B. B King Quotes and Sayings
I was born on a plantation, and things weren't so good. We didn't have any money. I never thought of the word 'poor' 'til I got to be a man, but when you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is, you're not doing so well. And your rest room is not inside the house.
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.
When people treat you mean, you dislike them for that, but not because of their person, who they are. I was born and raised in a segregated society, but when I left there, I had nobody I disliked other than the people that'd mistreated me, and that only lasted for as long as they were mistreating me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I developed in my head that I'm never any better than my last concert or the last time I played, so it's like an audition each time. You get nervous just before going onstage. I still have that, but I think it's more like concern. You're concerned about the people – like meeting your in-laws for the first time.