The Blues

I have never believed in introducing people to the blues with artists they've never heard of. That's How To Get People Convinced That Blues Is A Snotty Peripheral Sideline Act In One Easy Lesson. So forget the arcane names (hush. They're arcane if you've never heard of them, and quite frankly, they're intimidating. Quit destroying the blues by treating it as the South Chicago Symphony Orchestra.).

We are going to start with three songs:

Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz."
Elvis Presley's "Burning Love."
The Beatles' "Back In the USSR."

That is the blues. Chances are you have sung, wailed, or air-guitared one of these songs. You want the more esoteric stuff, you can dig it out for yourself. Or get some blues freak to tell you. They're always happy to. And all three songs are perfectly skateable, not something I can say for all of Muddy Waters (are there blades on earth designed for John Coltrane?).

"Mercedes Benz." You hear the wail. You hear the depression. You also hear the conviction that life will go on. It is very sassy, very saucy, and very Janis. Blues is a personal expression, preferably with one instrument at a time. That is the blues.

"Burning Love." You hear the desire. You hear the lack of fulfillment. And you hear the wail. You hear some awesome guitar work. And you hear Elvis Presley pouring himself out wholeheartedly in this song. That is the blues.

"Back In the USSR." You hear the description of how good the girls are. You hear the lament that these women are (at least at that time) permanently out of any real, true reach because of the political system. You hear a hell of an intro run, and you hear Paul McCartney's voice sailing like a BOAC jet. That, ladies, gentlemen, and other skating types, is the blues.