Blues with a Feeling

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For the Taj Mahal album, see Blues with a Feeling: The Very Best of Taj Mahal. For the Steve Hackett album, see Blues with a Feeling (Steve Hackett album).
"Blues with a Feeling"
Single by Rabon Tarrant with Jack McVea and His All Stars
B-side "Slowly Goin' Crazy"
Released 1947 (1947)
Format 10-inch 78 rpm record
Recorded Los Angeles, 1947
Genre Jump blues
Length 3:00
Label Black & White (Cat. no. 119)
Writer(s) Rabon Tarrant

"Blues with a Feeling" is a blues song first released by Rabon Tarrant with Jack McVea and His All Stars[1] in 1947. Later, the song became an important hit for Little Walter and "has been cited by a number of his imitators as the song that inspired them to take up harmonica".[2] "Blues with a Feeling" has been recorded by various blues and other artists.[2]

Original song[edit]

Rabon Tarrant, a drummer with saxophone player Jack McVea's band, wrote "Blues with a Feeling" and also provided the vocals. The song was performed as a mid-tempo twelve-bar jump blues that features sax and trumpet soloing over a strong backbeat. The opening verses are as follows:

Blues with a feeling, that's what I have today
Blues with a feeling, that's what I have today
Gonna find my baby, yes if it takes all night and day

Little Walter version[edit]

Little Walter recorded "Blues with a Feeling" on July 23, 1953. Backing Walter (vocal and harmonica) are Dave Myers and Louis Myers or Jimmy Rogers (guitars), Willie Dixon (bass), and Fred Below (drums).[3][4] Although "most of the lyrics and general arrangement com[e] from a 1947 Jack McVea release", "Walter puts his own contemporary spin on it".[3] The song is performed as a slow blues with Walter playing a distinctive harp intro and accompaniment to his vocals.

Little Walter's "Blues with a Feeling" was issued on Checker (780), a Chess Records subsidiary. The song made its debut in the Billboard R&B chart October 10, 1953, eventually reaching #2 during an eleven-week run.[5]

Recordings by other artists[edit]

"Blues with a Feeling" "may be Walter's most covered song"[2] and subsequent versions usually show Little Walter's influence. Some versions include those by Paul Butterfield (from the 1965 album The Paul Butterfield Blues Band); Luther Allison (1977 Love Me Papa); Jimmy Witherspoon and George "Harmonica" Smith (1980 Spoon's Life); Carey Bell and Lurrie Bell (1988 Harpslinger); Little Sonny (1991 Stax Blues Masters: Blue Monday); Taj Mahal (1991 Like Never Before); Mick Jagger with The Red Devils (1992); George "Mojo" Buford (1996 Harpslinger); Magic Slim (2000 44 Blues); Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (2002 Harmonica Blues Orgy); and Little Sammy Davis (2006 Midnight Ramble Music Sessions).


  1. ^ Sometimes known as "Jack McVea and the Door Openers", after McVea's sole hit "Open the Door Richard".
  2. ^ a b c Aldin, Mary Katherine (1995). Blues with a Feeling (Album notes). Little Walter. MCA/Chess Records. p. 11. CHD2-9357. 
  3. ^ a b Glover, Tony; Dirks, Scott; Gaines, Ward (2002). Blues with a Feeling: The Little Walter Story. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-93711-5. 
  4. ^ Snowden, Don. The Essential Little Walter (Album notes). Little Walter. MCA/Chess Records. p. 12. CHD2-9342. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 261. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.