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Guide to singing the real blues

Rules and tricks for composing and performing authentic blues music.

microphone for blues singing

If you don’t get some of these, it’s probably because you’re not a “real” blues listener!

  • Most blues 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. 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:
    Got a good woman with the meanest dog in town.
    He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and he weighs about 500 pounds.
  • The blues are not about limitless choice.
  • 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 and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.
  • The following colors do not belong in the blues:
    • violet
    • beige
    • mauve
  • 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
    • the empty bed
  • Bad places for the Blues:
    • Ashrams
    • Gallery openings
    • Weekend in the Hamptons
  • No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man.
  • You have the right to sing the blues if:
    • your first name is a southern state — like Georgia
    • you’re blind
    • you shot a man in Memphis
    • you can’t be satisfied.
  • You do not have the right to sing the blues if:
    • you were once blind but now can see
    • you’re deaf
    • you have a trust fund
  • If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it’s the blues. Other blues beverages are:
    • wine
    • Irish whiskey
    • muddy water
  • Blues beverages are NOT
    • Any mixed drink
    • Any wine kosher for Passover
    • Yoo Hoo (all flavors)
  • Some Blues names for Women
    • Sadie
    • Big Mama
    • Bessie
  • Some Blues Names for Men
    • Joe
    • Willie
    • Willie Joe
  • White persons with names like Sierra or Sequoia will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
  • Other Blues Names (Starter Kit):
    • Name of Physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic)
    • First name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
    • Last Name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)