Friday, June 17, 2011

I Ain't Broke, But I'm Bad Bent

"My definition of Blues is that it's a musical form which is very disciplined and structured coupled with a state of mind, and you can have either of those things, but it's the two together that make it what it is. And you need to be a student for one, and a human being for the other, but those things alone don't do it."
~ Eric Clapton

In honor of Father's Day, I'm posting lyrics from one of my pop's favorite genres: the blues.

Dead Presidents, excerpt
by Willie Dixon

Them dead presidents
Them dead presidents
Well I ain't broke but I'm bad bent
Everybody loves them dead presidents

Hamilton on a ten can get you straight
But Jackson on a twenty is really great
And if you're talkin' about a poor man's friend
Grant will get you out of whatever you're in


Night Patrol
by Robert Cray

See him cuddled in the shadows
Sleepin' on his cardboard bed
Using rags for a pillow
Where he lays his unwashed head

His blanket's old newspaper
Not much good against the snow
See so many like him out there
When you walk the night patrol

When you walk the night patrol
Oh, you wonder where he came from
Where he's gonna go
Was it a woman or a bottle?

That's brought him down so low
What's happened to his family?
Do they know he's out here in the cold?
He's just a nameless soldier

Marching on the night patrol
Marching on the night patrol
Like that girl on the corner
She can't be more than seventeen

She's run away from somewhere
Taking nothing but her dreams
Now those dreams are lying shattered
As the street exacts its toll

And she's just another victim
Lost out on the night patrol
Oh, you could ask me why I'm out here
Where do I fit into the scene?

Now I'm drawing unemployment
Got replaced by a machine
And I'm tortured by my bad habits
Sometimes, I lose this struggle to control

And the street has its attractions
When you walk the night patrol
When you walk the night patrol


I listened to bluesman Robert Johnson quite a bit when I was in high school. Robert Johnson, Mose Allison, Duran Duran, and Madonna were all in heavy rotation on my stereo -- I was something of an eclectic listener. And in college I listened to Eric Clapton a lot. One of my favorite albums was Derek and the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Here's Bell-Bottom Blues:

There's a connection between these two musicians (Eric Clapton and Robert Johnson). RJ was a big influence on Clapton. My pop told me recently about an album that Clapton recorded to honor Robert Johnson. The cover is shown below. I'm going to include a quote of Bob Dylan's about RJ below as well.

"When Johnson started singing, he seemed like a guy who could have sprung from the head of Zeus in full armor."
~ Bob Dylan

Love that quote! Happy Father's Day. Jone has the Poetry Friday round-up.

P.S. The Blues Foundation has a Blues in the Schools page. What a fun idea!


Heidi Mordhorst said...

And there's no getting around that being a human being means suffering the blues...a long life lesson for some of us.

Singing makes the blues brighter, at least.

jama said...

*swoon* Clapton and Dylan in the same post!

Love the blues, Clapton especially. I think almost every blues musician I've seen live mentioned Robert Johnson. He's one of those larger than life figures who inspired so many.

Pop said...

Thanks for the wonderful Father's Day present, Kiddo!

Good lyrics are good poetry, so it's entirely fitting to showcase them on Poetry Friday.

Also glad you included Willie Dixon; he was a great songwriter. And, BTW, his mother, Daisy, would often rhyme the things she said and young Willie really picked up on that. He started writing poetry and then building songs around the poems. Good poetry can begin at home!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Great bluesy post, and I love that Dylan quote! I grew up with a father in country music back in the day. Many bridges between the two, and so much soul in all of it....

M Pax said...

Those are fantastic lyrics. I enjoyed reading them.