The photo above shows Leadbelly playing his famous Stella 12 string guitar. I imagine him singing “Good Morning Blues, Blues How Do You Do?” The next line says: “I’m doin’ alright, Good Morning How Are You?”
True blues are a call and response. Blues are more complicated than just feeling crappy and singing about it. The Blues talk back. Leadbelly’s 12 string guitar plays bass lines that run 4/4 while the high strings call back in 7th notes. The Blues are so much larger than a human being. The Blues are political and they are absorbed in fundamental psychological truth. There’s a lot of intolerance and fanaticism out there. Why listen to Leadbelly long enough and you get the sense that even the Blues can be Blue.
“I woke up this morning, the blues walkin’ round my bed.
I could not eat my breakfast, the blues were all in my bread…”
Some days the boss man gets in your bread; the demagogues get in your bread; the gun runners are in there; the Taliban and the John Birch Society; the bread is inedible and you were hungry…
Its raining. Its Saturday. The blues are personal. They are accidental. They’re part of a larger operation. But no matter. You have to sing. And as Leadbelly famously said about playing the 12 string guitar: “you got to keep something moving at all times.”
Don’t stand still. And whatever you do, don’t keep your mouth shut.