Big Joe Shelton’s original song, “The Older I Get the Better I Was,” is one of six nominees for Blues Song of the Year in The Blues Foundation’s 33rd annual Blues Music Awards. Courtesy Photo Photo by: Courtesy Photo
January 14, 2012 4:52:00 PM
BY JAN SWOOPE
Columbus native Joe Shelton remembers hearing his elders saying, "The older I get, the better I was."
"But I never fully appreciated the sentiment until I reached that 'elder' plateau myself," he says, smiling.
Shelton appreciates the adage even more now, since learning in December the title song from his 2011 album is a Blues Foundation nominee for Blues Song of the Year.
Fans and friends first tipped him off.
"I began receiving emails and phone calls from fellow musicians and fans congratulating me on the nomination -- which had been posted on the Blues Foundation website -- before I was even officially notified by the foundation," he says. "I'm still trippin' on the vibe."
The song is a "fond look back on vanished youth, a time when many of us feel immortal, invincible and irresistible," explains the longtime musician. "After conceiving the initial premise of the song, it evolved relatively quickly. I only had to revisit and tweak it a few times over the course of a month or so."
The original album, by the same name, was recorded at the B.B. King Studio at Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena. Of the recording, Blues Matters magazine in the United Kingdom wrote, "Shelton's real strength is his writing, and all 10 tracks are high quality."
Much of Shelton's songwriting is autobiographical, although some stems from experiences he's witnessed or heard of.
"And some things I just make up out of the blue," he laughs. "I try never to let 'facts' get in the way of a good story."
The 33rd Blues Music Awards will be presented May 10 at Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn.
The list of nominees for 2012 awards includes Blues Hall of Fame members Denise LaSalle, Charlie Musselwhite and Bobby Rush. Other nominees include blues-rock performers Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes and George Thorogood.
"The Blues Music Awards are universally recognized as the highest honor given to blues artists," states Jay Sielman, executive director of Memphis-based Blues Foundation. "The nominations prove not only the sustaining power of blues music, but also its ability to constantly evolve and remain relevant to today's fans."
For the sixth consecutive year, the Blues Music Awards will be broadcast live in their entirety on Sirius XM's B.B. King's "Bluesville." They will later be broadcast on public television.
Hear "The Older I Get the Better I Was" at facebook.com/home.php#!bigjoeshelton?sk=app_2405167945.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.