How to Sing the Blues

Most blues begin “woke up this morning.”
A good way to begin the blues is “I got a good woman,” unless you add something nasty on the next line like, “I got a good woman with the meanest dog in town.”




Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of. “Got a good woman with the meanest dog in town. He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and he weighs ’bout 500 pounds.”




The blues are not about limitless choices. Blues cars are Chevys and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation is the Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Walkin’ plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.






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 or Ann Arbor. But Memphis sounds better.





If you give your baby seven children and now she wants to give’ em back, it’s the blues.

If your landlord kicks you out, it’s the blues. If you default on your mortgage, it’s not the blues. If you have enough money to afford a house in the first place, you can’t have the blues.



You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression. Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Ann Arbor and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.



The following colors do not belong in the blues: violet, beige, mauve or taupe.

You can’t have the blues in an office or a shopping mall, the lighting is wrong.





Good places for the Blues: the highway, the jailhouse, the empty bed.


Bad places for the Blues: Ashrams, Gallery openings, a weekend in the Hamptons.




Do you have the right to sing the blues?

Yes, if: your first name is a southern state-like Georgia or you’re blind, or you shot a man in Memphis, or you can’t be satisfied.

No, if: You were once blind but now can see, or you’re deaf, you have a trust fund, or your baby didn’t leave you.

No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit unless you happen to be an African American man in his advanced years.






Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbara Streisand can sing the blues. Somewhat surprisingly, Willie Nelson can sing the blues.







Blues beverages are NOT: any mixed drink, any wine kosher for Passover or Yoo Hoo (all flavors).


If you ask for water and your baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues.
Other blues beverages are wine, Irish whiskey or muddy water.








If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s 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 facelift or a liposuction treatment.




Some Blues names for Women: Sadie, Big Mama, Bessie, Bertha, Josephine, Lucille. Some Blues Names for Men: Joe, Willie, Little Willie, Big Willie, Willie B., Lightning, Blackburn.

Note: Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia or Skye will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

Other Blues Names (Starter Kit): Name of Physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic), First name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi), Last Name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.).



A Blues way to communicate is to dial up the telephone or to “holler.” E-mails (sorry) or faxes are not Blues ways to communicate.






People with the Blues eat barbecue, cornbread, beans, and their last meal.





ood blues instruments: Guitar, Slide Trombone, Saxophone, Harmonica.

Bad blues instruments: everything else, especially the oboe, French Horn, Viola.






You got the blues if you have lumbago or a bad back. You don’t have the blues if you have a mental disorder ending in “syndrome.”

Black Jack is a good blues game. Keno is not a good blues game.




Blues jobs include working on the railroad, picking cotton, musician, or you just got fired.







Blues animals include the junkyard dog and mule (not donkey).

Most country songs may be interchanged with blues songs (woman left me, crop didn’t come in, the dog died, etc.). All pretty much work in the blues.



Good blues words and their pronunciations:

Regular        Blues        Example
Sing Sang I cain’t sang no more
Thing Thang That thang ain’t no good
Can’t Cain’t I cain’t be satisfied
Think Thank Don’t thank too much
Drink Drank Don’t drank that drank
King Kang as in B. B. Kang


Epitaph on a blues musician’s tombstone:
“I didn’t wake up this morning.”