Saturday, May 23, 2015

BLUES in the charts?

Dr. Cornel West, in his book Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir, wrote:

“I'm a bluesman moving through a blues-soaked America, a blues-soaked world, a planet where catastrophe and celebration- joy and pain sit side by side. The blues started off in some field, some plantation, in some mind, in some imagination, in some heart. The blues blew over to the next plantation, and then the next state. The blues went south to north, got electrified and even sanctified. The blues got mixed up with jazz and gospel and rock and roll.”

Iconic blues singer B.B. King died recently. His passing prompted me to seek out a post about some blues singers, including B.B. King, that I wrote in 2008. I've taken parts of that old post, edited, updated them and re-posted below.

Blues music is such a well defined genre, I had 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 spring to mind? Saturn aspects, mainly with Mercury (communication - which includes singing). Saturn says angst, difficult times, limits, 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 my husband suggested as being quintessential blues singers: B.B. King, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters. No times of birth are available for any of them, which limits search for Moon aspects and house positions, so I looked at their natal charts mainly for Saturn aspects, Water, and polarity.

B.B. King, born 16 September 1925, Berclair, Mississippi. has a rectified time of birth for him but I'll stick with a noon chart for this purpose.

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 (Yin) polarity dominates 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 (Yin) polarity dominates 8 to 2.

Muddy Waters (birth name McKinley Morganfield) born 4 April in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in either 1913 or 1915...or? (Note: Wikipedia and other websites have his birth year as 1913, some biographies state 1915, as does his gravestone.) From Wikipedia's page:
Although in his later years Muddy usually said that he was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in 1915, he was most likely born at Jug's Corner in neighboring Issaquena County in 1913. Recent research has uncovered documentation showing that in the 1930s and 1940s, before his rise to fame, he reported his birth year as 1913 on his marriage license, recording notes and musicians' union card. A 1955 interview in the Chicago Defender is the earliest claim of 1915 as his year of birth, which he continued to use in interviews from that point onward. The 1920 census lists him as five years old as of March 6, 1920, suggesting that his birth year may have been 1914. The Social Security Death Index, relying on the Social Security card application submitted after his move to Chicago in the mid-1940s, lists him as being born April 4, 1913. Muddy's gravestone gives his birth year as 1915.

Doubt surrounding his year of birth is as muddy as his chosen name! An alternative place of birth, within a short distance, won't make much difference, but the year of birth will. I'll post charts for 1913, 1914 and 1915, maybe a clue will emerge.

4 April 1915
Saturn squares Mercury/Mars. Moon in Sagittarius (degree uncertain) might well be opposed by Saturn in Gemini. Stellium in Watery Pisces. Water predominates, negative (Yin) beats positive polarity 6 to 4.

Alternative chart #1
4 April 1913
Polarity is equally balanced negative with positive here (Yin/Yang), and elements are well balanced also.

Alternative chart #2
4 April 1914
Polarity favours positive (Yang) here, 6 to 4, and elementally Air and Water are balanced.

The chart for 1915 does best fit the pattern of the other two legendary blues singers, and one would expect his gravestone to be correct, but.... We'll never know why 1913 inexplicably changed to 1915 - or even whether either year was the correct year of birth.

Conclusion (if Muddy Waters' year of birth is taken as 1915): Saturn aspects Mercury in all three charts. Negative 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 sang, are traditional in style, blues singers from later years have expanded the range and flavour of the genre a little, but I think the three artists above illustrate the blues genre's very core.


mike said...

RIP BB King! Not prudent to generalize based on two datum and a questionable third. I would have selected a much wider sampling of singers-musicians with known times of birth and put a couple of females on the evaluation list, ie Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin. I doubt you have the time for this daunting task, as there are way too many. Here's a brief list of Sun-sign Gemini, Cancer, and partial Leo:

I suspect the astrology of celebrity individuals expressing the blues it's similar to your "Arty-Farty Friday" posts. No common denominators will be discernible to indicate a particular talent.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Well yes, agreed. I wasn't intending to "prove" anything, just investigating out of simple curiosity, and interested to find a wee bit of similarity. I took these three guys as representing the very "roots" of the blues genre, once it had emerged from it's origins.

I doubt there'd be any common denomintors if someone had the time and inclination to investigate every blues singer of the 20th century and beyond. Astrology ain't THAT good! Same applies to Arty Farty subjects, yes. But it's interesting to me to see how the astrology can sometimes relate to each individual's style/genre, and what we know of each personality.

mike (again) said...

Never know...your thesis may be correct. Yes, I enjoy the "Arty-Farty" too, as often astrological signatures apply. The following two links are in the mainstream right now and relate to view points, data correlation, and interpretation:

"Not even astrology researchers believe in astrology: Inside a bizarre academic fight over celebrities and signs"

"Astrology and celebrity: Seasons really do influence personality"

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thanks for those links. I like the second one better than the first. I do think there's a seasonal element involved in astrology, but as an ultra-simple part of the very intricate patterns involved.

I've often scribbed here that, in my not very humble opinion, the planets are markers only, marking the passage of some kind of space/time waves of differing "flavours".

I liked this quote from link #2:

Hamilton is not arguing that heavenly bodies are the true source of these effects; rather, astrological aspects are just useful tools, or heuristics, that help people remember the timing and patterns of nature.

Anonymous said...

To mark his passing, good old CBC drug out an interview with BB in which he told the following story, in answer to a query about how he got started in the blues.
BB recalled as how he lived in a small churchy town and he would go down to the intersection to busk. He said that when he played the spirituals, people would walk up and say, good for you, son, and pat him on the shoulder, but when he sang the blues, people would leave money in his hat; by such signs, his future path was illuminated to him ;P
BB and I share the same birthday but were born some thousands of miles and one Saturn cycle apart.
I've loved the blues since I first heard it, tho I tend to prefer the really old delta stuff and some Chicago singers.
Thinking of white boys, John Mayall did a damn fine job; and some of the wayback wimmen like Bessie Smith just can't be beat.

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ Re Bessie smith - we saw
HBO's bio pic "Bessie" a week or so ago, with Bessie played by Queen Latifah - played and sung really well too. Enjoyed that, though I'm not a died-in-the -wool blues fan, I enjoy some of it.

We saw Janiva Magness some years ago at our local theatre, and I still recall vividly one song she ripped her heart out singing - "You Were Never Mine". There isn't a version of it on YouTube that comes anywhere near the way she sang it that night.
I think she wrung out the whole audience as well as herself! :-)

mike (again) said...

A claim of foul play has been made!!! Was BB poisoned?|main5|dl3|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D295949181

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Your comment landed in the spam file again for some reason.

Anyway...what a sad epitaph this is for B.B. King. At age 89 and in hospice someone accused of poisoning him.