HOW TO SING THE BLUES
(attrib. to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky)
1. Most blues begin “woke up this morning.”
2. “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you
stick something nasty in the next line. Such as, “I got a good
woman ——- with the meanest dog in town.
3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it.
Then find something that rhymes. Sort of:
I got a good woman
with the meanest dog in town.
He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher
and he weighs ’bout 500 pounds.
4. The blues are not about limitless choice.
5. Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues
transportation is Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Walkin’ plays
a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.
6. Teenagers can’t sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues
adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a
man in Memphis.
7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or
Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression.
Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have
8. The following colors do not belong in the blues:
9. You can’t have the blues in an office or a shopping mall, the
lighting is wrong.
10. Good places for the Blues:
a. the highway
b. the jailhouse
c. the empty bed
11. Bad places for the Blues:
b. Gallery openings
c. a weekend in the Hamptons
12. No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless
you happen to be an old black man.
13. Do you have the right to sing the blues?
a. your first name is a southern state–like Georgia.
b. you’re blind.
c. you shot a man in Memphis.
d. you can’t be satisfied.
a. you were once blind but now can see.
b. you’re deaf.
c. you have a trust fund.
14. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbara Streisand have the right to
sing the blues.
15. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues.
Other blues beverages are:
b. Irish whiskey
c. muddy water
Blues beverages are NOT:
a. Any mixed drink
b. Any wine kosher for Passover
c. Yoo Hoo (all flavors)
16. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s blues
death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is
the electric chair, substance abuse, or being denied treatment in an
emergency room. It is not a blues death, if you die during a
17. Acceptable Blues names:
b. Big Mama
c. Big Willie
d. Little Willie
17A. Persons with names like Sierra or Sequoia will not be permitted
to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
17B. Other acceptable Blues Names (Starter Kit)
a. Name of Physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic)
b. First name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
c. Last Name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.