Tag Archives: Lightnin’ hopkins

Les Blank Documentary: The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins

The Blues Accordin to Lightnin’ Hopkins from SOUNDWERK MUSIC on Vimeo.

Les Blank Documentary: The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins

In 1968 independent filmmaker Les Blank made a beautiful documentary about Texas Blues musician Lightnin’ Hopkins called “The blues according to Lightnin’ Hopkins”. “Blank’s work offers intimate glimpses into the lives, culture and music of passionate people at the periphery of American Society” (lesblank.com).

Celebrating music as a mode of life

By che (Please credit as "Petr Novák, Wikipedia" in case you use this outside Wikimedia projects.) (che) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
By che (Please credit as “Petr Novák, Wikipedia” in case you use this outside Wikimedia projects.) (che) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
This documentary shows how the blues and living with the blues made Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins. Roger Greenspun wrote on December 21, 1970 for the New York Times a story about this documentary. “The Blues according To Lightnin’ Hopkins is as much a celebration of a mode of life as it is a study of a kind of music”. “Almost everyboy seems to be a performer. But Hopkins himself controls the film’s mood”.

Blank met his hero Lightnin’ Hopkins in a nightclub called the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, were like many other blues musicians also Hopkins performed. The blues seemed a good way for Blank to escape from problems like divorce and gave him a strong sense of connection to pain and suffering. After Lightnin’ performance, Blank went with his 16 MM projector camera backstage and gave him a copy of his film about Dizzy Gillespie. He asked Lightnin’ to go to his home in Texas and do a film on him. Lightnin’ was satisfied with the offer, and Les Blank was able to film Lightnin’ Hopkins in Texas.

Blues Storyteller

The blues is about stories, and if one thing is sure after watching the documentary, that Lightnin’ Hopkins is a fantastic storyteller, he tells about meetings with the police, about what the blues is, and show how the blues should be played. You will be chained to the screen while watching this short movie. Hopkins is one of the best guitarist around and a fascinating person.

Filming the life of Lightnin’ Hopkins

When Les Blank went to Houston he find a place to stay at a friend´s apartment. With the help of local Folklorist John Lomax (the only white man lightnin’ was known to trust), he was able to immerse in the life and music of Hopkins.  There is no other Blues musician that recorded so many songs as Lightnin’ Hopkins did.

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Most recorded songs: Baby Please Don’t Go

Most recorded songs: Baby Please Don’t Go

Baby Please Don’t Go was originally recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935 on Bluebird records. Big Joe could never for see the influence the song would have on music history. This song is recorded, performed and sang in so many versions by so many musicians. For that, I put some of my favourite versions in line. Continue reading Most recorded songs: Baby Please Don’t Go

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Blues songs: Take Me Back Lightnin’ Hopkins

Baby take me Back – Lightnin’Hopkins

Of course, there are a lot of ways you can treat the blues, but it will still be the blues.

Count Basie – 

Favorite Blues Songs: Take me Back

Blues Music Lightnin' Hopkins
Blues music Lightnin’ Hopkins

One of my favorite blues songs is Take Me Back by Lightnin’ Hopkins. And while there are a lot of legendary blues musicians, Lightnin’ Hopkins is one of my favorite. The ease he plays his songs, the groovynes of his sound, enjoy the song. For now the Black Bull Blues Blog Song of the week.

The Black Bull Blues

Rollingstone named Lightnin’ Hopkins one of the best guitarist that ever lived. And I wonder, How does this man play with that kind of relaxation. How do you get that kind of groove. And how does that voice reaches so deep.

As new bands reach the top of the charts. Win Grammy’s and play for David Letterman, musicians like Lightnin’, Muddy and Howlin’ Wolf will always stay influential. That is the thing of the blues. Without the roots there are no fruits, Willie Dixon once said. I heard the Alabama Shakes play and sing, and most definately they where inspired bij Lightnin’ and the gang, like Willie Dixon said.

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