HOW TO SING THE BLUES
by Lame Mango Washington (attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help
from Uncle Plunky, revisions by Little Blind Patti D. and Dr. Stevie
1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning."
2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, 'less you
stick something nasty in the next line, like "I got a good woman,
with the meanest face in town."
3. 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. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher - and she weigh
4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in
a ditch; ain't no way out.
5. Blues cars: Chevys and 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
an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin'
plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
6. 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.
7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any
place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson is just depression.
Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City still the best places to have the
Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.
8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male
pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cuz you skiing is not the
blues. Breaking your leg cuz an alligator be chomping on it is.
9. 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
10. Good places for the Blues:
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses
11. 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.
12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?
a. you're older than dirt
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived
d. you have a retirement plan or trust fund
13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger
Woods cannot sing the blues. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people
also got a leg up on the blues.
14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it's the Blues.
Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee
The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. mixed drinks
b. kosher wine
d. sparkling water
15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues
death. Stabbed in the back is another Blues way to
die. So is 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 getting liposuction.
16. Some Blues names for women:
b. Big Mama
d. Fat River Dumpling
17. Some Blues names for men:
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie
18. Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, Auburn, and Rainbow can't
sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
19. Make your own Blues name (starter kit):
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi,
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc.
(Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")
20. I don't care how tragic your life: you own a computer, you cannot
sing the blues. You best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of Mad
Dog, or get out a shotgun. Maybe your big woman just done sat on it.
I don't care. I got the blues.