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Is the song Some Day Baby by Ray Charles considered a blues song? I think it is because I'm pretty sure it contains the blues progression I-IV-I-V-IV-I. However, it uses the note E natural quite a lot, which I think is unexpected for a blues song written in C major. You would expect it to contain E flat, because that's part of the blues scale for C major.

  • Blues songs don't usually stick strictly to the notes of any major scale, but if there's anything C major about a song, why would you be surprised to find E natural? – topo morto Dec 4 '15 at 22:54
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I would say it's definitely a blues.

The chord progression is a typical blues progression, as you say. The melody as well. It also has a typical "boogie" pattern in the left hand, and the typical blues "turnaround" (the last two bars of every chorus). Granted, it is not a 12 bar blues with the classic repeat of the first line (AAB form), but the 8 bar blues is a common variation.

(Of course blues can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask or where or when. I would say this is the case for most genres of music or artistic expression, though.)

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So apparently Some Day Baby is actually a rendition of Big Maceo's Worried Life Blues. If you listen to both songs, you can hear that they're very similar. Since Worried Life Blues literally has the word blues in the title, I think it's safe to assume that Some Day Baby is a blues song. I suppose blues songs are defined by more than just their chord progression or the scales they contain.

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    I would say attempting to "define" blues based on chord progressions or scales is not a very good way to define it, and that would apply to any genre. I expect most listeners would agree that Bo Diddly's Who Do You Love? is a blues song, but it has one chord (no progression) and a very loose sense of scale or key (aside from the chord itself). In particular, blues music is very commonly ambivalent about the major versus the minor third (E versus E flat in your question). – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '15 at 18:29
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    Well, assuming that a song is a blues just because it has "blues" in the title is fraught with peril... On the other hand, attempting to define what a blues is can be risky as well. FWIW @ToddWilcox, I wouldn't call "Who Do You Love" a blues song. Perharps R'n'B. – Johannes Dec 4 '15 at 20:12
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    @Johannes Yeah, I should have pointed out "blues" is in the ear of the listener in many cases. Another edge case might be Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin. Electric British Blues? Hard Rock? Blues Rock? Proto-Metal? Plus there's tons of music that uses the classic 12 bar blues chord progression that is clearly not blues. And Basket Case by Green Day is based on the chord progression from Pachelbel's Canon, but that doesn't make it a Baroque song! – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '15 at 20:20
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    @ToddWilcox, certainly! It is especially difficult with a genre as the blues which has outlived itself, so to speak. From the sharecroppers and country blues to the electric blues of the 40s and 50s to the british revival on to the modern forms etc etc... – Johannes Dec 4 '15 at 20:32

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