Monday, February 11, 2008

Astrology & The Healing Blues

On Saturday evening I was introduced to a genre of music of which I'd not previously taken much heed - The Blues. Janiva Magness was the featured performer at our local theatre. She has a wonderful, strong voice and is a great performer - she reminded me a little of Tina Turner, with shades of Janis Joplin. Her birth data is elusive, it's a pity, for her story is interesting. She has had much sadness and many obstacles in her life, and found refuge in singing the blues at an early age. She mentioned several times during the evening that she holds a deep belief that music is healing - especially blues music.

There's a YouTube interview with Janiva with some details of her lifestory HERE.

Here she sings a heart-wrenching song "You Were Never Mine" .
Not all blues are as melancholy as this - they can also be bitchy, sexy and downright naughty!

Blues music is such a well defined genre, I wondered if some of its best known stars might have something in common astrologically. As Ed Kopp wrote in "A Brief History of the Blues" :

"When you think of the blues, you think about misfortune, betrayal and regret. You lose your job, you get the blues. Your mate falls out of love with you, you get the blues. Your dog dies, you get the blues.

While blues lyrics often deal with personal adversity, the music itself goes far beyond self-pity. The blues is also about overcoming hard luck, saying what you feel, ridding yourself of frustration, letting your hair down, and simply having fun. The best blues is visceral, cathartic, and starkly emotional. From unbridled joy to deep sadness, no form of music communicates more genuine emotion.

The blues has deep roots in American history, particularly African-American history. The blues originated on Southern plantations in the 19th Century. Its inventors were slaves, ex-slaves and the descendants of slaves - African-American sharecroppers who sang as they toiled in the cotton and vegetable fields. It's generally accepted that the music evolved from African spirituals, African chants, work songs, field hollers, rural fife and drum music, revivalist hymns, and country dance music."

What astrological factors does that bring to mind? Saturn aspects, mainly with Mercury (communication - which includes singing). Saturn says angst, difficult times, barriers.... next, some emotional depth - Moon and its aspects, Water signs, perhaps a lot of negative (Yin) polarity.(Wikipedia: "Yin "shady place, cloudy, overcast; the dark element: it is passive, dark, feminine, negative, downward-seeking, consuming and corresponds to the night.")

I picked the first three names HWK (my husband) suggested as quintessential blues singers - B.B. King, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters, and looked at their natal charts. No times of birth are available for any of them, which severely limits any search for Moon aspects and house positions, so I looked mainly for Saturn aspects, Water, and polarity in their charts.

B.B. King, born 16 September 1925, Itta Bena, Mississippi.

Saturn sextiles Mercury and possibly Moon, (which could be anywhere from 1 to 12 Virgo). Jupiter trines Mercury. There's a loose Grand Trine in Water linking Pluto, Uranus and Saturn. Negative polarity dominates positive 9 to 1!

Robert Johnson, born 8 May, 1911, Hazlehurst, Mississippi.

Saturn conjunct Mercury and 7 degrees from Sun, Saturn opposes Jupiter and sextiles Mars.Moon would be in Virgo and possibly in trine to Sun/Mercury/Saturn if born before 10pm.Grand Trine in Water, Jupiter/Mars/Neptune. Negative polarity dominates positive 8 to 2.

Muddy Waters born 4 April 1915 , Rolling Fork, Mississippi. (Note: Wikipedia's stated birth year, 1913, for Muddy Waters should be 1915 according to the above linked bio.)

Saturn squares Mercury/Mars. Moon in Sagittarius (degree uncertain) might well oppose Saturn in Gemini.
Water predominates, negative beats positive polarity 6 to 4. Stellium in Watery Pisces.

Conclusion: Saturn aspects Mercury in all three charts. Negative (Yin) polarity dominates in all cases. The element of Water is a big factor in all three charts, via Grand Trine or stellium.

The blues these men sing, or sang, are traditional in style, Janiva Magness' blues are a more contemporary version, but still with the same key ingredients.

One of my husband's photographs from Saturday night (click to enlarge):


R J Adams said...

Wonderful music, which led of course to the birth of rock and roll itself. The blues still permeates almost every form of modern music and great artists like Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler are great blues players. "Yes gotta be black ter play the blues" may have been true once, but not for many years.
Some of the old Fleetwood Mac recordings with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer are terrific blues gems. I doubt there's any rock band that came out of the sixties that didn't start off playing twelve bar.

Twilight said...


Hmmmm - I'm unable to analyse music structure (as I've had to explain to himself, several times!) I can see the AAB thing with regard to blues, that's as far as I can go. I keep telling my husband "I'm just not mechanical" - that covers a lot of ground!

It appears the blues has evolved almost out of recognition, from the old "My dog died and my wife left" format!

Anyway, I liked most of what I heard on Saturday evening, but when I'm feeling melancholy, I don't think the blues will ever take the place of Sinatra in my heart. He sang blue without the blues ;-)

I do like Matk Knopfler though (not so much Clapton).