New Music Tuesday: Buddy Guy

I tripped and fell into listening to Buddy Guy way later than I’d like to admit. The man is a blues legend, obviously, and from Chicago no less, yet I grew up knowing the man’s name and little else. Pops raised us on James Taylor and Leonard Cohen, and musical culture in my elementary and junior high circles rarely extended beyond what was playing on the radio.

Plus, ya know, kids can’t appreciate the blues. Nothing crappy has happened to them yet, and even if it has they’re too young and naïve to truly appreciate just how crappy that crappy thing may have been.

As a twentysomething scraping his way through school, broke, and dating the most wrong girl God could’ve crafted for me, I got the blues, baby, and Buddy Guy is exactly where I ended up first. After falling in love with some of the older stuff he did with Junior Wells, I went ahead and bought every damn piece of material the man had ever made.

And now there’s “Living Proof,” the 74-year-old musician’s most recent full-length record, and I don’t love Mr. Guy any less than I did the first time I listened to “Drinkin’ TNT ‘n’ Smokin’ Dynamite.” This guy is still ripping solos like he’s 30.

A few years ago when B.B. King (who appears on the album, by the way) was touring after turning 80 years old, my brother and I went to one of the shows and couldn’t help but notice that he’d lost a few steps musically. Don’t get me wrong, the guy was entertaining as hell, playing all the classics and telling loads of great stories that only B.B. could tell. But as far as tearing off on ol’ Lucille like he used to… well, it just wasn’t the same.

Buddy, though, is still killing it. The first track on the album, “74 Years Young,” is high-energy, high-emotion blues at its finest. “Stay Around a Little Longer,” the track featuring King, is soulful and emotional and cool, while “Where the Blues Begins,” featuring Carlos Santana, is a classic example of Guy molding to the style of just about anybody he plays with.

Look, there isn’t a bad apple in the peck. It’s blues the best possible way blues can be done by the guy who helped define the modern iteration of the genre. You don’t even have to date a horrible woman or lose every dime to appreciate it.

About the Author

Joel Brigham writes about stuff. It’s pretty much all he cares about. Stuff like music and more music. But he mostly cares about music. And also music.

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