He Is The Blues

He Is The Blues

By Staff

Vol. 11, No. 4, 1989, p. 22

Erstwhile blues guitarist Lee Atwater, a former member of the Howard University board of trustees, is the subject of a new song, “The Man Who Would B.B. King,” by Nashville song writers Marshall Chapman and Gary Nicholson. The single was released in July on on [sic] the Bush-League Records label.

“The thrust of the song is here’s a guy courting black musicians and playing black music, but at the same time he’s slicing social programs and knocking the legs out from under poor blacks everywhere,” said Nicholson, who performs on the record as “Little Willie Horton.”

Atwater made news during the Bush inauguration by hosting a rhythm and blues concert featuring Bo Diddley, Billy Preston, Percy Sledge and other black performers. Atwater got on stage with his guitar and played (poorly) with them and since then has formed his own blues band to perform at GOP fundraisers.

“What I want to know,” asks Nicholson, “is how can you attack Jesse Jackson on one hand and praise B.B. King on the other?”

Co-writer Marshall Chapman is, like Atwater, a South Carolina native. Chapman is chief executive of Bush-League Records. Although she has released five solo albums and written songs that have been recorded by Tanya Tucker, Sawyer Brown and Jimmy Buffet, she calls the Atwater spoof “the real stuff…Dan Quayle may be our next target.”

Samples of the Atwater spoof lyrics include:

How could he really know thc songs he sings

This man who would be B.B. King?

When he’s meetin’ with the President

And planning what to do

Whoa, does he think about his ‘brothers

And what they’re going through?

A Republican singing blues is as farfetched as can be

It’s like Einstein playin’ football

It just don’t make sense to me.