Willie Dixon was known as The Poet of The Blues. There's little, if any, hint of the Chicago sound of which Dixon was so influential but there is definite poetry in "Cryin' Blind." The music cascades with a mournful cadence. Lyrical, evocative slide blends with a fingerpicked low key rhythmic backing built on some great minor notes and chords. The music isn't dependent on melody or hook, but there is something magnetic in the notes he produces. James' delivery is expressive without excess and the story is composed in verse that would stand alone, without the music.
Where many of James' stories are linear, "Cryin' Blind" feels more like a sketch. Within that sketch, though, are some bold strokes of lyrical deftness.
"I can reach out my hand and I can touch the wall
I can pick up that phone but I can't afford your callYou know it's the landing that'll get you but I still don't like the fall"
I get a morbid chuckle out of that last line alone. There's a seriousness in the passage that follows but it, too, is delivered with cleverness:
"Well, give me one reason why I should give you the cause
and I'll tell you right now without the slightest pause
I've been drawing all day and they're all short straws"
There are some blues listeners who'll long for something grittier and more intense, but the richness of James' performance should win many more than he'd possibly lose. There is soulfulness in the vocal, richness in the sounds, and wit in the words. Really, what's not to like?