Ok, so there’s the Blues.
A whole genre of music dedicated to a common form of mental illness.
The Blues. Is that something that should celebrated in song?
And the music, its’s marked, (at times), even by seasonal effective disorder to narrow things down.
Songs with lyrics like “So tell me Santa, do you ever get the blues?”
Why just limit a genre to situational depression?
Why not everything?
Why not, “So tell me Santa, do you ever feel like doing harm to yourself or others?”
Or: “So tell me Santa, do you hear voices or occasionally hallucinate?”
“Do you have trouble concentrating; do you abuse drugs or alcohol?”
And why limit it to behavioral disorders?
Why not, “So tell me Santa do you ever get rheumatoid arthritis?”
Or, “So tell me Santa do ever get an erection lasting more than four hours?”
Enough about Santa. I don’t want to get on his bad side and not go to heaven. Wait, that’s someone else isn’t it? In any event, I don’t want to get a lump of coal next Christmas. Or go to hell in a hay wagon. Even if I deserve it.
“So tell me Easter Bunny do you ever feel bloated?”
How about reworking a classic theme? For example, “I done got ulcerative colitis since my baby left me.”
Maybe: “I done got pink eye since my baby left me.”
Or: “I went down to the Crossroads, fell down on my face.”
“I went down to the Crossroads, fell down, because my hip went out on me.”
How about a whole genre of music dedicated to acne, post nasal drip or acid reflux? And, what about artists reflecting on some other human ailment besides the blues. Such as Elton doing, “I guess that’s why they call it the shakes.”
Or: “I guess that’s why they call it Restless Leg Syndrome.
What about the instruments: Blues Harmonicas? That’s far too limiting.
Would Horner make Post Nasal Drip Harmonicas? Histrionic Harmonicas. Probably not.
Why are the Blues OK?
Would you bend the notes, wailing before a live audience, for a whole new genre? Such as “Low T,” Celebrating obesity or gum disease?
And why is it hip to have the blues and not heart palpitations, dyspepsia? Or the gout?
You walk into the room. All eyes are on you. Why? Because you’re a Post Nasal Drip musician.
Having the blues even crosses into other genres.
Why are songs written about drowning your sorrows with alcohol — and not eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercise?
Take up a hobby, get involved volunteering, helping others, sucking it up or just shut up?
Then there are the blues chords, which are associated with the twelve-bar blues. The chronic depression chords: just doesn’t sound right. Does it? Yes, often a set of three different chords, repeated over and over — and over. Over the same old 12-bar scheme. How would that change with other problems we as humans have? How about: “The Hives.” Hives chords, urinary tract infection chords, irritable bowel syndrome chords. I doubt it.
Would anyone go to a “Hives Club?” An “Acid Reflux Club?” What then would be the birthplace of these new genres? Definitely not the likes of Chicago, New Orleans, or St. Louis. No chance.
Without a doubt, we have some opportunity here. We as humans have so many problems, so many misfortunes, no city in America would have to be left out.
Insert your favorite (or least favorite) city and disease of choice.
Illustration by Jeff Worman
Jeff Worman lives in Walworth County, Wisconsin where there is water and a crisp, cool night sky conducive to the creative process. He has been drawing and writing since he was able to hold a pencil in his hand. Worman started out as a high school intern at the Bugle-American, an alternative newspaper in Milwaukee, and was a founder and long standing contributor to the Crazy Shepherd which emerged from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is published currently as the Shepherd Express. Worman’s column The Hourly Why was conceived in 1982, published broadly in underground newspapers over the decades and can be found online today at www.thehourlywhy.com. He has a great love of the outdoors and champions charities by riding those long distance centuries on his road bike to raise funds. Contact the author.