5.

you can always tell when your woman got
another man,
You can always tell when your woman got
another man,
Your meals ain't regular and your house
ain't never clean
. . .

Love dominates the blues, but it is not the exultant love of Blind Boy Fuller's verse, or the hesitant sensitivity in Henry Townsend's. Love, in the blues, is,

. . . the ackin' heart disease,
Like consumption, killing me by degrees
.

Love is the dominant theme of the popular song of nearly every culture, and the blues, the popular song of the Negro in America, is as much concerned with it; but in the blues it is the pain rather than the promise of love that is repeated over and over again. The unhappiness of love is such a persistent theme in the blues that the attitude has even become part of the definition of the word. In Webster's Dictionary the blues is, "A type of song . . with melancholy words." It is an unhappiness that has been caused by infidelity or by separation, with infidelity as the most common theme. As J. D. Short expressed it,

Well the blues mostly come on account
of women because there is so many fellows
that is in love with different womens that
they actual love, and the woman was dis-
honest, and he'd love her from his very
heart and she'd get in love with somebody
else and go away and leave him. So that
would leave him weepin' and moanin', and
then he would take hisself back to his room
and he have got what you may call the blues,
and he just try to sing to make hisself con-
fident
.

-43-

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The Poetry of the Blues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Introduction 5
  • 1 7
  • 2 11
  • 3 27
  • 4 35
  • 5 43
  • 6 67
  • 7 80
  • 8 98
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