It isn’t always necessary to know someone very well to figure out if something’s disturbing them. Sometimes, you don’t have to know them at all. Language isn’t important, either. It’s not necessary to understand them or to even hear them speak. You can see they have the blues.
Once, while standing in line at the post office, I noticed the sound of several dialects being spoken by others in line and at the counter. I heard what I believed to be Spanish, Middle Eastern, perhaps Romanian or Czechoslovakian and my own good old Southern-style English. Each person speaking was talking with someone who sounded like they did, either in a native tongue or in English with a thick accent. I wondered how much we could understand each other if we were all in one conversation.
Then, it dawned on me. If one of us needed help or had to communicate that something was wrong, we would all immediately understand. Perhaps we couldn’t get the specifics, but we’d know they were unhappy. We could tell the blues was in ‘em.
The idea for this song came from that moment of realization in 2000 in the Bellevue, Tennessee post office that no matter what language is native to any of us, we all Understand the Blues.
Understand the Blues Words and Music by Les Kerr ©2000 Publisher: O.N.U. Music (ASCAP) We’re going multi-cultural in this wide world of ours It’s putting quite a strain on all of my linguistic powers If you’re not bilingual, you can’t get your business done But I found me a way I can relate to everyone Spaniards hablan Espanol and Frenchmen parlez vous But you can speak my language if you Understand the Blues The Blues is spoken ‘round the world by women and by men By anyone who’s lost a dollar, peso, pound or yen You’re lover leaves you cryin’; your l’amour bids you adieu Then you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, you Understand the Blues Music is the universal language, so they say But the most common dialect is in the Blues today This accent’s heard in every voice, no matter what they speak It’s part of every tongue from Mandalay to Mozambique From Australia’s land Down Under to the mountains of Peru Ain’t a living, breathing soul who doesn’t Understand the Blues We know about the differences between each foreign land We say, “They speak a language no one here can understand.” The nations search for common ground but I know this is true: In one way they’re united ‘cause they Understand the Blues Ain’t a living, breathing soul who doesn’t Understand the Blues
Text and photos copyright 2017 by Les Kerr