What better way to kick the blues than with a little haiku?
Blues is a style of music that thrives on purging and emotion. When B.B. King bends a string to stretch that note, it’s not just the tone he is going for, but the release of what is breaking down in his soul. Some guitar solos last only a moment, while others can go on for days. Heartbreak, financial woes, oppression, yearning and burning, it’s all there in the blues.
But for a genre so replete with complex emotion it is a relatively simple form. The one-four-five chord progression in a 12-bar phrase, with a call and response lyric and melody pattern, are pretty much the basics. In the literary world, the illegitimate second cousin to the blues has to be the haiku.
Poetry is a literary device, as with the blues, often designed to purge or express emotions. The set structure of the haiku makes it entirely accessible to anyone who feels the need for some lyrical tension release. Haiku is essentially a three-line poem with a five-seven-five syllable structure. More traditionally, the first line sets a mood, and the following two lines extrapolate in some abstract way.
Let’s give it a try. I bastardized a few generic lines, from various and sundry blues songs, to come up with these:
Woke up this morning
The river keeps on flowing
At least I’m not dead
Got my jellyroll
Of course that just might be why
She done slapped my face
I been down so long
This floor could use a sweeping
The dirt and me both
The blues is loaded with great haiku fodder. Pick your favourite line and see what you can come up with. Send it to us and we’ll compile some of them here in the blues blog. email@example.com
Here is one posted on the CBC Music Facebook page from Michael Gilson:
Down at the crossroads
Devil he taught me to roll
Now I got no soul
And some tweeters have taken to the Blues Haiku as well:
The blues'll come by
So let the music flow through
Then rise again whole
Down on the Delta
Misery translates to art
Roots of rock and roll
How to write a blues song
How to write a Haiku poem
Leonard Cohen honoured
on Jun 05, 2012