I don’t know about you but I often seem to run into people who are all too willing to be disrespectful about blues as a genre and as a rule, I’ve found that these people fall into two categories. The first are the archly superior (and obviously misinformed) type who regard blues as jazz’ poorer, less sophisticated cousin – always the same and a bit rough – and therefore beneath much of their attention …
(If you’re cornered by one of these people at a party, incidentally, throw your white wine into a potted plant and get to a Roadhouse or an exit at once. Choose whichever is closest …)
The second type loudly claims to dislike blues but then proudly display Led Zeppelin, George Thorogood and the Rolling Stones on their mp3 players; evidently, these listeners are not able to discern the undeniable blues influence that was generated from artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and of course Robert Johnson all over the works of these bands. (The Lemon Song had an ancestor, people, hell-ooo and Muddy Waters’ riffs on Mannish Boy are eerily similar to Bad to the Bone. And don’t get me wrong, I love George Thorogood, but check it out. When you compare you simply cannot say this isn’t some form of the blues and incidentally, Muddy was doing it first!) The artists themselves of course are proud to admit and cite their influences – esp The Stones – but fans sometimes not so much and often don’t credit the blues’ true importance.
Blues influence is not just for rock either. Evidently, sophisticated hip hop artist extraordinaire Nas wanted to give blues a shout-out when he made his Bridging The Gap ft. Olu Dara video (from his album Street’s Disciple) in which he appears with his father and some superbly fluid dancers. Nas’ brilliant lyrics provide a kind of panoramic view of the history of blues – as well as his own life – and features his own father coming forward and providing some Muddy inspired lyrical advice every now and then. You can view this below from youtube. I think it is fantastic.