Meaning of the Blues.....Battle of the Sexes??
Judging by the enormous number of lyrics in Blues that relate to the....shall we say... “issues” in relationships, maybe we should award this music the grand WAR OF THE SEXES first prize, whatever that prize might be. Think opera or country can compete? (“All I want to be is...DONE” currently rocking the country charts)--No chance!!`As they would say in High School, compare and contrast that little ditty with “I'm gonna call up Big Boy Hogan, to come down and dig your grave....and I'll be right there laughin', when he throws that dirt in your face” (V-8 Ford).....Think your current crop of rappers have street cred? Pat Hare, author of “Murderin' Blues”, acted his tune out, landing in the penitentiary (unsure if it actually WAS better “Than bein' worried out of my mind”)....and what about Howlin' Wolf's girl, who “Puts iodine in my coffee, rat poison in my bread, when I get a little sleepy, she puts lye all in my bed”??
And it's not just the men talking tough and complaining about the fairer sex (“She's a mean mistreater, and she DON'T mean...me no good”-Muddy Waters). From the sass of Carla Thomas (“Otis, you ain't nothin but a no-good tramp....straight from the Georgia woods”) to Little Esther Phillips (“I'll put this stick down, all right....right on your head!!”---same riff as Tramp, btw—always signals trouble...that's why I used it in “If You Won't Do What I Want”,where I tell Emmalyn Hicks that she doesn't need a bra since she has nothing to put in there, and she responds “Then why do you wear pants?”) Ouch!... the girls make the blues an equal-opportunity war. What about the legendary Memphis Minnie, who favored the National Steel Standard guitar (sometime you'll see Bonnie Raitt with one), because, if a man gave her too much unwanted attention, “You could hit him over the head hard enough to kill him....and it wouldn't even go out of tune” Double Ouch!!
Whether the cause is infidelity (“ I saw your other man wearin' my brand new suit”---Bobby Bland), drinking (“he's a real mother-for-ya....got drunk and tore up the neighborhood”---Memphis Minnie), or just general (“Albert, you ain't nothin but an overgrown fool”----Albert Collins, who reminds her that “a good fool is hard to find!”), you never need to mince words in the blues....which is why we love it!! You can make Donald Sterling seem like Ghandi and it's all fair game...just as exaggerating your troubles (“If trouble was money, I'd be a millionaire”---Albert Collins among many...”If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all”--Albert King) is all part of the fun, exaggerting how horrible your girlfriend is (“When we got down to Joe's place, the whole band knew her name”-Jimmy Rogers)....or how badass you are (“We gonna raise your eyelashes and whup you some, and if you run fast enough, we gonna whup you on the bottom of the feet!”-Albert King ) is just part of the one-ups-manship.
Unless you're Bobby Blue Bland, who, even while “telling the bitch off” and riling up the menfolk, would get nothing but sympathy from the women, who'd actually be incensed at the girl who had hurt “poor, poor Bobby”....how could she do that to him? Some day, I'm gonna get that skill...and hear “poor, poor Wildcat”