"This Blues" -- By b.james 11/7/02


Got blues?...you got blues.
Know blues?...think you know.
Think i know blues?...naaawww.
I know of blues, i know my blues
but who know blues? Thought i knew
but it was just a transcendental dream
illusion, delusion, confoundedness.
I get through muddy water; ain't deep
enough...to murkey silt close to bottom.
I grab the mud which slides through my hand.
But for an instant i grasp the blues...
Then it's gone, just like that; but not far.
As i look in riverbottom it grab my heart.

As if i ain't got 'nuff trouble i go lookin'
seekin' them blues. Ain't found bottom yet.
I' tell ya', you think you got blues?
Sight unseen, in the blind, I'll venture:
'your blues ain't shit'...mine?...same.
Just for the record, I'll match ya' blues
for blues and leave you by the wayside...
Don't mean shit, what they say?..."you know
six months ain't no sentence, you know one year
ain't no time; 'cause I was born in Angola,
and I was doin' ninety-nine." that's some blues.
Nothin' personal, we all got blues, mostly we choose.
No matter what we may think, the worst blues
you don't choose...them blues choose you.

I don't say this lightly, but these days we build
our own house, and much of it is built by the blues.
And there's many rooms in this house. Where you stay?
I pick my room, make my bed and sleep in it.
Blues? Real Blues? These days come in a plane,
come wrapped around desparate abdomin for innocents
come from D.C., wholesale...while CNN spokeswoman
does plantation bidding to the duped and unwary,
and we drink it up, this Jim Jones Koolade, angry.
To feed what we choose to choose, we inflict the blues
on others unable to choose...now them some blues.
Only fitting; blues is borne of American pain
continuing to this day, ancient cry of pain live today.
So it was born, can't be born again; just celebrate
these lessons yet to be learned 'bout our sorry fate.

Now 'Thee Blues'? That beauty form, that song?
It's a deep song, so deep you can't get under it.
The tower of the blues so tall, can't get over it.
Can't cross it wide as the Mississippi in da' rainy season.
Only one way and that be through them blues to know you.
Yeah, that's one way...the hard way, a way you got to choose.
Pitty the fool got no blues, got everything to lose
when everything ain't nothin', my friends. We mostly blind
to life we given, scared to know it's what ya' can't see
that means the most...so in them blues, them simple blues
you get as close as you can to heart crying, and colors to see.
See the color of pain, touch the sound of joy, hear a tear.
And as it has come and gone, there's blues we'll never hear.
Some came 'cause it beat pickin' cotton, made their way
and then gone. Reverend Robert Wilkins wrote about a woman
in 1925, called her a "Rollin' Stone." His kind of fifteen-bar
blues ain't gonna hear the likes of again, found his God
shortly thereafter and walked away from that 'devil music'.
Yeah, that's right. Rock and Roll had a daddy name Blues.

Tell you a well-kept secret, i heard it but had to learn it
the hard way: Thinkin' you know everything is knowin' nothin'.
Yeah, 'cause nobody know everything, but everybody know
somethin'...dig it, dig them blues you go through.
Nobody else cares, but they the world to you, so cool
in that way to you. And bless you, make it through
and you got somethin' true, alright. Tell it if you're lucky.
Shit, I'll listen. You bring me closer to the blues,
closer to your truth, which truth you choose, your blues.
But i seek it out 'cause, and don't let it break your heart;
there's very little ain't been said and a whole lot
ain't been heard...and to listen is to invite the divine.
'Cause with the blues most, it ain't what is said,
it's how they say it; it ain't what they play but...
Well, you know...and you'll know when it hits ya'.
Sometime you smile, some time you cry, sometimes all you can do
is just shake your head and say "my, my, my". That's enough.

You heard the blues? You heard some blues, me too.
How 'bout Mercy Dee Walton? Born 1915 in Waco, Texas
came up playin' ten-cent house parties out in the country
playin' Rhythm and Blues in '38 'fore anyone had such a notion.
Learned what he needed to know from Delois Maxey, didn't need
a record in those days to make your reputation as the baddest
cat around...you played and made a dollar-fifty
playin' all night. And Maxey said "A dollar was a great thing
in those days." and so after Maxey comes Mercy Dee,
came out West pickin' cotton down near Bakersfield,
or cuttin' spinach...that was until "One Room Country Shack",
you could hear it on jukeboxes in Nevada, could quit the fields
he was now a professional, an entertainer...now playin' in L.A.
Central Avenue in it's heyday. Yeah those was good days.
But farmworkin' taught him, then mixed it up with his Arkies
and his Oakies and them blues was all Mercy Dee,
with a little help from Maxey...

Mercy Dee recorded "Pity and a Shame" in Oakland in 1961
before dyin' at the age of forty-seven, another sunset.
But left footprints in the mud, leavin' his name on his blues,
the natural facts according to Mercy Dee...but Delois Maxey?
Left his trail 'fore Mercy Dee; but will never, ever be heard
'cept by those who listened during his life, at a house party,
or a roadhouse near the big towns, Helena, Natchez,
big plantations, maybe Stovall's for young Muddy.
One listening was Mercy Dee, must'a been sweet, sweet
'cause Maxey's blues with he, Mercy Dee, and from Mercy Dee
to me, and maybe, if i find a key, from me to thee...
That one strand of beauty, if you listen hard and see
that beauty in simplicity, overwhelming complexity,
something you can't teach this blues must be.

Copyright B.James