"Not Studying the Blues" (Oxford Magazine, 2018)
I've been writing about the blues—blues music, blues people, blues living—for some time now. I used to didn't think I was cut out for it, that I wasn't even interested in it.
In this Oxford Magazine essay, I reflect on that tension...coming from the blues, and liking then not liking then becoming it again.
Here's a selected excerpt:
"It’s 5:30 in the evening—an April evening in Mississippi, so the sun is barely dim, and outside is still hot. Like clockwork, I hear the horns, then a voice: “Hello! We are the Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland Orchestra.” I am sitting at momma’s house working through the final edits of my dissertation, which now has a name—“I don’t like the blues”—while my daddy’s favorite blues record plays in the background.
I laugh at the irony.
“You know, (your dad) was a blues man.” Momma explains to me, a preemptive to what she must have expected would be another flurry of questions about the man we had buried eight years earlier.
“I think I’m like him,” I respond. I listened to the album all the way through."