The “I’m Busted” Blues

        When Ray Charles renders “I’m Busted” he sings it like he means it.  I’m sure he does.  For all his success he saw plenty of hard times in the early years.

        Most people who sing the blues with feeling have lived it at some point along the way.  If a guy was to sing the line, “My attorney has a significant difference of opinion with my spouse’s counsel as to the correct interpretation of our prenuptial agreement” it just doesn’t carry the same power as “that woman done tore my heart out.”

        When I hear a fellow say he has it tough because “the first quarter portfolio statement did not reflect our anticipated yield” I can’t say I feel sorry for him.  But when Ray Charles sings “I’m busted” I believe it even though I know he was likely quite well-to-do at the time.

        Years ago we added on to our house.  The dry-wall man was a fine banjo player.  I’d come in from work and have him take a break to show me some licks.  My wife had to shoo me out so we could get our new bedroom finished up.  When we finished the project we had an open house to celebrate and he brought his band to play.

        The lead singer was a red-faced man who sweated profusely as he sang some of the saddest stuff I’d ever heard; things like the Stanley’s “Daddy Please Don’t Drive Drunk No More.” It was a great private concert. After a few songs, I turned to my pal Moose Dooley and said, “I wish I could sing like that.”

        Moose said, “Doc, you ain’t drunk enough whiskey to sing like that.”

        Moose was right. I never did make much of a blues singer. I’ve had too much good luck to be very authentic in the genre.  But at least I did sympathize with the folks who were down on their luck, so I learned to sing a little bit of the blues.  It’s like what they say about my mandolin work; “You ain’t bad for a doctor.”  

        If a man was to say, “Given your chosen profession as a physician your vocal skills have reached a reasonable level of proficiency,” then I would know for a fact they were no blues singer before we struck the first note.

        But if a man flops his hat on the sidewalk for tips and sings “I’m Busted,” then I’ll probably sing along with him the best I can and buy him some lunch.  I ain’t got the blues, but I know it when I see it.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: favorite unknown bands, memorable gigs, Moose Dooley, The Monday Morning Post, Writing

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6 Comments on “The “I’m Busted” Blues”

  1. Billy Says:

    one thing for sure — you know the difference between telling and showing. Keep it up

  2. newt221 Says:

    Well, as you know, I have been living the “Blues” for a while now. And, if I was out there howling about it, I would welcome you howling along.

    As it is the amount received as compensation for my experience as a Vet Tech barely exceeds the amout outlayed for the necessities of life. And the expense paid for the legal advice given in a matrimonial dispute far exceeds what is expected to be received from said division of properties held in joint possession.

    How is that for doublespeak?

    • drtombibey Says:


      Lawd have mercy you oughta go to law school after that deal is over with!

      My wife and I do a duet called “Living the Blues.” If we ever play in your neck of the woods we’ll send it out to you. Maybe by then instead your tune will be “Gone but Not Forgotten.”

      Dr. B

  3. Aw doc, I’d think that with all the hardship and illness and sadness you’ve seen amongst the people you take care of, you’ve got good cause to recognize the blues for real. It’s a blessing and a mercy and a credit to your goodness that you needn’t be too familiar with that feeling for your own self.

    • drtombibey Says:


      My family has been fortunate, but you are right. I have seen a lot of hardship and I can take it to heart. I guess that is why I can sing the blues. Even though I don’t have ’em, I sometimes come down with a case from worrying about everybody else.

      I’ve often said the Lord made me very resiliant so I could still look after my people even in hard times.

      Dr. B

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