I'm trying to get people to see that we are our brother's keeper. Red, white, black, brown or yellow, rich or poor, we all have the blues.
When you don't have much money, you worry that they'll just put you in the ground someplace and your loved ones won't know where you are.
Jazz is the big brother of the blues. If a guy's playing blues like we play, he's in high school. When he starts playing jazz it's like going on to college, to a school of higher learning.
Everything I record, I just try to sound like me and come up with songs that suit what I do and then just go for it. I never know what the public's going to like, anyway.
I've always tried to defend the idea that the blues doesn't have to be sung by a person who comes from Mississippi, as I did.
I don't try to just be a blues singer - I try to be an entertainer. That has kept me going.
If there was no ladies, I wouldn't wanna be on the planet. Ladies, friends, and music - without those three, I wouldn't wanna be here.
Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play the blues and then not be blue anymore.
Even now, at 82 years old, if I don't learn something every day, you know what I think? It's a day lost. Now, I don't practice every day. I just take the guitar, swear at it. But I should be swearing at myself. But I fool with music. I'm doing something musically all the time. And my ears are wide open for anything I can hear.
The blues was like that problem child that you may have had in the family. You was a little bit ashamed to let anybody see him, but you loved him. You just didn't know how other people would take it.
Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die to get there!
Cotton was a force of nature. There's a poetry to it, hoeing and growing cotton.
I almost chopped my thumb off once. Just before I left home, I was about ten or eleven years old, and I was trying to open a bone. Can you imagine that? A bone! I was trying to get the marrow out of a bone, and I took the ax, and I went to chop it, and something slipped, and the ax went right down there and damn near cut it off.
Water from the white fountain didn't taste any better than from the black fountain.
When I do eventually drop, I pray to God that it'll happen in one of three ways. Firstly, on stage or leaving the stage, then secondly in my sleep. And the third way? You'll have to figure that out for yourself!
If my fans want to do something for me when that time comes, I say, don't waste your money on me. Help the homeless. Help the needy... people who don't have no food... Instead of some big funeral, where they come from here and there and all over. Save it.
Back when we was in school in Mississippi, we had Little Black Sambo. That's what you learned: Anytime something was not good, or anytime something was bad in some kinda way, it had to be called black. Like, you had Black Monday, Black Friday, black sheep... Of course, everything else, all the good stuff, is white. White Christmas and such.
Whenever I'm in Kansas City, I think back to all the jazz-blues greats who played the blues here - like Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Jay McShann. I watched those guys jam in different places and heard a lot of things - but I couldn't do what they did. They were too good.
I bought my first electric guitar when I moved to Memphis; a Gibson with a DeArmond pickup which I used with a small Gibson amplifier.
I tell my children now that they are older, 'If something happens to me... don't make no big fuss over me. Don't make no big expense on my funeral. Don't put any pressure on the rest of the family. I've loved everybody, and I hope they loved me. But don't create this big expense for the family.'
The way I feel today, as long as my health is good and I can handle myself well and people still come to my concerts, still buy my CDs, I'll keep playing until I feel like I can't.
I don't have a favorite song that I've written. But I do have a favorite song: 'Always on My Mind,' the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it like he do, I would sing it every night. I like the story it tells.
As for my band, well, my mentors were Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, and no one had a band more smartly dressed than Duke.
I've been a loner all the time throughout my life... I haven't been the best father... Many times... my children have accused me of not giving them enough attention. And, frankly, I never have been good at handling that.
The minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.
I never met a woman I didn't like. I love 'em all, in their different ways.
We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about but try to be yourself while you're doing so.
I tried to connect my singing voice to my guitar an' my guitar to my singing voice. Like the two was talking to one another.
I started to like blues, I guess, when I was about 6 or 7 years old. There was something about it, because nobody else played that kind of music.
I would sit on the street corners in my hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, and I would play. And, generally, I would start playing gospel songs. People would come by on the street - you live in Time Square, you know how they do it - they would bunch up. And they would always compliment me on gospel tunes, but they would tip me when I played blues.
Everything I record, I just try to sound like me and come up with songs that suit what I do, and then just go for it.
What don't I want to learn? I have how-to books, history, nature. Ain't nobody here saying, 'You'd better learn this.' But I still think I've got a head on my shoulders, and it pleases me.
I liked blues from the time my mother used to take me to church. I started to listen to gospel music, so I liked that. But I had an aunt at that time, my mother's aunt who bought records by people like Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and a few others.
When I was in the country and I was trying to play, nobody seemed to pay too much attention to me. People used to say, 'That's just that ole blues singer.'
I didn't want to disrespect my parents, so I never played blues around the house. But I knew then, same as I know today, that I wasn't doing anything wrong. I think that before they died, they both felt very proud of me.
I used to play - when I first started trying to be professional, I disk jockey from 1949 to 1955 in Memphis, Tennessee, and I was quite popular there as a disk jockey.
I like jazz, rock n' roll, some hip hop - I can't think of any music I don't like.
I have not been a good father, but no father has loved his children more. Like my father, I decided the best thing I could do for my kids was work and provide. Fortunately, I've been able to do that. Unfortunately, my work was on the road, and that's meant a life of one-nighters.
If T-Bone Walker had been a woman, I would have asked him to marry me. I'd never heard anything like that before: single-string blues played on an electric guitar.
When we went into World War II, I was a tractor driver then. I drove tractors on the plantation. So when they start calling people my age, 18, up, I was one they called.
My wife Martha used to call me Ol' Lemon Face because of my facial contortions when I play Lucille. I squeeze my eyes and open my mouth, raise my eyebrows, cock my head and God knows what else. I look like I'm in torture, when in truth, I'm in ecstasy. I don't do it for show. Every fiber of my being is tingling.
I call myself a blues singer, but you ain't never heard me call myself a blues guitar man.
I don't care for the music when they're talking bad about women because I think women are God's greatest gift to the planet - I just like music.
I've seen myself on those lists of the 100 best guitarists, and if they think that I'm that good, thank them. Thank God for them. But I don't think so.
I was a singing disc jockey who heard every type of music there was - and loved it all.
The problem is that a lot of the blues stations are late on Saturday night, and like a lot of people, I ain't no vampire!