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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

Listen to the Blues

That’s right. The Blues. Those heart-wrenching ballads sung by the genre’s finest -- and bluesiest -- singers like Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, Ana Popovic and Shemekia Copeland to name just a few.

Listening to the blues can make you feel good. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Well, soul singer Bobby Harden puts it this way in a 2016 “Psychology Today” interview with author and psychotherapist Sean Grover: “When people listen to the blues they relate whatever sadness or troubles they're going through in life.” He goes on to point out that listening to the blues teaches us three things.

  • They remind you that you’re not the first to struggle with situations such as relationships or money problems.

  • They give you perspective. You start to think maybe your problems aren't as bad as you think they are.

  • You find humor in your situation and laugh about it. Maybe you could even write a great song yourself about the problems.

Poet and critic Eli Siegel wrote that “The blues style represents . . . a saying of things that are very painful, deep and poignant, with a feeling of ease. In the very best blues the pain changes, because of the music, into something light.”

And seriously, how can you not share her joy listening to the legendary Etta James’s soulful triumph over the blues in “At Last”?

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