Born Under a Bad Sign

That’s got to be one of the best blues titles ever.

Expresses the mood, ethos and angst perfectly.

Born Under a Bad Sign was written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones in 1967 for Albert King. It doesn’t follow the typical 12 bar blues progression. The verse gives you get the expected four measures of I, but when you would normally go to two measure of IV and then back for two measures of I, it stays on I. So you get eight measures on the I chord. Then you get the V-IV-I-I.

The tune has a catchy, easily identifiable signature lick, and you don’t have to go more than five notes into it before people know what you’re playing.

Despite its unconventional progression, it’s become a blues standard and has been covered by just about everybody including Cream, Jimi Hendricks, Etta James and Big Mama Thornton. I love this tune. Played it a zillion times on the road. It’s another one of those songs I’d like to take into the studio sometime.  Meanwhile, here are two of my favorite renditions. First, the original, by Albert King. Then a cover by the incomparable Nina Simone.

I hope you dig it.