Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Daddy Has the Blues and Just Can't Help Hisself

So the daddy is
sitting in his living room in his comfortable home. But he remembers when it wasn't always so. He remembers when he first came to Minneapolis, Minnesota and washed dishes at a local restaurant for food and a place to stay. And then, like a slap upside the head, the words of Chicago blues guitarist Mighty Joe Young (He played for R&B great Tyrone Davis and was also a side man to blues greats Jimmie Dawkins and Otis Rush, respectively) rises up from some place deep within his soul; and the daddy begins to sing:

"Nothing in my pocket but the bottom.

More than I can say for my shoe.
Speaking of the blues I got em.
That's all I can afford to lose.

You know I need,
yes, I need someone.
Oh, before
you reach the end.
You, too, might need a friend."

To shake this feeling, the daddy goes for a walk and...BAM!...gets hit again like Toni Soprano whacks a mafia underling on a late Sunday night, deep in some dark woods, somewhere outside New Jersey. This time it's Lurrie Bell singing a slow blues with a heavy backbeat and a bitter-sweet tone of resignation, asking someone but no one in particular:

"What can a poor man do
you know, when the blues keeps following around?

What can a poor man do
you know,
you know when the blues keeps following him around?

Get him a pint a liquor

sit and drink it on down.

You know sometimes I feel

like drinking me some gasoline.

Oh, sometimes I feel
like drinking me some gasoline.

Striking me a match

and blow my fool self up in steam."

Let's face it: the daddy's got the blues, and, like an addict who has reached rock bottom, he just can't help hisself.

So what does a shaking addict do when he needs a fix? Call the nearest chemical dependency agency and say "I was wondering if you could provide me a little assistance?" Please. He goes to a drug dealer and then retires to the nearest dark alley to seek a little release, a little peace, with a vile of crack, the only God he knows.

So what did the daddy to do get his fix ? He went to a record shop and copped "Let's Talk About Love" by legendary blues guitar genius Lurrie Bell and sat in his own personal alley, his SUV, getting some cathartic release, if only for a day, from the blues that keeps following him around.

"Let's Talk About Love" is honest blues. There's not a lot of loud, fast playing tune that provides little time to breathe and take it all in. Lurrie takes his time and settles into a groove to play on the beat just the way his father, Carey Bell, a great harmonica player, used to do it in Muddy Water's band. In his playing, Lurrie takes clean breaks and steadily builds on a solo like a bricklayer building a house.

But this is not to say the brother doesn't rock. He gets you patting your feet, nodding your head, even dancing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth with several tunes spread appropriately throughout the CD. Whether a shuffle or down-and-out blues, Lurrie and his red Gibson moans and soars and screams inside a soulful backbeat that will make you feel it all over-- feel it to your bones.

But the daddy especially loves Lurrie's rhythm playing on "Why Am I Treated So Bad?" and his stirring solo on "Missing You;" And if you got a chance to see the December 2007 Living Blues magazine article on Lurrie Bell, you would understand why. You see that, besides alcohol, Lurrie battled a mental disease (schizophrenia) as well. And just when he was getting over it, just when this genius of the blues guitar was starting to wield his axe all over Chicago again, his loving partner and then his mentoring father died. So suddenly he's left to take care of his child and his life alone. And the sound of his red Gibson tells you that the blues still follows him around-- that it's been a struggle, that it still is a struggle.

On the other hand, his honest soul searching and truth-telling with his voice and with his amening on that Gibson is one of the reasons the daddy sometimes turns away from other music and listens to nothing but the blues for months.

Poet Sterling Plump said of Bell:

"He speaks scared chords
a guitar screams in his
eyes. Because he is some
one shot out of a shot
gun house by white
lightning that makes him
a.c.h.a. high
rise resident...
He is a part of speech
therapy we master
to speak sanity"

Has the blues ever followed you around?
Note: This is an article that readers asked
me to repost.


Nun in the Hood said...

Dear MacDaddy,

SURE I've had the BLUES.....What I've found is that music can help a lot, but kindred spirits are even better...I have found that when I share MY Blues with someone, they kind of begin to harmonize with the humanity in me and the other person....
You're getting pretty swift with that technology....I was able to 'call up' the article on Lurrie Bell...Maybe one of these times you'll figure out how to put a song or two on your blog for us fellow bloggers!

MacDaddy said...

nun: Your idea of sharing your blues is really cool. I think that's the way a lot of people feel about the blues, especially blues musicians I've met. As for putting a tune on the blog, let me give it some thought.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Ya got me all stirred up now Daddy. I hav GOT to go out and git me some new stuff to wail to.
But I did happen to pick up something a few weeks ago that I hadn't heard in years and it made me very happy. I think I'll post it over at my place.
Thanks for the tip on Mr. Lurrie.

MacDaddy said...

Hey, sagacious: I got some real blues lovers who come to my blog. Most of them don't comment, but they read everything. If you post a blues people, I'll let people know. You'll love Lurrie Bell.

Anonymous said...

so if they'd put prozac in our water supply, would people still need the blues? would they get the blues? would our music and art change if we medicated away the human experience of the blues?

MacDaddy said...

Anon: I hope not. Many a blues person take to alcohol or some other drug to medicate, to ease the pain. But the blues inside them just won't die. Like Lurrie, the blues keeps following them around. To paraphrase an ebonic-filled statement I heard from a Chicago bluesman, people "Has the blues and its a constant botheration." Can't shake it.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Mac, I was cruising Youtube last night and oh my, You tube got the blues. I watched and listened to John Lee, Muddy, The Wolf, Big Joe Turner, Mama Thornton, MS John, T-bone, even some Geo. Thoroughgood. . . awesome.
I left ya one of my favorites over at my place.

MacDaddy said...

sagacios: I'll check out u-tube and then come to see you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi,daddy. Me and my boyfriend were at Electric Fetus in South Minneapolis. I got the Lurrie Bell CD. I remembered it from your blog because Lurrie is such a funny name/and a sista can't forget "Let's talk about love." We listened to it last night after the basketball game. I was dancing in the bathroom. He really started listening after that song about Chicago. He's from Chicago. He said to ask you if Lurrie gto another CD out.

Anonymous said...

Anon: I'll check this dude out. But I like to get a bunch of cds when I go. Any more new dudes you think good?

MacDaddy said...

anon: Glad you and your boyfriend love the cd. By the name of that cut is "Chicago Is Loaded with the Blues." It's a type of song you would expect from a Chicago bluesman.
anon: If I were you, I'd pick up "Blues Guitar Killers." It has a selection from several of the well-known greats (Freddie King, Otis Rush, Jimmie Rogers). But a guy who still doesn't get enough props is Hubert Sumlin. In case you don't know, he was the guitarist for the late great Howlin Wolf. He does a stunning acoustic solo on the Blues Guitar Killers cd. This dude is about 80 years old (I'm guessing) and can still play rings around a lot of guitarists. John Primer is much younger and even less known. He was the rhythm guitarist for Magic Slim (Ever heard of him?), who is also on the cd. His solo is great. Let me know what you think.

EveNotes said...

Hi MacDaddy,
Great piece about Lurrie Bell and the bluses. You share this in a way that gives me a deeper understanding and feeling for the blues. I am anxious to hear Lurrie and hope you will share more about the blues.

MacDaddy said...

Evenotes: Thanks for dropping by. You'll love Lurrie; and I'll be posting more about the blues and R&B.