If you don’t listen to the blues, you’re gonna get the blues. Ry Cooder read The Good Book on married life: the song was written by Blind Willie McTell

By Stephen Pate – When Bob Dylan sang “I know no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell” I thought he was putting us on.

Dylan, as always, had a hidden meaning in that title possibly referring to Blind Willie McTell’s  “Married Man’s a Fool”, an obscure song by an obscure blues artist.

I didn’t know Blind Willie McTell but I knew the blues.  McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” was a classic but I didn’t understand how Dylan was so impressed by him.

Dylan, who went through a bitter divorce in the late 1970’s would have learned a thing or two about married life and “Married Man’s A Fool” can be connected to that appreciation.

Dylan played “Married Man’s a Fool” on Theme Time Radio, on the 8th episode covering the theme of Weddings.  Ironically, Dylan played the drôle Ry Cooder version not the original one by Blind Willie McTell, despite writing “no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell“.

Blind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell

Dylan recorded “Blind Willie McTell” in 1983 during the Infidels sessions. “Blind Willie McTell“, which is partly based on St. James Infirmary Blues, did not get released until 1991 on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3: Rare And Unreleased. Imagine writing so many great songs that Dylan can just throw away a classic.

Fool # 1

You might wonder: where is this story is going?  Avoiding the song “Married Man’s A Fool” I was blindsided by reality.  I would skip the needle past “Married Man’s A Fool” but I could not skip what was coming.

Part religion and part did-not-want-to hear the song also stopped me from learning the song was written by Blind Willie McTell. I thought it belonged to Ry Cooder who liked sly blues songs.

In 1973 when Ry Cooder released “Married Man’s a Fool” on the album Paradise And Lunch, I was a young married man with a wife and 2 children. I was deeply religious and held strong views on the “sanctity” of the marriage vows. You know the vow about until “death do you part.”

The song “Married Man’s a Fool” made me cringe in horror. A wife would never cheat and wander from home.

I didn’t think it could happen. I got the blues big time when I learned the sad truth. “He said a man’s a fool to think that his wife love nobody else but him. She stick by you all your life, the chances is mighty slim.”

My blind ignorance only made the blues worse when four years later with the end of marriage # 1. “Married Man’s A Fool” was the real blues, sad and funny all at once.

For the rest of the sermon and story see Married Man’s A Fool At The Church of Devil’s Deacon

Words and music copyright Blind Willie McTell. Featured image which is not directly related to the story content Creative Commons Some rights reserved by Austin Moody. Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN NetworkOyeTimes and IMA News Buzz.