Now, the aficionados will say, Well, yeah, I knew there was some blues in the palette of these artists. But note, I used the word primarily. I don’t think the first word that comes to mind for any of these people is blues.
What got me thinking about this is hearing Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” on the radio and saying, Shit, that’s just a blues. Which is why Johnny Winter covered it of course. And then I saw Dylan a short while back and noted how bluesy his current band sounded.
So let’s kick this off with a tune from Zimmerman’s most recent (annus horribilus 2020) album Rough and Rowdy Ways. It is a straight-up blues shuffle and invokes one of the great early blues artists.
Here’s “Goodbye Jimmy Reed”:
One of my favorite – if relatively unknown – bands is Roomful of Blues who I must have seen about 10 times over 30+ years by now. A few years ago, Pat Benatar found out about them and recorded an album with them called True Love. My guess is that her husband Neil Giraldo had some impact on this as he’s a guitarist and noted blues lover.
This is B.B. King’s “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss.”* The whole thing sounds terrific and if you don’t know Roomful, you’ve missed something.
You’ve doubtless heard of the Kinks, yes? British Invasion. Pop band. Hard rock band. Blues band? How about “Gallon of Gas?” Love the harmonies and brother Dave’s bluesy playing;
Now Johnny Cash was, in his own dark, moody way, a pretty bluesy guy. “Folsom Prison Blues” comes out sounding more countryish when he plays it but it still follows the classic blues chord progression.
How can I avoid this one when it has the single greatest line ever written?
“I shot a man in Reno
Just to watch him die
Plus, Glen Campbell to boot;
Elvis? Did Elvis love the blues and sing it like a MOFO? Damn straight. Here he is doing “Reconsider Baby.”
Now you KNOW that Tina Turner can sing just about anything. She could sing the phone book and you’d probably say, “Tina, are you aware you’re singing the phone book?”
But I digress. Check out this video of Tina and the ladies doing “Undercover Agent for the Blues.” She even thoughtfully TELLS you it’s a blues. Smokin’! (Guys, both hands on the computer please.)
A while back fellow blogger Cincinnati Babyhead introduced me to a tune by Tom Jones called “Burning Hell.” Man, I said. one day I’m using that. That day is now:
I’m goin’ down to the churchhouse
On my bended
*I always tell my wife I’m paying the cost to be the boss whenever I pay bills but I’m not really the boss of anything and we both contribute. It’s just a fun thing to say and gives her one more occasion to roll her eyes, sigh and wish she’d married a doctor.