There’s something about the blues that I’ve always connected with. Maybe it’s the unexpected rhythms of the music or the wordplay of the lyrics, but I think it’s mostly the themes which resonate so deeply with my own life. The blues chronicle love, loss, struggle and hard work. It’s nice to know that someone else feels the same way.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a small house concert featuring singer Chaney Sims and singer/guitarist Mark Riley. It was a small party and the lights were dim. We drank wine while Chaney melded blues and reggae with Northern jazz, Southern work songs and a twist of Stevie Nicks. Mark’s hands flew over the guitar; the strings wailed sweet sad harmony.
Chaney told us that she’d recently read about how when people sing together, their brain waves literally sync up, mirroring each other. It was clear that she and Mark — who had only met about an hour before — were sharing the same brain waves; anticipating each other’s musical cues. By the end of the first set, I could feel it, too. It was almost a trance state; everything was blues, all around me.
There is something incredible about sharing music in a small circle. Without microphones and amps, there is no electronic medium separating the artist from the listener. Slowly, the divisions between strangers and the distant past melt away to the tune of “Go Down, Hannah.”
I think a well-told story does the same thing. It lifts us out of wherever we are and transports us to another place and time. It lets us inhabit the skin of another human being. The brain waves of the reader and the storyteller sync up, riding waves of emotion and conflict and resolution together. That’s what stories do — whether in print or in song — they unite us in a world that makes us feel so separated. No matter if it’s a book or the blues, it reminds us that we are not alone in our sorrow, our desperation, our hope.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, but he would’ve been a musician if he’d been born with musical talents. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!