My annual blues jag was one of the many incidental casualties of the pandemic.
For several years I engaged in a personal self-cleansing ritual by listening to nothing but blues for a couple of weeks every winter. It was my way of reconnecting with the essential aspects of life and self. When 2021 rolled around, we’d been cooped up for months and I simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind for spiritual renewal—I just couldn’t get rid of the irritation and resentment I felt (and still feel) about worldwide pandemic mismanagement and broad-spectrum human stupidity.
You might think that listening to the blues would have been the perfect cure for my psyche in such circumstances, but I didn’t “have the blues.” I was pissed off. I was more in the mood for punk than the blues.
Blues is something of a paradox. It is an art form of emotional expression, but playing it well requires discipline and clear intentionality. Its structure is simple and predictable, but great blues artists plumb the depths of the human spirit, weaving tales of astonishing psychological complexity. They also use the basic chord structures as a platform to express surprisingly complex musical ideas.
Given my tagline, the sheer eroticism of blues has tremendous appeal for me. While the lyrics of classic blues numbers are often marked by euphemism, the vocals and guitar are often dripping with heat. Whether it’s Muddy Waters singing “I’m Ready” or Sonny Landreth savoring the line “When you lay your body next to mine,” there’s nothing like hot blues to put me into mood to grind and grind some more.
I’m not sure why it’s so, my blues reviews don’t generate much in the way of traffic. Well, as much as it pains me to bore my readers, sometimes a girl’s gotta grind.
Looking over the list, I only wish I’d covered more of the all-time greats like Skip James, Son House, Howling Wolf and others. Alas, ’twas not to be.
- A Peter Green Playlist
- Albert King – King of the Blues Guitar
- Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite– Get Up!
- John Lee Hooker – The Best of John Lee Hooker
- John Mayall – Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
- John Mayall – The Turning Point
- Little Walter– His Best, The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
- Memphis Minnie– Essential Recordings
- Muddy Waters – The Best of Muddy Waters
- Robert Johnson– The Complete Recordings
- Sonny Landreth – Grant Street
- The Allman Brothers Band– At Fillmore East
- The Electric Flag– A Long Time Comin’