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We already bitched and moaned about how Floyd Dixon’s propensity for blurring the line between straight blues and rock ‘n’ roll made choosing which sides of his to cover here on a chronicling of rock history incredibly frustrating and largely unsatisfactory for readers who fall on either side of the divide.

But here we have another song which straddles the line between the two genres but unlike the other half which was more safely ensconsed in a blues structure, here we have one that will reveal the connective tissue between the two styles of music.

It still might be blues-based, but with just a few tweaks along the way you’ll see how rock would adapt this basic idea over time and increasingly blur the line for lots of artists you’d never think of blues acts.


Use Me As A Tool
First the writing credits, just to get that out of the way.

Maxwell Davis, the preeminent rock producer at the time who was also well-versed in blues and would soon become B.B. King’s favorite behind the scenes collaborator.

Then there’s Floyd Dixon himself, a singer who, as we’ve stated a few dozens times, could’ve easily remained focused on any one of a number of styles, downhome blues, cocktail blues or rock ‘n’ roll, and made a good living playing nothing but that brand of music.

Without getting too far in the weeds for those who don’t care about the technical side of songwriting, there are some basic attributes that the blues feature which many other forms – jazz, gospel, country and rock – drew from as foundational pieces, but then radically altered by dressing them up in different clothes.

The structure of Tired, Broke And Busted, a song that clearly fits thematically into blues, is one that is eminently familiar to fans of that genre, but also to those who ignore blues and worship at the rock ‘n’ roll alter… provided you can see how it’s been constantly re-fitted with a faster tempo, different instrumentation and more assertive vocal attitudes over the years. But the structure and the bobbing prancing gait to the melody have been recycled so many times that it’s practically a one-size fits all pattern.

In fact Maxwell Davis cut songs with Amos Milburn using the same framework before this and while it doesn’t qualify as a strict rip-off, it’s so durable that you can use it over and over again without it getting tedious. In that way it’s akin to the famed “doo-wop chord changes” which proliferated a half decade down the road in countless songs from that type of rock. In both cases artists, writers and producers found something that worked and is interchangeable from one song to the next and milked it for as long they could.

What this shows is that when it comes to stylistic similarities blues gets vastly overrated as a rock source, but structurally the connection is at times much more apparent.


Looks Like I’m In Hard Luck
Okay, okay, enough with the classroom stuff, what matters is still the record itself and it’s another good one from Dixon which is nevertheless going to be made to unfairly suffer some in the ratings here simply because the blues atmosphere overwhelms the rock attributes.

But musical classification aside and this is really strong all around and shows Dixon coming into his own in terms of utilizing his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses, something which – ironically – will mean he moves further away from rocking performances down the road.

As always his nasal tone takes center stage with his delivery, making it hard to ever believe he’s a happy guy, which is why him complaining about being Tired, Broke And Busted sounds so authentic.

The arrangement though gives it just enough light peaking through to offset some of the gloom he sings about with an almost trippy intro that Floyd plays the piano which almost sounds as if the guitar is riding side-saddle, but when Roy Hayes comes in adding licks a few seconds later that breaks the impression.

The beat laid down by Monk McFadden has a little skip to it which similarly lifts the clouds hanging over Dixon who complains at length about being dumped by a woman which he points to as the source of all his ensuing troubles, everything from being out of work and starving to being sick… all of which has happened in a single week since she left.

Now that raises some questions as to what took her so long to make her getaway, since it sounds like she basically was raising Floyd like a two year old child, doing all the work in and out of the home, while probably being expected to serve his needs in other ways during the five minutes or so she wasn’t paying bills, cooking and cleaning and working a 9-5 job elsewhere.

But in spite of his shameful lack of self-sufficiency, Dixon never comes across as whining as much as just miserable, which might be a thin line separating them but an important one. Clearly he’s overstating his dilemma for effect, trying to come across as utterly helpless in the hopes that might get her to return, but it winds up being almost humorous in a way. Not laugh out loud funny, but you definitely are smirking at how pathetic a creature he is when he’s acting this way.

Meanwhile the band are filling in the spaces with discreet touches, particularly Hayes’s guitar adding just one or two notes that shines intermittant rays of light onto Dixon’s somber mood.

It’s not a song that’s got an upbeat outlook, but for one where the singer and lyrics paint such a bleak picture, it’s one that remains immensely enjoyable to hear.


It’s All Because Of You
The amazing thing about music is there are only a handful of notes at your disposal and those notes can only make a few chords and it stands to reason those notes and chords wouldn’t have an infinate number of melodies to mine over the centuries, yet we still seem to be coming up with new ones all the time.

Yet we’ve also become adept at recycling, reworking and reanimating a few older ones ad infinitum and if nothing else that practice sort of provides a link from one era to another, just as it does here with one genre to another.

If you wanted to classify Tired, Broke And Busted as a blues song, that’s perfectly reasonable and in that context it would also do much better in the grading (a solid 8 for sure). But even when using the decidedly different rock yardstick to measure this it still does just fine, which tells you just how sturdy the structure itself is.

But let’s not forget the guy singing it, playing on it and co-writing it, who though he remains something a nuisance around here for never firmly giving himself over to one genre or another exclusively, is still somebody we always look forward to seeing, especially as he hits his creative stride with songs like these.


(Visit the Artist page of Floyd Dixon for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)