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How to Write and Sing the Blues
Use this information as a “road
map” to help guide yourself through the process of writing
and singing the blues. Please Note: Before attempting
to sing or write any blues, we suggest you go through
the following guidelines to check your qualifications.
You ARE qualified to write or sing the blues
You ARE NOT qualified to write or sing the blues if:
You shot (or stabbed)
a man (or woman) in Memphis.
Your first name is the
same as a southern state, such as Georgia,
Alabama, Tennessee, and so on. Other acceptable
names for men are Joe, Willie, Little Willie,
or Lightnin’. Women may use the names Sadie,
Big Mama, or Bessie. If your name is Sierra
or Sequoia, you will not be permitted to
write or sing the blues, no matter how many
men (or women) you shot (or stabbed) in
Memphis. For more information, see Supplemental Naming Information, below.
You're blind (or at least
no better than 20/400 vision in one or more
You just can't be satisfied.
You were blind
once, but now you can see (whether through
corrective lenses or divine intervention).
You have a trust fund.
Your house has more than
Your name is Julio Iglesias
or Barbra Streisand.
NOTE: Teenagers are
not permitted to write or sing the blues. The
blues is an adults-only situation. By adult,
we mean that you must be old enough to disregard
the electric chair if you shot (or stabbed)
a man (or woman) in Memphis.
If your qualifications meet the guidelines
listed above, then you may proceed to the following
topics for more information on how to write and sing
Most blues songs start with the line,
“I woke up this mornin’.” Note that the line, “I got
a good woman” is incorrect unless this line is followed
by, “With the meanest dog in town.”
The blues are,
and should be kept simple. After you have the first line right, repeat
it. Follow this second line with a blues-compatible
situation and then expand upon that situation. For example:
got a good woman.
Oh, I got a good woman,
With the meanest dog in town.
He’s got teeth like Margaret Thatcher,
And he weighs five-hundred pounds.
There must be a specific aura surrounding
the successful blues writer/singer. The blues are not
about limitless choices. For example, only certain forms
of transportation fit the blues. A Chevy or an old Cadillac
fit the blues. A Greyhound bus, a southbound train,
or walkin’ play major transportation roles in the blues
lifestyle. So does “fixin’ to die.”
Location, location, location
You can write or sing blues songs
about New York City; however, Brooklyn, Queens, and
Staten Island probably will not fit into a blues framework.
Most areas of the Bronx should be OK.
“Hard times” in Vermont or North
Dakota are sometimes mistaken for the blues; this is,
in fact, closer to simple clinical depression. You can’t
write or sing about the blues in the following places:
Shopping malls (the lighting
Your cubicle or office (the target
audience is too narrow).
Weekends in the Hamptons.
The following locations are considered
ideal for writing or singing the blues:
Unless you are a very old male Negro,
it's best not to wear a suit while writing or singing
the blues. Even very old male Negroes will not be able
to pull off a convincing "blues" aura in an
Armani or Brooks Brothers suit, so it's best to stick
with an old collared shirt and neat (but casual) slacks
or overalls. Avoid any articles of clothing with small
alligators or any hint of "golf" about them.
Blues compatible accessories include
pork pie hats, sunglasses worn at night, suspenders,
pocket bandanas, and shoes with noticeably worn soles.
Patchy facial hair and/or several
days stubbly growth are always a plus (unless your name
is Sadie, Big Mama, or Bessie).
If you ask for water and your baby
serves you gasoline, it's a good bet that this is an
authentic blues-compatible situation. Other blues-compatible
Cheap wine (white or red only;
rosé is NOT blues-compatible).
Cheap whiskey (any nationality
or origin, the cheaper the better).
Muddy water (from the Mississippi
Non blues-compatible beverages include:
Any mixed drink (other than whiskey
with Mississippi mud water).
Any kosher wine (with the possible exception of Mad Dog 20/20; the jury is still out
on that one).
Any diet or low-calorie soda
Sports drinks (Gatorade, Surge,
and so on).
Clear spring water, sparkling
water, or Perrier.
Yoo-Hoo (all flavors).
is a list of acceptable blues-related causes of death:
Shot (or stabbed) in a cheap
motel or hotel (especially in Memphis).
Shot (or stabbed) in a shotgun
shack (especially in Memphis).
Shot (or stabbed) by a jealous
lover (especially in Memphis).
The electric chair.
Through substance abuse.
As a result of being denied treatment
in an emergency room.
Any deaths that result from complications
experienced during liposuction treatments are not considered
blues-compatible and should therefore be disregarded.
Naming Information (Nicknames)
The better blues writers/singers
usually employ a catchy nickname. The following is a
list of topics that may prove helpful in determining
a blues-compatible nickname:
Examples of this genre include Blind, Crippled,
Asthmatic. Infirmities that do not lend themselves
to blues-compatible nicknames are Pigeon-Toed, Color-Blind,
Hearing Impaired, Tone Deaf, Poor Sense of Direction,
or Itchy Skin Rash.
Examples of blues-compatible fruit nicknames include
Lemon, Lime, Melon, and Peach. Fruits such as Pineapple,
Kumquat, Passion Fruit, and Seedless Grape just
will not convey the proper blues state of mind in
Presidential Last Names
Presidential last names are an unusually rich source
of blues-compatible nicknames. However, you must
select the proper name. Blues-compatible presidential
last names include Johnson, Jefferson, Lincoln,
Cleveland, and Roosevelt, just to name a few. Non
blues-compatible presidential last names include
Taft, Eisenhower, Ford, Hoover, and Harding.
To sum up, a blues-compatible nickname
might be Blind Lemon Roosevelt, whereas a non blues-compatible
nickname would be Pigeon-Toed Seedless Grape Eisenhower.
I hope this information has in some
small way helped you along the road to writing and singing
Thank you for your time and attention.