The blues produces a very odd and paradoxical effect for me. Contrary to the name of the genre, it does not make me blue. Blues songs, in fact, make me very happy.
Partly it’s the idea of taking a deep pain (generally the pains associated with love) and actually doing something with it. Duke Ellington once said that he took the energy that it takes to pout and wrote some blues instead. And there’s something deeply cathartic about someone pourin out all that pent up feelin and turning it into something creative and worth listenin to. Even from a second-hand standpoint, hearin someone else actually shake loose from their blues is often enough for me to actually get off my ass and DO something, instead of just sitting around and sulking.
More than that, it’s sadness personified. The long, wavering howling of Robert Johnson while he plays his lonely guitar belies more than just the pain of one broken heart, but the broken heart of every person who listens to the song. It unifies the listeners, lets them all know that they’re not alone in the pain that they’ve felt or are currently feeling. And sometimes, just knowing that they’re not alone, makes all the difference in the world.