Whole Lotta Blues: “Call It Stormy Monday”
By: Molly Morgan
As a kid, my least favorite time of the week was Sunday night. To this day it hasn’t changed. I dislike Sunday nights with so much intensity because, after watching Once Upon a Time (and now Mad Men again starting March 25th- hallelujah), I know that my weekend will come to a premature close, and Monday morning will be upon me. With Monday mornings come classes, tests, lab reports, essays, and all the components that make up a typical school week for college students.
Instead of avoiding the dread that Monday entails, I choose to succumb to it. I usually accomplish this task by lying on the couch, watching TV, eating high-carb foods, and, of course, listening to music. The epitome of Monday songs, within the blues genre, has to be “Call it Stormy Monday”, by T-Bone Walker.
Recorded in 1947, the song is an example of the 12-bar blues format. T-Bone’s vocal chords belt out “Lord have mercy, my heart’s in misery / crazy about my baby, yes, send her back to me”, and each note played on his guitar feels like the anguish in his heart.
“Call it Stormy Monday”, not to be confused with “Stormy Monday Blues”, evolved into an industry standard, and has been covered by a plethora of blues artists, including (but not limited to) Cream, Junior Wells, Albert King, and Jethro Tull.
T-Bone Walker was a true pioneer. Not only did he have a freakin’ sweet hairdo ‘stach combo, but he was the first blues musician to record with an electric guitar. The sharpness and clarity that the electric guitar brings to his songs, especially “Mean Old World” (a fave of mine), convey emotion in a way that, regrettably, an acoustic guitar simply cannot.
Aside from integrating the electric guitar into blues music, T-Bone Walker had a very unique performance style. He would hold the guitar flat while he strummed the strings, and to add vibrato, he would shake the instrument’s body from side to side, effectively bending the notes. Audience members would probably see T-Bone perk his eyebrows in surprise or grin widely with joy, when he was pleased with his glorious guitar. If they were really lucky, they would witness T-Bone do the splits while playing or even hold the guitar behind his head. T
T-Bone Walker was the king of the electric guitar, and his music is the perfect soundtrack for my Mondays, stormy or otherwise.