Song #22: “Help Me”

The last bit of inadvertent influence my father had on the music I listen to — and it’s a big one — is from Sonny Boy Williamson. My father happened to buy a Sonny Boy Williamson record. He didn’t listen to it. I did and my head nearly exploded. Most of my favourite artists are influenced by the blues. I hear the blues in everything. I still listen to and appreciate the music of plenty of great blues artists like B.B. King, Blind Willie McTell, Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Lightin’ Hopkins, Little Walter, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, Skip James, Son House, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. But if I have to pick the one blues artist who can’t do wrong, who I know, whatever track you pick, I’m going to love it, it’s Sonny Boy Williamson. In my book, he’s the embodiment of everything that is the blues.

If you don’t like Sonny Boy Williamson, get out of my house.

Song #12: “Tin Pan Alley”

My father had a few blues records around the house, stuff like B.B. King (who I love), but nothing that made me want to dive deep into the blues to figure out what was so great about it. I give it up to Stevie Ray Vaughan for hooking me into the blues like nobody else. And my brother. He played a tape in the car one day that had “Tin Pan Alley” on it and I said, “Who the hell is this?” I couldn’t believe it was Stevie Ray Vaughan.

I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan play Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” but I had no idea he could play the blues like this. I don’t listen to him much these days, but his version of “Tin Pan Alley” is the song that got me exited about the blues and led me to discover some really good blues music. You gotta start somewhere.