Sunday, December 18, 2011

SRV - Slow Blues

Legendary British blues guitarist Peter Green (the man who formed Fleetwood Mac, and penned Santana's hit Black Magic Woman) once differentiated between the two styles of the blues, saying that he considered all the faster songs to be rock n roll, with the slower ones being the true blues. And while there is a long history of upbeat blues, this comment has always resonated with me, as it's the downbeat blues that have always spoken to me on a deeper level. In my mind there is a significant distinction between that style of up tempo blues that has a good rocking beat, that gets you jumping and moving, as if to dance your blues away, and the down tempo blues that seems to wallow and revel in sadness and despair. Both approaches have merit, and I do indeed enjoy both of them immensely for their separate appeals, but as a bit of a darker, more melancholic, inwardly directed person, it's the Slow Blues that truly calls to me.

So I took some time to dig through Stevie Ray Vaughan's discography recently. SRV is undoubtedly one of the greatest blues guitarists to ever grace this planet, and is probably my favorite artist whose career is situated primarily in the decade of the '80s. One of the most fascinating aspects about Stevie is his seemingly effortless combination of talent and popularity. Many pop artists rely on hooks to draw audiences in to their music, while many highly talented instrumentalists garner only a fraction of their popularity. It was more common in past decades, in my experience, for pop artists to be accomplished musicians, but Stevie Ray Vaughan is uniquely talented, even while being widely regarded and capable of writing a very good pop tune that demonstrates, rather than obfuscates, his mastery of the guitar.

But with my previous discussion of slow blues in mind, I have gone through Stevie's discography, skipping over those accomplished pop rockers (many of the ones you hear on the radio frequently), even [reluctantly] ignoring those tracks (several of them instrumentals) that showcase SRV's awesome guitar abilties, to focus in on the slow blues numbers that Stevie has recorded. As a result, I have compiled a nice, tight playlist of Stevie Ray Vaughan songs that emphasize the melancholy of the blues, the kind of songs that wallow in despair, the sort you might like to listen to on those days when you feel depressed, and you don't have a lot of energy, you're not ready to start feeling good again just yet - you just want to sit up in your room, as Son House once described it, and cry a while. Here's the tracklist:

1. Texas Flood
2. Dirty Pool
3. The Things (That) I Used To Do
4. Tin Pan Alley (aka The Roughest Place In Town)
5. Ain't Gone 'N' Give Up On Love
6. Life Without You
7. May I Have A Talk With You
8. Leave My Girl Alone
9. The Sky Is Crying

No comments:

Post a Comment