Use this guide to write an authentic blues song (or to tell if the Bessie Smith Strut entertainers are authentic blues artists):
- Most blues songs begin “Woke up this morning.”
- “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line.
Example: I got a good woman / with the meanest dog in town.
- Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of.
Example: I got a good woman / with the meanest dog in town. / He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher / and he weighs 500 pounds.
- The blues are not about limitless choice, investments, golden parachutes, BMWs, opera or environmental impact statements.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, Austin and Kansas City still are the best places to have the blues.
- The following colors do not belong in the blues: violet, beige, mauve, taupe.
- You can’t have the blues in an office or a shopping mall — the lighting is wrong.
- Good places for the blues: the highway, the jailhouse, an empty bed.
- Bad places: yoga ashrams, gallery openings, weekends in the Hamptons, Trump Plaza.
- No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man.
- You can sing the blues if: your first name is a Southern state, like Georgia; you’re blind; you shot a man in Memphis (see exception below); your woman can’t be satisfied.
- You cannot sing the blues if: you were once blind but now can see; you have a trust fund; you hold elected office; your woman CAN be satisfied.
- Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbara Streisand can sing the blues.
- If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues. Other blues beverages are: cheap wine, Irish whiskey, muddy water.
- Blues beverages are not: any mixed drink; any wine kosher for Passover; Yoo Hoo (all flavors).
- If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s a blues death.
- Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. Other blues ways to die include: the electric chair, substance abuse, being denied treatment in an emergency room.
- It is not a blues death if you die during a liposuction treatment.
- Some blues names for women: Sadie, Big Mama, Bessie.
- Some blues names for men: Joe, Willie, Little Willie, Lightning.
- People with names like Sierra or Sequoia will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
Q: How many sound technicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, two, three. One, two, three.
Q: What does it say on a blues singer’s tombstone?
A: “I didn’t wake up this morning ...”
Q: How many female country vocalists does it take to sing “Crazy”?
A: Apparently, all of them.
Sit this one out
A community orchestra was plagued by attendance problems. Several musicians were absent at each rehearsal. As a matter of fact, every player in the orchestra had missed several rehearsals, except for one very faithful oboe player.
Finally, as the dress rehearsal drew to a close, the conductor took a moment to thank the oboist for her faithful attendance.
She humbly responded, “It’s the least I could do, since I won’t be at the performance.”
Gen. Custer and his aide were in the fort. The aide said, “General, I don’t like the sound of those drums.”
From over in the hills yells a voice, “It’s not our regular drummer.”
An anthropologist decided to investigate the natives of a far-flung tropical island. He flew there, found a guide with a canoe to take him up the river to the remote site where he would make his collections. About noon on the second day of travel up the river, they began to hear drums. Being a city boy by nature, the anthropologist was disturbed by this. He asked the guide, “What are those drums?”
The guide turned to him and said “Drums OK, but VERY BAD when they stop.”
Then, after some hours, the drums suddenly stopped. This hit the anthropologist like a ton of bricks. Anxiously, he yelled at the guide, “The drums have stopped. What happens now?”
The guide crouched down, covered his head with his hands and said, “Bass solo.”
Laugh Lines is compiled from various sources, including reader submissions and websites. Origins are included when known.
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