Every Day I Have the Blues
|"Every Day I Have the Blues"|
|Single by Pine Top a.k.a. Pinetop Sparks|
|A-side||(not on A-side)|
|Format||10-inch 78 rpm record|
|Recorded||July 28, 1935, Chicago, Illinois|
|Label||Bluebird (no. B6125)|
|Songwriter(s)||Aaron Sparks and Milton or Marion Sparks|
"Every Day I Have the Blues" is a blues song that has been performed in a variety of styles. An early version of the song is attributed to Pinetop Sparks and his brother Milton or Marion. It was first performed in the taverns of St. Louis by the Sparks brothers and was recorded July 28, 1935 by Pinetop with Henry Townsend on guitar. The song is a twelve-bar blues that features Pinetop's piano and falsetto vocal. The opening verse includes the line "Every day, every day I have the blues."
After a reworking of the song by Memphis Slim in 1949, it became a blues standard with renditions recorded by numerous artists. Four different versions of "Every Day I Have the Blues" have reached the Top Ten of the Billboard R&B chart and two—one by the Count Basie Orchestra with Joe Williams and one by B.B. King—have received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards.
In 1949, Memphis Slim recorded the reworked song as "Nobody Loves Me". Although he used the Sparks brothers' opening verse, he rewrote the remainder of the lyrics, and sang the melody in a normal vocal range:
Nobody loves me, nobody seems to care (2×)
Speaking of bad luck people, you know I've had my share
"Nobody Love Me" was released as the B-side to Memphis Slim's "Angel Child" single (Miracle M-145)." Although "Angel Child" became a hit (number six Billboard R&B chart), "Nobody Loves Me" did not enter the charts. However, when Lowell Fulson with Lloyd Glenn adapted Memphis Slim's arrangement, but used Sparks' earlier title, it became a hit and spent twenty-three weeks in the R&B chart, reaching number three in 1950. Fulson's "slow grooving" version, with sax and guitar solos, influenced B.B. King's later rendition of the song.
Jazz singer Joe Williams had hits with two different recordings of the song. The first version, recorded with the King Kolax Orchestra in 1952, reached number eight in the R&B chart (Checker 762). In 1955 in New York, he recorded a second and perhaps the most famous version of the song with the Count Basie Orchestra, titled "Every Day" (Clef 89149). It featured a big-band arrangement and spent twenty weeks in the R&B chart, reaching number two. Despite Sparks' earlier song, most versions of "Every Day I Have the Blues" are credited to Memphis Slim (to his real name, John Chatman, or to his pseudonym, Peter Chatman). Because of their success, Memphis Slim's composer royalties from the later hits by other artists "were sufficient to buy a Rolls Royce with which to squire himself around Paris," according to writer Colin Escott.
B.B. King versions
Also in 1955, B.B. King recorded "Every Day I Have the Blues" (RPM 421). King attributed the song's appeal to arranger Maxwell Davis: "He [Davis] wrote a chart of 'Every Day I Have the Blues' with a crisp and relaxed sound I'd never heard before. I liked it so well, I made it my theme ... Maxwell Davis didn't write majestically he wrote naturally, which was my bag. He created an atmosphere that let me relax." The song was recorded at Capitol Records' old studio on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood which, according to RPM Records part-owner Joe Bihari, had "a better sound" than the new studio in the company's new tower. Bihari commented on a technique which bypassed the then normal method of 'micing' an instrumentalist's amplifier: "We jacked B.B.'s guitar straight into the board, so it sounded a little different."
The song reached number eight in the R&B chart and became an important piece in King's repertoire. It appears on several King albums, including his first album Singin' the Blues, the live albums Live at the Regal and Live in Cook County Jail, as well as various compilation albums.
Recognition and influence
"Every Day I Have the Blues" received two Grammy Hall of Fame Awards: Count Basie with Joe Williams' 1955 version "Every Day (I Have the Blues)" in 1992; and B.B. King's 1955 version "Every Day I Have the Blues" in 2004. Subsequently, a variety of artists have recorded the song. Johnnie Ray recorded a version in 1956. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross led off their hit 1958 debut album Sing a Song of Basie with a vocalese version of the song which included additional lyrics. Elmore James recorded a version with slide guitar during his last recording sessions in New York in late 1962 – early 1963 (Enjoy 2027). Fleetwood Mac recorded James' version in 1969 for Fleetwood Mac in Chicago/Blues Jam in Chicago, Vols. 1–2.
A live blues-rock version was recorded in 1974 by the Marshall Tucker Band for the Where We All Belong album. In 1994, Little Willie Littlefield recorded a version for his album Yellow Boogie & Blues. Tony Bennett recorded it as a duet (with Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica and vocals) for the 2001 album Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues. In 2007, John Mayer recorded a live version using a different melody and harmony for his album Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles.
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- Danchin 1998, p. 38.
- Sullivan 2013, p. 385.
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- McGhee 2005, p. 84.
- Whitburn 1988, p. 445.
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