by Kevin Burton
Perhaps you noticed that on my list of songs with blue in the title, I omitted songs using the word “blues.”
When I started the series I had all kind of rules, some I kept, some I threw out. One I kept was that blue and the blues were two different things.
There are so many songs with blues in the name they would have dominated the blue list. A short experiment proved the point. You can take just about any word or phrase and somebody has written a so-called blues song about it.
I found “Foxy Blues,” “Train Station Blues,” “Catfish Blues,” Porcupine Blues,” “Oceanside Blues,” “Pork Chop Blues” and “Super Bowl Blues,” before I came up with something that hadn’t been made.
There was no “British Invasion Blues.” Maybe that’s because the British Invasion never gave anybody the blues!
So here’s my separate list for the word blues. Your bonus track is “It Don’t Come Easy,” by Ringo Starr, because it lays down the ground rules, “Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues.”
You can’t just put “blues’ in the title and certify something as a blues song. It’s the difference between singing about the blues and singing the blues. Hard to define, but you know it when you hear it.
Do my favorites pass the test? You be the judge.
8 “Goodtime Charlie’s Got The Blues,” by Danny O’Keefe. This comment from a You Tube viewer, “Translation of this song: Time is a thief and what it takes you can never get back.”
That is exactly what the song sounds like.
That’s a sad place to visit, even worse to reside there. The lyric says “you’re not a kid at 33.” O”Keefe was 29 when the song was released. He turned 78 on Jan. 1.
7 “Steamroller Blues,” by James Taylor. Sweet baby James is not the first one who comes to mind when you’re looking for a blues man. But on the live version, he delivers the goods, stone guaranteed.
6 “Singing The Blues,” by Guy Mitchell. This song was number one for 10 big weeks in 1956. Very cheery song about singing the blues, but it works. First heard this on a “music of your life” station, but it sounded much more contemporary. I wonder why nobody remade this tune in the 70s. I think it swings.
5 “Roadhouse Blues,” by The Doors. “Well I woke up this morning and I got my-self a beer,” just about sums up the brief chaotic chart ride of lead singer Jim Morrison and the Doors. It works great as a cool jam, not so much as a lifestyle. This song hits a lot of the elements of rock and roll.
4 “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues),” by Three Dog Night,” Now here’s something I can understand! It’s enough to make a body move around. I prefer the radio version but the organ screams a little more on the long version. Rock and roll attitude song. Lay this one down in concert and if the crowd doesn’t dig it, man you’re playing the wrong club.
3 “Wedding Bell Blues,” by The Fifth Dimension. How about that pure, soulful voice of Marilyn McCoo? She sure knew how to put the pressure on a guy, didn’t she? Some women drop hints when they are looking for that ring. McCoo’s hint went to number one and stayed there for three weeks in November 1969. Kind of hard to ignore.
A few notes before the top two.
Thumbs up: “New Street Blues,” by Gerry Rafferty. Not really a blues tune, but it’s a favorite of mine from Rafferty’s “Can I Have My Money Back” album.
Thumbs Up: “The St. Louis Blues March,” by The Glenn Miller Orchestra. I think this is the version I used to hear played before St. Louis Blues hockey games.
Bonus track: “It Don’t Come Easy,” by Ringo Starr.
Now the top two:
2 “Deacon Blues,” by Steely Dan. I was shocked to learn this song only rose to number 19 on the chart. What kind of country makes “Shake Your Booty” number one and doesn’t recognize this kind of artistry?
1 “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” by Elton John. One of my favorite karaoke songs. It went to number 4 on the Hot 100 in 1983. Stevie Wonder is on harmonica, how great is that? I consider this the last great Elton John song. For me, it’s among his best, up there with Tiny Dancer, Crocodile Rock and one other song you might see on my yellow list next week.
If I left out your favorite blues songs, please list them in comments below.
I’m never any good at coming up with lists of titles. I have to say though that you’ve nailed quite a few really good ones here.
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