The Economy and the Blues

Texas singer-songwriter Townes van Zandt once told Emmy Lou Harris that there were only two kinds of music: the blues and zippity do da. To my knowledge he never posited a causal relationship running from too much of the latter to the former. But, as Billy Joe Shaver puts it so well, we're leaning toward the blues these days. Popular culture seems to buy the causal relationship since they apparently believe high pay and high living among some groups are responsible for it all and are determined to bring down the Temple. I'm not so sure.

I've always preferred to wallow in country music when I was blue…

…beginning in the 1950s when unrequited puppy love was responsible for my almost wearing out Hank Williams' record, Lovesick Blues, on the juke box at my Dad's Truck Stop. It's never been improved upon for a good pity party. Fortunately, living in Texas, I don't have to choose between the Blues and Country, because they amount to about the same thing in Texas. Texas Country is more bluesy and has less twang than, say, Nashville Country. If you want just a hint of country in your blues, try Delbert McClinton.

You can get solace from country, but not much useful advice. As Kenny Rogers taught us, you've got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Well, okay, so when do you hold ‘em and when do you fold ‘em? One thing I know is that I held them too long during the great 401K meltdown. I held on all the way down, like Slim Pickens riding the bomb down in Dr. Strangelove. Billy Joe said let me down easy Lord, and leave a mark in the dust where I lay.

Fortunately, living in Frisco, Texas, I can some day write some blues without having to change my address. The Frisco Blues sounds pretty good, almost as good as the Fort Worth Blues. You just couldn't write the Plano Blues or even the Dallas Blues.  I don't know why; you just can't.

I'm tired and weary, and have some country blues tonight myself. So, instead of my doing all the work for you, if interested, you can go to YouTube and relive Hank Williams, especially "Lovesick Blues." And, if you're not from Texas, you might check out Delbert McClinton ("When Rita Leaves, Rita's Gone"), Billy Joe Shaver (I've Been to Georgia on a Fast Train and many others), and The Flatlanders: Butch Hancock, Billy Dale Gilmore, and Joe Ely. Try to find one or more of them doing "Dallas From a DC-9 at Night." It's not blues, of course, but it's a good song.

Enjoy your week-end. The stock market is closed.

Comments (2)

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  1. john r says:

    So what’s the economy singing?
    Clearly, Mr. Bernanke favors the Rolling Stone’s “Start Me Up”,
    while Ms. Pelosi’s Congress is singing Springsteen’s “Born In the USA”.
    Is Mr. Geitner setting us up for “Heartbreak Hotel”?

  2. Oktay says:

    The answer to this qusteion is neither yes or no, because Rock is really a merge of many types of music. It contains country, rock, blues, jazz, classical and motown. Yes, they do use blues scales, although blues scales is a rather vague term. The supposed blues scale is a hexatonic scale in other words, contains six pitches/notes containing these notes: C Eb F F# G Bb C. So it is possible to use the blues scale, because afterall, any scale is just a gathering of notes which sound good togeher. So, is it evolved from blues? yes, but not just blues. And odes it use blues scales? Sort off. Thats if you believe that the scale exists, which most would say it doesnt, afterall, blues is a thought and soul process, not a technical one.