At 80, blues legend John Mayall sings about a world gone crazy

Wed May 7, 2014 11:22am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Blues songs are traditionally about women who have done you wrong, working on a chain gang, or being brought low by booze - but what about Christians and Muslims killing each other?

John Mayall, often dubbed the "godfather" of British electric blues, touches on just this in "World Gone Crazy", a track on a retrospective album of newly recorded songs he is putting out this month to celebrate turning 80 last year.

To a driving beat, wailing harmonica and blues-chord progression, he sings about the guilt of living in conflicted times, the depletion of natural resources, chaotic governments and a global plague of killing.

It will all end in a reckoning, he sings, and nothing more so than the clash of religions.

"Religion. I said, religion. Always at the root of a war/The Christians and the Muslims never get along no more/They're killing everybody/Bodies lying on the floor."

In an interview from his California home, Mayall said politics was a natural subject for a bluesman because the genre, which emerged from the harsh life of African Americans in the U.S. Deep South, is all about a grim reality and the feelings it inspires.

"When I write songs that touch on social relevance, all you have to do is pick up a newspaper," he told Reuters. "It was an obvious one because everyone is blowing themselves up. It's just crazy."

That is not to say that all blues has to be grim - or that the album is.   Continued...

Blues legend John Mayall performs during a concert in Bucharest, November 11, 2012. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti