Happy Monday to you all! I’m changing up the schedule a bit here on the Monday Morning Blues & using this post to bring the Poor Boy series to a close. Yes, this is the twelfth & final post in a series that has enabled us to see a blues song in various states of transformation from Bo Weavil Jackson’s 1926 recording to this almost contemporary version released in 2004 as “The Moan” on their EP of the same name by The Black Keys.
The Black Keys are a guitar & drum duo that hail from the U.S. Rust Belt—Akron, Ohio, in fact, & who bring a heavy duty, roots-based attack to a repertoire of mostly original material—but they do include interesting covers of diverse musicians, including Louisiana blueman Robert Pete Williams, the Stooges, the Sonics, & Mississippi Juke Joint bluesman Junior Kimbrough. Speaking of Mississippi Juke Joints, “The Moan” to my ear is heavily influenced by RL Burnside’s “Poor Boy Long Way From Home.” The band members are Dan Auerbach on vocals & guitar & Patrick Carney on drums.
Recently, the Black Keys have won some relatively mainstream recognition, as their song “Tighten Up” won a Grammy for “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal,” & was also nominated for “Best Rock Song.” In addition, Brothers, their 2010 Nonesuch release on which this song appears won both “Best Alternative Music Album” & “Best Recording Package”—the latter refers to an album’s artwork, not to the actual recorded performances.
Auerbach & Carney bring a lot of energy to their version of the song (they actually claim writing credits for “The Moan”—I’ll just let you draw your own conclusions on that), & their grunge/punk-inflected version of old blues is one of the more interesting from a white band since Captain Beefheart’s massive deconstruction/reconstruction of blues—both covered & original—during his heyday.
Next month there will be some changes in the Monday Morning Blues line-up—two new features will debut, & in addition to the Poor Boy series ending, the Blue Notes blues/jazz series also is going to go away, tho to some extent it may be incorporated into one of the new features—stay tuned for details! Any Woman’s Blues will continue (at the rate of one post per month, I could keep this feature going a couple of years more at least!) & the Blues Guitar series will go at least one more month, tho I’m running a bit low on ideas of guitars that are very associated with blues performers.
In the meantime, enjoy The Black Keys & “The Moan”!