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Let Your Soul Shine

January 26, 2012

The Prompt:

Once again—it’s time for the weekly blog hop!!

Well—mid January—here in the Midwest means lots of cloudy days, lots of snow days, lots of rainy days—and for the most part not a lot of sunshine. I don’t know about you, but I miss the warmer, sunnier weather.  Not a lot of inspiration to draw from that—or is there??

Drum Roll Please:
Blog Hop #32
The Blues

Whether your feeling them or singing them or both—here’s your chance to join our weekly hop and write about them.  Make it fun—if you can!!
As always—you take the topic given above an interpret it anyway you want.

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The Blues.

As music lover, when I hear those two words, my mind automatically goes to the same place I’m sure most every other music lover’s mind goes to and that’s right to music. A person could sit down and write about the blues for a long time if they wanted to. They could write about the history, they could write about the instruments, they could write about the genres, they could write about the musicians, they could write about Martin Scorcese’s documentary, or they could just write about what the blues means to them. The possibilities are endless.

I’m not going to do any of that because it’s too much like work and too much work gives me the blues which is sort of odd because traditionally, not enough work would be something that might give some Delta bluesman the blues. Me, I’d rather just think about, and listen to, the blues than actually have them.

It’s difficult to write on this prompt without thinking about Etta James who died this past week. An influential artist, Ms. James is, and will continue to be, missed by many. I’m not going to write a tribute to her because a friend of mine did that already and she did it better than I could, writing about her impact and her influence to a 15-year-old girl. You can check out what she had to say right here. Go ahead and click, I’ll wait.

You’re back? Okay, so when I read the prompt and starting thinking about music, the first song that came to mind was Statesboro Blues which is a song written back in the mid-20’s by a guy named Blind Willie McTell who, like all good bluesmen, taught himself to play the guitar. Born blind sometime around the turn of the century, McTell is an influential artist and while his Statesboro Blues is one of the more influential blues songs around, it’s not his original version of the song my mind went to first.

Would you like me to explain? I’d be happy to!

A favorite blues genre for me is blues rock and one of my favorite blues rock bands (technically a southern blues rock band if you’re keeping score) is The Allman Brothers Band and it’s the Allman Brothers Band’s cover of Statesboro Blues that ranks number one on my list, just inching out David Bromberg’s truer to the original version, and that’s the version that came to mind first.

I thought of posting a video of the Allman Brothers Band playing Statesboro Blues live here, but I decided to go with a song by Gov’t Mule instead because that twisty road that took me from the blues to Statesboro Blues to the Allman Brothers Band to Blind Wille McTell also took me to Gov’t Mule.

Huh? I bet you’re right this very second thinking, “Wait a second, pal, Gov’t Mule isn’t a blues band!”, am I right? Or maybe you’re thinking, “What the hell is a government mule?” Either way, well, not really either way; more for the first way than the second way, you’re right, but if you can follow my twisty thinking for a few more seconds it’ll make sense.

This guy named Warren Haynes plays guitar for the Allman Brothers Band, and when the Allmans weren’t touring or in the studio, Haynes had free time so he started another band, Gov’t Mule, with the bass guitar player from the Allman Brothers Band, a guy named Allen Woody, as a side project. You’re still with me? So Haynes wrote this song called Soulshine and I like that song a lot and while Soulshine isn’t technically a blues song, it’s a really good song and it does have a blues guitar introduction. Make sense? I hope so because I don’t think I can explain it any better.

So about that bluesy guitar introduction on Soulshine that I really like so much? On this live version of the song, it’s not really so much of an introduction because the guitar doesn’t actually come in until about 1:17 of the song because a guy named Chuck Leavell, a piano player who used to play for the Allman Brothers Band a long time ago, offers up a really delicious piano introduction.

Phew, that’s done.

I hope some of it made sense.

It’s better than sunshine,
it’s better than moonshine,
damn sure better than rain.
Now people don’t mind,
we all feel this way sometime,
got to let your soul shine, shine ‘till the break of day.
(Lyrics copied without permission)

Do you like the blues, or one of the different blues genres? If you do, leave me a comment and let me know who some of your favorites are.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2012 12:30 pm

    What a cool way to take this week’s topic. I had to read part of that twice to keep up–but you were just keeping me on my toes!!

    Oh and Great video!! I like it. I love The Blues. Etta James’ Sunday Kind of Love is one of my very favorite songs.
    I also like BB King– I remember listening to him on vinyl growing up (is there any other way to listen to The Blues unless it is Live?)
    I guess maybe two artists that strike my fancy but not technically sure they are “Blues” singers–maybe a cross over from Blues to Rock is Stevie Ray Vaughn and Bonnie Raitt.

    Thanks for joining the hop Mike!! I enjoyed this!!


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      January 26, 2012 7:14 pm

      It kept me on my toes too, Jenn, and even after proofreading it a couple of times I still wasn’t really sure if I was making sense! Thanks for the good prompt!


  2. January 27, 2012 9:48 am

    Growing up in Chicago I have a weird relationship with the blues. I gunshy of what can best be described as “tourist blues,”, the type of blues that appears in downtown bars people from out of town frequent when they want a Chicago blues experience. But then those blues are well intentioned. I like the slow, depressing blues more than the party blues. Not sure why. But it’s all good. J.L. Hooker at Bluefest a couple decades was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. And he almost didn’t even seem like he was trying. Just amazing.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      January 28, 2012 4:11 pm

      I agree, it’s all good. I this probably applies to all musicians, not just bluesmen, but the good ones, the ones with music running through their veins, never seem like they’re trying.


  3. Carole Cameron-Johnesse permalink
    January 28, 2012 7:55 pm

    Oh Michael–now we have something else truly in common–R&B–old-school soul and the blues are music passions of mine! I saw Etta James every time she played in Seattle–same with another great-my man James Brown!! If you have never seen him in person–he put on a show unlike anything else–it was absolutely incredible!! I’m ready to talk music anytime if you are interested in chatting–I had the most outrageous vinyl collection until it was all lost in storage units I could no longer pay for. I have managed to find a lot of “my” music on Youtube and have created a playlist. Let me know if you would like to check it out. Here in Seattle we used to have a soul station-from the mid-sixties until about 1980–nothing to rival it since–but my playlist reflects a lot of music that was unique to that station–hard to find stuff. Am really enjoying your blog and I did check out the article about Etta James on the other blogsite–thank you for sharing!!


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