Mr B.B. King, You Break My Heart, Yet Carry My Soul

I read the news today on Facebook over my bowl of Life cereal…the King of the Blues, B.B. King, is dead, and music will never be the same. I can’t stop tearing up, listening to Pay the Cost to Be the Boss, or Why I Sing the Blues. Let me just tell you how this man’s music changed my life.

B.B. King was one of those artists I didn’t know well at all, but was introduced to thanks to the 1996 release of Primitive Radio Gods’ mesmerizing, Standing in a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand with its sample of B.B. singing, “I’ve been downhearted, baby, ever since the day we met” piercing the start of the song. I wanted to hear more of that voice! That voice that sounds so heartfelt…beautiful…full of pain. I didn’t actually get to hear How Blue Can You Get until I was home visiting my folks in the summer of 1996. One night, I took my Mom’s car to get her a Tim’s coffee. Sudbury’s rock station, Q92, had a Blues hour Saturday nights and it was this particular night, they played the Primitive Radio Gods’ song, followed by B.B. King’s How Blue Can You Get. I was intrigued by B.B.’s song and was taken in instantly. At that point in my 20s, I was soaking in new music like a sponge, but hadn’t really discovered the Blues as a musical genre. That short trip to Tim Hortons gave me a little taste, and I swore I’d look more into B.B. King in the future.

My husband, Kevin, was the one who got me into listening to the Blues more regularly. Out of all of the Blues artists, it was B.B. King’s music that dug into me the most. The way he would make his guitar, Lucille, sing…the soulful way he’d hit the notes, and the stories he would tell in his songs…B.B.’s songs would follow me, uplift me when I was feeling down, make me smile when least expected it, and hold me close to my heart at the RIGHT TIMES. There is something about B.B. King’s music that feeds my soul. I gush about Duran Duran and INXS, but they’re a passing fancy compared to Mr. B.B. King.  He really is THE SHIT.

Now I must go on without him!

My husband and I were able to see B.B. at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto in 2001. I will always cherish that concert. He announced to the audience that he was going to perform seated, because he was getting old and Lucille didn’t mind as long as the audience didn’t. And of course we didn’t. Do what you have to do, B.B.! You got the stage! That night it was hot, and B.B. was on fire! The concert finished just in time for a wicked thunderstorm to come rolling in from Lake Ontario, soaking us through our clothes as we ran to the car. What a night! It saddens me to think I’ll never get to see him in concert again.

The King of the Blues is dead. Long live the Blues! No one was like B.B. King. His style of guitar play is incomparable.

Where do the Blues go from here? Does Kanye know who B.B. King was? Ariana Grande will probably cover one of his songs without asking who originally wrote it. [Cough]

B.B.’s legacy in music lives on, and thankfully I can listen to his formidable creations when I feel downhearted.

R.I.P. B.B. King…How blue can you get…

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10 comments

  1. Well done, Sarca. You wrote what I was thinking, though I only posted up a quick R.I.P on the KMA today because if I started typing about him and what he meant in my own musical world, well, I’d probably still be typing.

    It was high school for me. When everyone else was listening to Metallica or whatever pop crap was on the radio, I was listening to jazz and the blues. I came to B.B., and so many other blues artists, seemingly all at once. They were all so special, and B.B. was certainly no exception. I own several of his records, and the boxed set (the booklet for which he autographed for me himself, at a show), and I play them often, in the mix around here.

    I was fortunate to see him in concert four times, and wish it could have been 4000 times. He was phenomenal every time, he just never missed. The first three shows I saw, he was standing, but by the last time we caught his gig, he was seated. And you’re right, it didn’t matter at all.

    It is truly a sad day, but I have to think that the man made it to 89 years old, and spent most of his life doing what he loved, playing his music and travelling the world. I’d call it a pretty damned good run. He was truly one of a kind, and he will be missed BIG TIME.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Primitive Radio Gods…funny, that is a CD I have sold a hundred copies of, but had no idea about the BB King connection.

    My first exposure to BB King was through U2’s Rattle and Hum film. It doesn’t matter where you hear of an artist as long as you do get to hear them!

    This was a wonderful tribute Sarca — thanks for posting these thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also saw BB King in Rattle and Hum…back when I saw it in the theatre…but I didn’t make the connection that was him and I was a stupid ignorant kid who wanted to see U2…who’s that guy singing with them? Boringgg….lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not me, but I was fascinated to hear him say, “I don’t play chords, I’m terrible at chords.” Bono reassures him, “The Edge will play the chords,” and all is well. But I couldn’t believe it! I suck at chords, still to this day.

        But actually more than his guitar playing, it was his singing on “When Love Comes to Town” that caught my ear back then!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea that was a sample of BB King in the Primitive Radio Gods song. I feel like an idiot. ..but that totally makes sense(the song and me being an idiot.)

    I always admired BB King from afar. I was never a big fan, but I had great respect for what he had done as an artist and as someone who influenced so many others. The day he died I heard an interview with him on NPR and they played the original studio version of “The Thrill Is Gone”. I’d never heard that version, just live spots. Man, that song hit me like a ton of bricks. It sounded so much more powerful to me. Maybe because I knew he’d never sing it again, or the heaviness of that lyric. Either way, it really touched me.

    Great write up Sarca.

    Like

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