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?"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The daddy's Got the Blues and He Can't Help Hisself

"I’m just getting started and I hope I can continue to make music that will connect with people. These days people need the blues more than ever…takes your mind off other things."
--Lurrie Bell

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 in 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
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, in the middle of some dark woods, somewhere outside New Jersey. This time it's Lurrie Bell singing a slow blues with a heavy back beat 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 him around?
What can a poor man do

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 possibly provide me some assistance?" Please. He goes to
a drug dealer, gets a vile of crack and
retires to the nearest dark alley to seek
a little release, a little peace, with the only God he knows.

So what did the daddy do to get his fix ? He went to a record shop, copped "Let's Talk About Love" by legendary blues guitar genius Lurrie Bell, sat in his SUV, his personal alley, and got 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 tunes that provide little time to breathe and take it all in. Lurrie takes his time and settles into a groove and plays on the beat just the way his father, Carey Bell, a great harmonica player, used to do it back in the day 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 and dancing in the bathroom with several tunes spread appropriately throughout the CD. What it says is that, whether a shuffle or down-and-out-somebody-spare-a-dime wail, 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, besides battling alcohol, Lurrie has 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 "amen" and "I hear you" response on that red Gibson is one of the reasons the daddy sometimes turns away from other music and plays nothi
ng but the blues for months.

Poet Sterling Plumpp 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?


Anonymous said...

Yessir, and I hope they go away once I get this new job I'm interviewing for.

Anonymous said...

daddy, it may be a good CD, but the words about pouring gasoline on himself and lighting a match was too much for me. I'm just sayin...

MacDaddy said...

anon: Thanks for the comment. Yes, it's a terrible thought. But you know, if we be honest and say how we FEEL sometimes, we'll surprise at what we say...One of the reasons I love the blues so much-- and the reason it ties into what Langston Hughes calls social poetry--is that it expresses honestly and oftentimes simply about how a person feels. To me, that's priceless. Blessings.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

You keep talking about this guy and I keep forgettin to check him out. . . but I love deliberate, slow, oh my god my baby left me and the water keeps on a risin blues so that might prompt me.
Oh wait, I love fast, slide guitar, drum pounding, hittin the highway, in your face blues too. . .

I was going to post some blues from Youtube recently, but it didn't seem to work for some reason.

MacDaddy said...

sagacious: I tried to put up a Lurrie Bell song but couldn't. I don't want to use videos too much. They can detract from content, I think. But sometimes it's really appropriate, especially when you're introducing the reader to a new artist. I have a computer geek friend who owes me; and he's coming over to help. So maybe I'll be putting videos up by this coming Wednesday.

rainywalker said...

Yes and still do. But music has saved me more than once. Don't ever let it stop.

MacDaddy said...

rainywalker: Good point. It's saved a lot of us.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Hey Mac, I'm not into music nearly as much as you are, but I love what you do here. I just voted for you under the Best Music Blog category at Ask your readers to vote for you if you're interested, and good luck!

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

sound like u still jamming
the blues does make one smile

patti t said...

Thanks for the ongoing music education -- I find myself more "in tune" with Blues, Jazz, Soul, and early Rock & Roll music and artists, because of your passion and commitment to sharing valuable history and present day information with the rest of us.

I liked Kit's comment about nominating you for Best Music Blog, but after looking at all the categories, I had to land on Best Writing in a Blog, because you have a broad base of topics/series you focus on and overall, everything is exceptionally written and presented. Hope others will nominate macdaddy's blog too! said...

Hey there!

This is sooo good....

@ Keep It Trill
I am voting for this blog too1

I put your blog down as well.


P.S. Daddy, you are needed at my house because the conversation on "The Transgender Sista Amomg Us" has started up again and we need a black man's view!!! Stop by!

MacDaddy said...

kit: I don't know anything about this award. But I really appreciate you making me aware of it and suggesting that others vote for me, if they feel I'm worthy. I will check out this award. Thanks again.
patti: Thanks for the kind words, your vote, and support.
Lisa: Thanks for voting for me. I'm coming to see you at
sagacious: I know you're a deep blues lover. In the last post about about Maxwell Street, I put up a link to YouTube for Hound Dog Taylor,who was a deceptively fantastic slide guitarist. I put up an uptempo tune and crying-in-my-beer-pitcher slow blues for you. The Dog's passionate for the blues is addictive.
torrence: Thanks for support. Love your blog too.