Blues songs are not only written about the trials faced during the slave days, these songs are also written about the many trials that blacks have faced over time.
After the slaves were freed, the black community had new challenges. While they were excited about being free and in charge of their own lives, there were still a number of obstacles that kept them from being equal to their white counterparts. Because of their inequality, the black community suffered significantly. For instance, the only jobs that were offered to black men were the jobs that their white counterparts were not interested in doing. These jobs usually consisted of back-breaking labor under harsh conditions. Some of the remedial tasks that blacks were forced to perform in order to make a living were working on farms or in the fields or the position of traveling minstrel (University of Scranton). Concerning the conditions under which the blacks were forced to work, one article titled "Life after the Thirteenth Amendment" states that though blacks were free from slavery; their jobs were similar to what they had to do while they were slaved. Laws were passed to keep blacks in poverty, such as prohibiting them from owning land, imposing stiff fines if they were not working (It was tough to find a suitable job due to severe racial discrimination and lack of work for blacks that did not cause them to take up positions of servitude.), and they could be sold into what was called virtual slavery if they were unable to pay the fines imposed upon them. What's more, black children could be forced to work as apprentices (Thomas). It would be a very long time before blacks had the true equality that they deserved.
Along with the inequality that the black community has suffered, they dealt with a number of other troubles. Blues songs were composed to help them cope with such troubles, as well as being a way to vent out their frustrations. Blues' songs were sung about the themes that dominated everyday life for the blacks. Some of these themes were sex, poverty, lost love, imprisonment, inequality, crime, and drunkenness, just to name some. Blues music may sound sad when one listens to it; however, it is powerful, as it celebrates the lives of black individuals (University of Scranton).
It was not until 1909 when the Blues were finally given public attention by white society, as this was the time when these songs were actually being documented and recorded. Concerning this, one article states that:
W.C. Handy, a musical scholar, was awakened on a train station platform in Tutwiler, MS by what he described as "a lean, loose jointed negro... playing the weirdest music I'd ever heard". He went on to talk about how the man played his guitar with a pocketknife, and he sang that he was going "where the southern cross the dog". (Bluescentric)
This man was more than likely talking about going where he could be free from racial oppression. During this time period, the messages in these songs began to be heard, and the blacks began to obtain true equality for themselves. Sadly, though, true equality, like what is experienced today, had a long way to go, especially as it pertained to the music industry itself. For instance, Race Records, a company that was established to enable Black Blues' musicians to record their record would only pay them a onetime fee for their records, which usually was $20. After the artists received the fee for the record, there were no royalties paid to them thereafter.