Sunday, 10 July 2016

I Woke Up This Morning...

I’ve always loved the Blues.  The music, that is, not the mood, which I’ve experienced enough to know it’s not a love of mine.

I’m not sure where my love of blues music stems from but I think it might have started at school.  The sixth form at my rather formal Grammar School was a bit of a revelation to me.  Suddenly, everything became much more relaxed and casual.  We were allowed to wear our own clothes, lads could grow their hair long, (this was the late sixties, after all), boys and girls could sit together and, best of all, we had a common room with coffee and a record player.   It was the height of sixties teen sophistication.

Having been brought up on Jim Reeves, Diana Ross and Shirley Bassey, with a side order of Paul Robson and Billy Cotton on a Sunday, I was unprepared for the haunting sounds that issued from that common room record player.  Nick and Bob, two of my long-haired fellow pupils (and quite sought after by the girls), were the fonts of all musical knowledge in 1968, and if they spun those old Blues discs then there had to be something in it.  Even the artists’ names held a kind of magic – Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lead Belly, Memphis Slim, Billie Holiday……

Now, I roll them around my tongue, say them slowly out loud and my grandson laughs.  He doesn’t know – and why should he? –that these were people whose songs were born out of poverty and prejudice, a protest against bullying and slavery.  This music really did come from the heart – hearts broken and beaten but not yet defeated.

Nick and Bob didn’t just pay lip service to the Blues, they played them live.  Pretty well, I thought.  Lesson breaks, lunchtime, the odd evening event after school, Nick and Bob picked up their guitars and harmonicas, thought themselves into sombre moods and imitated that Ol’ Blues style that had obviously played a large part in shaping their musical experiences.

Fast forward a few years…..

I was at Art College when I met the young man who would eventually become my old man.  Here was someone with an extensive knowledge of – and enthusiasm for - music, and a formidable collection of LPs, EPs and singles.  Dave sealed the deal the first time he took me to a Blues concert.

Fast forward once again, another thirty years, to Blackpool and the Kite Club.  Every Friday evening Blues enthusiasts would gather in this hot, stuffy room above the Raikes Hotel, and wait for the bands to come shuffling onto the scuffed makeshift stage and transport us back to a land where times were more than hard and blessings were rare.  This was years before the smoking ban and the smell of cigarettes and weed will be forever linked in my senses with that ubiquitous opening line, “Well, I woke up this morning….. “  Haunting, low and slow….

One week we arrived a bit late (babysitter problems if I remember rightly). The band was in full Blues mode, and the audience suitably chilled.   We edged our way in and perched on a table at the back of the room.  This was my kind of music.  The Blues at its melancholy best.  I closed my eyes and let the music wash away the last thirty years, back to that sixth form common room, with its orange chairs and migraine inducing psychedelic cushions; Nick and Bob, expressions pained, giving it their seventeen year old all; the smell of cheap instant coffee; the sound of inane chatter; I was there, whispering and giggling with my best friend (who would go on to marry, then divorce Nick).  I never told her that I’d got a bit of a crush on Bob.

The music ended. I lazily opened my eyes, took a sip of cold beer and focused on the middle aged, bald and slightly tubby lead singer sitting on a chair at the front of the stage.  He smiled at the audience and introduced the next song as he tuned his guitar. I suddenly had a very strange feeling.  I turned to my husband,  “When that singer stands up,” I whispered, “if his legs are too short for his body, I know him.”

My husband gave me a look that was both puzzled and worried.

The singer stood up.  His legs were too short for his body.

It’s a very odd experience to unexpectedly meet someone after thirty odd years, two hundred miles away from where you last knew them, at a venue you frequent every week.  It’s even more odd when that someone has become relatively well known in the music world, formed a band, put on weight and lost all that lovely long hair.

We hugged, we laughed, we promised to keep in touch, but of course we didn’t.  That’s quite sad.

I'd like to think he wrote a song about it…..

Photo - Jill Reidy: Red Snapper Photography

Singing The Blues - Guy Mitchell 1956
Well, I never felt more like singin' the blues
'cause I never thought that I'd ever lose
Your love dear, why'd you do me this way?

Well, I never felt more like cryin' all night
'cause everythin's wrong, and nothin' ain't right
Without you, you got me singin' the blues.

The moon and stars no longer shine
The dream is gone I thought was mine
There's nothin' left for me to do
But cry-y-y-y over you (cry over you)

Well, I never felt more like runnin' away
But why should I go 'cause I couldn't stay
Without you, you got me singin' the blues.

Well, I never felt more like singin' the blues
'cause I never thought that I'd ever lose
Your love dear, why'd you do me this way?

Well, I never felt more like cryin' all night
'cause everythin's wrong, and nothin' ain't right
Without you, you got me singin' the blues.

The moon and stars no longer shine
The dream is gone I thought was mine
There's nothin' left for me to do
But cry-y-y-y over you (cry over you)

Well, I never felt more like runnin' away
But why should I go 'cause I couldn't stay
Without you, you got me singin' the blues.

 
Jill Reidy 

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1 comments:

Lady Curt said...

At dancing we do a sequence dance called the Balmoral Blues to this song...and I sing along too !,