I got into blues music as a kid. My dad was a big fan of The Yardbirds and I guess he passed it down to me. It was a part of our relationship and a place for common ground, like the other boys I knew and how their relationships with their fathers seemed to revolve around sports. To this day, every time I hear a song or a bootleg I haven’t before, I find myself wondering what my dad would have thought of it. It makes me miss him, but in a good way—I remember how much fun we had together, listening to music and bonding. He left me all his old albums and his old hi-fi when he died. It was worth more to me than anything else he could possibly have given me.
Eric Clapton was, unsurprisingly, the one that I really sort of latched onto. As I got older, I followed his musical journey—through John Mayall& the Bluesbreakers, then onto Cream and his solo stuff. Clapton’s guitar playing was the soundtrack of my young life; from my childhood right up through my teenage years. He was kind of my gateway into other blues artists, like The Allman Brothers, Santana, Howlin’ Wolf, The Jeff Healey Band, Etta James, Bo Diddley, and George Thorogood. Once I made the leap, there was no going back. Nothing else resonated with me the same way.
I became a bit of a snob as far as musical taste. But the blues are just so good, you know? Can you honestly tell me that there is a better song than Stevie Ray Vaugh’s Pride and Joy?OK, maybe B.B. King’s Did You Ever Love a Woman. I’d even give you Muddy Water’s HoochieCoochie Man. Oh, and then there’s Robert Johnson’s Sweet Home Chicago.And I’m pretty sure I cry every time I hear Tears in Heaven. So maybe I can’t pick a favorite song.I really think that says something about the quality of music in the genre. There are just so many talented artists going back for so long, and the songs are iconic.
So maybe for me, the blues is a bit of a comfort thing. I grew up around it. My dad claims I took my first steps to For Your Love. Layla was playing in the car when I was learning to drive. My wife and I had a blues band at our wedding. When something is so constant in your life, it is hard not to look at it fondly.
Not a whole lot of luck getting the next generation into it, though, I’m afraid. My girls just refer to it as “Dad’s music” and don’t have much interest. I am hopeful that at least one of them will have a change of heart at some point and I can share it with them like my dad did with me.