A little-known fact: I like blues music.
Before I was married, my musical taste ran more to international, classical, and (some) folk music. Bubble-gum rock–Ick. Just ICK! My attitude was if it all sounds like this, forget it!
Which is why I was never really acquainted with much of rock & roll’s vast repertoire. Not until later in life.
Once hooked, my husband introduced me to blues. It wasn’t long before I knew the names of greats and legends like Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Bessie Smith, Son House, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, and more. So many more.
But in the winter of 1992, one among them passed away. In the days following his death, radio stations across the state played many of the songs he’d written. DJ’s filled in time between songs performed by a myriad of artists about the influence his creativity had on musicians across the world and across genres.
A phenomenon I hadn’t heard before, it demanded a response. I wrote a poem–just a simple one, but heartfelt–memorializing both the person and the event.
Today, no mention was made of him when one of his songs came over the radio station tuned in my car.
Was any mention needed?
Maybe for others. Maybe for those just discovering the depths behind the music. Maybe for those too young to know anything about what inspires tunes they hear. Maybe for those who don’t realize music gives birth to music even as it nourishes the soul of the listeners.
I didn’t need to hear the name spoken by the DJ.
As the song played, I heard the name in memory.
MO Mourns a Bluesman
In Memory of Willie Dixon (1915 – 1992)
Radios played the requiem
from K.C. to St. Lou
for one who opened other doors
for rock and roll, for jazz and blues.
A blues harp mourned on Missouri’s banks,
rolled northward to the breaks,
joined the Mississippi’s moan
and the delta’s sighing ache.
A blues harp wailed on the riverbank
the day that Willie died
while somewhere in the Heartland
a little red rooster cried.
“MO Mourns a Bluesman”, excerpt from Under Every Moon by G.L. Francis, © 2013, http://www.amazon.com/Under-Every-Moon-G-Francis/dp/0615870694