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Why Do the Blues Feel So Good?

Soul singer Bobby Harden explains why singing the blues is good for you

Bobby Harden
Source: Bobby Harden

Broke, broken hearted, or betrayed? Don't fret, there's a blues song for every hardship in life. But did you know that singing the blues is actually good for you?

Earlier this year I caught legendary soul singer Bobby Harden in his recent show at BB King’s in New York City. What a night! A master entertainer, Bobby brought blues classics and his own original songs to life. But if you really listen to the lyrics, many of the songs are filled anguish and hurt—songs that celebrate broken hearts and shattered dreams—yet Bobby had the audience jumping to their feet and begging for more.

Have a look at these excerpts of some of the lyrics of Bobby’s latest CD, RIVER OF SOUL and you’ll find confessions of falsehoods, lost love, and lonely souls yearning for forgiveness:

“Some nights I want to cry…no one really cares…

feeling all alone and sorry for myself… From “Try Again”

“You did have the right to walk walk out the door…

I did you wrong and now you’re gone.’ From ”Where is the Love?”

“She’s outta my life...I’m not ready for the next love yet.

I have to ease the pain in my heart." From “Not Ready”

Bobby Explains Our Love of the Blues

I sat down with Bobby asked him with three simple questions:

1. Why do the blues feel so good?

When people listen to the blues they relate whatever sadness or troubles they're going through in life. The original blues artists grew up in a chapter of history filled with so much pain and had to persevere through so many disadvantages in life. Men in particular couldn't express their pain to their partners. Maybe it was pride or they just weren't taught to express feelings.

Many blues singers back in the day did so much road work that made it to easy to be unfaithful. All of the breakups and unfaithfulness gave them plenty of material for songs. I'm sure it was a way to turn a negative into a positive.

2. What do we learn from the blues?

Blues songs teach us three things:

  1. They remind you that you’re not the first to struggle with situations such as relationships or money problems.
  2. They give you perspective. You start to think maybe your problems aren't as bad as you think they are.
  3. You find humor in your situation and laugh about it. Maybe you could even write a great song yourself about the problems.

3. Are the blues making a comeback?

The blues today has a much larger audience, young and old, black and white, and it's growing. Thanks to younger blues artist like Robert Cray and Keb Mo, and lots of fantastic young up and coming blues guitar players, the fan base seems to be growing to all races and ages.

The music festivals, especially in Europe, have blues artist, soul, R&B, Jazz and Rock groups performing in the same festivals, which give people of all ages an opportunity to hear some great blues and all the other styles of music. Again, thanks to great talented rock artists and groups that helped expose blues to a larger audience, Bird and Electric Flag, Rolling Stones, U2, Eric Clapton, and The Blues Brothers Band all helped to expose Muddy Water, BB King, Albert King, Albert Collins and others.

Even today as I tour with the Original Blues Brothers Band we see young kids, teenagers, moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas dancing and enjoying our shows at every festival . They all love the blues and soul music.

Discovering You’re Not Alone

The old adage “A shared sorrow is half a sorrow” may also explain why singing the blues is so good for us. In song after song, we discover that we’re not alone in our suffering. Everyone makes mistakes, fails or faces obstacles in life. But with brilliant soul singers like Bobby, we learn to celebrate our sorrow, pick ourselves up, and, in Bobby’s words, “Try again and again.”

For Bobby's touring schedule CLICK HERE