With the start of another school year, it can be hard to cope with the demise of another summer. Especially when you try and brace for the impending wave of assignments looming not far behind.
It’s enough to give anyone the blues, and it can seem like there’s no cure. Luckily, I’ve concocted the perfect tincture to ease what ails you. In the spirit of the old adage “fight fire with fire,” I purpose combating a bad case of the “back to school blues” with a healthy dose of blues music.
Below are a few suggestions to lift your spirits and maybe even encourage you to break out a groove or two:
1. Find A Way – Robin Randolph and The Family Band
First, you’re sucked in by the masterful steel guitar. Then you stay for the exceptional vocals and engaging lyrics. Heavy, bluesy and funky, it’s hard to believe Robin Randolph grew up only playing and listening to Sacred Steel for much of his life.
The result of introducing soul and funk influences and secular subject matter to the steel guitar he grew up on is an impressive body of work. Randolph is so praised for his steel guitar work, famous musicians such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana have studied his technique.
Suggested similar: Soul On Fire – Saint Jude, Shake It – Robin Randolph and The Family Band
2. Boom Boom – John Lee Hooker
Don’t be surprised to find yourself singing this song as you’re walking to class or humming the guitar riff during an exam. This song becomes effortlessly ingrained into your head. Hooker’s song about a knockout lady is just the right mixture of catchy chorus and blues-infused storytelling to make it a must on the short list.
Suggested similar: Smokestack Lightning – Howlin’ Wolf, Diddy Wah Diddy – Bo Diddley, Shake Your Money Maker – Elmore James, Roadrunner – Bo Diddley
3. Lay Back Daddy – Etta James
As a general rule, you can never go wrong with Etta James. Her powerful, emotional vocals paired with perfectly suited instrumental lineups always leave you wanting more.
“Lay Back Daddy” off of James’s 1973 album, “Etta James,” definitely adopts the flavor of 70’s funk in this addicting track. The bass guitar takes the melody and sets the funky tempo, with trumpet and electric guitar taking up supporting roles.
Paired with the playful lyrics, this song gives you the confidence and mood boost you’ve been asking for.
Suggested similar: Wang Dang Doodle – Koko Taylor, Tell Mama – Etta James, Let it Rock – Etta James
4. Born Under A Bad Sign – Albert King
By the title of the track, you may be thinking not all is well for Albert King…and you’d be right. “If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all,” King laments.
While everythings is far from coming up roses for King, this catchy tune will at least give you proof there is someone worse off than you. I mean, come on! Hard luck and trouble are his only friends!
Suggested similar: Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues – Buddy Guy, The Sun is Shining – Elmore James, Everyday I Have the Blues – T-Bone Walker
For an extended playlist, find the Back to School Blues playlist on Spotify.