If you're like us here at FBF, you'll soon be waking up to the sights, smells, and sounds of Christmas, with kids or grand kids, nieces or nephews opening presents, relaxing and enjoying time with family and relatives, and eating as much food as humanly possible while praying that you still fit into your clothes when you go back to work in a few days. What better way to get into the spirit than to hear some good old Christmas blues from some of your favorite artists. Remember, even though it's a holiday of celebration, folks even get the blues during Christmas time. Here we go.........
First up is John Lee Hooker and his ragged and raw "Blues For Christmas." Hooker recorded this track for Chess in the early 50's, during his first brief stay with the label. Hooker bounced around quite a bit, returning to Chess during the 60's, after several other stops in between.
Next, you have the great B.B. King, with "Christmas Celebration," from 1962. We lost the great man earlier this year, but his music will live on forever, thank goodness.
Houston has had a whole bunch of great ladies sing the blues, and Ms. Trudy Lynn is one of the finest. One of my Houston-area buddies turned me on to her music and I'm certainly glad he did. If you're not familiar with her, you need to check out some of her music. Hopefully, FBF will do so in the near future. Meanwhile, check out "Christmas Time Comes But Once A Year," a tune she recorded during her stint with the late and much missed Ichiban Records.
Here's one of my favorite Christmas blues tunes, Sonny Boy Williamson's "Santa Claus." Sometimes, when you listen to his recordings for Chess, it sounds almost like he was making the lyrics up on the spot. I don't know if that's the case here, but I wouldn't be surprised a bit. I just think it's cool that he was able to rhyme "Santa Claus" with "Dresser Drawers."
Another favorite is Eddie C. Campbell's "Santa's Messin' With The Kid," a holiday reworking of the Junior Wells' classic tune. Campbell suffered a stroke and heart attack while he was touring in Germany in February of 2013, and his wife organized a fund raiser to help pay for him to fly back to the states for treatment. Nearly two years later, this past January, he was able to play again at East Gate Cafe in Oak Park, IL. He's still recovering and hopefully he will be hearing more from him soon.
We know that Santa's primary focus year round is to give, give, give to others. It only makes sense that every once in a while, as Albert King states below, "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'," a funky tune he recorded for Stax in the early 70's.
Of course, you can't talk about Christmas blues songs without bringing up the great Charles Brown, who recorded two of the best ever Christmas blues songs......."Please Come Home For Christmas" and "Merry Christmas Baby." Brown originally intended to be a Chemistry teacher, graduating from Prairie View A&M in the early 40's with a degree in Chemistry, and later worked as an apprentice electrician before settling in Los Angeles in the late 40's, as part of the Three Blazers. Brown influenced a number of blues and soul piano men, notably Ray Charles, who started out very much in a Charles Brown vein before he went on to invent Soul music. Brown continued to work, but thanks to the efforts of Bonnie Raitt, he enjoyed a nice comeback in the early 90's, before passing away in 1999. Here are Brown's two beloved classic Christmas blues.
Friday Blues Fix wishes all of its readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We will return next week with our Top 20 releases of 2015, so be sure and come back for that next Friday. For now, we'll sign off with one more tune......Charlie Musselwhite's splendid version of "Silent Night."