The speaker of “The Weary Blues” is a Black man who’s recalling the experience he had at a Harlem nightclub the previous night. For the speaker, this experience was physically as well as spiritually moving. The music being played that evening affected the speaker, first, on the level of the body. For example, he describes himself “rocking back and forth” to the musician’s “mellow croon” (line 2). Much more profound, however, is the emotional effect the music had on the speaker. The speaker doesn’t describe this emotional effect directly. Instead, he communicates it through the close attention he pays to the Black musician. Consider how the following lines express a connection between the musician’s body and the power of his music:

     With his ebony hands on each ivory key
     He made that poor piano moan with melody.
     O Blues!
     Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
     He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool
     Sweet Blues! 

These lines (lines 9–14) suggest that the speaker derives greater pleasure from the music the more closely he attends to the movements of the musician’s body. Note how the speaker’s gaze starts zoomed in on the musician’s fingers, then widens out to include the swaying of his whole body. Note, too, the parallel transition from “O Blues!” to “Sweet Blues!” as the speaker studies the man.

The speaker’s fascination with the musician goes beyond mere appreciation of his musical talent. Far more significant is the way the musician, along with his music, connects the speaker to the lineage of African-descended peoples in the United States. The speaker suggests as much when he describes the music as “coming from a black man’s soul” (line 15). That is, the power of the music comes not from the musician’s technical ability, but from the sheer depth of his soul. Here, it’s worth remembering that blues music had its origins during the period of slavery in the Deep South. Slaves sang work songs and spirituals as they toiled on cotton and tobacco plantations, channeling the sadness and pain of their miserable circumstances into music. The sadness and pain of these slaves survives in the profound melancholy of blues music. The musician’s soul-song connects the speaker to this precisely history.