Blues rules


I love the blues.

Classic blues music follows a strict pattern of three measures, four beats to the measure, with a prescribed chord progression (1-4-1-1, 4-4-1-1, 5-4-1-1).

It’s easy to learn, and you can mess around with it in the melody line so long as you follow the harmony rules.

That’s a simple explanation of the music.

Blues lyrics also follow fundamental rules, according to reputed blues singer LaVale LaMont.

I don’t usually reprint someone else’s material in this column, but LaMont’s rules need to be promulgated.

Some of them are as follows:

• Most Blues begin with “Woke up this morning . . .”

• “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick with something nasty in the next line, like, “I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town.”

• The Blues is simple.

After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes — sort of, “Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound.”

• The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch . . . ain’t no way out.

• Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks.

Blues don’t travel in Volvos, BMWs or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain’t even in the running. Walkin’ plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.

• Teenagers can’t sing the Blues. They ain’t fixin’ to die yet.

Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, “adulthood” means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

• A man with male pattern baldness ain’t the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is.

Breaking your leg ‘cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg ‘cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

• You can’t have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

• Good places for the Blues: highway, jailhouse, empty bed.

• Bad places for the Blues: Nordstrom’s, gallery openings, Ivy League institutions, golf courses.

• No one will believe it’s the Blues if you wear a suit, ‘less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

• Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if you’re older than dirt, you’re blind, you shot a man in Memphis or you can’t be satisfied.

No, if you have all your teeth, you were once blind but now can see, the man in Memphis lived or you have a 401k or trust fund.

• Acceptable Blues beverages are cheap wine, whiskey or bourbon, muddy water or black coffee. The following are NOT Blues beverages: Perrier, Chardonnay, Snapple, Slim Fast.

• If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s a Blues death.

Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot.

You can’t have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

• Some Blues names for women: Sadie, Big Mama, Bessie or Fat River Dumpling. Some Blues names for men: Joe, Willie, Little Willie, Big Willie.

• Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie and Heather can’t sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

• I don’t care how tragic your life is: If you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period.

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