'She Takes More than She Gives'
New Jersey's own Walter Trout is one of the hottest guitar-singers working the circuit today. Off of 2006's 'Full Circle,' this "She Done Me Wrong" blues classic is an slow burning eight and a half-minute jam with Trout trading stinging guitar leads with the legendary John Mayall, who joins in on vocals and harmonica.
'It Serves You Right to Suffer'
No one was badder than John Lee Hooker. Here on this classic, he turns the mistreatin' woman genre sideways by singing the song as a guy telling another guy that he gets what he deserves because the guy let himself be taken in by the fairer sex. Hooker's character can't even look at other women without thinking of the one who "treated him so bad that he couldn't keep from crying." The song's hook seems almost eerily neutral, making it all the more cautionary.
'Tired of Crying'
One of today's roughest and most raucous blues bands, Chicago's Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials seem to be on the other side of the mourning process with 'Tired of Crying,' which appeared on 2006's 'Rattlesnake.' The band was tired of crying, so in true blues fashion they wrote this kick ass song celebrating the fact.
'Baby I Done Got Wise'
The hugely influential Big Bill Broonzy covered a lot of territory in his songs (which numbers several hundred), but none took misbehaving ladies to task, more than this "She Done Me Wrong" blues classic. The punch line lyric here is: "You been trying to trick me, baby / Now the trick's done turned on you." It's a nice turn of a phrase as his woman gets her comeuppance after she's been running around behind the singer's back.
'Mean Mistreatin' Mama'
Elmore James died of heart failure at the relatively young age of 45 in 1963; nonetheless, he probably is the most influential slide guitarist to play the blues. Although he wrote such classic blues songs as 'Dust My Broom' and 'The Sky is Crying,' 'Mean Mistreatin' Mama' is just as important. The object of his affection in this song not only doesn't feel the same way (no matter how hard he tries), she is in love with somebody else. That, in a nutshell, is the blues.
'How Does a Cheatin Woman Feel'
Known as "The Lion of the Blues," Bobby "Blue" Bland goes the direct route here. Originally released in 1961 on Duke records, this song opens with the line "I just found out you're runnin' 'round" and continues to talk about how he trusted her and she broke his heart. Bland's version comes complete with a big horn section, but it's his smooth delivery that conveys both anger and hurt in equal doses.
'You Killing Me'
One of the true bridges of the blues, Sonny Boy Williamson played with Robert Johnson early on and then towards the end of his life with rock stars like Eric Clapton. Here on the classic "You Killing Me," the harmonica player-singer doesn't mince words or lyrics. Williams' narrator is at first worn out by this red hot mama; then she leaves and he begs her to come back at the end of the song -- though in this case it probably wasn't the best idea if she did.
'Don't You Lie to Me'
Albert King had a long career before his death in 1992. In this 1983 track, King collaborated with Stevie Ray Vaughan, just as the young guitarist broke through with the acclaimed 'Texas Flood.' On the Stax Records album (released in 1999), King and Vaughan close out record with a nine-minute jam of this tune. Each guitarist pushes the other here as they trade solos that conjure the anger and pain of the song, which was composed by Hudson Whitaker.
'Thrill is Gone'
B.B. King was already a star of the blues circuit by the time this "She Done Me Wrong" blues classic became a crossover hit in 1970, finally gaining him some of the recognition that had been heaped upon his many young followers working in the blue-rock vein. Today there isn't a more recognizable face of the blues and this song is still King's signature tune, making it one of the greatest blues songs ever. The song details how an overly possessive woman kills the relationship, offering up a warning to all women out there: men still need to be men, no matter who they date.
'Love in Vain'
The mythic Robert Johnson is a figure that looms large over the blues and rock because of his influence on countless rock bands. The Rolling Stones do a credible version of "Love in Vain," but to get a true essence of the narrator's broken heart, you have to go back to the source. Here Johnson tells a tale of following his love to the train station and watching as she gets on and leaves, breaking his heart in the process. Johnson sings and moans his way through this classic -- conjuring a femme fatale that is as mythic as the man himself.