It has been said – correctly – that the Blues is the mother of modern popular American music. Technically and historically speaking, there is a clear musical lineage from the Blues to Bluegrass, Jazz, Country, Rock, Gosple, R&B, Soul and Rap. Thematically, the Blues is, of course, about the injustices of life, or the need to express a strongly held emotion. All cultures have their versions of the Blues, from Fado, to Flamenco, to Opera, to the arabic music of Umm Kulthum, to Irish folk music, and so forth.
We live in darkly interesting times. Human beings, or some of us, can be absolute trash. Times like this I find refuge in music to remind myself of all that is great in humanity, that we are capable of creativity. When you need to go back to the source, you need to go back to the Blues. Blues moves you, you can not remain indifferent. Truly great Blues is like a defibrillator for your soul.
Some of the songs listed below are not technically the Blues, but they are thematically the Blues. Moreover, they are pure expressions of artistry and the human genius for expression.
Let’s start with Blues, proper. If your jaw doesn’t drop with what DL Burnside is doing here with a cheap guitar, amp and sitting on a plastic bucket, I can’t help you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_DOnKJ232M
The first time I heard this clip I was dumbfounded. Kingfish is a seriously talented young man, but dig the keyboard and bassist as well. The arrangement is of the highest level. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-nTAgOMK7w
Bluegrass. Yes, bluegrass or maybe “newgrass”. If you haven’t heard of Billy Strings, now you have. This young man is, like Kingfish, insanely talented. Check all of his stuff out, you won’t be disappointed. This video, taken a some basement house party early in his career, is a cult favorite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFEZOjtrwls
Billy Strings and Marcus King. “Summertime” is a bonafide American classic. You have to have balls to cover it. They take it to the next level. Bluegrass, Jazz and Blues. Sublime. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RNNQYpnukA
Is it Country or is it Blues? Country-blues? Who cares, in the end? Chris Stapleton is so damn good you might just end up listening to Country music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBLruNfUqUs
So you really don’t like Country? Take a listen to Travis Meadows. Don’t shoot the medium. Country has something to say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNwdZif1q9A
Adele – “Easy on Me”. Surprised? Why? Adele kicks ass. This song kicks ass. She is an artists’ artist. Let her transport you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffcitRgiNDs
Yeah, yeah, they say Kayne is a genius. Thing is, he really is. He is troubled. And, yes, he can be obnoxious. But damn, when he’s on, he’s on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDAzaCOTInU
Love this clip, love it. I’m old enough to remember when there was a rock, jazz and Latin infused school of soul music. Santana didn’t come out of nowhere. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face and get you moving, check your pulse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIK6oiQvIjM