I was stretching my hands to hit a C chord in the G position in the CAGED system. Something I’d seen a million times but never really knew what it was until then. My guitar teacher passionately waited for me to strum what would sound like failing out in guitar hero. I wanted to riff like Pat Martino in Sonny but I was a while away. He saw a red truck pull in the drive way behind me and dropped the hint for me to pack it up.
“I really think your not too far away from getting to were you want to be” He said.
I gave him look like he just shit his pants.
“I’m serious. Practice this week and we’re probably going to get into some blues next week. So it wouldn’t hurt to listen to some B.B. King either.”
I was still skeptical, but despite the sandals and socks, the man could play.
“I don’t think I’ve ever listened to B.B.King before, well at least a other than a song here or there. Got any good suggestions?”
He smiled and opened the door of his studio, signaling me to get the fuck out.
“Oh you’ll be in for a treat then. Live in Cook County Jail.”
I thanked him and walked out with my guitar case in hand.
The next day it poured outside and I was held up in the apartment. I played until I got hungry and threw on some B.B. while I prepped. The convicts boo’ed the jail staff for a few minutes and B.B. got into. The man came out swinging, literally. It was jumpy, so much so, my shoulders got into it during my carrot cutting. Almost as instantly as it began he slowed it down and whaled on one of the best, yet simplest solos I’ve ever heard.
The man screamed out every word, like a hot air balloon with a leak. It just poured out of him. I got goosebumps on “How blue can you get?”. The band stops and the man commands the room with
“I GAVE YOU SEVEN CHILDREN. AND NOW YOU WANNA GIVE THEM BACK!?!”
The crowed roared. I roared, knocking pieces of celery for my soup to the floor.
The more I listened the more I realized these weren’t just songs for B.B. I was hearing a man journey. I was hearing the pain of what it means to be alive sometimes. It wasn’t just the words or Lucille doing her thing. It was a summation of every thing. The rises, the falls, the screams, the whispers, even the pauses. He didn’t play with his head. It was all heart baby. And to this day,
I love every minute of it.