“I’m A King Bee” – Muddy Waters
“Spider In My Stew” – Magic Slim & The Teardrops
“Two Bugs And A Roach” – Earl Hooker
“Hey Bartender, There’s A Big Bug In My Beer” – Warner Williams & Eddie Pennington
“My Barkin’ Bulldog Blues” – Brownie McGhee
“My Dog Is Mean” – Memphis Slim
“Let Me Play With Your Poodle” – Tampa Red
“Lucy Mae Blues” – Frankie Lee Sims
“Katy Mae Blues” – Lightnin’ Hopkins
“Hattie Mae” – Zac Harmon
“Heaven’s Got The Blues” – Mighty Mo’ Rodgers
“Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down” – R.L. Burnside
“Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (But Nobody Wants To Die)” – Albert King
“My Dog” – Elvin Bishop
Timing really is everything.
The day after recording this edition, I was caught off-guard, by an old nemesis. I swear, didn’t see it coming. I felt cornered. Defenceless.
Where a ‘Hard-boiled Detective’ may be injured by a piece of shrapnel or, a stray bullet, this ‘Cultural Detective’ was felled by a simple, ignoble and contemptible, common cold. It’s a long bow, for sure, but I think Einstein, would see the relativity. Unhelpfully, Alexa is calling it, ‘man flu’. Terrific.
It does, however, afford a convenient transition into the subject of Bugs – co-incidentally something you’ll hear about in this edition of Nothin’ But The Blues.
Actually, over the course of four varying styles of Blues, it includes Insects (as a metaphor for prodigious libidinous gifts) – Bugs (as a metaphor for infectious disease) – Spiders (as the unwelcome Garni du Jour found in the stew) – and Bugs as, well, Bugs.
Similarly, we look at some revealing Blues about, Dogs. Like almost any other subject, Dogs, too, can allow for some thinly-veiled metaphor for sexual proclivity. We have two fine examples, in the form of a poodle and a bulldog. Meanwhile, Memphis Slim contemplates a little detective work of his own, after noticing his mean dog’s abnormally passive behaviour towards his best friend.
It’s a long way from charting the family tree but in the Blues, you’ll find a great recurrence of ‘double-barrel’ names like, Anna Lee and Fannie Mae. We figured it was a common thread worth following and sticking just to the names ending in ‘Mae’, we dusted off a couple of classics from Frankie Lee Sims and Lightnin’ Hopkins as well as evidence that the tradition is continuing into the current century, with a much more recent ‘double-name’ song from Mississippi’s, Zac Harmon.
In an earlier edition of Nothin’ But The Blues, we ventured North, in search of the Blues. In this edition, we’re heading straight up. The destination is Heaven – but instead of seeing angels or cherub’s playing harps, the Blues will contemplate Heaven through a much different lens. An example of this comes from Mighty Mo’ Rodgers, waking from a terrible dream the world had become so corrupt that, the distress of looking down on it all, had given Heaven a case of the Blues.
And yeah, I see what you mean, how can we possibly fit all those insects and bugs, dogs, and women with double-barrel names – not to mention, heaven itself into a single hour of enjoyably elucidating Blues radio?
Press the Play button above for answers to these questions.
Bug spray, not required.
As always, thanks for listening.
Gideon Rhyme – Cultural Detective