What is the Blues? How does one define the “Blues Genre”? And why does one (or even two) have to define things all the time? What’s this with all these definitions? And what’s this with all these “genres”?
For instance, San Francisco Bay Blues has too many chords to be called a blues, and, in my humble opinion, San Francisco Bay Blues is not really a blues. It’s more of a ragtime song. But since it’s already called San Francisco Bay Blues, who am I to argue? The song was written by Jesse Fuller in 1954, and performed and recorded by many artists, including Eric Clapton and Sir Paul McCartney. I learned it years ago from a Rambling Jack Elliot record, and I think Rambling Jack does it best. I just love Ramblin Jack. Anyhow, me and Maybank tried it for the first time the other night. It’s just a great song.
Salty Dog Blues is another “blues song” that is not, strickly speaking, a blues, i.e. three chords. Then again, why must we be so strict? Bottom line is they call it Salty Dog Blues. It’s definitely a bluegrass standard with its four chords, which, as I keep saying, strictly speaking, is not a blues. The fourth chord, that secondary dominant, is an intrusion, an influence, from the neighboring world of jazz music. These cultural intrusions, these influences, are what makes folk music, and I suppose all music, so interesting. Salty Dog Blues has a rowdy lyric, an assortment of salty verses,. And it’s fun (easy) to play because all you ever need to do is to just keep playing those same four chords. In the key of C you go to the A, then to the D, then to the G. And the G leads you back into the C. And then the C just jumps, or descends down into the A again. And off we go.
And for a final “blues” song, here’s Worried Man’s Blues, a traditional country/bluegrass song, which is pretty close to your standard three chord blues. In fact Worried Man’s Blues is definitely a blues. No doubt about it. And a very apt choice because we here at Bumbastories are remain worried about this pandemic, which is far from over. Once again, the Presidente is doing great damage, this time more than ever. The health care system/the American people are strong, and we will build a better world when we get over this pandemic. Keep playin’ that Country Music!