Monday, December 24, 2012

How to Sing da "Pension House" Blues

I’m not sure who wrote the template for “How to Sing the Blues”; nevertheless, I had some fun revising what was attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky, and now “P-Bluesman Brown”)

Most Blues songs begin with “Woke up dis morning…” and not “I got a good woman” (and I do). It’s a bad way to begin a Blues song, unless your next line is perhaps “with the meanest dog in town.”

Blues songs are actually simple to write. After you compose the first line, you can write something that announces the kind of Blues you’re feelin’, like “Woke up dis morning/with these pension House Blues …” Then tell why you have the Blues: “Woke up dis morning/with these pension House Blues/’cause I’m a pension blogger, baby/I’m a-singin’ da Blues.”

Of course, the Blues are not always about limitless choices. For instance, Blues cars are either hearses (like the Ghost-Busters’ Cadillac) or Chevy’s, not BMW’s or Lexus’s. Other acceptable modes of transportation include buses and (southbound) trains. To say you’re “Walkin” when you’re singin’ the Blues is perfectly acceptable; especially when you add the line you’re “Fixin’ to die” or “Goin’ to Kansas City.”

Young people can’t sing the Blues, unless they’re teachers of course, and not all adults can sing the Blues either, unless they’re in a chain gang waitin’ for the “Chair” because they killed somebody in Memphis or Chicago.

You can have the Blues in Chicago, but not if you’re livin’ in Kenilworth or Bannockburn. Hard times in Concord or Montpelier are just a temporary depression, not the Blues. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are great places to have the Blues; if you’re a teacher, most anywhere in Illinois will do.

Never mention the colors violet, beige and mauve in your Blues song. Moreover, you can’t sing the Blues in a high-rise office in downtown Chicago or at the Woodfield mall – the lighting is wrong.

Good places to have the Blues are hitchin’ a ride down some dark, dirty road or walkin’ southbound along the railroad tracks, or sittin’ in the jailhouse or on a bed in a Motel 6. If you’re singin’ the Blues in Chicago, another good place is Wrigley Field.

Bad places to sing the Blues are in a cabin in upper Michigan, vacationing in the Cayman Islands, or partying at the Four Seasons Hotel.

No one will believe you got the Blues if you wear a Brooks Brothers suit—even if it’s wrinkled—unless you’re an old black man.

You have the right to sing the Blues if your name is a state way down south, like Georgia, Alabama or Mississippi; if you’re blind, or if you shot a man in Memphis or Chicago.

You can’t sing the Blues if you had laser surgery anywhere on your body, if you’re nearsighted, or if you have a trust fund with Vanguard or Fidelity Investments. Neither can Enya, Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga sing the Blues.

You can’t sing the Blues if you drink imported wines or beers. However, you can sing the Blues if you drink Ripple or Boone’s Farm, bad whiskey, Blatz, or rubbing alcohol.

If you were stabbed in the back by a jealous lover, you can sing the Blues; if your baby gives you gasoline when you ask for a can of Keystone, you can sing the Blues; if your baby’s name is Lil’ Woman, Sexy Sadie or Big Mama, you can also sing the Blues.

So let’s get started: in order to begin singing the Blues, you have to use either alliteration or assonance in your Blues name. Call yourself “Bluesman” or a version of the Blues, like “Delta,” “Piedmont” or “Chicago”…; you can call yourself what you used to call your mother or preacher; you can give yourself a name with a physical infirmary and a body type too, or call yourself a marvel of nature, the name of an animal or the sound that a wolf makes; you can call yourself a type of steak, or a fruit, or even a piece of wood; or you could just use your initials or last name with “Junior” after it.

Some good examples might be Lightnin’ Johnny D., KoKo Klonsky, Sunny-Boy Kenny P., Hound-Dog Zahniser, Blind Mad-Dog Madsen, T-Bone Tucker,  Louisiana Slim-Man Sanders, Mississippi Melon Mertz, Boogie Woogie Rebb, Howlin’ J. Lindgren, Pinetop Furman, Mama Chaya, Piedmont MiC, Smokey-Soul Sasso, or Reverend Richie P.

People with names like Pat, Lisa, Michael, Bruce, Rahm, Tom, Ron, Don, Dan, Darlene, Elaine, Heather, Christine, Kathleen, Michelle, Kwame, Patricia and Kirk... can’t sing the Blues no matter how many men they shot in Memphis or Chicago.

Got These Pension House Blues 
(or I ain’t fixin’ to die penniless no matter how much the IL GA tries)

Woke up dis morning
With these pension House blues,

’Cause I’m a pension blogger, baby,
I’m a-singin’ da blues.

Said, I’m a pension blogger, baby,
And I can’t sleep ‘til dawn.

I got these blues, lately,
‘Cause of Squeezy the Quinn.

I got these blues Stately,
‘Cause of Mad-again.

Said, I got the Pension House blues,
And I can’t sleep at all;

‘Cause I’m a pension blogger, baby,
I’m ready to brawl.

"I’m goin’ to Springfield;
Springfield, here I come...

"Well, I might take a train;
I might take a plane.

If I gotta walk,
I’m goin’ just the same."

I’m goin’ down to Springfield
to protest these goons.

‘Cause I’m a pension blogger, baby;
I’m ready, Ty-phoon.

--P-Bluesman Brown

Now send me your Pension Blues song.


  1. I prefer "I ain't blind - 'cause I see what you're up to - boy" Klonsky.

  2. I prefer "I'm lyin' on my back in my bed cryin' over you- my pension."