Bessie Smith
Ultimate Collection

Blues

Blues is about tradition and personal expression. At its core, the blues has remained the same since its inception. Most blues feature simple, usually three-chord, progressions and have simple structures that are open to endless improvisations, both lyrical and musical. The blues grew out of African spirituals and worksongs. In the late 1800s, southern African-Americans passed the songs down orally, and they collided with American folk and country from the Appalachians. New hybrids appeared by each region, but all of the recorded blues from the early 1900s are distinguished by simple, rural acoustic guitars and pianos. After World War II, the blues began to fragment, with some musicians holding on to acoustic traditions and others taking it to jazzier territory. However, most bluesmen followed Muddy Waters' lead and played the blues on electric instruments. From that point on, the blues continued to develop in new directions -- particularly on electric instruments -- or it has been preserved as an acoustic tradition.

Blues Song Highlights

Title/Composer Performer Stream
The Thrill Is Gone B.B. King
Boom Boom John Lee Hooker
Born Under a Bad Sign Albert King
Love in Vain Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago Magic Sam
I Just Want to Make Love to You Muddy Waters
Good Rockin' Tonight Roy Brown
Hound Dog Big Mama Thornton
Mystery Train Junior Parker
Cry, Cry, Cry Bobby "Blue" Bland
The Things That I Used to Do Guitar Slim
I Got Love if You Want It Slim Harpo
Wang Dang Doodle Koko Taylor
That's All Right Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup
Turn on Your Love Light Bobby "Blue" Bland
Baby Please Don't Go Big Bill Broonzy
Driftin' Blues Charles Brown / Johnny Moore's Three Blazers
Little Red Rooster Willie Dixon
Tell Mama Etta James
Hide Away Freddie King
Juke Little Walter
Bright Lights, Big City Jimmy Reed
Backwater Blues Bessie Smith
Messin' with the Kid Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band
Stormy Monday T-Bone Walker
Evil Howlin' Wolf
Shake Your Moneymaker Elmore James
Cross Road Blues Robert Johnson
Every Day I Have the Blues B.B. King
You Shook Me Muddy Waters
All Your Love (I Miss Loving) Otis Rush
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl Sonny Boy Williamson I
Eyesight to the Blind Sonny Boy Williamson II
I Ain't Got You Billy Boy Arnold
Milk Cow Blues Kokomo Arnold
Candy Big Maybelle
Rockin' at Midnight Roy Brown
Born in Chicago The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
How Long, How Long Blues Scrapper Blackwell / Leroy Carr
Smoking Gun Robert Cray
San Francisco Bay Blues Jesse Fuller
Reconsider Baby Lowell Fulson
Rainin' in My Heart Slim Harpo
Since I Met You Baby Ivory Joe Hunter
Big Ten Inch Record Bull Moose Jackson
I'm So Glad Skip James
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean Blind Lemon Jefferson
Canned Heat Blues Tommy Johnson
Eisenhower Blues J.B. Lenoir
John Henry Furry Lewis

Blues subgenres and styles [+]