The Blues: In Film & Music

Sometimes it’s just one of those days. You know those days. I can hear Elvis Presley’s ghostly twang wailing on the word “blues” on days like these. (Note: Not the Easy Mac “I go the blues.” The real blues.)

As Holly Golightly defines them in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – “The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all.” Truman Capote, I’m pretty sure he knew the blues. He just got them, as we say in the undergraduate institutes of higher education. I saw “Capote” and I got some serious blues-ing vibes there. (Although that could be my inexplicable crush on Phillip Seymour Hoffman.)

Then there’s Jenny Lewis’ definition of the blues. This comes from the song “Acid Tongue” from the album of the same name. (Side note: Jenny Lewis, one of my two indie heros, got Elvis Costello to come out of retirement for this album. I get down my knees and metaphorically prostrate myself before her for this unfathomable feat.) This album is full of the blues — full of the sounds of Southern influence. The song itself is the kind that tells a story. “I went to the cobbler to fix a hole in my shoe/ He took one look at my face and said ‘I can fix that hole in you’/ I beg your pardon I’m not looking for a cure/ Seen enough of my friends in the depths of the godsick blues.” Jenny Lewis, on solo albums or in her multiple group projects, never fails me in the lyrics department.

Also never failing in the lyrics department is Paul Simon. Most music magazines will rank Bob Dylan as the greatest living singer-songwriter of recent demonstrations but I hold the two greatest to be Paul Simon and Jackson Browne. Here’s my blues-defining lyrics from Paul Simon, from the Simon & Garfunkel song Blessed. “Oh lord, Why have you forsaken me?/ My words trickle down, Like a wound/ That I have no intention to heal.”

I think the beautiful thing about words, which Capote, Lewis and Simon knew/know, is their sheer power. Maybe that’s why I love books so much. Maybe that’s why I often gravitate to lyrically strong music. But either way, today these artists have put my feelings into words when I was incapable of doing so, and I thank them for that.

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One response to “The Blues: In Film & Music

  1. No Indigo Girls? Short excerpt from “Ghost”: unknowing captor you’ll never know how much you pierce my spirit but i can’t touch you can you hear it a cry to be free or i’m forever under lock and key as you pass through me now i see your face before me i would launch a thousand ships to bring your heart back to my island as the sand beneath me slips as i burn up in your presence and i know now how it feels to be weakened like Achilles with you always at my heels

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