Singin’ the Blues

the blues

I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues

 ~Duke Ellington~

I was flipping through my husband’s Living Blues magazine yesterday and came across the Obituaries section.  As I read about  the artists, it dawned on me that so many of the old blues artists live well into their eighties or nineties.  Jimmy McCracklin, age 91…Mickey Baker, age 87… Eddie Burns, age 84…

My husband and I have had some great date nights listening to (and watching)  a few of the old blues musicians play at our local Famous Dave’s (BBQ and blues joint) in Uptown Minneapolis.  There were a few folks that we were fortunately able to see before they died.  These guys definitely had a few years on them.  Some had to sit throughout all the sets and had to be physically assisted off and on the stage due to aging eyesight or aging bones… but when they started singing, playing the harp, or strumming their guitars,  they were as energetic as any teenager out on a dance floor!

My husband and I were in Chicago a few years ago and I had the great opportunity to spend a few minutes visiting 1:1 with the legendary Buddy Guy at his joint – The Legends.  His face was as smooth as a baby’s… few signs of the wear and tear on most guys at the age of 76.  I told him how honored I was to be able to meet him and to listen to his music and yes… I did gush… you are amazing… his reply? “Not so bad for an old sharecropper’s son…”!  Mr. Buddy Guy is still touring the country on a regular basis as he moves into his late seventies – still playing the blues after all those years.  Let’s not forget the King… Mr. B.B. King that is…,  he is one of the most energetic guitar playin’,  blues singin’ musicians you will ever see…

How do these old blues musicians outlive so many others?  I don’t think it has anything to do with living a healthy lifestyle in their younger days…, most will admit to boozin’ it up, chasing after anything in a skirt, and smokin’ like steam engines (along with lack of sleep and a host of other bad habits…).  I don’t think it has anything to do with the amazing preventative healthcare they were given as children…, most were raised in extreme poverty and probably lucky to ever see a doctor as a child.

So what was (and is) their secret to living long lives?  As Ethel Waters put it: “There was one emotional outlet my people always had when they had the blues.  That was singing”.

Creating an emotional or physical outlet to handle the struggles and tragedies of life is important to stay healthy in mind and body.  When we get sad or depressed, a vicious cycle ensues: we lose energy… we eat too much or too little… we lose energy… we gain weight or we lose weight… we lose energy… we stop moving and get de-conditioned… we lose energy… we stop our spiritual habits (going to church, meditating, praying)…we lose energy… we stop socializing… we lose energy…

Our bodies need to take in oxygen through breathing.  Our beating hearts need to move the oxygen throughout our bloodstream to nourish all the cells that make up our human form.  We need to  inhale and exhale to live – it is a scientific fact.

Some breathe through formal exercise.  Some breathe through playing with our children.  Some breathe through making love.  Some  breathe through chatting it up with family, friends and co-workers.  Many breathe by performing our day-to-day tasks at work and at home….

and some breathe by playing the blues…

So how do you “sing” away your blues and get your blood pumping?

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