Saturday, June 2, 2012

For Real Toads: listening to the blues

Kerry's challenge this weekend for the writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads is one of my all-time (since I was very small) favorite kinds of music, the Blues. I was raised on blues, jazz, and swing music until I was old enough to want to listen to pop and rock as well, but as a family we enjoyed listening to Dad's old recordings of the great musicians.
I don't know whose recording of Basin Street Blues we played on our wind-up record player (yes, really) when I was little, but I remember listening to it with my dad, who loved to teach us everything he knew.

While looking on YouTube today, I found this video of Ella Fitzgerald singing Basin Street Blues, and on it she does a fabulous imitation of Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong. It's sure worth a listen.

In this blues recording by Louis Armstrong, the music itself is as sad as the words. Sadder, really, because Louis actually chuckles while singing the song. It's called St. James Infirmary.
One of the highlights of my life was seeing Louis perform in concert. I'll never forget him.

When I was older, probably a teen, I heard the country/blues song I Can't Stop Loving You and decided the lyric contained one of the stupidest decisions I'd ever heard uttered by an adult.
This became something of a hobbyhorse of mine and, if I heard the song played, I would point out the absurdity of the decision to whoever would listen. Therefore, it is included in my poem of the day, which, by the way, pays attention to the rhyme scheme of a blues sonnet, but wanders around rather badly as to meter.

they say the southland gave blues its birth
but even up north here,  for what it is worth
we know the blues mean a sad lack of mirth:
you’ve got me crying over you
and I have nothing else to do
but think of you and just be blue.
such blues, however, can find us in a bind
“I can’t stop loving you, I’ve made up my mind
 to live in memories of old lonesome times.
 I can’t stop loving you, it’s useless to say
 so I’ll just live my life in dreams of yesterday.”
as a pattern for living, this isn't the way—
singing the blues can be tonic for pain
but living the blues won’t allow us to gain.

This recording is by the great Ray Charles, and I'm sure he definitely didn't take such lyrics to heart, because he had such a positive attitude.


Mary said...

Good message here. Singing the blues can be good tonic; but living the blues does not move a person forward. I enjoyed your bluesy writing AND perspective.

Dianne said...

Oh! I love Blues music it takes us to another place ... I guess I never listen closely to the lyrics of Blues .. just like the dreamy quality of the way the notes slide together.
Hoping you are having a lovely weekend Kay.

Mama Zen said...

I'd never really thought about it, but that is kind of a stupid song line!

Loved your poem!

Kerry O'Connor said...

I'm so impressed with the way you worked your quoted lines into your overall rhyme scheme. My heart goes out to people who are only able to love once in their lifetimes, and live a long time with that kind of heartache.

Susie Clevenger said...

Loved all the personal input and music..."singing the blues can be tonic for pain
but living the blues won’t allow us to gain" love this!!

Rinkly Rimes said... captured the spirit.

diane b said...

I always felt blues music was a bit sad but I do like other jazz music.

Debbie Jeffrey Taillieu said...

I guess that why they call it "Blues" haha! Pity to be so sad.

Debbie & Stijn

Fireblossom said...

I'm grooving on Louis as I read and comment here this morning. SJIB is one of my favorite songs ever, and i used it for one my coal black posts, here:

If you go to the very last comment, below the video response is a link to a site that is nothing but versions of SJIB.

I have to disagree with you about "I Can't Stop Loving You", though, even though there are songs like that for me, too, that I just want to talk back to every time I hear them. But ICSLU is a favorite of mine. I've always loved both Don Gibson's and Ray Charles's versions. I guess I don't see it as something the singer *will* do, but simply what he *feels* like doing, in the midst of a badly broken heart. Don't we always say "never again" when the hurt is fresh and raw?

s always, thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your blog this morning, Kay, Pets to Miss Lindy!

Fran said...

A very interesting post, I too love 'singing the blues' (mind you no one else likes me singing the blues with my dreadful voice!!)

Linnea said...

Have a GOOD Sunday! Ola sends his best regards too:)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh, but the music of our time knew ALL about the blues, didnt it? Such sad songs back then, as we swooned in exquisite agony. Good one, kiddo! Took me back to Lawrence Avenue, when I used to croon to Connie Francis records and dream of the Great Love that was awaiting me. Hee hee.

Marian said...

it's the pining that will get you. gotta knock that off.

Hannah said...

"singing the blues can be tonic for pain
but living the blues won’t allow us to gain."

Such truth in these!

I love all that you've put together for us! Excellent blues offering!