The Freeware Hall Of Fame

21 Clues to the Blues
By Rey Barry

It's time for someone to set down a few basics about the blues, so here they are.

This was published in the Charlottesville, VA, C-Ville weekly newspaper of Oct 14-20, 1997, in response to their unqualified critic calling an album "authentic blues" when it was anything but.

1. Most blues songs begin "woke up this mornin'" - either on the wrong side of bed, or the wrong bed.

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues unless you stick something nasty in the next line

I got a good woman
With the meanest dog in town

3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes with it. Sort of.

I got a good woman
With the meanest dog in town
He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher
And weighs 500 pounds

4. Real blues do not come from limitless choice.

5. Blues cars are Chevys, Fords, and Cadillacs - the only makes the downtrodden are aware of. Other common blues transport is Greyhound or train, so long as it's southbound. Walkin' plays a major part in blues lifestyle.

6. Teenagers can't sing blues. Adults sing blues. Adult means old enough to get the electric chair. Blues arise from believing it's probably inevitable.

7. You can't know the blues in Iowa or Vermont or on the family jet. The blues is more than feeling down. Born into the black slums of any large American city gives you the blues unless you're high.

8. The following colors do not belong in the blues:


9. You can't have the blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong.

10. Good places for the blues:

the highway
the jail house
the empty bed

Bad places:

gallery openings
weekends in the Hamptons

11. Only an elderly black man can sing the blues while wearing a suit, but it must be his only suit.

12. Do you have the right to sing the blues? Yes if:

your real first name is a southern state, like Georgia
you killed someone and got caught
you can't be satisfied
you're blind

No if:

you were once blind but now can see
you have a trust fund
you have gout

13. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbra Streisand can sing the blues

14. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it's the blues. Other blues beverages are:

cheap red wine
Irish whiskey
muddy water

Blues beverages are not

a pink lady
a wine kosher for Passover
Yoo Hoo
imported beer

15. Death in a cheap motel or a shack is a blues death. Stabbed by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse (with the exception below,) or being denied treatment in an emergency room.

It is not a blues death if you die during liposuction or from substance abuse on a Caribbean cruise.

16. Some blues names for women:

Big Mama

For men:

Little Willie

17. Real blues singers are called

Joe, not Joseph
Big Bill, not William the Great
Buffy, not Muffy
Moses, not Todd
Lady Day, not Lady Di
Boy, not The Boss

18. Cops, members of the Junior League, tenured professors, people holding elective office, or anyone used to being addressed as Sir or Ma'am can come no closer to the blues than "blues-like."

19. Starter Kit For a Blues Name:

Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Cockeye)
Followed by name of a fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
Followed by last name of a president (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore)

Mix and match but use finesse. Blind Lemon Jefferson became an icon of the blues world, but success wouldn't have come to Consumptive Mango Nixon.

20. Acceptable themes for blues:

loss of loved one
loss of loved one

Unacceptable themes for blues:

death of a pet, unless named "Old Blue"
loss of a tennis match
flunked exam
passed over for promotion
broken leaf blower

21. Why? To avoid the blues turning into this:

Woke up this morning
And my leaf blower broke,
Woke up this mornin'
It went up in smoke.

I called my baby
On her beeper line.
I give her a beeper
Cause she so divine.

Two minutes later
She call me on the phone.
I say come get me,
I got no car at home.

She say she's workin',
In her office downtown
But I know she's lyin',
She with a guy named Joe Brown

My baby's clever, a
Whole lot smarter than me,
But even my baby
Can't fool caller ID.

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