Thursday, March 20, 2008

Daily SAll-Star: Muddy Waters

That cigarette is made of misery.

Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield in Mississippi in 1913, was one of the finest blues musicians to ever grace the earth and was the father of Chicago blues. His nickname came from his childhood pastime of playing in the mud. No Devil-at-the-crossroads story for ol' Muddy.

Like many celebrated musicians of the early twentieth century, there was no particular "big break" for Waters. He moved to St. Louis at age 25, recorded a few meaningless blues records, and continued on his merry way to the City of the Big Shoulders. He played at especially rowdy bars and nightclubs without much success until his uncle bought him an electric guitar so he could be heard over the din of the audience. His popularity in America reached its pinnacle in the mid-1950's as he had established himself as the manliest man in the music business. He later moved to England and blah blah blah. Let's just watch the manly stuff.

Let me elaborate a little bit on the following performance. I had heard "Mojo" on a Greatest Hits album a few years ago at a much slower and traditional-bluesier tempo. I liked it a lot. Then I found this absurd explosion of The Manly Blues and I literally could not control my body. I started dancing like a lunatic all the way down my hallway as this song blared from my computer. Fortunately, my reputation at Michigan as a lunatic with rabies was already in place and nobody really noticed.

I contend that there is no genre of music more universally enjoyable than the blues. My evidence is that nobody skips a track when they play a blues CD. Every blues song is just as enjoyable as the next except for a rare few. And those rare few are true monuments to quality music. There is no such thing as a blues song that is anything less than enjoyable, but there are many that can be counted among Best Songs Ever.

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