Bobby "Blue" Bland: A Farewell

Bobby Bland (January 27, 1930 – June 23, 2013)

"Bobby Bland appears, big, shambling, sleepy-eyed, tongue licking at the edge of his lips. He plays aimlessly for a moment with the microphone, his eyes cast upwards as if for inspiration, the band kicks off and that smooth, mellow, almost horn-like voice slides in among the three trumpets, trombone and saxophone (guitar, bass, two drummers and occasionally a piano round out the band). "I pity the fool/I pity the fool that falls in love with you . . ." It is ten-thirty, and Bobby "Blue" Bland is just going to work.

The sound built around him includes sophisticated big-band arrangements, intricate instrumental voicings and brass squalls to match Bobby's gargled vocal interpolations -- dramatic orchestral flourishes in sharp contrast to the warmth, intimacy and projected vulnerability of Bobby's singing voice. It is not the blues exactly. The songs project a sense of hurt and vulnerability, and a willingness to embrace responsibility, that is far removed from the blues' unquestioning embrace of reality. It is simply a seamless body of work whose song titles and sentiments ("I'll Take Care of You", "Turn on Your Lovelight, Let It Shine on Me"), shimmering melodies and intricately arranged effects all meld together."

                                                                             From: Peter Guralnick, Lost Highway