The minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.
B. B. King
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My mother was a very beautiful lady, I thought. She was very good to me. I guess – she died when I was nine and a half, but if she had lived, I probably wouldn’t be trying to play guitar. She wanted me to be known, but as something else. Not a guitar player.
I’ve said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice. Stevie Ray Vaughan missed on both counts, but I never noticed.
In our local Baptist church, I sang in the choir and formed a gospel quartet. When our minister caught me messing with his guitar, he taught me three positions – one, four and five. After that, I taught myself to play.
Even now, at 82 years old, if I don’t learn something every day, you know what I think? It’s a day lost. Now, I don’t practice every day. I just take the guitar, swear at it. But I should be swearing at myself. But I fool with music. I’m doing something musically all the time. And my ears are wide open for anything I can hear.
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When I start writing songs and it turns into an overly belabored intellectual process, I just throw it out.
There are times when you want to go where you used to go and you can’t go there. So I’m back to Count Basie lifting his hand. And I find you can stop that show with one note just like you can with a hundred.
Everything I record, I just try to sound like me and come up with songs that suit what I do and then just go for it. I never know what the public’s going to like, anyway.