Rank #1: Keb' Mo': Updated Delta Blues
How do you modernize the Delta blues? What are the innovations that can keep the blues alive? Explore these questions in Keb' Mo's "Perpetual Blues Machine."
Nov 07 2019
Rank #2: Revenge and Justice: Freddie King's "Someday, After Awhile"
Aug 04 2018
Rank #3: Blues and Soul: B. B. King and Gladys Knight
What happens when you combine soul singing with blues artistry? How does a soul singer interpret the blues? Explore these questions and the meaning of B. B. King and Gladys Knight's cover of "Please Send Me Someone to Love."
Aug 31 2019
Rank #4: Everyday Blues: B. B. King's "Everyday I Have the Blues"
Sep 08 2018
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Rank #5: Blues as defensive posturing: Muddy Waters's "I'm Ready"
Why construct a violent persona who waits for a fight? Why include sexual bravado? What is Muddy Waters ready for in "I'm Ready"?
Nov 16 2018
Rank #6: Woman as Trickster: Muddy Waters' "Mean Red Spider"
Why represent a woman as a spider? What do spiders represent? How does one break free from a web? Explore these questions in Muddy Waters' "Mean Red Spider."
Mar 01 2019
Rank #7: Blues and Alcohol: Robert Johnson's "Malted Milk"
What happens when you try to drive the blues away with alcohol? Does drinking help things or make things worse? Explore these questions in Robert Johnson's "Malted Milk."
Oct 19 2018
Rank #8: Sexual innuendo and a touch of violence: Big Bill Broonzy's "I Feel So Good"
Explore the lyric expressions and slang of Big Bill Broonzy's "I Feel So Good." Although it appears joyful, there is a touch of tension underneath the happiness.
Jan 05 2019
Rank #9: Lonnie Johnson: Revealer of Deceit
Why does Lonnie Johnson get overlooked as a blues musician? What's different about his music? What is his social message? Explore these questions in "Don't Ever Love."
Jan 24 2020
Rank #10: Pain behind the Happiness: Billy Boy Arnold
Why do a tribute album to Big Bill Broozy? How can songs evoke pain and sadness and still sound happy? Explore these and other issues in Billy Boy Arnold's version of "Sweet Honey Bee."
Jan 09 2020
Rank #11: Tab Benoit: Women and/as Cars
What's the relationship between women and cars? What does Tab Benoit have in common with Robert Johnson? Explore these questions in Benoit's "Too Many Drivers at the Wheel."
Nov 01 2019
Rank #12: Buddy Guy: Keeping the Blues Fresh
What characterizes Buddy Guy's sound? What do the blues symbolize in songs? Explore these and other questions in "First Time I Met the Blues."
Jan 17 2020
Rank #13: Blues as Abandonment: Ma Rainey's "Memphis Bound Blues"
How do people respond to abandonment? Does gender matter in songs about abandonment? Is someone's leaving always negative? Explore these questions in Ma Rainey's "Memphis Bound Blues."
Oct 07 2018
Rank #14: The Time of Tradition: The Nick Moss Band's "The High Cost of Low Living"
Aug 18 2018
Rank #15: Government "Relief": Kirk Fletcher's "Welfare Blues"
How do the blues tackle the issue of government relief? What happens when the government fails to help those in need? Explore these issues in Kirk Fletcher's "Welfare Blues."
Dec 24 2018
Rank #16: New Chicago Blues: The Cash Box Kings
What do the Chicago blues sound like today? How do you put a new twist on an old classic? Discuss these issues in The Cash Box Kings's performance of Muddy Waters's "Country Boy."
Oct 18 2019
Rank #17: Frustration and Sublimated Anger, North and South: Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied"
How are a mix of emotions conveyed, especially those around conditions in the North and South? How do musical styles combine to represent a complicated history of migration and frustrated dreams and desires? Explore these questions in Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied."
Feb 17 2019
Rank #18: Toronzo Cannon: "Bad Contract"
What's new about the Chicago sound of Toronzo Cannon? What kind of a contract is he talking about? What does it have to do with the history of the blues? Explore these and other questions.
Feb 14 2020
Rank #19: Fantasy: B. B. King's "Beautician Blues"
Jul 29 2018
Rank #20: Love of Young Women: Muddy Waters's "She's Nineteen Years Old"
What draws men to young women? Why are these relationships frustrating? Are the blues full of misogyny? Explore these questions in Muddy Waters's "She's Nineteen Years Old."
Dec 12 2019