On Prostate Cancer Awareness Day wear blue

prostate-cancer-awareness-month-ribbon

Instead of comments related to the Verse of the Day, we are going to look at the “Color of the Day” for September 25, 2016, which has been designated as “Prostate Cancer Awareness Day,” and in recognition of that observance, supporters are encouraged to wear blue—light blue. In thinking about blue as a color, I recall a multi-media presentation that highlighted various shades of blue, as expressions of “the blues”–the African American musical and poetic form. Here is an excerpt from the presentation that seeks to find an answer to this question: “Just what is the blues?”

As part of the oral tradition, the musical form is composed in a minor chord that is marked by melancholy, sadness, disappointment, disillusionment.  They are often sung slowly but not always. The tragic flavor is often laced with humor and irony with an underside of happiness or pleasure. Ralph Ellison offers this penetrating definition of this evocative musical form:

The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger the jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by consolations of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism.  As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.

 As we learn more about the Blues, we find a whole range of emotions expressed in musically. Just as the color blue has wide variety of shades, so does the blues in terms of their intensity.  Kandinsky, the noted philosopher and artist, comments about the color blue and its various shades:

Blue is the typical heavenly color: deep, inner, supernatural, peaceful.  The ultimate feeling it creates is rest.  The more intense it is, the more it calls us to the open sky, and demands purity and transcendence.  Light blue is like a flute, a darker blue a cello, a still a darker the double bass, and the darkest an organ.  When it darkens to black, it evokes a profound grief.  Sinking toward black, it has the overtone of a mourning that is not human.

Included in the presentation were a number of poems connected to the subject, including “All Blues,” a poetic expression of my impressions of the blues, as inspired by one of the paintings of the late Terrance Corbett, who painted a massive mural in shades of blue inspired by the music of the blues.

All Blues

pitch-black blue

bluer than

the toothless gums

of a black blues singer

screamin

moanin bout

how his baby

done left him

 

Mm mmm soon one mornin

blues come fallin down

Mm mmm soon one mornin

blues come fallin down

Said they fell so heavy

Till it caused my heart to moan

 

can no anodyne soothe

this state of mind

can no elixir elevate

this mood indigo

 

midnight blue

this thick

blue funk rises

etherizes

swirls, eddies

makes folk giddy

done stunk up

they minds

with stinkin thinkin

suffocatin in self-pity

dazed, crazy  from

this haze of blue funk

 

 I got these blues

Reason I’m not satisfied                                                    

I got these blues

Reason I’m not satisfied                                                    

That’s the reason why                                                       

I stole away and cried

 

freight-train blue

trailin down the track

lonesome echoes blowin

from a steel blue

dark harmonica

navy blue notes

wailin for Miles

from that long gone train

 

Took my baby to meet the mornin train

Took my baby to meet the mornin train

And the blues come down Baby like showers of rai

 

pastel blue

lighter, brighter

subtle twinge

of powder blue

like Betty Lou

hop-scotchin

up to sky blue

and back

 

peacock blue

glimmers, shimmering

like the lining

of Queen Esther’s

royal blue robe,

penetrates this thick

blue upon blueness

in a lighter vein

 

bright sea-blue

swirling like burgundy blue

new wine

springing from an

inner fountain blue

from the soul of a man

who swapped his low-down blues

for pure turquoise joys

 

 

Trouble in mind I’m blue

but I won’t be blue always

Trouble in mind I’m blue

but I won’t be blue always

cause the sun’s gonna shine

in my front door someday

 

just what is the blues?

 

is it somethin you get

a show nuff dis ease

like de rheumatiz

or de rockin pneumonia

and de boogie-woogie flu

or is it like Lightnin said

somethin you just borned with

whatsonever it is

somethin gets a holt of you

dis mornin    dis evenin    soooo blue

just what is the blues?

maybe Lady Day summed it up

when she said,

“The blues is everything.”

 

The sea, the sky, the blues and I know all colors;

sea and sky,  the blues and I know all colors:

all shades                                all hues                            all blues

Accompanying the poem is music of the unmistakable Miles Davis, performing “All Blues” from the album “Kind of Blue” recorded in 1959.

 

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