Blues lyrics: write to win

For tickets to Jazz at Lincoln Center this weekend or a dvd of Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson performing live, try writing a blues. How hard can it be?

“Minutes seem like hours, hours seem like days,

Seems my baby would stop her lowdown ways” — Muddy Waters, “Country Blues”

 “Woke up this morning, looked ’round for my shoes

You know I had those mean old walkin’ blues” — Robert Johnson, “Walkin’ Blues” 

“Whoa, oh tell me baby

Where did ya stay last night? An’ why don’t ya hear me cryin’?

Whoo hoo, whoo whoo, 

Whoo who. . . ” — Howlin’ Wolf, “Smokestack Lightning”

Ok, I’m asking for more than a couplet from entrants in this contest to score a pair of tickets on Nov. 14 to hear either saxophonist Maceo Parker, soloist with James Brown, Ray Charles and P-Funk OR Wynton and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with pianists Geri Allen and Geoff Keezer celebrating the life of Mary Lou Williams, or the newly released Wynton ‘n’ Willie dvd. I want three to five choruses of an original blues lyric, or a blue prose poem 100 to 150 words in length. 
But that’s all. And the challenge might be a way for those who accept it to touch base with their basest hard feelings, get ’em out in the open and in the process move towards resolution. That’s what the blues do: let the blues expressor objectify their sorrows or demons, hold them at a distance far enough to take a good look and figure out the next step.

“Bad luck and trouble been my only friend

Been on my own since I was ten

Born under a bad sign, I’ve been down since I began to crawl

If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all” — Albert King, “Born Under A Bad Sign”

“When you get good lovin’, don’t you spread the news.

When you get good lovin’, don’t you spread the news.

‘Cause those gals will double cross you,

And leave you with the empty bed blues.” — Bessie Smith, “Empty Bed Blues”

Entrees to the Maceo/Mary Lou/ Wynton & Willie blues contest will be judged for originality,  moodiness, vivid imagery, compression and, of course, bluesiness. Entrees must be submitted in the comments box of this blog no later than midnight EST on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Get yr blues on, folks — give it a try. Winners to be published this coming weekend; watch this space.
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  1. CMG says

    Isn’t there any other way to see P-Funk? Does it mean that if I can’t forward the creative juice to meet your challenge then I am forever denied the funk?
    HM: You’re not denied the funk — if you can’t sing the blues you have to pay yr way, that’s all. And it won’t be P-Funk at Lincoln Center. I’m hoping it is all three of the Horny Horns + rhythm, but Bootsy, Eddie Hazel, and Minister Clinton himself are not expected.