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You've heard me call myself a bluesman and a blues singer. I call myself a blues singer, but you ain't never heard me call myself a blues guitar man. Well, that's because there's been so many can do it better'n I can, play the blues better'n me. I think a lot of them have told me things, taught me things.
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.
The thing with me is, about that – about rock and all that – years and years of crate-digging, listening to old music, you kind of start to connect the dots. And I was seeing the thread that was connecting everything together, which is pretty much the blues. And everything soul or funk kind of starts with that.
It's always humbling, knowing where we came from. From being friends with the janitor in the bar and being friends with the waitress – because they were some of the only people that were listening when we finished playing – to this, we are able to appreciate every single person and every single piece of it, because we came from nothing to this.
I played a lot of keyboards, but I really wanted to produce the sound that was in my head that I was trying to emulate on the keys. I wanted to do it for real. And it makes me look at the keys in a different way. So it's like I'm looking at the guitar and bass more like meat and potatoes and keys like coloring over top of it, you know.