They Call it Stormy Monday

It is claimed that T-Bone Walker was the first blues musician ever recorded playing the electric guitar. I first saw him in a video of he and other American blues musicians on tour in Europe back in the 60s. Instead of holding his instrument in typical fashion he held it semi-perpendicular to his body about half-way between a guitar player and a Dobro player. Seemed so uncomfortable and unnatural but for him it worked. And since he was a major influence on later players, such as B.B. King, he must have been doing something right.

For the average blues fan T-Bone Walker is best remembered as the man who wrote and performed what may be my all-time favorite blues number, Stormy Monday. Just about every blues musician has covered Stormy Monday and I can’t begin to remember who I think did it best. Most recently, though, I was listening to Bluesville on XM radio and heard the Allman Brothers Band’s version from the 1970s. Since I haven’t heard anything more recent I’m going with them. Here’s a YouTube video of a live Allman Brothers performance that included Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes. It will move the molecules of your soul.

2 thoughts on “They Call it Stormy Monday”

  1. Now you’re hittin’ close to the bone. Back when I first started playing, say around 1961-2, I hooked up with Dave Bussard and we did a guitar/bass thing. One of the first tunes we figured out was “Stormy Monday”, but we could only play it in the key of E. Of course I end up doing it to this day at the Blues Jam that I play, but it isn’t as much of a standard as it could be. Basically, the player who runs the jam calls the shots, since he (hasn’t been a “she” yet) has to sing the tunes, and everyone has their preferences. Actually, there are two vesions of the tune: “Stormy Monday” is a straightforward (to get technical for a while) 1-4-5 blues progression, while “They Call It Stormy Monday” is more complicated, with passing chords and such. It’s not difficult to play, but the progressions must be done correctly for everything to work, and that isn’t always possible when the band might not even know each other’s names, let alone having played together before. The old hands, however, call the latter version the “T-Bone Version.”

    Blues is, to me, really the true American music, because jazz has that insufferable, “I know more about music theory than you do” attitude that gets in the way of communicating emotion, which is what I think music is really for. Great post, Larry, and it gives me a chance to rant about something other than politics!

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