here (left photo is Denise LaSalle and Koko Taylor; right photo Paquita la del Barrio) tell stories of people cheated on, laughed at, beaten on, laid off... but at the end of the day are people who triumph through the simple things in life.

I come from a family of people whose roots are in places like Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. I remember family gatherings while growing up, when all the entertainment needed was a B.B. King or Johnny Taylor album (because that's what they played back in the day), that "drank" in the purple velvet bag, barbeque or fried fish, and tons of storytelling and laughing.

Sometimes, when I'm pondering story ideas, or story direction, I'll put on a blues CD and listen. Especially to the part of the songs, when the singing stops, the music continues, and the women start talking to you. Talking to you like you're their confidante or best friend. Denise LaSalle does it best, especially when it comes to talking about friends going after her men. Paquita does it well, too, and if you know Spanish all the better. One of Paquita's classic lines is when she apologizes to a cheating man's dog for comparing the man to the dog. So funny!

It's weird how stories and ideas can get stimulated from the oddest places. I'm sure you've had your share of blues... just like I have. But we all, eventually, rise up, triumph, and face the day to do what we've got to do in order to survive.



Shelley Halima said...

Have you listened to Shemekia Copeland? She is a wonderful blues singer. Check out her Wicked CD.

Frederick Smith said...

I've heard of Shemekia, but haven't heard her music. I've heard great things, though, from people who like her.