Deborah Henson-Conant

Telling stories with music at HipHarp.com

When I’m trying to teach … or learn … anything – it always helps me to have a song.  This is one I wrote for a workshop on the Blues. The way we did this is that I’d sing the first line, then they’d sing back – and so on, ’til we got to the last line of each verse, that we all sang together.

This kind of call-and-response with a final line all sung together is fairly typical of the Blues.  Then, every time we sang the line “Play, play, play the Blues” we’d launch into a chorus of instrumental Blues – some playing the bass line, some the chords and some the melody.

What I wanted to do with this song was help the players remember all the different elements of the Blues they were learning: the rhythm, the bassline, the melody and the swing rhythm, the harmonic changes, the fact that Blues is like a musical game, that you can play it solo – or with friends – and finally, how to create a 3X turnaround at the end and a Count Basie ending.

You may not be able to see all that from the lyrics – but it’s all there – and once you’ve played this tune with me, you’ve got a good handle on the Blues.

Play, Play, Play – Play the Blues (Lyrics)

by Deborah Henson-Conant

Well, you start with the RHY-THM (Well, you start with the rhy-thm)
Cause the rhy-thm is the beat (Cause the rhy-thm is the beat)
Play it with your hands (Play it with your hands)
And feel it down to your feet (And feel it down to your feet)
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!  Play the blues!

[HARP ENSEMBLE PLAYS ONE CHORUS OF 12-BAR BLUES]

Then you got the BASS-LINE (Then you got the bass-line)
Boom-in’ down below  (Boom-in’ down below)
Fol-low-ing the har-mon-y (Fol-low-ing the har-mon-y)
Stead-y as you go (Stead-y as you go)
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!  Play the blues!  

[HARP ENSEMBLE PLAYS ONE CHORUS OF 12-BAR BLUES]

Now the MEL-OD-Y swings (Now the mel-od-y swings) 
The way the rhy-thm do. (The way the rhy-thm do.)
Skiddle-diddle-dee!  (Skiddle-diddle -dee!)
Skiddle-diddle-doo! (Skiddle-diddle -doo!)
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!  Play the blues! [PLAY!]

[HARP ENSEMBLE PLAYS ONE CHORUS OF 12-BAR BLUES]

Sweet, sweet HAR-MON-Y! (Sweet, sweet har-mon-y!)  
One, four, five! (One, four, five!)
That’s all you need (That’s all you need)
To keep the blues a-live. (To keep the blues a-live.)
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!  Play the blues! [PLAY!]

[HARP ENSEMBLE PLAYS ONE CHORUS OF 12-BAR BLUES]

You put ’em all to-geth-er (You put ’em all to-geth-er)
You’re play-ing the blues. (You’re play-ing the blues.)
Blues is like a game,  (Blues is like a game,)
Where no-bod-y lose. (Where no-bod-y lose)
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!  Play the blues! [PLAY!]

[HARP ENSEMBLE PLAYS ONE CHORUS OF 12-BAR BLUES]

Play the blues to-geth-er (Play the blues to-geth-er)
Play it all -alone (Play it all a-lone)
Play it at a pa-rty (Play it at a par-ty)
Play it at home, (Play it at home)
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!  Play the blues! [PLAY!]

[HARP ENSEMBLE PLAYS ONE CHORUS OF 12-BAR BLUES]

This is the OUT HEAD!  (This is the out head!)
Get read-y for the end! (Get read-y for the end!)
The phrase-‘ll turn a-round,  (The phrase-‘ll turn a-round)
And the notes are gon-na bend! (And the notes are gon-na bend!)
Play, play, play!  
I tell you: Play, play, play!
Oh honey: Play, play, play!  Play that Do-Mi-Fa-Fi-Sol-La-Ti-Do!   Yeah!!!!!


Do you play the harp? “Blues HarpStyle!” is one of the online courses available at Hip Harp Academy. Find out more HERE! OR, sign up for FREE trainings from DHC HERE.