The other day I tweeted a quotation from Bruce Iglauer, founder and head of the independent blues record label Alligator Records, which got scores of likes and retweets. It clearly struck a chord. It said simply,
“Blues is the most important, most emotionally fulfilling music ever.”
The quotation in my tweet was taken from an interview Mr. Iglauer had done with Dr. Marie Trout, and appears in her excellent and highly-readable book “The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good.” Marie Trout explores the world of blues music and its fans, helping us understand why this music speaks so deeply to people. In interview after interview, and in Marie’s analysis, we get to appreciate the way that the blues helps people gets their lives into perspective, feel a sense of community, find a means of emotional expression and catharsis, and helps them “keep on keeping on.”
Dr. Trout has done us a great service in this book, helping us blues fan understand better what we know deep down – that the blues has the power to touch us deeply. On one level it’s simple music, both lyrically and musically – but there is something in the rhythm, the repetition, the emotional content of the lyrics, and the actual structure of the musical form that has extraordinary power. And, of course, the genesis of the blues in a situation of oppression and suffering, inevitably bleeds through and adds its own weight to our sense of it.
How many times have you heard a guitar solo that somehow seems to reach right inside you and physically twist your innards? How many times have you just wanted to listen for entertainment’s sake, only to be drawn in to the intensity of the music. The blues’ll do that do you.
As Iglauer said in his interview, “I think a lot of us blues fans think we’ve found the Holy Grail of music and nothing else compares.”
Our interview with Walter Trout can be found here