Period 1993 – 2002
‘How the Blues put a smile on my face’…I would imagine this isn’t something which is said too often in conversations. However, it has worked for me over the years, especially when dealing with tricky situations of ‘obsessive lust’. Going back to my previous blog, I talked about a fixation in my life with a nurse of the name of ‘Lauren’*, (I last saw working in Winchester A & E Department back on New Year’s Eve, 1994…). And yes, dear devoted followers, I shall be discussing this again in the second part of this blog. Firstly, however, I will give a brief history of this fascinating musical genre (in my opinion).
Per my first blog of 2022, back in February 1994, through a rent saving option when I was living in ‘Oxton Bedsit Land’, I met Hazel*, a singer-song writer from the Wirral. Hazel would become a very dear friend and has helped me make sense of my situation with Lauren. As often happens when meeting a new friend, over time you get to know other people in their network.
As mentioned in my previous blog, there was a custom during the nineties among the Oxton (Wirral, Merseyside) Bohemian set I was part of, when turning up at someone’s flat/bedsit you would be offered a can of something alcoholic and a spliff. The favour would always be returned when you were the host. Quite often, the phrase ‘one would lead to another’, came into play during these dusk ‘til dawn events. During these sessions, plenty of deep and meaningful discussions took place, with a backdrop of interesting and wonderful musical soundtracks.
Among the many genres played during these intense sessions was the Blues. Starting in 1984, from my first taste of so-called serious music, I developed a long love affair with mainstream recording artists such as Dire Straits and Eric Clapton. Mark Knopfler, founder and lead singer, guitarist (as well as songwriter and producer) of the afore-mentioned group, was very much influenced by Country Music, and Rock and Roll. These musical genres are both derived from the Blues. The latter, the Blues, was Eric’s passion from when he first picked up the guitar, as a kid.
Like many other white British Blues musicians in the sixties, such as The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Small Faces, Clapton was influenced by the black American recording artists such as Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and BB King. These guys were primarily based in Chicago, arguably the Blues capital of the world. However, the origins of this genre came from Africa, via the Mississippi, to Chicago. The slave trade (1600-1800)^ involved thousands of incarcerated Western African black men, women, and children who were bought and sold to work for the rich Southern American white landowners. Over the centuries of slavery, the African cultural musical traditions manifested into acoustic ‘Delta Blues’ that progressed to the ‘Chicago Blues’, an electric, heavier, thread of the former.
I am reminded of a Heineken commercial from 1992, set in the Mississippi Delta during the 1930s. It featured a guy strumming and singing a Blues tune on an acoustic guitar, lamenting how bad his life was. He stops playing and takes a sip of Heineken after one of his guitar string breaks, and it then pours with rain. The tagline “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach”, is the gist of the storey, i.e., by cracking open a can, this man’s situation gets a whole lot worse. A perfect definition of the blues.
In the second part, I shall discuss how the Blues has helped keep me sane…or at least from being sectioned!
*Not the person’s real name
^ Source Wikipedia