Thursday, September 10, 2009

Poverty: Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out

Eric Clapton: Nobody Loves You When You‘re Down and Out


My first thought when I saw the announcement of this week’s theme was, “I’ve got to post some blues this week.” Here’s a classic, made famous by the great Bessie Smith.

I have always thought of this song as a Depression era tune. Indeed, Bessie Smith recorded it on the cusp of the stock market crash in 1929, and it was one of her most popular numbers during the Depression. But Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out was written by Jimmy Cox in 1922 or -23. When you think about the words, this makes sense. Here we have a former millionaire who has fallen to the depths of poverty, but he still believes that he is one lucky break from returning to his former stature. This kind of thinking belongs to boom years, not to an era of desperation. During the Depression, a lyric that had originally seemed realistic became a last ditch attempt at hope.

When Eric Clapton chooses to be a blues musician, he is one of my favorites. Here, he eloquently conveys the emotion of the original song. And he does this in an acoustic setting, even though he is justly known for his skill on electric guitar.

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