Hafta tell you, the blues came on today and they were hearty. I don’t know whether it’s the thought of my ex getting married in a couple of weeks (which fills me with an odd kind of despair and anger that he is good with this marriage thing whereas I remain afraid of commitment and fight it at every turn), or whether it is something to do with the general aimlessness of my life, but the songs from the blues just seem right, right about now. I love Long John Baldry, Matt Anderson, old-time blues, new time blues.
There’s even a new all blues station in Ottawa now – DAWG FM, and it’s so up my alley tonight, I should be indigo, seeping into the world around me like spilled ink.
What is it about old-time blues songs that calls to the heart so much? Is it the low repetitive base line, the growling sax, the droolingly slide-y harmonica, the low down and dirty percussion, the alcohol-fueled voices, gruff with whiskey and cigars? Perhaps it’s the way the music makes one’s hips swivel about, pulling here and there to the beat. Or maybe it’s the words – “I went to sleep on the wrong side of the bed….I put my feet where there oughta be my head…” Who hasn’t felt this way?
What way? Deep, slow, head down, face turned away from the sun, heart thickening in your chest, a sluggish lump in the stomach. Life is dark, grey-blue, like just before a thunderstorm, but without the thrill of electricity in the air. Legs lift slowly, pulling up through the mud, arms hang, useless, by your sides. Tired, the brain refuses to spot joy, even as it peeps around the corner.
I even went to church today, hoping for an enlivening bout of information, community, song. Instead we were on some endless treadmill of Pachelbel’s Canon in D – done on piano, glass harmonica, electric guitar, and even in the sermon. Now I know the Canon has its graces but the last time I listened to it so intensely, I was wearing headphones to concentrate on my breathing during my LONG labour for my daughter. I was cramping up in the pew by the time it was over, and feeling distinctly un-churchy thoughts. And the glass harmonica? Shrieking like a violin, without the soft graces – shudderingly like when that annoying uncle insists on playing the wine glasses at dinner. My not-quite awake brain went and hid itself in a corner, far from the light and noise.
Several cups of coffee later, I met a friend for a long and fast walk through to a local beach. We talked, laughed, stretched our legs, breathed the air. And I could walk, which was a blessing. We spent the afternoon together and when he left, I was cheered. There’s something about good conversation that keeps the blues away.
I called another friend, a kindred spirit from far away – we talked and laughed and I gained perspective. Friends. Life blood.
But they’re all gone now, and here I sit, listening to the blues, my heart vibrating with their rhythms…