Real Blues? Try Honesty.

Jan 27th, 2010
This post was originally written on the blog.

What have you been told the blues is about?  Suffering? Pain? Hard living?

Ever felt like a poser because your life is pretty good? You have a job? Never missed a meal?

There are those who will tell you you can’t possibly understand or play the blues because your life hasn’t been hard enough. Or you’re not old enough. Or you’re too white. Or you simply don’t have the right image.

The more time you spend trying to fit an impossible image, and set of requirements for authenticity, the less you’ll respect yourself once you realize how pointless it is to try and please anyone who spends more time judging you then loving themselves.

Here’s a radical idea. Do what you want because you love it. Not because anyone says it’s OK, or because you ‘qualify’. If you love blues music, then play it. Find people who accept the fact that you play this music in spite of your background, and play it for them. Don’t spend time trying to please people who would strangle the blues into extinction by placing constraints on your authenticity.

How about subject matter? The impression most people have of blues is that it’s all about broken relationships, struggle, etc.. But the fact of the matter is that blues has been used for political and social expression from it’s earliest inception.

So if you tire of songs about the same old thing, go ahead and write songs that reflect what you care about. Why do you think I wrote the song Covenant? Because I’m passionate about good marriages, strong families, and drawing a line in the sand that says you’re willing to fight for something you believe in.

Is it a blues song? I don’t really care. It’s a song about something I love, in a style I love just as much. It’s honest. And to me, nothing is more true to the blues spirit than honesty.

Be honest, be passionate, and don’t ever apologize for who you are, and how your life has been. You can’t change where you’ve been, and you shouldn’t try. The fact that this site exists is proof that there are plenty of people out there who will respect honesty even if you’re just a farm boy from Lancaster County, PA, teaching Texas-style blues guitar lessons.