Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Taste for the Blues

Lately, I have had a taste for the blues. I still love violin music at this time of year, and some piano music as well, but I notice that more and more, I reach for blues to slip into the CD player to flow with the rhythms of my life. There is something irresistable about the beat and the bouncy nature of the groove. When times are tough, blues can help you bottom out and then bounce back up. Blues understands this time we are living in.

The blues always did. The blues gave birth to jazz, rock, rap, and popular music. The blues is earthy, lusty music that expresses its zest for life. Blues originated with field hands using music to help them find the strength to do the backbreaking work of manual labor on plantations, farms, and later, in factories. Blues could inspire people to get up and dance after a hard day's work.

Of course, the music was so entrancing that it would draw people into its spell and get them up dancing even if they never were field hands or manual laborers. Like magical chants and mantras, most of it is not very complicated. The first instrument that I was able to pick up and play by ear was blues harp (harmonica), and many a night gone by, I jammed with guitarists and singers who sang the blues.

Blues is very rootsy music. In recent years, a few recordings have been made where blues musicians got together with traditional African folk musicians and made magic with the sounds of the place where the musical roots began, together with what they evolved into. Blues can cast a spell that is like straight whiskey. It hits you hard and changes your whole perspective, right quick, and it doesn't take a lot to do the trick.

I grew up in Chicago where there was always a vibrant blues scene and I got to hear many of the legends play in bars for the price of a little cover charge and a few drinks. And by closing time, they had to kick people out because they didn't want to leave.

There came a time in my life when I was not listening to much of the blues, but they never really disappeared. Like there is no such thing for me as picking up the harmonica and not playing a blues riff.

So now it is time for some blues again. I got the feeling for it. Not exclusively. It rotates between music, but more and more as I work toward my goals, when I get up in the morning and wonder what day it is, but I just need to get started putting one foot in front of the other, some blues or some jazz will bring dream energy into focus. It is earthy and helps me keep grounded and centered. Blues is about feeling, and strong feelings have the power to move people.

The blues groove feels real good right now. Feel that beat? That's the pulse of life. That's the sound of people stirring up energy to do what they have to do and what they want to do. Oh yes, what songs we have about what we feel and what we do. And oh, yes, can you ever dance to it. Know what I'm talking about?

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