Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Woman Looks Like Barbara Bush and I Gots the Blues

My friend Betsy Gehman, who used to sign jazz, but probably not blues (mostly with big bands), sent the following examination of what the blues is and what it is not. She says, "It was sent from Hollywood [to her]. This is the kind of thing those comedy writers do when they're between jobs. I suspect it was Larry Gelbart's work." Gelbart, of course, was responsible for TV's "M*A*S*H."

Here's the whole e-mail from her; a little long, a lot funny:

Contrary to what you may have been told, you may not have a right to sing the Blues. If you are new to Blues music, or like it a lot and you are eager to sing it -- it is important that you really understand the fundamental rules:

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning...."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless 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./Yes, I got a good woman/with the meanest face in town./Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher/and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice...” You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch...ain't no way out.”

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, 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 and 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 anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the Blues in any place that “don't get no rain.”

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg 'cause “a 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 dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues: a. highway b. jailhouse c. empty bed d. bottom of a whiskey glass.

11. Bad places for the Blues: a. Nordstrom's b. gallery openings c. Ivy League institutions d. golf courses.

12. 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.

13. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? YES, if: a. you're older than dirt b. you're blind c. you shot a man in Memphis d. you can't be satisfied. NO, if: 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 401K or trust fund.

14. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods could not sing the Blues until recently. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.

15. If you ask for water and your darlin' gives you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are: a. cheap wine b. whiskey or bourbon c. muddy water d. black coffee The following are NOT Blues beverages: a. Perrier b. Chardonnay c. Snapple d. Slim Fast e. Starbucks.

16. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are 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 while getting liposuction.

17. Some Blues names for women: a. Sadie b. Big Mama c. Bessie d. Fat River Dumpling 18. Some Blues names for men: a. Joe b. Willie c. Little Willie d. Big Willie

19. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20. Blues Name Starter Kit: a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Mute, Lame, etc.) b. First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc.) c. Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, Clinton, etc.) For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Pegleg Lemon Johnson or Lame Kiwi Clinton, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

21. I don't care how tragic your life is: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period. Sorry.

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