I really like the blues. I am watching an excellent series on PBS about the blues. A different director does each of the seven installments.
Being in Texas and listening to blues is so different for me than at any other time in my life. I often wonder what makes me think and act the way that I do. Watching this series on the blues and then thinking about how black culture helped shape the history of America through this music is revealing a lot of emotions within me that I had forgotten.
One of the things that I have always wondered is why I always want to figure out stuff on my own. Why do I have such a curious nature to try to do things that I cannot do. Most of the blues musicians that started the blues revolution taught themselves how to play the guitar. They were driven to express themselves and a guitar was how they did it. A guitar was the instrument of choice for slaves because it was similar to an African instrument and also because drums were outlawed on plantations and a slave could be killed for having one. Is this why a struggle to try to learn this entire computer crap? Is this why I always have a desire to express my emotions through graphic art or writing?
So as I am listening to the history of the blues music and thinking about the lyrics that are being sung I realize that there is a part of me that is reliving some of the hurt and loneness that the musicians are feeling. I have never had this level of emotional connection with blues music before. I suppose that it is because in the past I have been happier and things were going OK with my job and family. Being un-employed for 16 months and living apart from everything that I am accustom to have given me a new perspective to the blues.
One of the segments showed an interview of a woman blues guitarist. She talked of how in the 1930s as a young woman she went door to door in Mississippi looking for work. She told how she would tell folks that she could wash clothes, cook, set the table, and take care of a garden. One woman finally hired her and paid her seventy-five cents a month. After four months she got a raise of twenty-five cents because her boss lady was convenience that she could do what she said. I am still sending out resumes and making phone calls looking for work seventy years later and I am telling potential boss men what I can do.
I am starting to feel what migrant farm workers must feel when being separated form their families for an extended length of time. Being away from home and family on a business trip is a lot different then it is when you are looking for work.
â€œWhat is the soul of a man?â€ is a blues song written by Blind Willie Johnson that I have enjoyed listening to in the past, but when I listened to the words of the song this evening they were especially haunting.
Won’t somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won’t somebody tell me
Just what is the soul of a man?
I’ve traveled different countries
I traveled to the furthest lands
I found nobody could tell me
Just what about the soul of a man?
I read the Bible often
I try to read it right
And far as I can understand
Nothing but a burning light.