Writing Prompt: Singing the Blues

IN HONOR OF THAT OTHER AMERICAN tradition, join me and make a list of your current woes. Together, we can sing the blues! (I know. This runs counter to the most fundamental of Thanksgiving philosophies—but once we’ve purged our troubles, I’m betting we’ll be better-primed to list our blessings come November 26th!)

Writing prompt

So, we’ll start by creating our lists. Go ahead and jot down your current afflictions—as many or as few as you choose. Here’s my short list:

  • My BFF from wild-childhood just turned 60. Which means—guess what—I’m not far behind.
  • According to my periodontist (my relationship with whom is, in itself, worthy material for a blues song), I’m gearing up for a third gum graft.
  • If you look closely enough (and please don’t) you can see that my hair is thinning at the part.

Okay, now let’s turn our blues into blues LYRICS!51Z8W1N5JRL

12-bar blues lyrics are pretty simple: The basic verse pattern is AAB, AAB, AAB . . . for as long as you’ve got something to sing about. All three lines of each verse rhyme—and the first two lines of each verse are (almost) identical. Oh! And don’t forget to give your song an awesomely pitiful title. Here’s mine:

The Not Getting Any Younger Blues

A. My ol’ best friend’s gone way past the halfway point
A. Yeah, my ol’ best friend’s gone way past life’s halfway point
B. Now, I’m shuffling along just a step behind her,
hard of hearing and creaky of joint

A. My ol’ periodontist, he’s tellin’ me my gums are too thin
A. Yeah, my ol’ periodontist’s sayin’ my pink ol’ gums are thin
B. I gotta lay back in his chair again an’ let him patch some roof-of-my-mouth skin back in

A. My good ol’ hair’s thinner now than when I was young and fine
A. Oh, my good ol’ hair’s thinner than when I was young and fine
B. So I’m doin’ a swoop-di-doop comb-over just to cover up the ever-widening line

A. My ol’ best friend’s gone way past the halfway point
A. Yeah, my ol’ best friend’s gone way past life’s halfway point
B. I’m just shuffling along, hard of hearing, creaky of joint, and only one step behind

* * *

If you’ve shuffled along this far with me, and want to learn more about the blues, check out PBS’s Blues Classroom and Danny Chicago’s “How to Write the Blues”!

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