“The Blues” by Billy Collins

Much of what is said here
must be said twice,
a reminder that no one
takes an immediate interest in the pain of others.

Nobody will listen, it would seem,
if you simply admit
your baby left you early this morning
she didn’t even stop to say good-bye.

But if you sing it again
with the help of the band
which will now lift you to a higher,
more ardent and beseeching key,

people will not only listen;
they will shift to the sympathetic
edges of their chairs,
moved to such acute anticipation

by that chord and the delay that follows,
they will not be able to sleep
unless you release with one finger
a scream from the throat of your guitar

and turn your head back to the microphone
to let them know
you’re a hard-hearted man
but that woman’s sure going to make you cry.

“The Blues” by Billy Collins from Sailing Alone Around the Room. © Random House, 2002.


“Why I Sing the Blues” performed by B.B. King

“The Thrill is Gone” by B. B. King

The Thrill is Gone” by B. B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)


“I don’t have a favorite song that I’ve written. But I do have a favorite song: “Always on My Mind,” the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it like he do, I would sing it every night. I like the story it tells. It go, I may not have written you–he’s talking about a lady–when maybe I should have. Or maybe I didn’t take you to dinner, didn’t call you when I should have, or didn’t love you as I should have. But you was always on my mind. I felt that way a lot in my life. I think every person feels it. That’s one of the things about being an entertainer. What we do–it’s just sharing the thoughts that many people have. You go to see a movie, and you sit up and cry–it’s because something is happening in there that just done happen to you or somebody you know. It’s the same thing with what I do. Don’t matter if you’re gay or straight, black or white, you still have the same problem. It’s love. It’s universal.”

~ From interview with Esquire magazine, “B.B. King: What I’ve Learned” January 2006.