Jim Belushi is a man of many trades. He's entertained us through movies, TV, in theatre, and with his incredible improvisation skills. Not to be outdone by his late great older brother John, his knack for the blues is sensational as well (see: his band the Sacred Hearts) leaving us to wonder, what can't this man do? Since Orange County is lucky enough to once again be graced with Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy (this time at the Brea Improv October 4th and 5th) and since we can't script what will go down while he's there (that part is up you folks), we decided to see what his picks would be for the “Top Five Blues Songs.”
5. Howlin' Wolf, “Killing Floor”
It's the line, “If I would have followed my first mind, I would have left you the second time. But instead, I fooled around with you and I ended up on the Killing Floor.” I just love that this guy knew that this girl was so dangerous that he was just going to do her twice- too late. Second time he fell in love and it killed him. Also, in the blues world, the signature rhythm of this song is considered the simplest and the best. People have been stealing from it for years. The ring tone on my phone is the beginning of “Killing Floor.”
4. The Blues Brothers, “Sweet Home Chicago”
This is the essential electric Chicago sound that was originated by Robert Johnson, who is considered the father of the blues. It's also a song that my brother John popularized with The Blues Brothers and is considered the city of Chicago's anthem. It has great slide guitar work. And if you listen closely enough to the blues, you'll see that a lot of blues songs are based in this particular blues progression that you'll find in this song. And plus, I'm from Chicago.
3. Eric Clapton, "Crossroads”
Legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksville, Mississippi in exchange for becoming a famous master of the Blues guitar. Thus was born the song called "Crossroads” about that legendary meeting. There are some great versions of it, but I like Eric Clapton's version the best.
2. Lowell Fulson, "Reconsider Baby”
I love this song. It breaks my heart. I just feel deep emotion every time I hear it. He just loved that girl so much. When I first started out with the Sacred Hearts band, we were playing the Santa Barbara Blues Festival and an African-American gentleman came backstage and my band asked if I minded if he joined us for a song. I said sure. He came onstage and sang "Reconsider Baby.” I later said to my drummer, "Who's the old dude singing the Eric Clapton song?” He said, "Oh, Jim… Eric Clapton is singing his song. That's Lowell Fulson.” So I recommend Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby” although Clapton's is very good too. Lowell Fulson's version is in the Smithsonian Collection of Blues. It's a cool song.
1. Elmore James, "One Way Out”
You may know the version of this song that the Allman Brothers made famous where Gregg Allman says, "We're going to do an Elmore James song.” I love the Allman Brothers version, it is terrific. But to hear the simple Blues essence of Elmore James' version is quite remarkable.
Catch Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy at the Brea Improv October 4th and 5th, 120 South Brea Blvd. 92821, (714) 482-0700. For tickets go to www.Improv.com. For more information, check out his website www.jimbelushi.ws and follow him on Twitter @JimBelushi.